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Read below for updates on a UT System online education initiative, UTSA’s budget, and the implementation of “Class Pass” which, as a part of summer orientation, allows students to sit in on classes.
Dr. Bonner welcomed new senators and introduced members of the executive committee. She reminded senators of their responsibilities to attend meetings (or send a substitute), relay information between faculty and the senate, and to participate in committee activities. Other senate responsibilities include responding to issues that arise from faculty, providing feedback on HOP policies and curriculum review, providing feedback to campus leadership teams, and representing the faculty voice on these issues.
Dr. Bonner also said that the senate now has a Facebook page and an electronic suggestion box. Dr. Bonner continued to say that the new UTSA President, Dr. Eighmy, will be visiting the October senate meeting. She also mentioned that the revised workload policy from UT System is out for stakeholder review. The draft will be sent out soon to senators and stakeholder feedback is due to UT System by September 28th. All feedback can be sent to Joshua Thurow.
Dr. Thurow said that UT System began an online education initiative over the summer that aims to better understand how online education works, its challenges, and what resources could be offered to institutions. Each institution (including UTSA) conducted a self-study to report the status of online education at their institution. A stakeholder summit is also planned for later this fall.
Dr. Thurow gave some details on what UTSA’s self-study revealed. He said that last year UTSA offered 142 online courses (up 78% over the previous 3 years). Online course credits counted for 9% of semester credit hours at UTSA. Dr. Thurow said that a new Chief Online Learning Officer has been hired and that the Office of Online Learning is currently working to help faculty develop online courses. Any questions or comments can be sent to Dr. Thurow.
The Provost said that enrollment is up by 1,900 students which makes 30,992 total students enrolled. He said that the number of Ph.D. students is also up by about 10%. Graduate enrollment is steady, similar to what other institutions are seeing. 38 new faculty have been hired this year and the Provost has approved searches for next year, anticipating 50+ new faculty hires. Dr. Agrawal said that there is going to be a 2% budget reduction on E&G (state funds), but there will be no reduction to faculty salaries or graduate support. There was a 100% sweep of last year’s E&G funds by the state and a 50% sweep on designated tuition, but this is not expected to become a reoccurring trend. He said that the President is looking at new budget models for UTSA. In addition, the Board of Regents may be open to tuition and fee increase proposals. Proposals are due December 4th to UT System. He asked Dr. Bonner to assist with identifying two faculty senators who would be able to serve on the committee.
The Provost also discussed the CLASS initiatives and said that advising has been re-worked to introduce academic pathways. A pilot was conducted over the summer and there are plans to expand this initiative next year. Software is also being developed that will allow advisors to schedule tutoring with students on the spot. Two CLASS initiatives have been funded by UT System and $3.5 million has been given to UTSA to further overall student success.
The Curriculum Committee reviewed two proposals and recommended both for approval by the senate. Bachelor of Arts online degree in Cybersecurity (dept of Computer Science). Minor in Intelligence and Security Studies (dept of Political Science & Geo). The senate voted to unanimously approve the committee’s recommendation in both cases.
Dr. Hernandez said that some changes have been made to orientation including the implementation of “Class Pass” which allows students to sit in on a class, marrying academic pathways to actual summer courses for students. This allows departments a more active role in recruiting students and allows students to get a live preview of a class. Around 500 students attended (many more than expected) and 82 faculty participated (compared to 5 faculty in years past). This feature is planned to be offered again next summer.
Dr. Hernandez also said that she is serving as the editor of UTSA’s Journal of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Works. She is currently working with the editorial board to improve the online journal, allowing students an opportunity to publish their works twice per year. For more information, contact Dr. Hernandez.
Questions/comments about the newsletter?
Contact Chad Mahood: Chad.Mahood@utsa.edu