(May 20, 2019) -- In an email sent today to UTSA faculty and staff, President Taylor Eighmy provided updates on the presidential, tactical and academic initiatives underway to support the university’s strategic vision.
Campus Master Plan
Page consultants held campus forums in April to present draft plans for the Main Campus, including Park West, and the Downtown Campus. These campus forums were followed with community open houses at Guadalupe Theater and Rawlinson Middle School on May 6 and 7, respectively. The draft master plans outline near- and long-term plans for new academic/administration, housing and mixed-use facilities; pedestrian and open spaces; vehicular circulation and parking; athletics and recreation facilities; campus entries/gateways and underpass improvements. Page will review feedback from the master plan steering committee, forums and open houses to submit a refined plan later this summer.
In FY2020, a total of $470,000 will be awarded in support of new lines of research inquiry and scholarship. Through Internal Seed Grant Programs funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise (VPREDKE), six separate programs yielded 87 applications, which are currently under peer review. Programs include Internal Research Awards (INTRA), Grants for Research Advancement and Transformation (GREAT), Transdisciplinary Teams Program (T2), Connecting Researchers through Partnerships (Connect), a collaborative program with Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), and the ITESM Seed Grant Program, a collaborative program with Tecnológico de Monterrey (ITESM). In an effort to also increase the number of nationally recognized faculty at UTSA, five faculty received support for their 2020 National Academy of Inventors nomination packages.
Preventing Sexual Assault and Misconduct
UTSA's results from the NASPA Culture of Respect Collective self-assessment were received this week and are being compiled into a list of next steps for each task force. Steps include specifics on clarifying policies, survivor support, public disclosure methods and campus-wide education. Details regarding the report will be distributed once task deadlines are set. The task force is also preparing for a site visit from the Culture of Respect Collective national office in mid-June.
The Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board, in collaboration with Facilities, is currently working on plans to develop additional gender-inclusive bathrooms on campus. The board will also assess the need for an inclusive hiring question for possible use within UTSA’s job application. A Diversity Statement Task Force is working on infusing the past efforts of the Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council (DIAC) with the current work of the Inclusive Excellence Advisory Board (IEAB) to produce an “Inclusivity Statement” for UTSA. The Office of Inclusive Excellence is finalizing a new interactive website to debut soon.
National Security Collaboration Center and School of Data Science
Congressman Henry Cuellar of the 28th Texas district visited UTSA to participate in a roundtable discussion with NSCC government and industry partners, advocating for the Congressman’s support of the NSCC. Earlier this month, President Eighmy and UTSA senior leadership visited the 25th Air Force to further solidify this strategic partnership and to learn more about the upcoming merger with the 24th Air Force this summer. Mitre Corporation and UTSA participated in a signing ceremony for the execution of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to support research and workforce development programs in areas of cyber, artificial intelligence and data analytics. New members of the NSCC include the Secretary of the Air Force - Chief Data Science Office, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the CyberPatriot Program.
Honors Residential College
The Honors Residential College team, along with Gensler, has met with students, faculty and administrators and is now in the final phases of programming. This includes site layout, dining facilities and mock floorplans. A diverse set of bedroom, suite and classroom floorplans have been selected, as well as administrative spaces for the Honors College.
Student Success Center
Work to build UTSA’s Academic Advising Complex—a central hub for the university’s academic advising services—is progressing with a vendor selected in April to complete the modular structure. The Advising team is scheduled to move into the complex in February 2020.
In April, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy met with the departments that were included in the task force’s notional models to seek their input. Over the last two weeks, Academic Affairs followed up with seven of the departments to confirm their interest in proceeding with deliberative planning to become part of a new health-related college.
Urban Education Institute
The Urban Education Institute (UEI) is holding its first strategic planning meeting with external partners. The committee includes a major education philanthropist of San Antonio, the Chancellor of Alamo Colleges, representation from the City of San Antonio, and leading teachers and principals. In partnership with the VPREDKE Office, UEI launched a seed-grant program to support transdisciplinary teams of researchers focused on solving education problems. UEI added Goodwill Industries as its most recent research sponsor.
Strategic Faculty Hiring
UTSA has successfully completed the FY2019 Cluster Hiring Initiative in Artificial Intelligence, with six new tenure/tenure-track faculty representing five different departments joining campus this fall. Four faculty-led proposal teams for the Clustered and Connected Hiring Program (CCP) were selected by the Transdisciplinary Research Council for further consideration of their topic areas for the FY2020 round of cluster hires. On May 14-15, as the second round of the selection process, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy and Interim Vice President for Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise Bernard Arulanandam met with each of the four finalist teams. A decision regarding the FY2020 round of cluster hires will be announced next month.
Expanding Business Education & Career Engagement
CEO Roundtables were held on April 18 and 25, aimed at gathering data on opportunities and needs of the business community at both the UTSA and Downtown Campuses. A third will be held on May 22, after which summarized findings will be made available on the initiative website. Two project teams will launch this summer and fall to consider opportunities and needs relative to business education and career-engaged learning at the Downtown Campus. Data from the roundtables, along with academic program analyses performed by Ruffalo Noel Levitz, will help inform the work of the project teams and, ultimately, programming for a new building to expand business education and experiential learning downtown.
Institute of Texan Cultures
A steering committee composed of personnel from UTSA Libraries and the Institute of Texan Cultures has been formed and has begun meeting weekly, charged with aligning ITC operations to leverage the Libraries’ administrative resources. To that end, the steering committee has formed four integration teams focused on budget and fiscal processes; organizational structure and governance; human resources processes; and compliance, assessment and data governance. Additional integration teams will be formed as needed.