Friday, February 2, 2024

UTSA launches bold strategic faculty hiring program to enhance research prominence

UTSA launches bold strategic faculty hiring program to enhance research prominence

JANUARY 30, 2024 — The University of Texas System (UT System) recently approved the creation of the Regents’ Research Excellence Program across its four Emerging Research Universities (ERUs), including UT Arlington, UT Dallas, UT El Paso, and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). UT System has allocated $55 million across all four ERUs to fund the recruitment of research-active faculty to dramatically grow its national research prominence and federal funding opportunities.

“This investment by our Board of Regents and UT System, coupled with the National Research Support Fund support from the Texas Legislature, is profoundly important to our positive trajectory as a discovery enterprise,” said UTSA President Taylor Eighmy. “The opportunity to bring world-class talent in strategic areas of focus to UTSA will add to our talented faculty ranks and allow us to focus on federal funding opportunities, Ph.D. program growth and discovery translations that benefit our city, state and nation. We will be able to create a number of impactful areas of thought leadership and expertise, and I am so thrilled for our institution that we have this incredible investment and opportunity.”

UTSA anticipates the allocation from UT System to translate to approximately 40 new faculty positions with an intentional effort to recruit mid- to senior-level strategic faculty hires over the next five years. Its intent is to attract highly competitive groups of scholars who will add expertise that cuts across disciplinary divides to enable true transdisciplinary innovations that will enhance competitiveness, increase federal funding opportunities and advance the university’s capacity to meet UT System and state goals as outlined by the Texas Legislature.


“This program will play a critical role in expediting the discovery of new knowledge that will impact our communities and the world around us.”


This investment will continue to support the growth of the university’s R1 (“very high research activity”) culture by deepening the established research areas of expertise while developing emerging research specialties to create prominence in new transdisciplinary domains. The UTSA Division of Academic Affairs and the Office of Research, Economic Development and Knowledge Enterprise (REDKE) will launch a call for Clustered and Connected Hiring proposals (CCP) in February to encourage collaboration among our existing faculty who work within or across the cross-cutting areas that enhance research visibility and competitiveness. The CCP is designed to recruit and hire some of the best and brightest minds of diverse scholarly backgrounds and expertise in select fields to join in efforts to address some of today’s most significant challenges.

Initial areas of focus will be tied to federal and state funding opportunities and are likely to include artificial intelligence, advanced materials for energy storage, space science and biomedicine. Other promising areas of focus are expected to be defined over the next few years.

“This new program will allow us to better align our capabilities with federal priorities and facilitate collaboration among the full range of our faculty, we can realize significant impact more quickly, grow our outstanding faculty, and help build UTSA’s thriving research enterprise,” said UTSA Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Heather Shipley. “By adding faculty deeply engaged in new avenues of research, it will attract students to UTSA who are looking to expand their learning and gain valuable experience in these areas.”

Beyond recruitment, the funding will also expand federal funding and endowment opportunities for the university’s research enterprise. Endowed faculty positions are created through private philanthropy and provide permanent support to foster excellence in research and scholarly activities. They are crucial to the university’s efforts to retain and recruit distinguished faculty. These positions also allow faculty to hire undergraduate and graduate research assistants who earn invaluable experience in research and learning. Currently, the university boasts over 90 endowed faculty positions.


Oleg Larionov (left), Robert A. Welch Distinguished University Chair in Chemistry, is one of more than 90 endowed faculty members at UTSA. Endowed faculty positions provide permanent support to foster excellence in research and scholarly activities.


“This remarkable investment by the UT System Board of Regents will allow our extraordinary students and faculty to continue building UTSA’s thriving research enterprise. It also establishes a new avenue for deeper conversations with our philanthropic community about the invaluable impact of endowing some of these faculty positions,” said UTSA Vice President for Advancement and Alumni Engagement Karl Miller Lugo. Endowments can attract some of the most renowned scholars to our university and create an atmosphere where students and faculty can generate new knowledge and make groundbreaking discoveries. With this program, opportunities for world-changing research abound.

In August 2004, UT System’s Board of Regents approved the allocation of proceeds from the Permanent University Fund to be used towards the Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention (STAR) program to help institutions recruit and retain top faculty and state-of-the-art research equipment. The Regents’ program will help further accelerate high-quality faculty hiring beyond the benefits of the STAR program, especially for the System’s ERUs.

Additionally, as a result of the 88th Texas Legislative Session, the Core Research Support Fund (CRSF) changed to the National Research Support Fund (NRSF) and provided UT System institutions a funding increase. The amount provided to UT System institutions remains contingent upon forthcoming Legislative policy passing, and the timing of availability of the funds is contingent upon a statewide referendum.

“UTSA is continually building on its momentum towards becoming a great public research university, and this opportunity allows us to further invest in our faculty community while expanding research and mentoring opportunities for our students,” said UTSA Interim Vice President for REDKE JoAnn Browning. “As we continue to advance our research enterprise, this program will play a critical role in expediting the discovery of new knowledge that will impact our communities and the world around us.”

Kimberly Maldonado



UTSA Today is produced by University Strategic Communications,
the official news source
of The University of Texas at San Antonio.

Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu.


UTSA Today is produced by University Communications and Marketing, the official news source of The University of Texas at San Antonio. Send your feedback to news@utsa.edu. Keep up-to-date on UTSA news by visiting UTSA Today. Connect with UTSA online at Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and Instagram.


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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.