Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Content


UTSAProfileUTSA is one of the youngest universities in Texas, admitting its first class of students in 1973. Since that time, it has become the fastest growing four-year institution in the state, with enrollments in the fall 2002 semester of 22,052 students (an 11% increase over the previous year). This level of growth is expected to continue, with fall 2003 enrollments projected to exceed 25,000. The University currently offers 53 bachelor’s, 35 master’s, and 7 doctoral degree programs.

UTSA is designated as a Minority-Serving and Hispanic-Serving Institution with enrollments of underrepresented students continuing to grow at an exceptional pace. The number of ethnic minority students has surged 142% since 1980, to the point where minorities now comprise 58% of the student population, including 46% Hispanic, 5.2% African Americans, 3.8% Asian Americans, 0.5% American Indians, and 2.7% International students. The Texas Coordinating Board ranks UTSA first statewide in the number of new Hispanic students enrolled and fifth for new African-American students.

Reflecting the cultural heritage of San Antonio (the nation’s eighth largest city) UTSA has distinguished itself as one of the preeminent institutions of higher education for Hispanics in the country. UTSA is now among the nation’s top five educators of Hispanics for seven different degree programs (Source: Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, May 7, 2001). For the past three years, UTSA has led all U.S. universities in the number of undergraduate degrees granted to Hispanic students in the biological sciences. According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, UTSA has the fifth largest Hispanic enrollment among four-year public institutions in the nation. Moreover, it has more ethnic minority students majoring in the sciences than does any other public university in Texas.

The University’s retention rate for ethnic minority students is 69%, which is among the highest rates of comparable institutions in the nation. The number of undergraduate minority students earning degrees has increased 15.8% in the last five years. Moreover, ethnic minority students at UTSA now earn 50% of all master's degrees, up from 22% in 1990. The academic success of minority students at UTSA is especially noteworthy because approximately 44% of these individuals are the first in their families to pursue a college degree.

UTSA strives to meet the needs of the large and ethnically diverse population of the San Antonio community, which consists of 59% Hispanic or Latino, 7% African American, 31% Anglo Americans, 1.5% Asian, and 1.5% other non-white (Census 2000, San Antonio). To facilitate access to its services, UTSA has expanded to three campuses: The Northwest Campus (the original location on 600 acres), The Downtown Campus, and the Institute of Texan Cultures. The Downtown Campus, which opened in 1997 on 11 acres, currently serves approximately 5,000 students. The Institute of Texan Cultures became part of the University in 1986 and features 50,000 square feet of exhibits highlighting the ethnic diversity of Texas. Space on all three campuses now totals over 2 million square feet. Construction of a Wellness Center was recently completed at the Northwest Campus and several major capital projects are underway at both the Northwest and Downtown campuses.

UTSA currently has 450 tenured and tenure-track faculty and 575 non-tenure track faculty, 98% of whom hold doctorates or equivalent terminal degrees. UTSA is ranked fifth in the nation in the percentage of Hispanic administrators and faculty (Source: Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, May 6, 2002). In addition, UTSA employs 2,698 full- and part-time staff.

Background  |  Growth as a Research Institution |  The Joint Life Sciences Initiative

Growth as a Research Institution                                                                                  

Research Institution

Under the leadership of its president, Dr. Ricardo Romo, UTSA is now positioned to become one of the top-tier research universities in Texas. This fact was recently underscored when the University of Texas Board of Regents named UTSA as one of the most promising research institutions in the state. To achieve its vision of becoming the next premier university in Texas, UTSA has articulated the following goals:


  1. Move to Carnegie Doctoral-Intensive Classification by 2004 and Carnegie Doctoral Extensive Classification by 2010. These classifications are based on factors such as institution size, the level of degrees and fields of specialization offered, educational mission, number of doctoral degrees awarded annually, and the amount of annual federal support for research and development.

  2. Become one of the top 100 universities in the nation in federal research dollars generated by 2010 (UTSA is currently ranked 171 in the nation).

  3. Contribute to the economic development and social life of San Antonio and South Texas.

  4. Make UTSA an institution of first choice for students throughout Texas, but especially for students in South Texas.

  5. Become a model institution for enhancing the success of first-generation and underrepresented students.

The strong emphasis on research at UTSA represents an important turning point in the university’s development. Only 30 years old, UTSA began as primarily an undergraduate institution focused on teaching. However, the dearth of comprehensive public universities in South Texas has compelled UTSA to expand its research mission. If UTSA does not increase its educational and research capacity, it will have a disproportionately negative effect on Hispanic citizens who comprise a high percentage of the population of South Texas. In 1993, the Texas legislature recognized the urgency of this situation and created the South Texas Initiative, which provided several years of enhanced funding to improve the research capability of UTSA and to enable it to become more competitive for extramural support.

UTSA is now poised to become a premier research institution. Over the past 10 years, the level of sponsored research funding has increased 285% to $28.2 million. During the same period of time, UTSA has established its first doctoral programs and now offers seven doctoral programs in the following areas: neurobiology; business administration; computer science; culture, literacy and language; educational leadership; electrical engineering; and English. New doctoral programs in biomedical engineering, cell and molecular biology, and environmental science and engineering have been approved by the Board of Regents and are currently being reviewed by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Several other Ph.D. programs currently under development, including a Psychology program with a strong health/mental health research training component.

In another important initiative to augment its growth as a top research institution, UTSA has embarked on an ambitious program of faculty hiring. Over the past three years, concerted recruitment efforts have resulted in a 30% increase in the number of tenured and tenure-track faculty. In the past year alone, UTSA hired 53 new tenure-track faculty, raising the total number of tenured and tenure-track faculty to 450. Moreover, 80% of tenure-track faculty hired in the last five years have been women or minorities. Over the next five years, the University plans to hire 250 new tenured and tenure-track faculty. This unprecedented expansion of the faculty will greatly enhance UTSA’s research capacity. To further enhance its research capability, the university is developing a strategic hiring plan that will build special strengths in targeted areas. One of the areas targeted for expansion is mental-health research.

Background  | Growth as a Research Institution | The Joint Life Sciences Initiative 

The Joint Life Sciences Initiative                                                                                      

Joint Life Sciences Initiative

In 2001, UTSA and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) presented a joint proposal to the Texas Legislature to help lay the groundwork for the collaborative research activities outlined in the present proposal.  Recognizing the benefits of collaborating on health research, UTSA and UTHSCSA developed the framework for a joint life sciences institute. The purpose of this institute is to initiate, coordinate, and administer research and teaching collaborations between the two institutions. The plan was approved by the Texas state legislature on May 17, 2001. Texas House Bill 1716 authorizes the establishment and operation of the San Antonio Life Science Institute—a joint venture between UTSA and UTHSCSA. The bill provides an outline of the role and scope of the Institute that includes the following:

  1. The Institute shall specialize in research and teaching in the life sciences.

  2. The Institute shall develop joint degree programs and joint research programs.

  3. The Institute may develop or use land, building, equipment, facilities, and other improvement in connection with the program.

  4. The Board of Regents may make joint appointments of faculty or other personnel to the Institute and to either or both UTSA and UTHSCSA.

Although the Life Science Institute was approved during the 2001 legislative sessions, no funds were allocated at that time because of harsh budgetary constraints on the Texas Legislature.  However, on a more positive note, partial funding was provided in the 2003 budget and several of the proposed collaborative activities are now underway.