Spring has sprung. Viva Fiesta! Bluebonnets are everywhere. Final exams are right around the corner, believe it or not. All the typical clichés immediately come to mind when we think of April. The signs are clear that April has arrived with a roar including some pretty unpredictable weather.
When I think of April, I think of your amazing ability to roll with the busy times and continue to provide great service. It is important to recognize what this time of the academic year is like for our students. They effectively integrate the demands of academics, work, family, community and extra-curricular involvement every day – but during this month it all rises to a crescendo. We provide support and encouragement amidst the stress and challenges.
While our students are dedicated to studies, it is also important for them to engage in campus life and the San Antonio community. One way is through participating in Fiesta events. Some are highlighted in the Spotlight section. NIUTSA and Fiesta UTSA were both commended by many as the best ever. I have no doubt the programs that end the month will be memorable as well. I hope to see you there.
Recently, some of our staff attended the first College Completion Academy. The Academy is presented by the Center for Research and Policy in Education led by Dr. Laura Rendon, Dr. Amaury Nora and Dr. Vijay Kanagala. It is based on research on student success funded by a grant from Texas Guaranteed.
As I spoke with staff about the Academy, I was reminded of our focus on the student experience. Our students arrive on campus with multiple forms of knowledge. Their diverse perspectives and life experiences bring assets to our campus community. It is up to us to intentionally develop (and reengineer) programs and services with this in mind. It is up to us to believe in our students.
Instead of focusing on any perceived deficits our students may have, let’s focus on their assets. We must remove deficit thinking. We have to avoid labels and assumptions. Negative assumptions about student achievement can sneak in and blur our actions. Don’t let it. We need to act with enthusiasm about UTSA and all it has to offer and, more importantly, what our students have to offer. What we believe affects our practice. This signals a move toward an asset-based framework. We will acknowledge and foster strengths in all students.
As we move forward and learn more about developing this lens, I would like to hear from you. What does an asset-based framework mean to you? How would you describe it to others? I would like to hear your ideas about a phrase or tagline that symbolizes this intention. Please share your ideas with me via email.
We Are UTSA! We Are Student Affairs!