Friday, December 8, 2023

Outstanding new faculty advance UTSA’s commitment to student success

Outstanding new faculty advance UTSA’s commitment to student success


AUGUST 12, 2022 — UTSA begins the academic year with nearly 100 new full-time faculty joining its ranks. Marking another year of outstanding new hires, the tenured, tenure-track and full-time fixed-term-track faculty bring their talents from a host of prestigious institutions from around the nation and world.

Notably, within this cohort, over 75% of the tenured and tenure-track faculty received their terminal degrees from Carnegie R1 research institutions and nearly half from AAU member institutions. A few of these premier institutions include Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Penn State University, University at Buffalo-SUNY, University of California-Los Angeles and University of Florida.

Five of this year’s new tenured and tenure-track faculty hail from international universities, including Fudan University in China, HEC Paris School of Business and Iniversite de Technologie de Troyes in France, the University of British Columbia and the University of Western Ontario in Canada.

“At UTSA, I can be a mentor and role model for first-generation college students who need help navigating what it means to be a college student.”

Nearly 100 tenured, tenure-track and full-time fixed-term-track faculty joined the UTSA community this academic year.

“We are pleased to welcome such a large cohort of new accomplished educators to our UTSA community,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Kimberly Andrews Espy. “The expertise of these new faculty members, who are at the forefront of their fields, will support our students’ success through cutting edge curricula and unique learning experiences both in and out of the classroom.”

When asked why they chose UTSA, several faculty members said they were impressed by the university’s recent Tier One designation and shared excitement about working with its diverse student body.

A native of San Antonio and first-generation college student, microbiologist Diqui LaPenta decided to leave a longtime teaching position at California’s College of the Redwoods for the opportunity to join the UTSA Department of Integrative Biology as an assistant professor of instruction. With over 25 years of teaching experience, she is passionate about UTSA’s dual commitment to student success and research excellence.

“At UTSA, I can be a mentor and role model for first-generation college students who need help navigating what it means to be a college student,” LaPenta said. “I have watched UTSA grow from a few buildings to an R1-designated institution. I am also hopeful that UTSA will progress from a Hispanic Serving Institution to a Hispanic Thriving Institution, and it would be an honor to be an active part of that process.”

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

Four faculty were hired into tenure/tenure-track (T/TT) positions under the initiative’s Accelerating Faculty Diversity Hiring Program (FDP), which provides colleges with support to hire diverse faculty who will advance inclusive excellence at UTSA. Another four faculty were hired as part of the Dual Career Academic Partners Hiring Program, which provides colleges support to address the needs of dual career academic couples by helping partners of tenure-stream faculty find academic appointments at the university.

Assistant professor Cody A. Gonzalez was recruited through the FDP to UTSA’s Department of Mechanical Engineering from Pennsylvania State University. In 2020, he was selected for the Alfred P. Sloan Minority Ph.D. Program, which supports efforts to diversify the doctoral degree-holding workforce and help change the demographics of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) faculty.

“UTSA's commitment to diversity was a strong factor in my decision to attend UTSA,” said Gonzalez. “I've been committed to diversity my entire academic career. As an Alfred P. Sloan Scholar, I've been recognized for my dedication to improving diversity and I intend to continue that work at UTSA, furthering the university goals of becoming a Hispanic Thriving Institute.” 

Additionally, two postdoctoral fellows were hired under the Provost’s Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows to Faculty Hiring Program (PDPFF), a program designed to promote and nurture the work of outstanding, diverse, early-career postdoctoral scholars and prepare them for faculty positions at UTSA or elsewhere, particularly in fields where there are fewer women or members of underrepresented minority groups.

Eduardo Gandara is one of the postdoctoral fellows who will be participating in the PDPFF program within the UTSA Department of Public Health. Specializing in community-based health intervention programs, Gandara joins UTSA from UT Health San Antonio’s South Texas Area Health Education Center, where he was working with Community Health Workers and on COVID-19 related initiatives.

“I decided to come to UTSA to advance the fight on health disparities impacting Latinos and African Americans in San Antonio, South Texas and beyond,” he said. “In addition, I am passionate about training the next generation of public health professionals, especially students who may come from underserved backgrounds and who are first-generation Roadrunners.”

This year’s cohort also includes new faculty who joined the Department of Art & Art History as part of the integration with the Southwest School of Art in July.

Additionally, Alonzo M. Flowers III was hired as the new chair of the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies—the department from which he earned a master’s degree in 2007. He earned a Ph.D. in Educational Administration from Texas A&M University and most recently served as associate dean of Drexel University’s Graduate College, where he was also a faculty member in the School of Education. Flowers has a strong record of scholarship in educational leadership and diversity in STEM education.

The group participated in the New Faculty Academy: Bold Beginnings program from August 1 to 10, an intensive development opportunity designed to effectively launch faculty at the university.

⇒ Get to know this year’s new faculty cohort at the UTSA New Faculty showcase site.
⇒ Visit the Faculty Success website to learn more about the opportunities, resources, news and events that help strengthen the Roadrunner Nation faculty community.

The program started 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 trends in teaching and learning and the university’s knowledge enterprise, and took part in hands-on activities to help them build a toolkit of best practices for teaching and conducting research at UTSA.

With UTSA welcoming this new cohort, UTSA now has nearly 1,400 faculty members across eight colleges.

KC 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.