(Nov. 13, 2009)--C. Mauli Agrawal, professor and dean of the UTSA College of Engineering, holds the David and Jennifer Spencer Distinguished Chair for the Dean of Engineering.
One of 36 endowed faculty positions at UTSA, this endowment was established with a generous gift to UTSA in 2007 by David A. Spencer and his wife, Jennifer Spencer '93. A San Antonio-based entrepreneur and founder of Mandelbrot Ventures, an investment firm, and OnBoard Software Inc., a technology company, Spencer also helped found the nonprofit organization San Antonio Technology Accelerator Initiative (SATAI). The Spencers have been longtime supporters of the College of Engineering.
"Our goal is to use this generous gift in various ways that move the college forward to tier-one status," said Agrawal, who envisions a symbiotic relationship between UTSA and the city.
"If UTSA flourishes, the city will flourish," added Agrawal. "If you look at all the cities that are really doing well, they have strong technology sectors. If you get more technology, you get more companies and get more jobs."
An expert in biomedical engineering who came to UTSA in 2003, Agrawal is using this discretionary funding to move UTSA's agenda forward and to benefit students and faculty alike. For example, Spencer endowment funds helped to support the College of Engineering's collaboration with the College of Business' Center for Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship (CITE), create a student ambassador program, provide start-up research funding for new faculty, support student competitions, and reward faculty and staff excellence, to name just a few examples.
"We keep it flexible, year to year, whatever the needs may be," Agrawal said.
For example, the endowment supports senior engineering majors to develop capstone engineering projects in the area of energy production and conservation into viable commercial inventions. The annual CITE Student Technology Venture Competition fosters technological innovation and gives students a taste of life as an entrepreneur.
Endowment funds supported a new student ambassador program in the College of Engineering this fall. Agrawal's staff will train selected undergraduates in leadership practices, as well as making sure they are informed about the news, achievements and goals within the college. They will showcase the college's strengths to visiting community leaders and build students' professional development skills.
"They can also help with high school recruitment and outreach," Agrawal said. The students will be paid a stipend.
Since 2000, members of the Student Automotive Engineers (SAE) have designed, built and fielded a racecar in Formula-SAE competition. The dean provides a small amount of seed money for the project, but after that the students are on their own in every aspect.
"We are making steady progress in the competition," said Agrawal, adding that in recent years UTSA's teams have made it into the top 30 in competition.
Having start-up funding for new faculty members to grow and develop their ideas is also a key function of the distinguished chair. "The overall goal is to use this [endowment] for starting up ideas, and then once those ideas develop and we're showing progress, find other sources for revenue," Agrawal added.
Finally, the endowment is making possible the ability to share knowledge among students and National Academy-level researchers who will come to UTSA for short-term residencies with students and faculty. "These kinds of activities do not have funding elsewhere," Agrawal said.
"Jennifer and I recognize the impact a Tier One research university will have on the future of San Antonio. We felt there was no better place for us to support that quest than at the College of Engineering at UTSA," said Spencer. "Simply put, engineering graduates are great for our community and great for our economy. And, giving Dean Agrawal the ability to be creative in how he applies these funds had extra appeal."
The UTSA African American Studies program invites speakers from the leading African American Fraternities and Sororities for a panel discussion of the history of each organization and to enlighten the audience about the community service, academic purpose, professionalism and ethical roots of each group.
Student Union, Mesquite Room (SU 2.01.24), Main Campus
MuTe Fest is a celebration of original music and technology. Three days of concerts, sessions, and informative lectures will offer a unique experience of musical works created by fellow UTSA students and the chance to gain valuable knowledge about music technology.
Art Building, Music Tech Lab (Arts 3.01.30B), Main Campus
UTSA Libraries hosts Assistant Professor Ian Caine for his lecture, Architectural Postcards from Space, as part of the popular Pizza + Research series. Pizza will be served while supplies last.
Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.304), Downtown Campus
The conference will showcase the works of authors, illustrators, and scholars which embody Latino culture and art as a means to promote literacy and reading in Latino children.
Durango Building, first floor, Downtown Campus
The theme of this year’s symposium is Black & Brown Futures. The free event will give UTSA students and the community the opportunity to meet and hear national scholars talk about current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of African Americans in the United States.
Student Union, Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
Registration is open now for this family-friendly and dog-friendly run that supports the UTSA Alumni Association scholarship fund.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
Join the Department of Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching for the 14th Annual UTSA Storytelling Festival featuring Nancy Simpson, storyteller and keynote speaker. The event is free and open to the public.
Main Building, Ground Floor Lobby, Main Campus
Students are invited to a semi-formal, dinner banquet with an awards presentation and dancing. Keynote speaker will be San Antonio City Councilman William Cruz Shaw. Tickets must be purchased by Feb 19 at Roadrunner Express. UTSA students are $15 and guests are $20.
H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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