Mitra receives President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in Excellence in University Service
Associate Professor in Practice of Cyber Security, Rita Mitra, has received the President’s Distinguished Achievement Award in University Service for her commitment to creating an ecosystem of support for students and faculty. Mitra’s dedication to help facilitate impactful and experiential learning experiences has had a profoundly transformative effect on the entire UTSA community.
"This past year, we, as faculty and staff, have lamented and laughed with each other on Zoom with one priority—to connect with each other and our students as humans through our field of expertise. I wish for all of our students at UTSA to have similar experiences with their own peers while participating in coursework that engages and excites them," says Mitra. "This award recognizes the important part we all play in bringing experiences to our students that will set them up to identify and achieve their goals."
Mitra has an indisputable passion for service. Amidst the turmoil brought upon by COVID-19, she sprang to action to help the Carlos Alvarez College of Business (ACOB) weather the storm. Mitra helped create a dedicated website and discussion boards for faculty to share tips and best practices as well as solve shared dilemmas.
Recognizing the difficulty many faculty had in transitioning online, Mitra provided faculty development workshops and events concerning online course delivery. She held university-wide department meetings that included demonstrations and Q&A sessions. Mitra also made herself available to assist faculty members in providing the best online learning experiences for students, regardless of their technology skills.
“This past year has imposed significant challenges upon almost every member of our UTSA community,” says Kevin P. Grant, associate dean of undergraduate studies in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business. “It is in times like these that we must honor and recognize those who truly enabled so many others to sustain their well-being and persevere their goals. Dr. Rita Mitra is such a person, who served selflessly and with extraordinary dedication.”
Mitra was instrumental in redesigning the introductory courses for both Option 1 and Option 3 Cyber Security majors as well as the development of the online BBA in Cyber Security. With both student and faculty success at the forefront, Mitra developed the curriculum with best practice standards and pedagogical excellence. The program is now one of the top online cyber security degrees in the nation.
Mitra helps build pathways for undergraduate students to build their confidence and career readiness. Realizing that students in the online cyber security program came from diverse backgrounds and did not always have access to the same resources as in-person students, Mitra helped form the Online Cyber Security Alliance (OCSA) student organization, where Mitra serves as a faculty mentor. As the first fully online student club at UTSA, the club provides networking opportunities, online capture-the-flag enrichment activities and certification study groups.
Mitra also advances UTSA’s efforts to increase student success and graduation rates through her coordination of the teaching assistant and student tutoring/grading resources for the Carlos Alvarez College of Business. Working across seven departments and four different sources of funding, Mitra’s guidance and mentorship greatly contributes to these students’ personal and professional development.
Mitra serves on the Information Systems and Cyber Security Undergraduate Programs Committee, the ACOB Scholarship Committee, the University Education Abroad Committee, the University Tactical Team 2 and the Provost’s Peer Mentoring Team. She is the chair of the ISCS Introductory Sequencing Committee and co-chair of the ACOB Ad Hoc Technology Committee.
“Simply put, the strength of our department is in no small way due to Rita’s service contributions,” says Nicole L. Beebe, professor and chair of the Department of Information Systems and Cyber Security and the Melvin Lachman Endowed Chair. “She works tirelessly because of her selfless dedication to student success and natural inclination to serve others and the university.”
The Excellence in University Service Award recognizes those tenured and tenure-track faculty who are exemplary in their commitment to service within the University. The service of these faculty has major impact on the opportunities, lives, and future of UTSA students by providing leadership in critical areas such as advising students; student, department, college and university committee service; and/or creating new student programs and opportunities.