Thursday, May 30, 2024

New program aims to create student thriving ecosystem at UTSA

New program aims to create student thriving ecosystem at UTSA

APRIL 4, 2023 — UTSA aspires to be a model Hispanic thriving institution where students from all backgrounds can excel. But what does student thriving look like? How can the university help its students thrive? These are a few key questions the university community will explore and address through a new program called UTSA Thrive: A Strengths-Based Approach to Student Success.

“Higher education institutions commonly use persistence, retention and graduation rates to measure student success, but academic achievement is only one of many factors that contributes to a thriving life during and after college,” said Amy Buechler-Steubing, UTSA’s senior director of student success strategic planning and administration and director of student success initiatives.

“At UTSA, we’re working to reimagine how we define, support, and measure student success in which we also consider student well-being, engagement, and other characteristics of thriving that we’ll discover through this process.”

“The UTSA Thrive program will advance our work to drive systemic change and provide pathways to progress.”

Funded by a $243,000, one-year grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the UTSA Thrive student success initiative specifically aims to enhance support and advocacy for the university’s first-generation students, those who are economically disadvantaged and students of color. Nearly half of UTSA students are first-generation college students, and just under 50% are Pell grant eligible. The majority of students identify as Hispanic (57%), and 77% identify as students of color.

Despite the significant gains UTSA has made in retention and graduation rates over the last decade, the institution is still seeing equity gaps for these targeted populations. The UTSA Thrive program will help the university address these equity gaps by promoting a strengths-based approach that emphasizes increasing students’ intellectual, social and psychological engagement to accelerate student success.

To create a student-thriving ecosystem, the initiative will harness staff and faculty expertise, student voice and evidence-based practices to establish a shared definition of UTSA student thriving. From this framework, resources and programming will be identified and implemented to promote students’ psychosocial growth and development. Additionally, the program will provide opportunities for faculty and staff to build their knowledge and skills to support student thriving.

Faculty and staff have their first opportunity to be part of the conversation by attending the UTSA Thrive Speaker Series Kickoff Event at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5 in the Main Building Auditorium (MB 0.104).

The event will feature a keynote presentation titled, “What does servingness mean in a Hispanic Serving Institution?” by Vanessa A. Sansone, assistant professor of higher education in the UTSA Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and a leading scholar on educational equity and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Next month, the speaker series will continue with two additional visiting scholars. On May 2, the university community will hear about student thriving from Laurie Schreiner, professor of higher education at Azusa Pacific University and author of the Thriving Quotient. Then on May 24, Luis Ponjuan, associate professor of higher education at Texas A&M University, will talk about using asset-based approaches to validate students’ experiences.

Learn more about Vanessa A. Sansone and her research.
Explore UTSA’s various student success initiatives.
Discover more about UTSA’s strategic plan.

⇒ Faculty and staff (including student employees) can visit the UTSA Thrive website to learn more and are encouraged to register to attend.

“UTSA has joined a group of pioneering universities across the country who are looking beyond traditional student success metrics and factoring in engagement, psychosocial well-being and career-readiness as equally important components of student success,” said Tammy Wyatt, UTSA vice provost for student success. “The UTSA Thrive program will advance our work to drive systemic change and provide pathways to progress toward the goal of becoming a model Hispanic thriving institution.”

The division of Student Success plans to continue the program beyond the life cycle of the initial one-year grant.

KC Gonzalez

UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
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 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.