Faculty and staff play a vital role in contributing perspectives and expertise to inform the decision-making process. Interim Provost Shipley requested a College Working Group be created to evaluate the proposed move of Environmental Science (ES) programs from the Department of Integrative Biology (IB) to the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS) through engaging in further facilitated discussions to have deep and broad consultation with internal stakeholders to best inform a final decision by university leadership.
To summarize, the Department of Integrative Biology is comprised of faculty with expertise in biological structures and systems, animal science, plant biology, science education, environmental science, and ecology. The IB Department offers undergraduate and graduate programs in biology and environmental science as well as secondary science teacher preparation programs. The IB Department also offers courses in the core curriculum and required courses for other majors that require a life sciences foundation. The IB Department houses the following academic programs:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biology
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Multidisciplinary Science for Teaching
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Environmental Studies
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Science
- Master of Science (MS) in Biology
- Master of Science (MS) in Environmental Science
The current research themes of the department are Aquatic Science, Conservation and Restoration Ecology, Natural Resources and Wildlife Management, and Plant Biology.
The Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences is comprised of faculty focused in geological and environmental problems. The department teaches general education curriculum in geological sciences, core courses for other majors, and major specific courses in geosciences. It houses the following academic programs:
- Bachelor of Science (BS) in Geosciences
- Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Geosciences
- Master of Science (MS) in Geoinformatics
- Master of Science (MS) in Geosciences
- Joint Doctoral Program (Ph.D.) in Environmental Science and Engineering
The current research themes of the department are Geoinformatics, Geology and Geophysics, Paleoenvironment Reconstruction, Polar and Climate Sciences, and Water Cycle Science.
To facilitate the process of evaluating the move of ES programs to the EPS department and the visioning of a new IB department, this Working Group is charged with conducting outreach to relevant stakeholders to seek input on the alignment that will maximize student success and research excellence for faculty, students, and staff in these areas and provide a recommendation to college and university leadership on suggested organizational structure models.
Process and Deliverables:
The Working Group will be managed by Dr. Kasey Neece-Fielder, Associate Vice Provost for Strategic Planning and Assessment in Academic Affairs.
The Working Group will meet with relevant stakeholders and share their input and recommendations with the college through a website. Their final report will be due by October 15, 2023.
To accomplish these goals, the Working Group is charged with conducting outreach to the relevant stakeholders to seek input on the alignment that will maximize student success. A subcommittee model, working in parallel, will be used to address portions of the Working Group’s effort. The steps outlined below are similar to other working groups at UTSA that have coordinated visioning processes for other colleges and departments.
The Working Group’s process and reporting should include the following:
Survey of the current landscape
- Understand the needs of UTSA students pursuing biology, environmental science, science education, and geosciences.
- Clarify the needs of faculty around teaching and research.
- Identify best practice models at other institutions.
Sub-groups may be formed around these topics or others.
Recommendations on a realigned departmental organizational structure
- Diagram and describe the proposed units and academic programs that would be better aligned in the recommended departmental organizational structure.
- List the benefits to faculty, students and staff of the proposed structure.
- List all potential risks and describe the risk avoidance plan, including any potential impacts to existing departments/programs.
- Describe other models that were considered but deemed by the Working Group to be less workable, feasible, or desirable.
Please use the following parameters to guide this process. The proposed organizational structure must be:
- Student-centric. Geared towards increasing student success (i.e., enrollment, retention, graduation, advancing career outcomes).
- Focused on maximizing research excellence through federal funding, transdisciplinary collaborations, pipeline and success of graduate students particularly doctoral, national and international recognition, etc.
- Logical, intuitive, and centered around the future of biological studies, environmental studies and earth and planetary sciences.
- Focused around maximizing synergies and new opportunities in academic programs, research, and external partnerships, etc.
Metrics for Success:
A successful organizational structure will support increased enrollments, student success, contribute to faculty success, and in turn, facilitate increased research funding opportunities.