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Academic Affairs launches faculty leadership fellows program

Academic Affairs launches faculty leadership fellows program

Emmanuel Akwar and Erica Sosa are the inaugural members of UTSA’s Advancing Next-Gen Faculty Leadership Fellow Program.

Nov. 18, 2019 — UTSA’s Office of Academic Affairs is pleased to announce its inaugural fellows in the Advancing Next-Gen Faculty Leadership Fellow Program, a new program designed to provide intensive one-on-one training and development experience to promote diverse academic leadership at UTSA. 

Inaugural fellows are Emmanuel Akwar, lecturer III in biology, and Erica Sosa, associate professor of kinesiology, health and nutrition. 

They were selected from 18 applications for the new program, which is intended to provide more intensely focused development for faculty than Leadership UTSA, which was started in 2009 and offers development activities for both staff and faculty. 

“Leadership UTSA is an excellent program that many of our faculty participate in, but it is not targeted specifically to faculty and the leadership journey,” said Heather Shipley, senior vice provost for academic affairs. “This new faculty fellowship program will help our own faculty expand their experiences with leadership by supporting and preparing them to become the next generation of university leaders.” 

The program’s objectives are to help the fellows learn about the academic organization and operations; develop skills and attributes of effective academic leaders; consider current and future challenges and opportunities in higher education; recognize and implement the values of diversity, inclusion, self-awareness and ethical leadership; and develop professional relationships. 

“UTSA is very diverse. The more we learn about the different cultural norms of our students, the better we can serve them.”


The fellows spend approximately 10 hours per week in residence in their assigned unit, attend regular meetings and work with their mentor to complete a special project. 

Emmanuel Akwar ’99, M.S. ’01 has taught full-time at UTSA since 2001 and specializes in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and genetics. He moved from the Republic of Cameroon to San Antonio in 1996 and is a two-time UTSA alum. He is passionate about making the university a more inclusive place. 

As such, Akwar’s fellowship is within the Office of Inclusive Excellence, and his mentor is Vice President Myron Anderson. Together, they are working on developing tools and resources to increase cultural sensitivity and awareness across the university, particularly as it relates to classroom management and improving collaboration and interaction between faculty and students. One of Akwar’s goals is to develop a website that serves as a resource to learn about the cultural norms that guide the different ethnic groups and countries of origin represented at UTSA. 

Learn more about the Advancing Next-Gen Faculty Leadership Fellow Program.

“Cultural sensitivity is so important. If you understand my culture, you will understand the things that make me unhappy and happy,” shared Akwar. “I really want to make sure we try to improve our cultural awareness. UTSA is very diverse. The more we learn about the different cultural norms of our students, the better we can serve them.” 

He is excited about the direction the university is taking and is thrilled to being part of the process. “Understanding that UTSA is taking a mighty step toward inclusivity and excellence is very, very satisfying,” said Akwar. 

Erica Sosa has been on the faculty at UTSA since 2009. She specializes in examining and finding solutions to the environmental, cultural and psychosocial contributors to the onset of diabetes and obesity among minority populations. In 2016 she became co-director of UTSA’s Center for Community Based and Applied Health Research, which takes an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to addressing health issues that impact our communities. 

This collaborative mindset is what drew Sosa to her fellowship focus—supporting the new Clustered and Connected Hiring Program of the Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative. 

“It’s gratifying to know that the work that I’m doing is directly supporting my professional goals while also benefiting the university.”

ERICA SOSA, UTSA Associate Professor of Kinesiology, Health and Nutrition

Sosa is working alongside Shipley and others in both the Office of Academic Affairs and Office of Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise to create the institutional infrastructure to properly support and facilitate deep scholarly integration across disciplines. For example, she is developing a joint appointment framework that will clearly define roles and responsibilities of faculty members and the departments in which they are appointed. This will particularly help new faculty hired as a result of the cluster hiring program. 

“I was excited to learn about this fellowship opportunity because I have always been interested in leadership in academia, particularly in learning what happens behind the scenes at an institution and the factors that play into the decision-making process,” shared Sosa, who through this fellowship has been able to attend many different leadership meetings within academic affairs, and work closely with administrators in REDKE like Vice President Bernard Arulanandam and Jaclyn Shaw, assistant vice president for strategic initiatives and research partnerships. 

“I’ve had a wonderful experience so far and I’m learning so much as I go along,” said Sosa. “It’s gratifying to know that the work that I’m doing is directly supporting my professional goals while also benefiting the university.” 

The Advancing Next-Gen Faculty Leadership Fellow Program is open to all tenured associate or full professors and full-time non-tenure-track faculty who have been employed as faculty at UTSA for at least three years.

K.C. Gonzalez

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University of Texas at San Antonio receives ‘transformational’ $40M gift

UTSA’s Mission

The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.

UTSA’s Vision

To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.

UTSA’s Core Values

We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.

UTSA’S Destinations

UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education .

Our Commitment to Inclusivity

The University of Texas at San Antonio, a Hispanic Serving Institution situated in a global city that has been a crossroads of peoples and cultures for centuries, values diversity and inclusion in all aspects of university life. As an institution expressly founded to advance the education of Mexican Americans and other underserved communities, our university is committed to promoting access for all. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.