FEBRUARY 9, 2024 — Astronomer David R. Silva today announced plans to step down as dean of the UTSA College of Sciences, effective March 8, 2024, to focus on research as a distinguished professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and as a core faculty member in the School of Data Science. He has served as dean since 2019.
"I am grateful for Dr. Silva’s service as dean of the College of Sciences,” said Heather Shipley, interim provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. "His commitment to the UTSA mission and vision has helped to support UTSA reaching its strategic goals through his contributions to the college."
Shipley added that transition planning to help identify interim leadership and to launch a national search for a new dean will begin immediately.
Under Silva’s leadership, the College of Sciences experienced achievements in program development, student success initiatives and research excellence. He oversaw the introduction of new degree programs, including undergraduate degrees in environmental studies, mathematics in data and computing, and neuroscience, along with an M.S. in cyber security science and a Ph.D. in molecular microbiology and immunology.
During his tenure, the graduate programs in computer science and chemistry secured impressive rankings, coming in at No. 114 and No. 119, respectively, on the 2023-2024 edition of U.S. News and World Report's list of Best Graduate Programs. The college also expanded its facilities for student learning and support with the opening of the $95 million Science and Engineering Building in 2020, and the College of Sciences Student Success Center in 2021.
“The College of Sciences has undergone growth and garnered acclaim on both national and international fronts over the past five years, a testament to the outstanding accomplishments of our faculty, staff and students,” said Silva. “I am deeply grateful for the privilege of working with an exceptional team, whose collective efforts have elevated our national standing. I look forward to supporting the continued advancement of the college and university as an active scientist and mentor in the fields of astronomy and astrophysics.”
In addition to his faculty role, Silva also will serve as a special advisor to the university’s interim vice president for research in building a focused strategy and partnerships around space science.
Silva is an internationally recognized figure in the field of astronomy, having previously served as the director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) from 2008 to 2019. His leadership at NOAO involved overseeing scientific and technological research, development, and operations at multiple observatories in the United States and Chile.
He also played a pivotal role in fostering collaborations with various institutions, including the development of the U.S. Extremely Large Telescope Program.
The College of Sciences enrolls more than 6,000 students in 14 undergraduate and 12 master’s programs and seven doctoral degree programs. The college currently has nearly $50 million in research expenditures and over more than 340 actively funded projects.
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