UTSA Tomás Rivera Center expands to offer more intentional direct support to students
Since 1993, the Tomás Rivera Center for Student Success (TRC) has provided essential tutoring, supplemental instruction, academic success coaching, specialized programming, and other resources to help UTSA students achieve their academic goals. As the UTSA community prepares for a historic Fall 2020 semester, the TRC is evolving to meet the unique needs of a dynamic, diverse, and growing student population with data-informed, innovative and personalized student support programs.
Earlier this year, the TRC underwent an external organizational review to examine budgetary, staffing, programmatic and operational structures. This review dovetailed with UTSA’s partnership with Austin-based educational tech firm Civitas Learning, which opened the door to their suite of intelligence-based software solutions to expand UTSA’s student success initiatives.
As a result, the TRC is taking steps to maximize the impact of its programming and services, using a data-informed approach to more effectively meet student needs.
“To reach our destination to become a model for student success, we are implementing a coordinated care model in our approach to supporting UTSA students,” said Tammy Wyatt, vice provost for student success. “Utilizing proven tech tools, data analytics, and best practices to better engage and support our increasingly diverse student population will allow us to greatly expand our support services and improve how we meet student needs.”
As part of UTSA’s coordinated care approach, the TRC will increase its services by establishing additional synergistic partnerships across the institution. For example, a pilot program is in development with the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning, College of Engineering, College of Sciences, and College for Health, Community & Policy to create bridges between the centralized student support services provided by the TRC and the more niche, degree-program specific services provided by the colleges.
The TRC also is adding several new student success coach positions, as well as advancing the Student Success division-wide effort to increase the number of paid student positions, including a new academic peer coaching program. These student employees are on the front lines, providing direct service support to their fellow undergraduate students. In addition, the roughly 500 student employees across the division will benefit from a unified and enhanced training and development experience that will provide a career ladder within the division from peer mentors, to tutors, to SI leaders, to academic peer coaches. This approach advances UTSA’s Classroom to Career initiative and jumpstarts the new Career FUEL Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which is designed to develop students’ marketable skills and career readiness by helping them find understanding through experiential learning.
In May, the Civitas Inspire tool replaced EAB Navigate as the university’s student success software. It has been adopted by UTSA’s academic advisors and will be rolled out in the fall to the other student support units, including the TRC. Inspire is an intuitive, actionable advising support platform that uses data science and predictive analytics to enable more holistic, meaningful collaboration around student success.
The Civitas Illume and Impact tools will also be launched across the university this fall. Illume provides insights into specific academic risk markers for UTSA students and enables university staff to intervene by connecting personally, and in a timely manner, with students and then track the resulting actions. Impact is a data analysis tool that will help the university evaluate the efficacy of programs and initiatives, refine student success strategies in real time, and guide students toward the resources that will most impact their success.
Lastly, in addition to having a presence within the new Student Success Center adjacent to the North Paseo Building, the TRC’s student-serving offices and staff will move to more prominent, ground-level “storefront” locations in the Multidisciplinary Studies Building, the McKinney Humanities Building and the John Peace Library on the Main Campus. These moves will take place during the fall semester. Likewise, the TRC will continue to offer services on the Downtown Campus at the Durango Building location.
Tomás Rivera was a famed Chicano author, poet and educator who held positions at UTSA and at other universities. Rivera was champion for access and academic achievement for all students, and UTSA is proud to continue his legacy.