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Academic Success District Initiative promotes collaborative learning environments

September 7, 2020

The University of Texas at San Antonio today announced the Academic Success District Initiative to promote collaborative learning environments for students and faculty. Through the initiative, the university will relocate several key offices that support the academic experience to paseo-level spaces to enhance their visibility and navigability.

“Providing exemplary working and learning environments that enhance collaboration, education and creative activity are critical to our destinations to be a model for student success and an exemplar for strategic growth and innovative excellence,” said Kimberly Andrews Espy, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Just as we conduct campus master planning to guide our physical growth in alignment with our long-term institutional goals, strategically allocating space on campus allows us to realize more immediate gains toward those goals.”

The Academic Success District Initiative builds upon the recent completion of the Student Success Center. The new modular building brings together undergraduate advising services on the Main Campus, which previously were dispersed across multiple locations in five buildings.

“With the completion of the Student Success Center and resultant release of space in several core buildings, we have a prime opportunity to move — and in some cases, co-locate — a number of academic support areas to more prominent spaces and also to create more synergistic environments for our students, faculty and staff,” said Joshua Gerken, senior director of space management.

“We are a university of more than 34,000 students and some 4,000 faculty and staff; space is a central resource of the university and one of our most limited ones. So, it is critical that we identify and capitalize on opportunities to fully and effectively utilize our space in a manner that supports our institutional objectives for student success and faculty excellence.”

A key component of the Academic Success District will be creating front door environments for the division of Academic Innovation and academic support programs of the Tomás Rivera Center on the second floor of the Multidisciplinary Studies Building in spaces previously occupied by Student Placement Advising and the Registrar’s Office.

“The division of Academic Innovation supports UTSA faculty and students by championing innovative and transformational practices that enhance their academic experience at UTSA,” said Melissa Vito, vice provost for academic innovation. “With this storefront space in the MS, we are bringing together our Digital Learning, Teaching and Learning, and Learning Technologies specialists and creating open and collaborative working and training spaces for our faculty and students. Our vision is this will be a community space that invites both faculty and students to work with our team to innovate and improve teaching and learning at UTSA.”

Similarly, the new home for the Tomás Rivera Center’s academic support services across the hall will feature open and collaborative learning spaces with flexible furniture to accommodate group learning sessions, study halls, tutoring, and learning assistance workshops. Small offices on the perimeter will be used for one-on-one tutoring sessions.

“The new space will be a supportive environment where students can master skills needed to be successful lifelong learners,” said Tammy Wyatt, vice provost for student success. “The Student Success Center was an important step in our efforts to create hubs where our students can access essential resources; with the Academic Success District, we’re talking it several steps further.”

Also as part of the initiative, TRC’s Supplemental Instruction will move from the fourth to the second floor of the John Peace Library.

With limited in-person classes for Fall 2020 and many staff and faculty continuing to work remotely, the launch of the Academic Success District Initiative is timed to cause minimal disruption to academic life. Many of the relocations already are underway, and Gerken expects the moves to be completed with the offices capable of being fully operational in their new spaces by May 2021.

Other components of the Academic Success District Initiative:

The Academic Success District also encompasses student-focused offices in the Graduate Studies and Research Building: Honors College, Writing Core Program and ROTC programs.