Create a College for Health, Community and Policy
To convene the academic community to consider how to improve the alignment of UTSA’s human health related programs, a Human Health Planning Advisory Task Force was launched on November 14, 2018, and included broad representation from across campus, as well as leadership from key external partners. The 31-member group was charged with surveying the landscape of UTSA student interests, regional workforce needs and partnering opportunities, plus multidisciplinary research opportunities related to human health; and to recommend a college organizational structure that aligns health-related programs to enhance student success, career readiness, and partnering opportunities, transdisciplinary research, and funding competitiveness.
Provost Espy will be meeting with the following departments that would be directly impacted in one or more of the notional organizational models, to discuss the models and seek input:
- Kinesiology, Health, and Nutrition
- Social Work
- Criminal Justice
- Public Administration
- Philosophy and Classics
Others are encouraged to provide input by attending campus forums on April 17, or by emailing Assistant Vice Provost for Academic Initiatives Shannon Heuberger. You are also welcome to reach out to Dr. Heuberger if your department needs to request an individual meeting in addition to the forums.
Human Health Initiative Campus Forums
Wednesday, April 17
Regents’ Room (MB 3.106)
Wednesday, April 17
11 a.m.–12 p.m.
Buena Vista Theater (BVB 1.326)
According to the SA Works 2018 Jobs Report, the number of healthcare related jobs in the San Antonio- New Braunfels area increased by 8,758 over the last five years, with this trend expected to continue into the next decade and beyond. Matching this trend, UTSA students are demonstrating a high degree of interest in these professions, as evidenced, for example, in the steep growth in the last five years in the number of public health and other health-related undergraduate degrees awarded and applications to health-related doctoral programs.
Modern health careers require a transdisciplinary understanding of the numerous biological, psychological, demographic, social and environmental factors impacting the health of individuals and their communities. In our region particularly, there are substantial health disparities in health care access, service utilization and outcomes, which underscore the need to transdisciplinary approaches as well as highlights the role of public policy to positively impact community health - to address such complex, multifactorial problems as obesity, diabetes, and opioid use, to name just a few.
Currently health-related and pre-professional programs at UTSA have limited visibility, are distributed across 3+ colleges, and are split and/or buried in disciplinary-based departments. While this organizational model offers a strong disciplinary grounding, it is out of step with current population health care models. Better alignment and synergy among the health-related programs could make these programs more visible, easier for students to navigate, and better prepare our students for the multidisciplinary, modern healthcare setting.
Federal agencies, particularly the NIH, the largest external supporter of health related research, is awarding a greater percentage of funding to larger transdisciplinary teams studying multi-faceted problems. For faculty, an aligned, focused college structure addressing health-related issues grounded in community will support greater multidisciplinary research efforts at the interface of fundamental and translational science.
Furthermore, with the rich network of community partners, UTSA stands to accelerate collaborative work, for greater benefit to our students, faculty, the San Antonio community, and beyond. The launch of President Eighmy’s Downtown Initiative has laid the groundwork to expand and maximize strategic, win-win partnerships between UTSA, including all of our campuses, and community organizations, such as businesses, government, non-profits, and other institutions of higher education. Example opportunities include partnerships to expand health-related internship and career opportunities for our students, plus research partnerships to yield increased extramural support and greater public benefit.
Task Force members are assigned to one of the following three subcommittees to gather and review data and information in each topic area. Each subcommittee will provide a brief reports on their findings to the rest of the task force and Provost. These reports will be posted on this site when completed. The subcommittees will address the following topics: a) Internal Outreach by reviewing the landscape of existing human health related programs at UTSA, including data on enrollment, student success, and career outcomes; b) External Outreach by exploring potential opportunities to partner with organizations in the San Antonio area to enhance both student success and research excellence in human health related fields; and c) Best Practices by examining varying organizational structures at peer institutions.
Task Force members then will be reassembled and assigned to three new “Design” Committees, each tasked with developing a proposed new college organizational structure, utilizing the information gained by the first phase subcommittees. This parallel process is designed to foster creative divergent thinking and innovative new models for consideration.
The reports and other products from the committees will be posted. Forums also will be held to discuss the organizational models proposed by the Advisory Task Force to inform decision making.
Strategic Plan Midpoint Update (Fall 2022)
The Human Health Planning Advisory Task Force submitted its final report to UTSA Provost Kimberly Espy on March 27, 2019. The Task Force’s recommendations were operationalized and UTSA’s College for Health, Community and Policy was formed in 2020 to develop solutions to effect change for complex social issues to improve the well-being of communities and world. Today, HCAP contains nine academic disciplines and four centers and institutes to promote mutually informing, transdisciplinary partnerships and collaborations.
Under the leadership of inaugural Dean Lynne Cossman, HCAP now offers eight undergraduate and ten graduate degree and certificate programs. The formation of HCAP has already yielded numerous benefits, including a fully-integrated vision, new transdisciplinary research partnerships, the development of new processes to improve financial processing and fellows orientation, launched the magazine Engage, created faculty mentoring programs, and streamlined graduate student funding processes. In future years, HCAP is poised to accelerate local and regional collaborations and to equip future graduates with the professional skills to thrive in the growing healthcare industry.