Hilltopper Community Resilience Through the Storm

This has been a very difficult week for our Hilltopper familia and the entire Austin area, and I hope this email finds you safe. We have endured much over the past six days, with a historic ice storm that knocked out power and damaged our beautiful trees, followed by critical infrastructure failures as the city worked to restore power. We continue to have some of our on-campus apartment residents without power, as well as some students, faculty and staff off campus. Many of us have been personally impacted and know people who have been affected by these extended power outages, and our thoughts and prayers are with everyone as we work to return to normalcy.

With power restored to the majority of our campus, we will return to normal operations on Monday, February 6. Employees are to report as regularly scheduled and classes will be on their regular schedule and modality. We understand that some of our community members were more affected than others, and we ask that supervisors and faculty exercise patience and grace with employees and students who may still be struggling to recover. On campus, Residence Life staff have been working diligently, checking in with students with extended power outages and temporarily relocating those who choose to do so. I have heard many stories of compassion and resiliency that warm my heart and make me proud to be a Hilltopper! Please keep that love and support coming as all of us work through the coming days to catch up and make this Spring semester a successful one! I want to remind you of specific resources on campus:

Student Support

  • Library will resume normal Sunday hours: 1-10 pm.
  • Faculty will be flexible with students and work with them regarding assignments, tests and absences.
  • Success coaches are available to support students with specific academic needs.
  • Dean of Students staff will help you with accessing emergency resources. Students, faculty, and staff can submit a Student of Concern form for students who may be in need of assistance, including emergency aid.  We are monitoring all submissions and responding as promptly as we can to address student concerns.
  • Students in need of emergency assistance aid can submit a Hilltopper Emergency Assistance Request. We are monitoring submissions as promptly as we can to address needs.

Employee Support

  • Faculty and staff, as well as members of their households who need emotional or mental health support can access the AWP employee assistance program (EAP) 24/7 at no cost. The EAP's work/life services can also help find local resources such as emergency plumbers, shelters, food banks, and other critical needs. Please contact EAP at 1-800-343-3822.

I am so grateful for the heroic efforts of many in our hilltop community to support students and bring our campus back to life after this horrendous winter storm. Please help me thank our essential staff when you see them on campus, including staff from Residence Life, Facilities, University Police Department, Information Technology, Bon Appetit, Jo’s and so many more. They have been here throughout the winter storm and managing the aftermath as well. The reality is that the impact of this storm is far from over. Please considering donating to our Hilltoppers Overcoming Obstacles Fund (HOOF) in support of student emergency aid. HOOF provides students with emergency funding for their academic success and personal safety, and it is especially helpful in times of unforeseen events like the recent ice storm.  HOOF is entirely donor supported, and gifts of any size are impactful for Hilltoppers with unexpected hardships. I look forward to seeing you on campus in the coming days!

In Community,

Montse Fuentes, PhD

Updated: 2/5/23;1:00 p.m.