FEBRUARY 1, 2023 — By accelerating student success, growing its research enterprise and adopting lasting innovations in teaching and learning, UTSA is “absolutely prepared” to navigate higher education’s changing landscape, President Taylor Eighmy said Monday in his State of the University Address. At the same time, UTSA is establishing new programs that are making it possible for more individuals to achieve a college degree, improving access to higher education and promoting social mobility in the greater San Antonio region.
This year’s address came at the midpoint of Eighmy’s 10-year strategic plan for UTSA, making it a prime opportunity to discuss the university’s longer-term accomplishments and UTSA’s role to become the great university that this great city needs.
“I said this at the very beginning, five-and-a-half academic years ago when I came, that I believe deeply in this notion that great cities need great universities,” Eighmy said.
During that time, UTSA’s built momentum around its comprehensive approach to student success. Despite the onset of the pandemic, UTSA has decreased the average time it takes for students to earn their degree—from 5.4 years 10 years ago to 4.3 years today.
Jenny Hsieh, Director of the UTSA Brain Health Consortium, joined UTSA President Taylor Eighmy for a panel discussion after the State of the University Address on Monday at the Buena Vista Theater.
“There are no institutions in the United States that have moved the needle like that in such a short order,” Eighmy said. “It’s removing a year of time in college so that our kiddos are entering the workforce earlier; they’re graduating with less debt. The fact that we get them out the door … is a tribute of our devotion to student success that we’ve moved the needle that way.”
UTSA also has made great gains in its vision to become a great public research university.
The Carnegie R1 Classification was a “profound step for us,” Eighmy said. The designation places UTSA among the nation’s top 4% of universities and amplifies UTSA’s statewide and national exposure to attract and recruit world-class faculty and top students.
Eighmy noted that UTSA’s ascension to Carnegie R1 created the opportunity for the university to become a founding member of the Alliance of Hispanic Serving Research Universities. This consortium of 22 of the nation’s top research institutions is dedicated to advancing social mobility and economic opportunities for Latino students and their communities. It is “predictive of what the future of public higher education in the United States will be,” Eighmy said.
Eighmy shared that UTSA is finding new ways to prepare for the changing landscape of higher education. More people are asking if the cost to attend college—including the long-term debt that students often accumulate—is worth it, he noted. There is more demand for universities to demonstrate the return on investment in a degree.
To that end, initiatives like Bold Promise, which enables high-achieving students from families with a household income of $70,000 or less, and the Promise-to-Promise partnership, which enables Alamo Colleges students in-need to seamlessly transfer to UTSA, are making higher education more accessible to undergraduate students and their families.
This past fall, UTSA also welcomed its first cohort of Bold Scholars, a select group of freshmen who are experiencing the benefits of living on campus together and taking classes together during their first year of college. Participants were admitted to UTSA as part of the university’s Bold Promise tuition assistance program.
At the same time, UTSA is living up to its commitment to ensure graduates are prepared for success after college. The UTSA Classroom-to-Career Initiative promotes career-engaged learning, hands-on learning and career preparation. The program is key to UTSA’s efforts to drive economic and social mobility.
Compared to many other universities, UTSA is “crushing it on how we are advancing economic mobility,” said Eighmy, pointing out some of the publications that are recognizing UTSA’s focus on economic and social mobility. The university ranked No. 71 out of 1,350 institutions ranked by Third Way for its advancements in economic mobility. UTSA was also recognized by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, which placed the university at the top 18% of schools for its long-term return on investment.
Eighmy noted that in 10 to 15 years, UTSA will be the national model for providing hands-on learning opportunities to students.
“UTSA is preparing for a disruptive future,” he added. “We’re in a good spot.”
This year, the Strategic Plan refresh and follow-up conversations around the university’s recent Campus Climate Survey will be key in guiding UTSA’s strategic work.
UTSA is also looking forward to the move from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference. The jump will focus a larger national spotlight on UTSA’s athletic programs.
Summing it up, Eighmy said the future is bright for San Antonio’s university: “We will be the great university that this great city needs.”
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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.
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UTSA is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) as designated by the U.S. Department of Education.
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