ITC Initiative Launch
Although UTSA celebrates its 50th anniversary on June 5, 2019, the Institute of Texan Cultures traces its origins back one year prior, when it was created as the Texas Pavilion for the 1968 World’s Fair, HemisFair ’68. Since that time, ITC has been a treasured resource for all to learn more about the rich heritage of our great state. San Antonio is arguably the birthplace of the Texan identity, and quite fittingly, ITC is entrusted with chronicling and celebrating our state’s diverse cultural traditions.
Similarly, UTSA is proud to be the steward entrusted with managing ITC and maintaining its unique collections and programs for the benefit and enjoyment of our community and state. As you may recall, last winter we engaged academic and museum experts to recommend actions to guide us in how to best execute this stewardship. This assessment revealed that we have work ahead to empower ITC to live up to its full potential.
That’s why I am launching the Institute of Texan Cultures Initiative to place a renewed focus on ITC and align it more directly to the educational mission of UTSA. As the assessment report states, one of ITC’s greatest assets — in addition to broad and ardent community support — is that it is part of the university. The goal of this initiative is to wholly and holistically capitalize on that connection as ITC pursues its mission to give voice to the experiences of people from across the globe who call Texas home.
UTSA Libraries Dean Dean Hendrix and College of Liberal and Fine Arts Dean Daniel J. Gelo will co-lead this initiative, working closely with ITC Executive Director Angelica Docog.
One key recommendation of the report that we are pursuing expeditiously is the creation of a new Director of Academic Research position. The primary duty of this individual will be to enhance ongoing collaboration between the museum and our academic programs, departments and colleges, including learning experiences for students, research projects, exhibits, and student internships and other engagement opportunities. The director also will hold a faculty appointment in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, teaching in the museum studies undergraduate minor, conducting research, and teaming with other faculty to launch the planned interdisciplinary public humanities doctoral program.
An important component of this initiative, per recommendation of the assessment team, will be aligning ITC operations with UTSA Libraries to leverage the Libraries’ administrative resources and expertise in managing academic collections. Dean Hendrix and Executive Director Docog have appointed from their teams a steering committee to determine how to best link operations to maximize efficiencies and create synergies between the two areas.
Another outcome of the ITC initiative, and one critical to ensuring its success, will be the development of a new strategic plan for the museum. In 2017, ITC took a bold initial step toward modernizing itself with the creation of an exhibition master plan; a new, comprehensive strategic plan would lay the path for implementing those upgrades. The strategic planning process should also include the development of a more entrepreneurial business model that would provide greater stability for ITC and mitigate any possible future state budget cuts by seeking to increase museum attendance and memberships, as well as philanthropy.
One of ITC’s greatest strengths is its favorable standing in the San Antonio community. With more than 30,000 visitors expected to take part in the 48th Texas Folklife Festival at ITC on June 7-9, it’s an ideal time also for the UTSA campus community to celebrate ITC and affirm the university’s commitment to preserving the museum’s tremendous assets, and expanding their use and enjoyment for our students and scholars, while creating a more engaging visitor experience for many future generations of Texans.