Wednesday, September 20, 2023

UTSA officials discuss value of equitable educational access at APLU roundtable

UTSA officials discuss value of equitable educational access at APLU roundtable


AUGUST 8, 2022 — UTSA is showcasing the achievements of its student success programs by participating in an Association of Public and Land-grant Universities’ (APLU) Equity Roundtable.

The event, which is taking place today at the University of Texas at Arlington, is one of four roundtables that the APLU hosts during the year as part of its goal to close the equity gap in graduation rates and to increase higher education access to minoritized and low-income students. The organization invites institutions that are a part of Powered by Publics and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities to participate in the programs.

The University of Texas at El Paso, Texas State University, New Mexico State University and the host site, University of Texas at Arlington, are also part of the roundtable.

“UTSA has purposefully focused its efforts on supporting historically underserved populations and first-generation students.”

Both university leaders and students from different groups—including first-generation, transfer, underrepresented minorities, military, Pell-grant-eligible students and those with a history of foster care—have the opportunity to discuss equitable access, student success and equitable career pathways during the roundtable sessions.

UTSA is participating in the roundtable with plenty of experience to share with participants—given its commitment to making higher education opportunities accessible to all.

“Higher education is the primary driver of social advancement and mobility—we have a particular responsibility to increase access to higher education and support the efforts of our students to complete their degrees,” UTSA Provost of Student Success Tammy Wyatt said. “Texas institutions of higher education have an excellent opportunity to leverage the state’s rich demographics to improve access to higher education for first-generation, non-traditional, historically underserved, underrepresented, and under-resourced individuals.”

From honoring UTSA’s founding history to bolstering student success, fostering excellence in research and partnering with its communities, the university embraces its Hispanic serving identity, Wyatt added.

“We are taking intentional and bold steps to move beyond Hispanic serving to Hispanic thriving. Our commitment to becoming a model Hispanic thriving university, where all students can excel and lead, is fundamental to UTSA achieving its strategic vision,” Wyatt said. “UTSA has purposefully focused its efforts on supporting historically underserved populations and first-generation students.”

Since the strategic vision to be a model for student success was implemented, UTSA has developed several programs and systems to increase access to higher education and support students as they work towards graduation.

These initiatives, which are housed within the UTSA Office of Inclusive Excellence and the Division of Student Success, include the My Brother’s Keeper Up Partnership, First Generation and Transfer Student programs, First-Gen STEM Scholars, and the President’s Inclusive Excellence Award scholarships.

“Many of our institutional student success initiatives have resulted in markedly positive student outcomes,” Wyatt said. “UTSA’s Graduation Help Desk, Resilience & Retention Advising Program, First Generation programming, Fostering Futures Program and others have directly resulted in increased retention, graduation rates, and degree completion among our underrepresented minority students (URM).”

Wyatt added that during the 2020-21 school year, UTSA awarded 7,732 degrees, more than any other time in its history. Fifty-nine percent of bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2020-21 were awarded to Hispanic students and 67% were awarded to URM students. Likewise, UTSA ranks No. 3 among Carnegie R1(R1) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in undergraduate degrees awarded to Hispanic and Latino students.

Student success at UTSA is also positively affected with an increasingly diverse faculty that allows students to see themselves and their experiences reflected in their instructors. UTSA has launched several inclusive recruitment strategies to improve the diversity of its faculty and staff.

From the Accelerated Faculty Hiring Program, Clustered and Connected Program, Stealth Recruitment Portal to the Inclusive Hiring Strategic Action Plan implementation, these efforts have led to the recruitment of 28% and 38% underrepresented minority faculty in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

The university ranks second among the 20 other institutions designated as both R1 and HSIs for the percentage of all tenured/tenure-track (T/TT) faculty who identify as Hispanic/Latino (18%).

“Promoting diversity within the faculty and staff enables students from different backgrounds to identify with professors and staff, experience diverse curriculum and programs and enhance their trust in the university community,” Wyatt said. 

Additionally, UTSA fosters a community of dialogue through Student Experience Surveys, which it launched in 2021 as an opportunity to hear about the student experiences at UTSA.

These initiatives are all part of the contribution that UTSA is making as part of the discussion of equity in student success at today’s APLU Equity Roundtable at UT Arlington.

As part of the event, four UTSA students will have the opportunity to share their voices and bring back resources for their fellow Roadrunners.

“I wanted to be a part of this roundtable to create open conversation and dialogue about equality and inclusivity in universities across the state,” said Avee Brar, a senior cybersecurity major in the Carlos Alvarez College of Business. “I hope to meet like-minded individuals with similar goals and create effective change moving forward.”

Learn more about the UTSA Office of Inclusive Excellence.

Alexis Dawson, a senior marketing major in the Alvarez College of Business, wants to make sure someone who grew up like her has the same opportunities as others, while gaining insight on what other student populations face.

“I want to make sure students of all different types are given resources that are specific to them that will help them succeed,” said Dawson.

Valerie Bustamante Johnson

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of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

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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 ending generations of discrimination and inequity. UTSA, a premier public research university, fosters academic excellence through a community of dialogue, discovery and innovation that embraces the uniqueness of each voice.