Remarks by Dr. Cynthia Hernandez, Vice President for Student Success

State of Texas State

Friday, August 18, 2023

University Events Center, Strahan Arena  

“No matter what initiative we undertake in the future, we dare not stray from our focus on ensuring that the students who place their trust in us are given every opportunity to graduate in a timely manner, and to be prepared for life after Texas State. It has always been at the heart of what we do.” 

These were the words shared by President Damphousse at this event last year. 

With that charge, we set six stretch goals to elevate student success:

  1. Increasing our first-time freshman retention rate from 80% to 85%.
  2. Increasing our 4-year graduation rate from 33% to 37%.
  3. Increasing our 6-year graduation rate from 56% to 58%.
  4. Increasing our transfer student graduation rate from 61% to 64%.
  5. We also seek to decrease retention disparities between demographic cohorts, and 
  6. Develop an institutional vision of student success to increase academic achievement, wellbeing, sense of belonging, and engagement.

We can’t talk about student success without framing the conversation around who our students are. They are talented and committed. Almost half are the first in their family to go to college, most work at least a part-time job on top of their coursework, and many struggle to meet the rising cost of living. More than ever before, they are focused on their own mental health, interested in developing positive relationships, and being their true, authentic selves. These needs and circumstances help define how we work together to help them succeed.

Over the last 12 months, faculty and staff have contributed resources, energy, and expertise toward retention and post-graduation success initiatives. 

Here are a few of our accomplishments thus far:

  • To better serve the 45% of our students who are first in their family to attend college, we are hiring two new positions to work on first generation student initiatives including our First Gen Proud efforts. 
  • Approximately 20% of our first-year students will find themselves on academic probation after their first semester putting their GPA and their financial aid in jeopardy. To help us intervene before a student gets on probation, we are partnering with faculty teaching gen ed courses to proactively identify students in the first five weeks who are trending towards academic trouble.   
  • For students who land on probation, we are piloting a mandatory academic recovery program to help students return to good academic standing.

Increasing Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources

Similar to national trends, we have seen a rise in the utilization of personal and group counseling through our TXST Counseling Center. To meet an increase in demand, we are excited to launch the TimelyCare app to provide 24-hour, seven days a week access to virtual counseling and wellbeing services.  This service is available to enrolled Texas State students at all locations (even those studying abroad). This resource will supplement the excellent services provided by our Counseling Center, Health Center, and CARE Team.

Re-committing to Involvement and Engagement

Evidence indicates that a student’s sense of belonging improves academic outcomes, increases continuing enrollment, and is protective for mental health. In an effort to enhance students’ sense of belonging, I am excited to share the Department of Student Involvement will expand in mission, focus, and staffing to become the Department of Student Involvement and Engagement.  The new department will bring together the offices of Student Involvement; Fraternity and Sorority Life; Student Government; Leadership & Service; and the student organizations and community-wide programming formerly supported by the Student Connections and Belonging office. 

Building an Internship Culture

We know that internship experiences are an important bridge from college to career. This fall we are adding a full-time position in the Career Center to collaborate with the EXC2EL Center and our academic colleges to promote internship development and increase participation by students.

On the technology front, we adopted a new student success technology platform, EAB Navigate, to streamline day-to-day work and coordinate a holistic, effective approach to student success. The ink is still wet on the contract, and we will begin implementation later this fall.

And finally, many thanks to the Presidential Commission on Student Success, which will continue its work looking at data, identifying areas for growth, and engaging the community in conversations about how to further enhance the student experience. 


Our students choose Texas State because this is a place where they can be their best selves. Everyone sitting in this arena today plays a part in making this happen. Together we can help our students realize their dream of graduating from Texas State. Thank you for all your work supporting our students.

State’s up and Go Cats.