Message from the Provost Faculty Success

Start of Spring 2022 classes

January 19, 2022
Start of Spring 2022 classes

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 and staff in Academic Affairs:

Dear Academic Affairs Colleagues,

Happy New Year! I hope that each of you enjoyed a restful and healthy winter break.

The start of the semester once again threw us an unexpected loop with the spread of the Omicron variant and the subsequent move to hold the first three weeks of classes online. This pause in our progress to move past the COVID pandemic is disappointing to me, as I know it is to you; however, safety remains our highest priority. Your continued flexibility and optimism to temporarily adjust your instructional modality to promote the health of our students and entire UTSA community are deeply appreciated.

Despite these temporary setbacks, we have much to be optimistic about as we head into 2022, building upon the accomplishments achieved by our outstanding faculty and staff who have worked to build UTSA over the last 50 plus years.

What a year 2021 was for UTSA! When I reflect on what we achieved together last year and all your contributions to our mission—despite an ongoing pandemic—it is certain we have so much of which to be proud. Truly we have continued the trailblazing trajectory that defines UTSA.

First amongst the many, 2021 concluded with the exciting news that UTSA achieved the Carnegie R1 Classification, due in no small part to the endless hours of hard work in every corner of our campus. This achievement, along with the impact of scholarly excellence of our faculty in all of its varieties—fundamental, interdisciplinary, applied, community engaged and translational, will advance the success of UTSA students for years to come.

We shared some very notable, and several record-breaking, accomplishments in 2021 and as we begin a new semester, it is the perfect time to take a moment to celebrate these successes.

  • The academic year started with enrollment of 34,734 students, including a freshman class of 5,500, the largest in university history. Graduate enrollment for master’s and doctoral programs was also the highest in university history. 3,862 students enrolled in UTSA’s master’s programs—up 2.7% from last year. A total of 959 students were enrolled in doctoral programs—a 6.7% increase over the year prior.

  • A total of 7,732 undergraduate and graduate degrees were awarded in 2020-2021, more than at any time in UTSA history and 67% of all degrees in 2020-2021 were awarded to students who identify as from a historically underrepresented group. Since the 2016-2017 school year, UTSA has seen the number of undergraduate and graduate degrees awarded grow by 33% and 7%, respectively.

  • The six-year graduation rate increased by 5% from last year to 51% and the average time to degree for UTSA students now stands at 4.4 years, down from 4.5 years as of fall 2021. 

  • Research expenditures for FY21 were $140.0 million, the second year in a row that expenditures surpassed $100 million.

  • We opened nearly two dozen new upgraded classrooms that enable faculty to incorporate innovative teaching practices into their classes and put our Roadrunners in high-quality learning environments that deepen student learning and showcase innovative faculty pedagogy.

Of course, your efforts were fundamental to these collective successes. On behalf of university leadership, I thank you for your innovation and dedication to serving our students and advancing the UTSA mission.

Also fundamental to our success is the support and generosity of our benefactors who made a statement this year in support of our programs and trajectory to prepare tomorrow’s leaders to build a bright future for all.

The formal launch of the College of Engineering and Integrated Design (CEID) in September combined the academic departments and programs previously under the College of Engineering and the College of Architecture, Construction and Planning. In December, the college received a generous $20 million gift from Bill and Margie Klesse to advance student success through the creation of new endowments for student scholarships, faculty support and programs to promote student success. This gift was recognized through the naming of the new Margie and Bill Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design, only the second named college in UTSA history, after the Carlos Alvarez College of Business following the $20 million gift from Carlos and Malú Alvarez.

These gifts demonstrate the community’s support for the remarkable work being done at UTSA and provide the opportunity for more faculty innovation and exciting possibilities to propel our students to success in their fields. From mapping the historical locations in San Antonio that contributed to the Mexican American Civil Rights movement to work on the James Webb Space Telescope to designing homes for people with disabilities to working on a process to produce low-carbon fuels, it is clear UTSA faculty and students are making a difference not just in our community, but on a global scale. The numerous research studies and professional achievements by our faculty, including recognition by some of the nation’s most prestigious academies and foundations, is a testament to the expertise of our outstanding cadre of faculty.

Several of UTSA’s academic programs were recognized this year. U.S. News and World Report’s list of 2022 Best Graduate Schools highlights the nation’s top graduate programs and the specialties in each area. UTSA received recognition for specialties in the Alvarez College of Business, College of Education and Human Development, College for Health, Community and Policy, and Klesse College of Engineering and Integrated Design.

We celebrated several exciting beginnings in 2021 as well. We welcomed Mario Torres as dean of the College of Education and Human Development and President’s Distinguished Professor and Glenn Martínez as dean of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and the Stumberg Distinguished University Chair, who immediately took the reins of the ongoing COLFA visioning process. The addition of Southwest School of Art provides an exciting opportunity for UTSA to expand arts education for our students and the San Antonio community. We also celebrate the UT System Board of Regents recent approval for a new partnership between UTSA and UT Health San Antonio for a new collaborative School of Public Health, as we take steps to meet the strong demand for community-oriented public health education in San Antonio and beyond.

As a reminder, the Hispanic Thriving Institution Leadership Council has begun its work to even further advance our effort for UTSA to serve Hispanic students, and by extension all students, that earned us the Seal of Excelencia in 2020 from Excelencia in Education. This spring, we will be soliciting examples of your great work to accelerate Latino student success to be considered for submission to Excelencia for recognition in their “Examples” program. UTSA has so many impactful programs and efforts to share with other institutions as best practices, which can further spawn future efforts by others. Please keep an eye out for the call in the Faculty Center News.

As we make our way through this pandemic, let me take this opportunity again to strongly urge all Roadrunners to get vaccinated and boosted, wear masks and maintain physical and social distance when possible to help minimize the spread of COVID-19 and the related variants. I look forward to a bright Spring 2022 semester ahead full of opportunities for growth and further success.

As always, I thank you for the work you do every day to prepare our students for success here at UTSA and in charting their bold futures! I welcome your ideas on these and other topics — please feel free to reach out to provost@utsa.edu to share your thoughts with me.