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‘Not only being excellent’ – UTSA is assembling a team to guide how it serves Hispanics

The University of Texas San Antonio is preparing to form a committee to focus on the success of the institution’s Hispanic and Latino students.

In the coming weeks, the university plans to select about 40 members out of approximately 75 nominations — students, faculty and staff — collected over the past month. Thirty have already been appointed.

The new Hispanic Thriving Institution Leadership Committee will begin meeting in the fall to look for ways to advance enrollment, retention, degree completion, financial support and the diversity of the university’s administration, faculty, staff and students.

The committee’s name derives from the university’s goal of going beyond its Hispanic Serving Institution designation and ensuring that its student success initiatives take into account that 57 percent of its enrollment and close to 19 percent of its faculty are Hispanic or Latino.

“It’s not only being excellent in what we do, but how do we truly thrive?” said UTSA Provost Kimberly Andrews Espy. “Sure, student success is at the center of that. But how do we really increase the benefits of social and economic transformation and mobility for our community?”

The group will issue its recommendations to Espy and UTSA President Taylor Eighmy on how to better align the university’s mission of student success with a strategic plan that includes improvements in research initiatives, teaching and learning practices, and equity advocacy.

“At UTSA, we embrace our Hispanic serving identity in everything we do — from honoring our founding history and bolstering student success to fostering excellence in faculty research and partnering with our communities,” Eighmy said in a news release announcing the panel.

Hispanic undergraduate enrollment grew from 12,868 in the fall of 2016 to 16,089 four years later, a 25 percent increase that outpaced its overall undergraduate enrollment growth of 13.3 percent during the same period.

The number of Hispanic graduate students in the same period grew by 26 percent, compared to a 3.4 percent increase in overall graduate enrollment.

The Hispanic proportion of its faculty grew slower, going from 16.6 percent in 2016 to 18.8 percent in 2020.

Myron Anderson, UTSA’s Vice President for Inclusive Excellence, will be on the new committee.

Eighmy and Espy “are forward thinking in terms of looking at sustainability, looking at continuous improvement and looking at how we can continue to move our Hispanic Serving Institution’s heritage, philosophy, further in the ethos of our institution,” Anderson said.

His hope is that the committee will help strengthen the link between the community and UTSA’s faculty, staff and students. Some of the areas Anderson believes can make a difference are curriculum development that is culturally responsible, and processes and policies that allow for equity.

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