Hopes & Aspirations High
President Damphousse’s Latest Message to Faculty and Staff
February 3, 2023
In my January 5th email introducing Hopes & Aspirations High, an ambitious vision for Texas State’s future, I made a reference that we were “six miles into a 1,000-mile journey.” I’m happy to report – thanks to outstanding input and work by so many of you – we have progressed much farther down that road.
From the start of building this shared vision, it has been my goal to ensure that we follow an inclusive process. So, in addition to presidential commission and task force recommendations, we engaged the university community by gathering faculty and staff input, soliciting solutions through focus groups and surveys, meeting with affinity groups, and holding candid conversation opportunities like “Coffee with Kelly” events.
Today, I am excited to share the next bold steps we will take together.
I can’t say enough about how impressed and inspired I am by the thoughtful and courageous initiatives coming out of this process. It speaks to our fundamental shared commitment to students, to knowledge creation, and to our community. The ideas were data-driven, full of energy, and forward-thinking. The Cabinet has met several times to determine what steps we can take now to have the greatest impact on moving forward with our goals focused on elevating student success, running to R1, increasing recruitment efforts, growing enrollment, transforming and expanding the Round Rock Campus mission, and reducing administrative burdens. As I have mentioned several times in the past seven months, one of my priorities is to make TXST an “employer of preference.” To accomplish that, it is essential that we continue our efforts to ensure that pay rates are competitive as possible, that we have sufficient staffing levels, and that we remove administrative burdens and unnecessary organizational redundancy. Work continues on this front in tandem with these outcomes presented today. I will be sharing more about that soon.
Your work resulted in recommendations that, if fully funded, would require nearly $130 million in additional funding. While we are not able to fund all of the recommendations immediately, please understand that for many of the unfunded items, it is less of a “no,” and more of a “yes, but not yet.”
The biggest takeaways I want to share today are:
Let’s consider just a few of the details of priority investment of our reserves that we will recommend to our Board of Regents as a result of the recommendations from the commissions, task forces, and other input we have received. More examples can be found on my webpage.
1. Student Success
This latest round of funding brings our total investment in student success since the beginning of Fall 2023 to more than $14.2 million.
Aligning Student Success Initiatives
To create the synergy to do even more and achieve profound, institutional-level transformation, we must align resources to support our student success goals. The Cabinet decided to merge student success initiatives that have historically lived primarily in different units, reporting to different Vice Presidents. We wanted to seize the opportunity to bring similar teams together to improve efficiency, to cross-train employees, and to repurpose positions to fill gaps – all with the goal of developing a holistic student success mechanism that gives every Bobcat the opportunity to reach their full potential.
To accomplish this, we have created a new Division of Student Success, which will be comprised of departments in the Division of Student Affairs and specific student services units from University College. Dr. Cynthia Hernandez will lead this new division, and her title will change to Vice President for Student Success.
Staffing changes in this restructuring include:
2. Run to R1
This new round of funding brings our total investment since we began our Run to R1 last Fall to nearly $18 million.
Elevating the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
To help sustain our Run to R1 momentum, it is important to bring the right decision makers to the table so we can make timely, well-informed decisions that support our priorities. To that end, the position of Associate Vice President for Research and Federal Relations has been elevated to that of a Vice President for Research. Effective immediately, Dr. Shreek Mandayam will report directly to me, and will serve as a member of my Cabinet. The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs will now become the Division of Research.
3. Recruitment and Enrollment
This latest round of funding brings our total investment to nearly $18 million in new dollars ($8 million for specific recruitment initiatives and $10 million to expand current and add new degree programs through the strategic planning process).
Growing International Students and Online Enrollment
To help support our global aspirations and further explore online educational initiatives, we will create a Vice President for Global and Online Initiatives. This new focus will likely include changing the Office of Distance and Extended Learning to an entrepreneurial enterprise model, conducting a holistic review of the current funding structure for online learning and international affairs, engaging with external partners to market programs to both domestic and international markets, and providing incentives and strategic planning guidelines for degree programs to redesign face-to-face or hybrid programs to be fully online, scalable programs that can be marketed to large student populations. The search will commence soon.
Elevating Marketing and Communications
Raising awareness of TXST through strategic communications and bolstering marketing initiatives is critical to increasing enrollment. To build on the success we have had so far in this area and to better focus and grow our resources, we have merged the Office of University Marketing and the Office of University Communications and Public Relations into one division. Ms. Sandy Pantlik, Associate Vice President for Communications and Public Relations, will become the Vice President for Marketing and Communications and serve as a member of my Cabinet. Mr. Elias Martinez, Assistant Vice President for University Marketing, will continue to direct marketing functions while also helping guide the new division.
4. TXST Round Rock
Projected population growth in Austin demands that we expand TXST Round Rock to provide affordable, high-quality, and convenient higher education access to tens of thousands of additional future students. Over the past seven months, the Cabinet and I have met with Deans, Round Rock Campus faculty, staff, and students, and community/business leaders in Round Rock to begin developing an aggressive plan to expand TXST’s education, research, and economic development position in the Round Rock/Williamson County area. Our goal is to increase enrollment to 10,000 students by Fall 2029. We are still reviewing the report from the Round Rock Campus Leadership and Organizational Work Group, which will further inform the search to fill the new Vice President of TXST Round Rock position.
I know this is a lot of information to take in, but great things are happening at TXST! I look forward to sharing details soon about the progress made in the areas of reducing administrative burdens and remote work policies in my next update.
I hope that you see that TXST is serious about investing in our new shared vision for the future of our university. As I told a group of staff members who serve in the new Division of Research, the work we do today is simply building on decades of effort by our faculty and staff members. What we do tomorrow and in the years to come will likewise build on your tenacity, innovative spirit, leadership, experience, grit, and enthusiasm. I cannot wait to see what we do next!
Kelly Damphousse, Ph.D.