Announcement of faculty support initiatives
Editor’s note: The following message was sent today via email from Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy to all faculty:
As we start the summer terms, it is an ideal time to restate the value that I, as UTSA’s Chief Academic Officer, place on the deep impact that outstanding teaching — a critical element of academic excellence — has on student learning and our university community. To support this fundamental tenet in my role as Provost, I created the division of Academic Innovation within Academic Affairs to bring together our academic professionals dedicated to advancing and supporting excellence in instructional pedagogy — a move that has yielded so many benefits for our faculty and students alike, particularly during, and as we emerge from, the pandemic.
In this vein, I am pleased to announce two initiatives that further support and recognize the efforts and impact of our faculty. Working directly with Veronica Mendez, chief financial officer and senior vice president for business affairs, and her Business Affairs team, as well as Vice Provost Melissa Vito and colleagues in the division of Academic Innovation, and with help from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund program, we are investing over $2.5 million in these faculty-centered programs to advance progress on our destination as an exemplar of innovative excellence put forth in President Eighmy’s strategic plan.
First, Academic Affairs is offering a slate of new teaching enrichment opportunities through the division of Academic Innovation to support a culture of pedagogical innovation and digital transformation for student learning and success. These programs were mentioned last month in my end-of-year message. I am grateful for the leadership of Dr. Vito and her team, who have strategically developed these opportunities to connect teaching and digital learning innovations together in more cohesive and intentional ways to support our faculty. These investments in teaching innovation are correlative to nearly $10 million in improvements being made to 20 highly utilized classrooms this summer as part of the Academic Success District.
UTSA faculty and graduate assistants can now register for the following opportunities to help with course preparation for the fall semester. Each includes direct incentives for participants:
- Innovation Academy: an 8-hour course to explore and implement best practices for course design and teaching in different modalities. Upon completion of the academy, faculty will receive a one-time incentive of $1,000. There are 150 seats available, distributed across three different cohorts in June, July and August.
- Adobe Summer Institute: an initiative designed to enhance digital literacy skills through the use of Adobe products. A 4-week cohort will start on July 6, and a condensed 2-week cohort will start on August 9. Participants will complete a series of projects using different applications and will receive a one-time incentive of $500. There are 100 seats available, distributed across the two cohorts.
- Digital Accessibility Tool Pilot Program: a small pilot to experience Ally, an automated accessibility tool embedded in the Learning Management System and aligned to the ADA section 504 and 508, and Universal Design for Learning Principles. Faculty who participate in the pilot will receive a one-time incentive of $500. There are 50 seats available starting in Summer II.
Visit the Academic Innovation website for more details and to register for the initiatives that align to your interests and schedule. Additional opportunities will be added throughout the summer and fall as details are finalized.
Second, I am very pleased to announce that instructional faculty (all tenured/tenure-track and those fixed term track faculty appointed in the lecturer, instruction, practice and clinical series in fall 2021) will receive a special one-time pay supplement to recognize and support your efforts in course preparation and instruction for the various course modalities offered in Fall 2021 as we transition to more face-to-face interaction.
Although this supplement can hardly match the effort and time you may spend to adjust your teaching style and delivery method for the upcoming fall 2021 transition, please know that your efforts are deeply appreciated.
The one-time pay supplement will be distributed as follows during the fall semester:
- $1,500 for full-time faculty (1.0 FTE)
- $750 for part-time faculty (.5-.99 FTE)
- $375 for less than half-time faculty (≤ .49 FTE)
More information about the timing and distribution of this supplement will be forthcoming later in August. Additionally, I am working with your deans, CFO Mendez and the Business Affairs team to advance our progress in the competitiveness of our pay scale structures and individual compensation to further support the effort and impact of our faculty. I hope to be able to share more details of that effort later this year.
Please enjoy a rejuvenating summer and thank you for all that you do to enhance the learning experience for our students.