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Equity Advocacy Initiative

Overview

2020 has been a time of reckoning for our country — and particularly so for institutions of higher education — where the racial justice protests following the killing of George Floyd and the public health disparities highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic are prompting deeper examination of social, economic and health disparities.

Higher education serves a critical role in American society by simultaneously advancing the social mobility of individuals and promoting stability and prosperity of our communities. Distinguished HSIs and public research universities such as UTSA play an even larger role in this social compact because of our commitment both to advancing educational attainment for Hispanic students and students from other underserved populations, and to serving our communities.

The Equity Advocacy Initiative recognizes that a more intentional focus is needed to create truly inclusive learning environments where all UTSA students will thrive now and be well prepared for their bold future after college to serve as the next generation of leaders to advance San Antonio, the State of Texas and our nation.


Charge

Through the Equity Advocacy Initiative, the university will foster healthy and inclusive learning environments by developing an overarching, institution-wide framework for implementing the recommendations put forth by the 21st Century Learning Environments Task Group. The initiative will formally connect those efforts to the work of tactical teams on access, academic programs, core curricula and degree pathways as a part of our fundamental commitment to diversity, inclusion and the success of all UTSA students. Collectively, this work will further define the Roadrunner student experience — in and out of the classroom — and with an intentional grounding in diversity, inclusion and equity.

View the Initiative Brief


Primary Institution-wide Components

  • Implement recommendations from the 21st Century Learning Environments Task Force, including improving teaching support to infuse inclusive and asset-based teaching strategies into coursework.
  • Convene the Enabling Clear Pathways to Degree Completion Tactical Team #5 to address opportunities to increase connections in core curriculum, streamline degree pathways, and enhance and expand our mix academic programs.
  • Convene the Increasing Inclusive Access to Higher Education in Our Communities Tactical Team #6 to expand access to higher education through improved pipelines to UTSA.
  • Expand UTSA’s Bold Promise program that covers 100% of tuition and fees for eligible UTSA first-time undergraduate students to eligible transfer students from Alamo College District schools.
  • Develop an innovative Common First-Year Experience that includes programming designed to create community, common coursework, campus engagement, digital fluency, wellbeing, and living and learning online. The program will develop a common language around existing resources, develop new traditions and provide an opportunity for student to contribute and give a voice to global discussions and expression of their identity/personal. Students will engage in “Questions that Matter” through coursework and co-curricular activities that will create a digital archive of Roadrunner experiences.
  • Further refine department chair and faculty search processes to ensure inclusive and diverse recruitment practices, including increasing existing diversity requirements both for the search committee and candidate pools, and requiring training for all search committee members on what unconscious bias is, how it influences searches, and strategies to reduce unconscious bias in searches to achieve talented and diverse candidate pools.
  • Redesign Work Study program to expand the number of work study positions available to UTSA students, in alignment with goals of the Classroom to Career Initiative and in recognition that students who work on campus persist in their education and graduate at nearly twice the rates than those who work off campus.
  • Recruit and hire three Endowed Chairs through our “Connected” hiring strategy in our Strategic Hiring Initiative to increase our diverse faculty leaders who positively impact national grand challenges and serve as exemplars for broadening the participation of those who are historically underrepresented. These new tenured distinguished professor positions in multiple colleges will deepen and broaden UTSA’s capacity in impact-focused research and education that promotes student success, research excellence, community health and well-being to advance our role as an HSI Research University nationally.
  • Launch the Provost’s Diversity Post-Doctoral Fellows Program. Based on the successful pilot last year, the Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program is a new program in UTSA’s Strategic Hiring Initiative designed to further advance UTSA’s goals for Inclusive Excellence. This Post-doctoral fellowship program seeks to identify, advance, and nurture the work of outstanding early career diverse postdoctoral scholars, with the goal to prepare participants for faculty positions at UTSA (or elsewhere), particularly in fields where there are fewer members of underrepresented groups. This year’s program is open to candidates with doctoral degrees in health-related fields, where the post-doctoral experience at UTSA is oriented to the development of AI and/or other data science research skills and online pedagogy competencies. 
  • Formalize specific plans to address equity in each of UTSA’s colleges and academic support divisions (see below).

Academic College and Division Components

In support of the initiative, Academic Council leadership will develop new and enhance existing activities colleges and academic support divisions to advance diversity, inclusion and justice. Highlighted below are a selection of those efforts. It is anticipated that additional efforts will be introduced through other UTSA entities including Faculty Senate and Department Chairs Council.

Colleges of Architecture, Construction and Planning + Engineering – The colleges are creating a Diversity in the Workplace speaker series to promote ongoing conversations and support career development; freshman- and senior-level classes will include attendance at the series as part of their course objectives and outcomes. Additionally, the colleges will include diversity and inclusion statements in all course syllabi and are developing policies to recognize service around equity and inclusion in annual evaluations and other venues. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within COE and CACP

College of Business – The College of Business is developing a signature project focusing on intercultural fluency, with programming and activities to engage students, faculty and staff and to foster the development of intercultural fluency for the benefit of all COB constituencies; recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority faculty and staff will be a key focus of the project. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the college

College of Education and Human Development – The college and Department of Race, Ethnicity, Gender and Sexuality Studies are developing a proposal to introduce a social justice component to the university’s core curriculum. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the college

College for Heath, Community and Policy – The new college is prioritizing an initiative to create a college-wide strategy and infrastructure with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. Many departments within the college currently offer coursework and programming to prepare students for an increasingly diverse and global workforce; the initiative. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the college

College of Liberal and Fine Arts – COLFA has begun a borderland humanities project to bring together faculty, undergraduate and graduate students, and community members working at the intersection between human migration and borderlands with social justice and equity. Their research will be translated into digitally curated exhibits. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the college

College of Sciences – The College of Sciences is prioritizing recruitment efforts to increase participation of underrepresented student in graduate STEM programs. Additionally, the college will work to create new and reinforce existence affinity groups for faculty and students. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the college

Honors College – The Honors College is piloting new suite of courses examining legacies of structural inequality in the city of San Antonio, using an assets-based approach within a city as text pedagogy. As an example, the college is partnering with the Department of Demography to offer a course on how patterns of COVID-19 map onto historical legacies of racism in the city.  Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Honors College

University College and Academic Success – All faculty and staff within the college and division will participate in a new, year-long inclusive excellence program that includes a common reading and monthly meetings.  This theme for this inaugural year is on fostering healthy discourse and encouraging education regarding race relations. Additionally, the First-Year Experience program will incorporate “Question That Matter” programming into the AIS and WRC curriculum. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within University College and the Division of Academic Success

Academic Innovation – Online Programs and Extended Education are expanding Spanish-language program offerings and marketing materials. Digital Learning is focusing on supporting accessibility for online courses and later this year will integrate the Ally accessibility toll into Blackboard. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Academic Innovation

Global Initiatives – UTSA seeks to increase study-abroad participation among Pell-eligible, first-gen and LGBTQ+ students by providing tailored resources and outreach to these communities. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Global Initiatives

Graduate and Post-Doctoral Studies – The Graduate School is introducing inclusivity exploration badges for students who participate in social justice related events, programming and service projects. The School also is offering targeted programming for DACA and non-DACA students and first-generation students, as well as diversity and inclusion classroom training for graduate teaching assistants. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the Graduate School

Libraries and Institute of Texan Cultures –UTSA Libraries is developing plans for a multi-phased project to build a digital portal that will aggregate metadata and digital representations of primary source materials documenting the history of Mexican American civil rights. The portal will support multidisciplinary research, K-12 and post-secondary education, and will provide interested members of the public with access to materials documenting the significant contributions of Mexican Americans in advancing equity and fair treatment for all people. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within the Libraries and ITC

Strategic Educational Partnerships — The division is actively working to increase access to dual credit courses for students in the San Antonio Independent School District and other districts, and is developing academic pathways programs across Dual Credit and the Prefreshman Engineering Program. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Strategic Educational Partnerships

Strategic Enrollment – The Financial Aid Office, in collaboration with Student Success, is developing a comprehensive Financial Wellness initiative to bring greater financial awareness and support to high-need student populations. Specifically, efforts will focus on low-income, first-generation students who need wrap-around services during the recruitment process and also as they transition to campus. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Strategic Enrollment

Student Affairs – Among numerous activities, the Multicultural Student Center for Equity and Justice (MSCEJ) has launched a monthly Racial Justice Book Club in partnership with UTSA Libraries and Inclusive Excellence. MSCEJ developed an Equity Peer Facilitator program which trains work-study students to lead equity and social justice workshops for their student peers. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Student Affairs

Student Success – Among other efforts, Student Success will continue its planning and program development efforts around a minority males’ initiative designed to enhance a sense of belonging, academic success, and increased student success outcomes. This initiative includes the development of a specialized CSS 1201 college success course, a faculty-to-student mentoring program, and a living-and-learning community. Learn more about equity advocacy initiatives within Student Success