Posted on February 1, 2024 by Amanda Cerreto

The College for Health, Community and Policy (HCAP) at UTSA is proud to welcome Robert Rico as its new Director of Restorative Practices.

rico-robert.jpgRico has been with UTSA since 2006, teaching for the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice after spending 20 years in law enforcement. He is also an HCAP alumnus with a Master of Public Administration in hand.

“I’ve always done some type of restorative justice work in law enforcement,” he said, “and wanted to bring it into education.”

Restorative practices are a relational non-punitive approach to addressing student misconduct or faculty or staff conflicts that help support healthy relationships and enhance the community. They are used to prevent or respond to harm in a community with an emphasis on healing, social support and active accountability.

“We are glad to welcome Robert back to HCAP family as an educator and to strengthen our HCAP community and San Antonio community via his experience in restorative practices,” said Lynne Cossman, dean of the college.

Rico brings his wealth of expertise in Restorative Practices to help mitigate conflict in the workplace for staff, faculty and students. By promoting mutually respectful dialogue between parties, the process aims to mitigate conflict before it reaches a harmful level.

The practice caught on quickly with students and faculty, who were soon reaching out to Rico for a plethora of needs. Two graduate students in social work even built their own practicum with Rico, fully exploring restorative practices and applying them to their work as licensed social workers.

“Restorative justice is crucial to a college campus and communities as a whole,” said Becky Pettersson ’23, one of Rico’s practicum students. “The work Dr. Rico has been pioneering at UTSA gives a new human centered perspective on how to work with conflict, crime, tragedy, and community engagement on campus.”

In addition to working with members of the UTSA community, Rico will work with Rhonda BeLue, associate dean for community engagement and partnerships, to build relationships between community businesses or stakeholders and UTSA.

“I was born and raised in the West Side of San Antonio,” Rico said. “I want to build that relationship there and see if we can build a bridge from those high schools and businesses.”

In addition to his work as director, Rico will continue to teach in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, with plans to expand into public administration and social work in the coming semesters.

For more information about restorative practices, visit our website.

— Amanda Cerreto