Presidential Initiative on the Downtown Campus
UTSA’s Downtown Campus is a true jewel, full of possibilities and the potential to anchor our presence as an urban-serving university of the future.
Imagine a Downtown “Centro” Campus that is just as vibrant and active as the Main “Norte” Campus—an urban academic enclave that provides a fully realized living/learning experience for students and serves as an intellectual gateway to San Antonio’s near west side and downtown.
This is a big dream, and it will take work. Integral to achieving this vision is the expansion of our infrastructure downtown, as well co-locating those academic programs with the greatest potential to impact our city’s prosperity.
The first tangible step starts today with the launch of a new Presidential Initiative on the Downtown Campus. This initiative is so important that I will lead the task force in its early stages.
The first phase of this initiative will examine and develop action plans for three components:
Curriculum – Why should some UTSA students be required to travel to two different campuses to take classes? When it first opened, the intent was for students to complete their entire degrees at the Downtown Campus. We must once again make it possible for students in academic programs based downtown to take all of their classes—including core classes—on that campus. Some of these may be via simulcast with the Main Campus.
Housing – To reach its maximum potential, the Downtown Campus must offer housing. We know that increasing the residential nature of UTSA across both campuses is a key to enhancing student engagement, but this is especially true downtown where commuting is the only option. The task force will explore ways we can partner with local property owners to offer students housing in the near term, with the longer term intent of building our own. Eventually, we will have a residential portfolio to meet the diverse needs of our student population, including married and family housing options, as well as living options for faculty.
Student Experience – A fully realized Downtown Campus requires a holistic student experience that parallels what we offer on the Main Campus. All of our services—everything from advising to child care to student activities—must be reevaluated and expanded for a residential, autonomous campus. As the Downtown Campus grows over time, the scalability of our academic support and co-curricular offerings will only become more critical.
I have asked this task force to move swiftly, with an initial rollout of the aforementioned components by the start of the fall 2018 semester. Future phases of this initiative will involve standing up new schools and institutes, as well as the development of Cattleman’s Square and other parts of the physical campus. More information about upcoming phases will be shared in the weeks to come.
The Downtown Initiative Task Force members will rely heavily on the wisdom and input of students, faculty and staff to unearth the many pedagogical and logistical considerations involved in this effort. A series of town halls will take place later this month for the campus community to learn more, ask questions and offer perspectives on potential challenges and benefits. I will be leading these town halls, and I encourage anyone with an interest in the development of the Downtown Campus to attend.
Monday, April 23
Aula Canaria, BVB 1.328
Wednesday, April 25
Aula Canaria, BVB 1.328
Thursday, April 26
Retama Auditorium, SU 2.02.02
This initiative represents the first step in bringing a reimagined Downtown Campus into reality. These are exciting times! Thanks to all of you who have shown, through your hard work and adaptability, your willingness to dream no small dreams for our students and for UTSA.