Hopes & Aspirations High

President Damphousse’s Latest Message to Faculty and Staff

March 20, 2023

Dear Colleagues:

Momentum! That’s the word I would use to describe the last six months at Texas State University. We have received (and are implementing) many bold recommendations from presidential commissions and task forces in alignment with our mission, values, and strategic imperatives. We launched the Hopes & Aspirations High vision, set the transformation of our Round Rock Campus in motion, and introduced more than $50 million in investments to move TXST forward. Together, we have traveled even farther since my last update and covered important ground.

In the midst of this progress, it’s important to remember what’s driving us and generating our momentum – to remember our “why.” We started and continue this journey out of a deep commitment to our students, to the creation of new knowledge, and to our community. And there is much to celebrate!

  • We retained 92% of our First-Time-In-College (FTIC) student 2022 cohort from Fall to Spring, which is near our all-time high of 93%. 
  • First-year applications and admits for Fall 2023 are on record pace, up 23% (+7,393 applications) and 14% (+3,222 admits), respectively, over last year’s record numbers. International FTIC student applications and admits are up a staggering 377% (+467 applications) and 213% (+136 admits), respectively, over last year.
  • For the first time in our history, TXST is second, only to Texas A&M University, in applications submitted through Apply Texas for Fall 2023.
  • Attendance at February’s Bobcat Day (2,536 student prospects) was the highest ever recorded.
  • Campus tours were 100% booked over Spring Break.
  • We exceeded previous records with 85 doctoral student applications and 45 doctoral student admissions for Summer 2023 in programs supported by our Run to R1 investment in research assistantships and tuition scholarships. Similarly, there were a record 343 doctoral student applications across all programs for Fall 2023.
  • In the first two quarters of this fiscal year, externally sponsored research expenditures increased by 21% compared to last year.
  • TXST’s faculty members are successfully competing for prestigious national research awards. For example, a research team led by Professor Stacey Kulezsa in the Ingram School of Engineering secured $10M of funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to establish a Tier 1 University Transportation Center at TXST.

No matter what position you hold at TXST, you played a part in accomplishing these achievements and keeping us on track to reach our goals. Thank you!

As I have mentioned before, we are on a thousand-mile journey, and we still have a way to go. The past few weeks, we have focused on several strategic, foundational actions that will help us continue to move forward.

Aligning University Structure with Priorities - Integrate Structure with Function

We have made changes in our organizational structure to help sustain our momentum toward reaching our Hopes & Aspirations High. These changes will move us forward in achieving R1 status, elevating student success, growing enrollment (including online and international), transforming the Round Rock Campus, and reducing administrative burdens. This process has provided an opportunity to holistically and comprehensively integrate offices, divisions, and departments with like functions that are directly engaged in these transformative initiatives.

To recap, we have:

  • Created a new Division of Research (formerly the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs) to lead the Run to R1.
  • Merged the Office of University Marketing and the Office of University Communications and Public Relations into one division, University Marketing and Communications, to more efficiently support and promote university priorities.
  • Launched national searches for two key positions -- a Vice President for Global Education and Online (to support our global aspirations and further explore additional online initiatives) and a Vice President for the Round Rock Campus (to lead efforts to grow enrollment and the impact of that campus).
  • Created a new Division of Student Success, comprised of departments from the former Division of Student Affairs and specific student success services units from Academic Affairs, to better coordinate the delivery of student success initiatives.
  • Dissolved University College by redistributing its functions (e.g., US 1100 and advising for first-year and exploratory majors) to other areas in Academic Affairs. The bachelor’s degree in General Studies is moving to the College of Education, and the Common Experience and the Common Reading will be discontinued after completion of this year’s theme and programming.
  • Dissolved the Division of University Administration and moved its functions into the Office of the President. Institutional Compliance and Ethics, and most functions currently under Institutional Effectiveness, including Institutional Research, Policies and Procedures, University Planning, University Outcomes Assessment, and SACSCOC accreditation, will report to the President through Chief of Staff and Vice President Lisa Lloyd. Academic Outcomes Assessment, Academic Program Accreditations, and Academic Program Reviews will stay in Academic Affairs.
  • University Libraries has moved from the Division of Information Technology to Academic Affairs under the Provost.

For many of you, I know this has impacted your workplace, and I understand that it can be unsettling. I am grateful for the flexibility, patience, and grace you have shown as we do great things together for TXST.

Let me turn to some other areas of focus and progress since my February update.

TXST Round Rock Campus: Current Initiatives and Future Plans

Our Round Rock Campus (RRC) is uniquely positioned to be home to much of the university’s future growth. It has the potential to provide affordable, high-quality, and convenient higher education access to thousands of future students. It is also poised to house cutting-edge research that complements the world-class technology and health care corporate sectors in the greater north Austin area, which is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country.

With input from many community members, including the RRC Leadership and Organizational Work Group, RRC faculty, staff and students, Round Rock community and business leaders, President’s Cabinet, and deans, chairs, and program directors, we are prepared to take advantage of this opportunity. We are in the process of creating an ambitious seven-year plan to bring 10,000 new students to the RRC by 2030 and to reach our goal of becoming the third largest university campus in the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area to better serve our students and the State of Texas.

This plan kicks off in Fall 2023 with investments to stand up new degree programs on the RRC and to expand degree programs that are currently offered there, with the goal of bringing more than 500 additional students to the campus this fall. The investments will be used to:

  • Expand the bachelor’s degree program in Mass Communications.
  • Expand the bachelor’s and master’s degree program in Organization, Workforce, and Leadership Studies.
  • Offer bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Social Work.
  • Expand the bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Computer Science. 
  • Significantly expand non-credit professional development and training workshops.
  • Increase the cohort size of some degree programs offered by the College of Health Professions.
  • Expand enrollment in the master's degree program in Educational Leadership and the bachelor’s degree program in Education (EC-6/ESL).
  • Offer targeted scholarships to recruit Austin Community College graduates to enroll in degree programs offered on the RRC.
  • Hire a Director of Student Success and Academic Services and a dedicated RRC recruiter to support these initiatives and to grow enrollment in the more than 30 degree programs offered on the RRC.
  • Implement a comprehensive marketing plan to market the RRC.

To ensure a positive experience for our growing RRC students, faculty, and staff, we are making plans to add additional support services and eventually housing on the campus. A comprehensive space study is underway for the campus, including an evaluation of the best use of the future Esperanza Hall.

Adjusting Strategic Planning with Priorities

We have paused completion of the university’s strategic planning process temporarily to provide the opportunity to integrate our newest strategic imperatives into the plan and to better understand our financial situation after the current legislative session. This will require us to adjust our deadlines slightly so we can build a bold, but achievable, plan together that reflects the recommendations of the commissions and task forces, the restructuring of university functions, legislative funding, and our shared vision for our future. I encourage you to continue the dialogue around strategic planning in your respective areas about how you can align initiatives to support our mission and priorities, especially the newly defined ones.

Employee Morale

We cannot do any of this work without you. You created this momentum, and you are key to sustaining it – in addition to doing exceptional work supporting and educating our students and keeping TXST running. I know you have stepped up to a big ask. My commitment to increasing funding for programs, salaries, and more positions has not wavered. Funding from the Texas Legislature and enrollment growth are critical to creating and filling new positions and paying better salaries. Increasing salaries for our employees and adding staff positions in key areas remain my highest budgetary priority in the next fiscal year.

We are prioritizing raises and staff positions in our planning for the coming fiscal year, recognizing that inflation and market forces have been changing faster than our salary increases in recent years. While we have already made market adjustments for more than 1,800 faculty and staff members over the past 18 months (costing more than $5.5M), we know we need to do more. In support of this goal, we are initiating a salary study with an external partner that will help us update our strategic approach and ensure our faculty and staff compensation is competitive. Specific details about these efforts and our merit planning cycle will be released later this semester. While there will always be more to do in terms of raising employee morale, I am also happy to announce that in addition to our plans to continue working on salary increases, we have:

  • Initiated our first-ever 25% tuition discount for employee dependents, effective in Fall 2023.
  • Created a new, discounted meal plan for employees with meals that never expire and with a cost of less than $6 per meal.
  • Launched the Run to R1 Postdoctoral Researcher Catalyst Program to support the salaries of approximately 30 postdoctoral researchers for two years each, starting in fiscal year 2024.
  • Implemented a new faculty title series that will start in Fall 2024. The new title series, consisting of assistant professor, associate professor, and professor of instruction, will provide recognition and advancement opportunities for faculty who make unique contributions to TXST by dedicating their talents to teaching, learning, and instructional activities that enhance student success.

Please know that I will do everything I can to provide you with more support as funding becomes available.

Thank you for being the very heart of our university and for inspiring me every day. Together, let’s keep our focus on the “why” and continue in this honorable and highest mission.


Kelly Damphousse, Ph.D.