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New faculty join UTSA, drawn to Hispanic thriving vision

New faculty join UTSA, drawn to Hispanic thriving vision


AUGUST 17, 2021 — UTSA begins the new academic year with just under 40 new full-time faculty joining its ranks. The new faculty bring their talent from a host of prestigious institutions from around the nation and world.

This group of new tenured, tenure-track and fixed-term faculty participated in the New Faculty Academy: Bold Beginnings program from August 2 to 11, an intensive development opportunity designed to effectively launch faculty at the university.

“UTSA is not just an HSI; it has committed to becoming a Hispanic thriving university.”

The program kicked off with an orientation to UTSA and continued with daily sessions in which the faculty learned from some of UTSA’s most innovative faculty, participated in discussions about current trends in teaching and learning, and took part in hands-on activities to help them build a toolkit of best practices for teaching and learning at UTSA.

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy welcomed the group to UTSA on the first day of orientation.

“Faculty are the core of our bold vision to become a preeminent HSI that other institutions of higher education turn to as a national model for student success, community engagement and discovery and innovation. Through teaching, research and community engagement, UTSA’s 1,300-plus faculty play a major role in ensuring that academic excellence in all of its various forms thrive on our campuses and in our community,” she said.

Each year, the new faculty share a variety of reasons for choosing UTSA, ranging from the university’s rapidly growing research profile, friendly community and diverse student population, to its location. This year’s group was overwhelmingly drawn to UTSA’s aspiration to be a model Hispanic thriving institution.

“As a second-generation Hispanic immigrant, I am who I am today thanks to the opportunities afforded by minority serving institutions and diversity initiatives,” said Alan Meca, assistant professor of psychology who has joined UTSA after earning his doctorate from Florida International University. “As such, the opportunity to contribute to the mission of an HSI was way too big an opportunity to pass up. But UTSA is not just an HSI, it has committed to becoming a Hispanic thriving university.”

Notably, within this cohort, roughly four of five of the tenured and tenure-track faculty received their terminal degrees from Carnegie R1 research institutions and more than half from AAU member institutions. A few of these premier institutions include Columbia University, Duke University, Indiana University, Penn State University, Purdue University, Stanford University, Texas A&M University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Several incoming faculty were hired as a result of the programs that comprise Academic Affairs’ Strategic Faculty Hiring initiatives. These programs support additional hiring of diverse full-time, tenured and tenure-track faculty who will advance inclusive excellence at UTSA through enhancing student success, research and academic distinction.

Five faculty were hired as part of the Clustered and Connected Hiring Program (CCP), a joint effort between Academic Affairs and the Knowledge Enterprise designed to recruit and hire some of the best and brightest minds of diverse backgrounds and experiences in select fields to address some of today’s most significant challenges. Through clustered and connected hiring initiatives, UTSA has hired 44 exceptional faculty over the past five years to help advance UTSA’s areas of research excellence in brain health, cybersecurity, cloud computing, analytics and data science, artificial intelligence, human performance, social and environmental challenges in Latin America, quantum computation/quantum information, engineering education, and community-engaged health equity and inclusion.

Joel Alejandro (Alex) Mejia was hired as part of a joint initiative between the College of Education and Human Development and the College of Engineering and Integrated Design to develop an engineering education program that focuses on the success of historically underrepresented students. He was inspired by UTSA’s Hispanic thriving mission.

“One of the reasons I decided to come to UTSA is because of the opportunities offered by the institution to continue my professional career in engineering education,” said Mejia. “Being Mexican American, I know the importance of Hispanic Serving Institutions in providing opportunities to other Latinos/as/xs. I graduated from an HSI. I wanted to be part of a community that was fully committed to serving minority communities. I am also closer to my family, which is a plus.”

As a part of the Accelerating Faculty Diversity Hiring Program, six underrepresented minority scholars were successfully recruited to join UTSA in this hiring cycle. In addition, the Dual Career Academic Partners Hiring Program allowed three departments to recruit and hire high quality tenure-stream faculty and their partners.

Additionally, Sandor Dorgo was hired as the new chair of the Department of Kinesiology. He joins UTSA from a professorship in the College of Health Sciences at the University of Texas at El Paso.

⇒ Meet the new faculty being welcomed to Roadrunner Nation this year.

UTSA has roughly 1,375 faculty members across seven academic colleges. Visit the Faculty Success website to learn more about the opportunities, resources, news and events that help strengthen the Roadrunner Nation faculty community.

KC Gonzalez

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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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.