Hopes & Aspirations High

President Damphousse’s Latest Message to Faculty and Staff

February 3, 2023

Dear Colleagues,

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:

  • Cabinet has completed an assessment of TXST’s organizational structure to re-align some offices and functions to reflect our top institutional priorities. I want to be clear that this is an opportunity to build and refocus our operations. No one will lose their jobs as a result of these changes. 
  • We are developing an aggressive plan to grow TXST Round Rock, with the goal of becoming the third largest campus in the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area and eventually serving 10,000 students at that location.

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


  • $2.25 million per year with an incremental increase to account for annual inflation to launch a university-wide Student Success Center, which will include a student success platform that will allow the university to collect, compile, analyze, and act on data that are known to predict student success. 
  • $500,000 per year with an incremental 3% increase every year to expand student access to virtual mental health counseling and other initiatives supporting student well-being. 

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: 

  • Dr. Victoria Black will join the leadership team in the Division of Student Success.
  • Dr. Kambra Bolch will remain in the Division of Academic Affairs to lead our first-year and transfer undergraduate student advising efforts. Dr. Bolch will also begin to work with the college deans to better coordinate academic advising in their respective colleges. Dr. Bolch and the units under her direction will report to the Provost’s Office, but will also work closely with the Division of Student Success as we rapidly move forward.


2. Run to R1 


  • $2.1 million in FY2024 and $3.3 million in FY2025 to attract additional post-doctoral researchers to support our faculty members in their research endeavors. This is envisioned as one-time seed money that will eventually be replaced by future grant proposals that include post-doctoral research funding (when possible).  
  • $2 million per year (FY2024 through FY2026) for additional PhD tuition scholarships, stipends, and course release time for faculty members to allow for devoted concentration on research.  

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 


  • Increase graduate student scholarships of more than $900,000 per year with an incremental 3% increase every year.  
  • Set aside $2 million in recurring/permanent funding to support proposals that come through the university strategic planning process to increase enrollment by adding faculty and staff in programs with deep applicant pools or offering new in-person and online programs.

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.