Planning Advisory Task Force Holds Kickoff Meeting

February 6, 2024

The Task Force held its first meeting last Friday, February 2, during which Interim Provost and Executive Vice President Heather Shipley shared the goals, charge, and parameters with the group.

Task Force Overview


  • Better prepare students for the evolving landscape of these fields​.
  • Increase visibility and synergies among programs​.
  • Maximize research excellence through federal funding, transdisciplinary collaborations, pipeline and success of graduate students, and national and international recognition.
  • Leverage expansion opportunities in downtown San Antonio, solidifying UTSA's presence in San Pedro I and II.


  • Consider the landscape of UTSA student interests, regional workforce needs and partnering opportunities, and multidisciplinary research opportunities related to AI, data science and computing—from science to policy. ​
  • Recommend a college organizational structure that aligns AI, data science and computing related programs to enhance student success, career readiness and partnering opportunities, transdisciplinary research and funding competitiveness.


Dr. Shipley emphasized that this Task Force represents the first, visionary phase of planning for the new College. Questions related to logistics or practical considerations, while always welcome to be voiced by or to the Task Force, will be documented and addressed during a later, implementation-focused phase.

Process and Deliverables

The Task Force Co-chairs, Dean Jonathon Halbesleben and Interim Dean Jianwei Niu, along with Facilitator Shannon Heuberger and AVP Katie Meersman, gave an overview of the process and the deliverables.


The Task Force’s work is divided across two phases this Spring, including Phase I: Information Gathering Phase and Phase II: Design Phase.

During Phase I, Task Force members will serve on one of the following subcommittees:

The Identity Subcommittee explores the UTSA landscape relative to AI, cyber, computing, and data science related degrees, both now and as we look towards the future, answering questions such as: 

  • What areas have greatest enrollments? What areas have gaps or areas of opportunity related to student services including experiential learning? 
  • Where are our areas of research strength? How are we positioning ourselves as a research leader of the future in these areas? 

The External Partnerships Subcommittee identifies key external partners and resources, answering questions such as: 

  • What are the workforce needs of the San Antonio community? 
  • How can UTSA partner and serve? 
  • Who are our key external partners at every scale? 
  • What are the key transdisciplinary funding opportunities? 

The Peer Models Subcommittee researches peer institutions, answering questions, such as: 

  • What schools or colleges at peer institutions can we learn from as models? 
  • What are the trends? What do innovative models look like? What has no one done yet? 

During Phase II, the Task Force will create multiple designs for broader consideration, which will be shared for review and discussion during Town Halls with faculty, students, and staff, before the group delivers its final recommendations.


The Task Force is responsible for developing a set of recommendations on a realigned college organizational structure​, taking into account the findings from the subcommittees and feedback from the Town Halls and other forms of stakeholder input.

- Advisory Task Force