OIT and Advising Staff Present Sessions at SXSWedu

{March} {10}, {2016}

by Dalinda Milne at 1:28 PM in Campus CommunityEventsInterestingProjectsStaff News



(UTSA's staff and Dr. Daniel Greenstein, director of P​ostSecondary Success Strategy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.)


Written by: Nicole Duff, communications specialist

This past week several UTSA staff members traveled to Austin for the 30th annual SXSWedu conference. Assistant Vice Provost for Information Technology Dr. Vanessa Hammler Kenon and Executive Director of Advising Barbara Smith attended the educational conference, along with members of the UTSA Office of Information Technology (OIT) team, including Telecommunications Manager Mary-Margaret Echevarria and Communications Specialists Dr. Delia Swiger and Nicole Duff.

The four-day event, which lasted from March 7-March 10, featured keynotes, informative sessions, film screenings, summits, panel discussions, debates, among other activities, aimed at encouraging innovation and discussions amongst education professionals.  

The team participated in three Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation events, where they focused primarily on highlighting the foundation's Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success (iPASS) grant, of which OIT is a recipient. This grant has enabled UTSA, like other grantee institutions, to implement several advising and degree planning systems as part of its ongoing effort to improve its student retention and graduation rates.

The first event the team participated in was the Gates summit, which was held on Tuesday and involved multiple round-table discussions. Dr. Kenon led two of these discussions in which she engaged in discourse with students and other professionals in higher education about real-life challenges related to the sustainability of the grant. The rest of the team interacted with representatives from universities and colleges, education partners, and think tanks from across the country.

In addition, the entire team conducted a poster presentation, which chronicled UTSA's journey from the initial Integrated Planning and Advising Services grant (iPAS) to the current Integrated Planning and Advising for Student Success grant (iPASS). Scores of attendees flocked UTSA's booth, where they amassed a wealth of information related to the iPASS grant.

Rounding out the team's presentations during the global event was a panel presentation where Dr. Kenon discussed the technologies employed to aid student success, and OIT's plans to sustain this initiative. She also participated in a video interview hosted by the South by Southwest organization, regarding the SXSWedu event.

 "Working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on iPASS over the past three years has provided UTSA a wealth of resources far beyond just funding," Dr. Kenon shared. "Our three presentations here at SXSWedu highlight that journey and our work campus-wide to support student success initiatives."