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A Message from VPSA Sam Gonzales

“Pictured Above: Vice President for Student Affairs, Sam Gonzales” Pictured Above: Vice President for Student Affairs, Sam Gonzales

Birds Up, Roadrunners!  This is a common phrase on our campuses.  It is a way to say “hey there”, “let’s get going” and “look alive” all in the same phrase.  I share that with you, because that is exactly how this spring semester has begun, and we are so glad to have all of the students back for an incredible beginning to 2016.

It has been busy on campus with the recent selection of our new head football coach, Frank Wilson. On Friday, January 15, 2016, we announced the news during an on-campus press conference and off-campus social gathering.  You can watch the full press conference here.  I am so excited about the future of Roadrunner football.   During the announcement, Coach Wilson shared his philosophy about recruiting and talked about his vision for UTSA.  For him, recruiting requires “all hands on deck,” meaning that everyone is a recruiter.  This philosophy goes well beyond the playing field and includes admitting future Roadrunners, searching for talented faculty and staff, and students’ career opportunities. 

We all have a role in continuing excellence at UTSA.  We need all hands on deck and we need our families to join us. There are many ways to help.

  • Share feedback with us as we seek continual improvement.
  • Encourage students in your communities to consider attending UTSA, a world-ranked institution.
  • Encourage your student to connect with the spirit of UTSA by attending an athletic event and join them in the fun.
  • Suggest to businesses that they recruit Roadrunners and put them in contact with the Career Center.

Thank you for all that you do to support Roadrunners and I hope to see you soon on campus.  Now and forever, you are a Roadrunner.

Best Wishes,

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What to Do if Your College Student is on Academic Probation

No college student heads off to college with the plan to be placed on academic probation and face potential dismissal.  Few parents, when they drop their student off for college in September, expect that their student will struggle to the point of being placed on probation.  But the reality is that, for many students, their academic work warrants the college officially notifying them that they are in danger of being dismissed.  Parents can be a tremendous asset, or can potentially make matters worse, when this happens.  Here are some suggestions about how you, and your college student, can cope with academic probation.

What can parents do if their student is placed on academic probation?

Help your student to understand that you are there to support, not to judge.  (Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can’t let him/her know that certain behaviors may be unacceptable.)

Sometimes, parents’ first reaction when they learn about probation may be to call the college.  At times, this may be necessary, but it is more important at this point to talk to your student and to encourage your student to make the necessary contacts with the college.  Although you should certainly discuss this situation with your student, and possibly offer your suggestions, encourage your student to seek support from the college, and not to look to you for all of his/her answers.  If you do feel that you need to call the college, tell your student that you will be doing so.  Involve him/her in this process.

Once you and your student have adjusted to the reality of his/her probationary status, you can help him/her to explore his options.  Remember that your student may be frightened and need your support right now.  Help him/her to explore the reasons for his difficulty.  Insist that he/she create a plan for change.  Help him/her set both long and short term goals and plan the steps to accomplish those goals.  Be sure to set reasonable expectations and standards.  This may require that you, as a parent, reconsider your expectations of your student.  Can he/she reasonably do his/her schoolwork and hold a part-time job?  Should he/she have a car available on campus? Is it helpful or not for him to come home many weekends or should he work to get involved on campus?

Although it may seem contradictory, encourage your student to be involved and engaged in the non-academic activities of his college.  If your student is on probation, he/she certainly needs to be spending time studying.  However, several studies suggest that students who are actively engaged in the life of their campus actually do better academically.  Ask your student how he spends much of his free time.  Many students who have academic difficulty are not active participants at college, have not made connections, and do not spend time with other motivated students.

More importantly, inform your student that he/she is not alone and that he/she will get past this challenge. To find out more on what your student needs to do if he/she is on probation, read the full article at http://bit.ly/1x042Fq .

Article information adapted from College Parent Central’s Website www.collegeparentcentral.com 

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UTSA Names New Head Football Coach


The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) has selected Frank Wilson, LSU assistant head coach, running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, as its new head football coach. Wilson, who has 20 years of coaching experience and helped lead teams to eight bowl games, is widely regarded as one of the nation’s top college football recruiters.

In early January, UTSA retained Collegiate Sports Associates, a prominent sports consulting firm, to conduct an extensive national search for candidates and UTSA President Ricardo Romo appointed a university committee led by Athletic Director Lynn Hickey to recommend finalists for the position. Romo made the final selection after interviewing those candidates. 

“Coach Wilson is an impressive leader who has the passion and vision to take UTSA football to the next level,” said Romo. “In our first five years of football, we have made great gains because of the tremendous support from our community. Coach Wilson is the ideal person to harness that momentum and keep UTSA moving forward.”

In six years as LSU’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator, Wilson annually developed and managed a backfield that featured some of the best young players in the Southeastern Conference. Under his guidance, the Tigers recorded 45 100-yard rushing games and four 1,000-yard individual rushers. Six LSU running backs have been selected in the NFL draft since Wilson joined LSU.

On the recruiting trail, Wilson has produced five signing classes that were ranked among the nation's top 10, including the second-rated class in the U.S. in 2014. He was named the 2014 NFL.com Top Recruiter in College Football and 2011 Recruiter of the Year by Rivals.com.

“Frank Wilson is an energetic and enthusiastic coach who will be a great leader for our student-athletes,” Hickey said. “His hire is a coup for UTSA and the city of San Antonio, and I know our fans are going to be excited.”
The New Orleans, La., native joined the LSU staff after spending the 2009 season at Tennessee, where he coached wide receivers. Prior to joining the Volunteers, Wilson spent the 2008 campaign at Southern Miss as running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. He also served as running backs coach and special teams assistant at Mississippi from 2005-2007.

Visit http://www.utsa.edu/today/2016/01/newfootballcoach.html to read the full article.

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Fall 2015/Winter Edition of Sombrilla Released


The 2015 Fall/Winter Sombrilla magazine issue is available online to view.

Founded in 1984, Sombrilla Magazine is the flagship publication of The University of Texas at San Antonio. It is the primary publication for communicating with alumni, students, faculty, staff and university supporters. The magazine strives to engage, inform, inspire and entertain a diverse readership.

Sombrilla strives to capture the intellectual, cultural and social life of the university while also tackling relevant national and global issues. By reflecting the values and quality of the university, Sombrilla endeavors to stimulate in readers feelings of pride and connection.

To view past issues of Sombrilla please visit http://www.utsa.edu/sombrilla/archives/ .

Article information adapted from UTSA’s University Communication and Marketing Website http://www.utsa.edu/ucm/


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UTSA Students Take a Journey Through the History of Civil Rights and Social Justice


The University of Texas at San Antonio Student Leadership Center embarked on its fifth year of the Civil Rights and Social Justice Experience, taking 35 UTSA Roadrunners across four states for an immersion into the history of the civil rights movement and an exploration of current social justice issues. Participants were guided through the experience by student facilitators who fostered a small group discussion.

The Civil Rights and Social Justice Experience took place from January 5th to 9th, and continued with participation in the MLK March in San Antonio on January 18th. A new addition for the 2016 event was a stop in Little Rock, Arkansas, where students explored the rich history of Little Rock Central High School and walked in the footsteps of the courageous students known as the Little Rock Nine, who desegregated Central High School. From there the trip continued to Birmingham, Alabama and on to Memphis, Tennessee where students viewed other historical markers such as the Civil Rights Institute, 16th Street Baptist Church, Kelly Ingram Park and the National Civil Rights Museum.

As the students toured downtown Memphis, they visited the Slave Haven Underground Railroad, the Mason Temple Church of God in Christ headquarters where Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last speech before his 1968 assassination, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music and the W.C. Handy Museum. Along with site visits, students followed a curriculum that included documentaries, written journals, group discussions and presentations from guest speakers and activists.

UTSA student Paul Cuellar called the trip a one-of-a-kind, life-changing experience.

“You will come out a better person,” Cuellar said.

“This trip teaches you what the textbook doesn’t,” UTSA student Amber Calvert said. “It gives you the opportunity to explore your passions and what means of justice you are willing to stand up for. I think my favorite part of the trip was developing the desire to do my own research. There are so many questions that I have now and I am more than excited to find the answers. There is something special about learning history from those who actually witnessed it. It takes learning from being just history to being real, that will give everyone the willingness to learn.”

Student Diana Davila Elizondo (Junior, Political Science Major) said, “I am very thankful for the SLC and its staff. I don’t think I would have had the opportunity to visit all these places if it were not for this trip. It is one thing to read about all this in textbooks, but being at the actual places is amazing. I also had the opportunity to make new friends but more importantly the group activities taught me how to engage in civil discourse while talking about sensitive topics. I hope the SLC has the opportunity to create more trips like these. Maybe about Cesar Chavez or Women’s rights.”

Article originally submitted for UTSA Today by Latrice Owens, Graduate Assistant for Student Leadership Center and Orientation and Family Programs

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2016 Leadership Takeover Conference – Registration Now Open


Leadership Takeover!

Saturday, February 20, 2016
UTSA Main Campus University Center
9:00 am ­to 5:30 pm

Leadership Takeover 2016 is a leadership conference for UTSA students, coordinated by UTSA students. Previously known as Leadership Now, Leadership Takeover will be a daylong conference for any students interested in developing their leadership skills.

For more information, contact Lydia Bueno at Lydia.Bueno@utsa.edu. To register to attend this exciting conference, visit the RowdyLink homepage at https://utsa.collegiatelink.net/.

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UTSA Annual Giving: 2015 Year in Review – Thank You!


At UTSA, 2015 was a year of great accomplishments! From being ranked again as one of the world’s top universities by Times Higher Education, to graduating more than 5,943 new alumni—there is no doubt that during the past year UTSA continued to thrive.

And you made it possible. Your support is helping today’s Roadrunners succeed. Scholarships, immersion trips, research opportunities, campus life, new faculty—all were made possible by you and other donors to the university.

Thanks to your support, UTSA is top-tier.

Here is a look back at some of the amazing things you made possible in 2015!

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The Diploma Dash is Back!


The 32nd Annual Diploma Dash is a fast, certified 5k course for runners and a scenic route for walkers, strollers and dogs! Proceeds from the 5K Diploma Dash benefit the UTSA Alumni Association and the scholarships the organization makes available to deserving UTSA students.

Race Highlights:
  • The Official San Antonio City Championship Race
  • 5k Certified Course around UTSA's Main Campus
  • Video finish for all racers
  • Real-time results
  • T-shirt for registrants before Feb. 15
  • Race medals for 18 team & age categories 
  • Rowdy and Spirit of San Antonio UTSA Band
  • Visit http://alumni.utsa.edu/page.aspx?pid=422 to find out more information on supporting one of UTSA’s oldest traditions!

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    New Look for Orientation and Family Programs Front Office


    The front office of Orientation and Family Programs recently went through a facelift over the holiday season. Orientation’s very own Student Coordinator, Nikolas Goff, created a handmade Roadrunner art piece to be hung in the lobby. He surprised the staff of Orientation and Family Programs and presented it as a gift prior to leaving for the holiday vacation. The Roadrunner took Nikolas all semester to complete as it is an intricate work of nail, wood and string. In addition to the new art piece is the updated display board which sits right outside the front doors. This display board, which is now titled “UTSA Legacy of Leadership,” showcases notable winners of the past year such as the Family of the Year, Orientation Leader of the Year, Mr. and Mrs. Roadrunner Camp, and many more.

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    UTSA Student Spotlight: Keaton Dear


    Name: Keaton Dear
    Hometown: Wichita Kansas-
    Major: Biology
    Minor: Dance
    Extracurricular Activities: Pre-professional tap dancer for ten years, registered dental assistant
    1. The new semester has started. What are you most excited about for the New Year?

    I am really excited to meet new people this semester in my new classes and make connections and friendships to expand the people I know here at UTSA. I am also excited to just be back on campus and continuing my education. Lastly, the challenges of a new semester are also something I look forward to since it presents excellent opportunities to grow as a person.

    1. Which areas would you like to improve upon for this semester and how do you plan on achieving these goals?

    This semester I am an Orientation Leader in Training, and with this experience I hope to grow as a leader and really become a voice for my class and peers. I plan on getting the most from all of my classes and seek to receive a 4.0 which I know will be difficult but achievable. With both of these things I hope to grow as a person and truly become a leader on campus. I also will seek help if need be from the resources at UTSA as well as my group of friends.

    1. With a new semester come new classes. Are there any classes which you are excited for?

    Two classes I am really excited for are the Orientation Leader Training (OLT) course as well as my Jazz and Musical Theatre course. These two excite me for different reasons. The OLT course will help me hone my leadership skills as well as improve marketable skills which can extend far past hopefully being an Orientation Leader into my professional career paths outside of college. The Jazz and Musical Theatre course is exciting as well, because I truly love dancing specifically jazz and tap dance I think this course will teach me specialized techniques in regards to dance. Both of these courses are far reaching in terms of impact so as the semester progresses I am looking forward to all the knowledge I can gain from them.

    1. For high school seniors it's approaching time to apply for college. What do you love about UTSA which you would tell a prospective student looking to apply?

    Something I noticed immediately when I came to UTSA was the family atmosphere. Everyone is truly there to help each other out and truly help each other on our individual paths. Another great thing about this campus is the ability to be yourself and be an individual on a connected campus. Something I have found with my friends who went elsewhere is they often talk about how their professors don't know them and they just feel like a person in a huge group of people with everyone blending in. It's truly not this way here. Everyone can stand out and be the person who they want to be not just another face in the crowd.

    1. Lastly, if you could offer any advice to those high school seniors looking to apply to colleges, what would it be?

    Be honest with yourself as well as keep an open mind. In my college search I had several schools I applied to and what really made my decision to come to this school was the atmosphere I got when I actually had time to visit the campus and see for myself, what it had to offer. I knew the moment I came here this was the place for me and by having that honest evaluation of the college for myself it made the process much easier. Also keep an open mind. Since I had applied to several schools not knowing where I truly wanted to go when I went to the campus I could schedule a visit so I didn't judge the colleges against each other I took them each as they were and went with the one I liked the best on its own, not in comparison to other schools.

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    Important Spring 2016 Dates

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016 – Census Date

    Monday, March 14 thru Saturday, March 19, 2016– Spring Break

    Monday, March 21, 2016 – Last Day to Drop Classes

    Saturday, April 30, 2016 – Last Day of Classes

    Monday, May 2, 2016 thru Tuesday, May 3, 2016 – Study Days

    Wednesday, May 4, 2016 thru Tuesday, May 10, 2016 – Final Exams

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    Thank you for reading the Family Connection!