Kimberly Andrews Espy, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
Kimberly Andrews Espy has served as the Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas at San Antonio since June 2018. With more than two decades of higher education experience, she has earned a national reputation for advancing institutional, academic and student success; promoting faculty and staff development; and deepening university-community engagement.
As UTSA’s chief academic officer, Dr. Espy oversees eight academic colleges and the new transdisciplinary School of Data Sciences; the academic support divisions, including Faculty Success, Academic Innovation, Undergraduate Studies, Career Engaged Learning, Continuous Improvement & Accreditation, Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies, Global Initiatives, Student Success, Strategic Enrollment, Student Affairs, and the Libraries, UTSA Art Collection and the Institute of Texan Cultures; in addition to cross-cutting sections Institutional Research and Analysis, Academic Finance & Administration, Academic Initiatives, and Academic Strategic Communications.
Throughout her career as an academic servant-leader, Dr. Espy has championed the bold idea that higher education can only achieve its aspirational goal of promoting social, intellectual and economic transformation for all by intentionally enabling access, inclusion, success and workforce preparation for those who have been historically underrepresented. Working collaboratively across every corner of campus, she has dedicated her efforts to progressing toward this goal by furthering an outstanding academic environment that positively impacts students, faculty and staff for the benefit of our communities. By actively increasing faculty diversity, equity, inclusion and support through dedicated hiring programs, services for teaching innovation, and enhanced research development to build top tier capacity and facilitate external partnerships, student learning is enriched and career-readiness increased.
At UTSA, she has translated her leadership philosophy to build on the university’s legacy of achievement as a Hispanic Serving Institution, and — working collaboratively with faculty, staff and students — has led the enhancement of programs to intentionally serve Latino and all students. Reflecting this focus, UTSA in 2020 earned the prestigious Seal of Excelencia from Excelencia in Education, certifying the university’s intentionality in promoting student success and impact in achieving positive outcomes.
Under Dr. Espy’s leadership in Academic Affairs, UTSA has achieved record enrollment, with two of every three students identifying as from a group historically underserved by higher education. Student success has cracked into nationally recognized heights: In 2020, first-year retention of full-time Roadrunners exceeded 80%, the number of undergraduate degrees awarded annually has increased 25%, the six-year graduation rate improved substantially to 50%, and median time to degree was reduced to 4.5 years. As a part of the Classroom to Career Initiative launched under Dr. Espy, students are gaining marketable skills through immersive learning experiences with health, industry, federal agency, military-affiliated, and public service partners that well prepare them for their future. As result of an intentional focus on diversifying the professoriate, more than 1 in 4 of new tenured/tenure track UTSA faculty in 2020–2021 identify as from underrepresented groups — a 26% increase in the proportion from the year prior. Scholarly excellence and impact are at an all-time high with total research expenditures exceeding $134M and a record number of doctoral degrees awarded, with 1 in 4 doctoral graduates from underrepresented groups.
Immediately prior to joining UTSA, Dr. Espy was senior vice president for research at the University of Arizona. As the chief research officer and member of the President’s Senior Leadership Team, Dr. Espy increased R&D impact to record highs by strengthening cross-cutting transdisciplinary faculty efforts through the development and support of centers and institutes that span from fundamental to translational, from the sciences to the humanities disciplines, as well as the three university museums. She was a member of the leadership team that developed and implemented the historic academic partnership with Banner Health, which achieved record growth in clinical trials, life science research and NIH awards. Building on the university’s historic strengths in space and optics, she established UA’s Defense Security Research Institute to support mission-focused applications and education. Demonstrating her long-standing commitment for advancing diversity and inclusion in higher education, Dr. Espy co-coordinated efforts that earned UA its designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution from the U.S. Department of Education. Jointly with the provost, and in collaboration with the deans, department heads and faculty leaders, she also developed and implemented faculty cluster hiring and strategic hiring programs that have connected diverse faculty in new ways to spawn exciting programs addressing national grand challenges. With her establishment and expansion of Research Development Services at the UA, a record number of faculty submitted proposals and won external awards.
Prior to her post at the UA, Dr. Espy served as vice president for research and innovation and dean of the Graduate School at the University of Oregon. There she partnered with community leadership and a sister university peer to secure funding from the Oregon state legislature to establish the Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network to advance economic development and value to the state. Under her tenure, UO’s industry-focused professional master’s program was expanded to include Data Science, a campus-wide student Innovation Challenge (an out-of-classroom learning experience) was established, and new programs to diversify the graduate student body were initiated.
Dr. Espy started her academic career at Southern Illinois University, an institution focused on serving first-generation students, where she developed active problem-based learning pedagogies in teaching undergraduate, graduate and first-year medical students, as well as served as the founding director of the Center for Integrated Research in Cognitive and Neural Sciences. She then served as the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s associate vice chancellor for research and as acting dean of Graduate Studies, where she facilitated their ADVANCE initiative to increase the number of female and other underrepresented STEM faculty.
A translational clinical neuroscientist and investigator, Dr. Espy has earned more than $22 million in funding to study how young children control their attention to promote learning, academic and health outcomes, and how these skills get off track related to medical, environmental or social factors. She has authored more than 100 refereed journal articles, has given numerous keynotes, invited and scientific presentations nationally and across the globe, and chaired an NIH study section. She has mentored many undergraduate, master’s, doctoral and medical students, and junior faculty — her past trainees currently hold positions at national and international institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, Cambridge University, Brown University, Johns Hopkins University Medical School and the University of Edinburgh.
Serving UTSA marks her return to Texas. Dr. Espy earned her bachelor's degree in psychology at Rice University and her master's and doctoral degrees in psychology and clinical neuropsychology, respectively, at the University of Houston. Additionally, she completed a clinical/pediatric psychology internship at the University of Louisville School of Medicine/Bingham Child Guidance Center and a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Arizona College of Medicine, and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Espy is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as of the American Psychological Association.