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Community Engagement at UTSA

What is Community Engagement at UTSA?

The triad mission of American public education has been traditionally defined as teaching, research and public service.  Public service—which is often referred to as the “third mission”—has a long history in the U.S. beginning with the Morrill Act of 1862.  The Act established land-grant institutions and was an economic development initiative by which the federal government hoped to encourage prosperity through widespread education and “public service.” The concept of university public service has developed and broadened over the decades to include extension and outreach—all related to public service. In the early 1990’s, Ernest Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of teaching, a U.S. Commissioner of Education, and former Chancellor of the State University of New York, added a new item to the higher education lexicon of public service – engagement. Boyer specifically spoke of the “scholarship of engagement” in universities and colleges. Historically, the third mission had been implemented as a one-way communication in which academia “transferred wisdom to the masses”. Boyer introduced a new twist for higher education - - the two way street of interaction in partnerships between the academy and the outside world.

In this setting, a national commission sponsored by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges (NASULGC) began a multi year study of higher education that would encourage the new university mission triad of learning, discovery, and engagement rather than the older teaching, research and public service. Under one of its chosen rubrics, the engaged university, and the commission would explore “going beyond extension to become more productively involved in our communities”.

In 2005, NASULGC issued a report, “Resource Guide and Recommendations for Defining and Benchmarking Engagement”.

With this historical background, how has The University of Texas at San Antonio defined its third mission “Community Engagement”?

Community Engagement at UTSA is the active involvement of the university community through its faculty, staff and students in partnerships with the broader community and region to enrich learning and research; to prepare engaged citizens; to address critical societal issues; and to contribute to the public good.

In short, UTSA is an engaged university, mobilizing its resources to transform the quality of life of individuals and communities in our service area.

Community Engagement at UTSA is robust, comprehensive, rich and for the most part decentralized. Recently, the President established the UTSA Outreach Council consisting of representatives from all Vice Presidential areas. The Council will serve as a vehicle for disseminating and sharing outreach information throughout the institution, for promoting collaboration where outreach interests overlap, and for fostering and encouraging the exchange of ideas and avoiding duplication.

A partial listing of community engagement/outreach activities at UTSA follows:

  • Faculty who are required to engage in some form of public service (community engagement)
  • Student service learning - - a component of many classes which require students to work on a particular project in the community.
  • Business extension through the Institute for Economic Development which supports thousands of small businesses throughout the region
  • Cultural outreach though the Institute of Texan Cultures
  • Art and music engagement/outreach through the performing or visual arts
  • Community  outreach to South Texas communities
  • Economic  development through the Institute of Economic Development
  • P-20 programs to school districts in the region
  • College preparatory programs (e.g. PREP, TRIO)
  • Child development model programs in downtown San Antonio
  • Fraternities and sororities that provide programs and services to our community
  • Applied research
  • Alumni programs
  • Public conferences and seminars, speaker series
  • Continuing/Extended Education
  • Athletics