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Thursday, September 28, 2023


Professors adjust after Ike

In anticipation of necessary student absences caused by post-Hurricane Ike complications, the University administration instructed faculty to refrain from administering graded quizzes, tests and projects this week. But opening so soon after the storm has many faculty members facing a tough problem: how to structure curriculums while facing motley attendance, said Stacy Peebles, visiting assistant professor in The Honors College.

"I’ve talked to a number of students from the class who simply can’t make it to campus," she said. "If you’re going to hold class, you have to cover something. Then the question is, what are you going to cover?"

Peebles, who, after talking with students in mandatory evacuation areas, canceled her 1 p.m. class on Thursday and evacuated to Austin before the storm hit, said that if the University postponed classes a day or two more, not as many students would have needed to miss classes.

Visiting associate professor in The Honors College Orson Cook, who lives within walking distance of UH and is still without power, said he agrees.

"I thought coming back on Tuesday was a little premature," Cook said. "We probably should have resumed on Thursday, but it’s probably not going to make much difference in the long run."

Students who missed classes can rely on their peers for notes and can always meet with professors to get caught up, Cook said.

Though some students, faculty and administrators may not be totally pleased with the measures needed to reopen, that is sometimes how compromises work, Cook said.

"You sit down and make a considered decision, and once you make the decision you live with it," he said. "And I think that’s what (UH administrators) have done"

One question of compromise that mathematics professor David Blecher said he has to consider is how to care for his young daughter whose school is still closed. Despite this variable, Blecher applauds the administrative decision.

"I’m actually very pleased and surprised with how the University has handled it, getting classes going so quickly." Blecher said. "I think it’s been very good for the moral of the students and for everyone associated with the University."

Communication professor David McHam echoed Blecher’s view, and said that one thing Tuesday’s return affords the UH community is an escape from the burden of having to reschedule and add to the fall semester.

"It’s a question of how many days we’re going to lose," McHam said. "Once you start extending a semester, you have to change everything. You would have to change final exam dates, and we avoided all of that. I think it was the best-case scenario."

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