The University of Texas at San Antonio is creating a new college dedicated to artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, computing and data science in an effort to streamline programs and better position students for careers in technology.
Cybersecurity, AI, computer science and data science-related programs at the university are currently distributed across multiple colleges. By combining the programs under one roof, the university will be better positioned to leverage faculty across different disciplines and help students navigate programs in these emerging technology fields, Jonathon Halbesleben, who co-chairs the task force responsible for creating the new college, said in an interview with EdScoop.
“This is kind of a natural progression to really bring these programs together under one college, one umbrella,” said Halbesleben, who works at the university as dean of the Carlos Alvarez College of Business. “We’re really just trying to focus our resources and our capacity around these areas so we can really, truly, do some great things.”
By centralizing the programs, faculty will be better situated to collaborate on research, he added. Additionally, the new college will be located in downtown San Antonio and in close proximity to the university’s industry partners, which should help students get a jumpstart on their careers, Halbesleben said.
“Ensuring UTSA students are well-prepared for their chosen careers in the dynamic transdisciplinary workforce is our most important responsibility,” UTSA Interim Provost Heather Shipley said in a press release. “This initiative is driven by our commitment to fostering innovation, advancing research and delivering educational excellence across related disciplines.”
The new college was largely driven by workforce demands and student interest, he said. Since 2019, the number of students enrolled in AI, cyber, computing and data science-related programs at the university has increased by 31%, and those degree fields yielded more than 1,000 graduates last year alone, according to the release.
The 30-person task force consisting of faculty, staff, administrators and student representatives met for the first time on Friday to begin collecting information to jumpstart the planning process. Halbesleben said that while the task force plans on drawing inspiration from other universities who have started similar colleges and programs, most of the planning process will be guided by faculty. He added that there are future plans to engage stakeholders outside of UTSA for the creation of the new college.
“Beyond that, a lot of the inspiration is going to come from our faculty and really trying to harness what they think is possible,” Halbesleben said. “There might not be a perfect model out there, but we can create that model and be among the first to really take this step.”