Thursday, May 30, 2024

Evolution of a vision: Eighmy shares updated strategic goals for UTSA

Evolution of a vision: Eighmy shares updated strategic goals for UTSA

NOVEMBER 21, 2023 — President Taylor Eighmy presented UTSA’s five-year long-range financial plan at last week’s University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting in Austin. Described as “An Evolving Vision for UTSA,”the financial plan is forward-thinking and highlights the results of UTSA’s important strategic plan refresh over the last year.

“I have long said that UTSA is the university of the future in the city of the future. As we embark on the next phase of our strategic plan, I am appreciative to Chancellor Milliken, the UT System and the Board of Regents for the tremendous support that UTSA has received,” Eighmy said. “Together, we are creating opportunities for students to prosper while strengthening our city and state’s economy.”

Building on the milestones that UTSA achieved during the first five years of its strategic plan, the updated plan outlines a pathway for the university to successfully achieve student success, enrollment, research and faculty recruitment goals for the institution.

“The long-range financial plan is aligned to support UTSA’s destinations by creating a roadmap to ensure success.”

“The long-range financial plan is aligned to support UTSA’s destinations by creating a roadmap to ensure success,” said Veronica Salazar, UTSA chief enterprise development officer and senior vice president for business affairs. “We are committed to creating a positive campus experience to support student and employee success as we continue to grow as an institution.”

UTSA’s new strategic plan reaffirms the university’s commitment to its three strategic destinations and includes an updated version of the third destination. UTSA aspires to become a model for student success, a great public research university and an innovative place to work, learn and discover.

The university’s strategic planning refresh coincides with efforts by the UT System to enhance and elevate UTSA’s work as it enters the halfway point of its 10-year strategic plan. Key to the refresh was the yearlong process to develop a way to celebrate UTSA’s successes, hone its three strategic destinations and align resources to ensure the institution’s continued forward momentum. The result was the Strategic Planning Refresh Subcommittee report that was released in August.

The refreshed strategic plan includes updated targets to elevate and enhance the student experience. Notably, UTSA plans to increase enrollment to 41,000 students by 2028. Of these, 75% will participate in hands-on learning opportunities before they graduate to gain the hard and soft skills that are in demand by today’s employers. UTSA also plans to reduce the student-to-faculty ratio from 24:1 currently to 20:1 by 2028. These smaller class sizes will be key to helping students succeed through personalized attention.

To make higher education more affordable, UTSA aspires to reduce the average federal debt of its students to $20,580. The university hopes to reduce that figure to less than $20,000 by 2028.

Recognizing that wellness and well-being are intrinsically linked to a student’s personal and professional success, UTSA will introduce new programs to further create an environment in which all students feel a sense of belonging, an initiative the long-range financial describes as “campusness.”

“Increased engagement and a sense of belonging can positively impact students’ career preparation and persistence to graduation,” said Heather Shipley, UTSA interim provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “By advancing UTSA’s programs and resources to specifically address the unique needs of our students, we can strengthen their experiences and help them build the skills both in and out of the classroom for future success.”

In 2021, UTSA achieved the R1 (“very high research activity”) designation from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This past August, the institution became eligible to participate in the National Research University Fund, which provides additional support for Texas research universities.

With those key milestones achieved, UTSA is now setting its sight on membership in the nation’s most premier research university category, the Association of American Universities (AAU). As part of that goal, UTSA plans to add more faculty over the next five years to reach a targeted total of 1,695 faculty, increase annual research expenditures to a total of $209 million and award 200 doctoral degrees annually by 2028.

Strengthening UTSA’s place as a primary economic driver for San Antonio and South Texas is also part of the strategic plan refresh — including new ways to help revitalize downtown San Antonio. Notably, UTSA has already doubled its presence in the urban core. Of the five campuses that make up UTSA, three are within a two-mile radius of the city center.

Key to this goal are San Pedro I and San Pedro II, both significant milestones in UTSA’s 10-year approach to accelerating the development of its Downtown Campus. Together, the two facilities represent nearly 350,000 square feet and a $221 million investment in new centers of academic excellence. The UTSA School of Data Science, the National Security Collaboration Center and the Cybersecurity Manufacturing Innovation Institute, all tenants of San Pedro I, are ushering in a new era of high-tech education, research and innovation in Texas.

Likewise, San Pedro II, the future home of UTSA’s Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Careers center, will draw on additional opportunities to address San Antonio’s pressing workforce needs, including connecting UTSA students with experiential learning and training that will prepare them for careers in cybersecurity, artificial intelligence and data sciences.

⇒ Learn more about Be Bold: A Campaign for our Future.

In addition to San Pedro II and Blanco Hall, which broke ground earlier this fall, UTSA aspires to complete several capital projects over the next six years, including a football pavilion, a volleyball and basketball facility, softball and baseball facilities, an additional residence hall and a performing arts center.

To support the university’s strategic priorities, UTSA aims to increase its endowment to $400 million. The ongoing Be Bold campaign, a comprehensive fundraising campaign, is key to this goal. By its fall 2023 midpoint, the campaign had raised $380 million of its $500 million goal.

Tricia Lynn Silva and Kimberly Maldonado

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