The beginning of a new semester brings opportunities for new beginnings to the Texas A&M University-San Antonio community, said President Cynthia Teniente-Matson at the spring convocation Jan. 9 in the auditorium.
This semester’s faculty convocation hosted 300 faculty and staff. Matson recapped the advancements of the university during the previous year, focusing on student accomplishments and community growth.
“When I think about what matters most for the university, my first answer is always our students,” Matson said.
During her keynote speech, Matson recognized alumni who are now A&M-San Antonio employees, highlighting their unique contribution to the university.
“For those alumni and employees, they are a small circle of insiders,” Matson said. “All of us, them especially, share a special responsibility in wearing an emblem of student success and have a unique perspective and appreciation for what we are trying to achieve on behalf of our students.”
The Southside High School Jazz Ensemble and the McCollum High School Mariachi Orgullo performed during the event. Both high schools feed into A&M-San Antonio and participate in the ASPIRE partnership, an agreement focused on making higher education more accessible to students in south Bexar County.
Working programs included in the ASPIRE partnership are a new applied behavioral analysis degree at A&M-San Antonio, a lab school and the launch of an autism assessment center through collaboration with Edgewood Independent School District.
“We know a lot about the region in which our university is located, and we know a lot about our students when they arrive here,” Matson said. “Their arrival at A&M-San Antonio is a critical beginning point and an opportunity to exercise control over their futures.”
A&M-San Antonio is located in a growing area of San Antonio. Matson highlighted this by mentioning the beginning of the SouthStar Communities development, VIDA, a 600-acre development located along University Way, directly outside university property. VIDA will include new housing, retail and a future school; the university is collaborating closely with SouthStar to ensure that quality of life for students will be improved.
“I anticipate this project will be closely connected to our student success mission and our academic pursuits and it will become the gateway for innovation in our region,” Matson said. “The vision for the project is underway with a master plan, and we can expect to see first signs of physical construction as early as April.”
Along with the VIDA development, the university’s proximity to technological and manufacturing growth, demonstrated by the new investments of the Toyota, Navistar and TJX plants, creates new opportunities for A&M-San Antonio students, Matson said.
“Over the next 20 years, we can expect our geography to be in the heart of vehicle manufacturing, including robotics, automation, artificial intelligence and cyber security for vehicles,” Matson said. “Our university is going to physically expand and our degree offerings will expand to support these emerging fields and disciplines impacted by artificial intelligence, financial technology and other developing industries.”
As the spring semester marks the beginning of a decade, Matson encouraged students, faculty and staff to seek truth and logic in their lives amid the challenges the future will bring.
“I think we need to come into the new year really grounded in not only who we are but what we know and what we don’t know and how to determine and reach our own thoughtful conclusions or opinions,” Matson said in an interview after the event.
The convocation also included the recitation of “Rosette Colored Glasses,” a poem written and performed by MBA student and U.S. Navy veteran Ernest D. Hernandez.