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The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Meet Kelly Damphousse

Texas+State+President+Kelly+Damphousse+shakes+hands+with+students+and+faculty+at+a+meet-and-greet+on+his+first+day+in+office+as+the+universitys+new+president%2C+Friday%2C+July+1%2C+2022%2C+at+UAC.

Texas State President Kelly Damphousse shakes hands with students and faculty at a meet-and-greet on his first day in office as the university’s new president, Friday, July 1, 2022, at UAC.

Dr. Kelly Damphousse stepped into his role as the 10th president of Texas State University on July 1, succeeding a 20-year career by Denise Trauth. He moves to the position after serving as chancellor and CEO at Arkansas State University.
Making quite a splash in his first few weeks on campus, Damphousse has been quickly immersing himself in the Texas State campus and its culture.
“I’ve been at PWI universities, which means predominantly white institutions, and one of the things I love and am so excited about with this school is how diverse it is. We’ve got not only an incredibly diverse student body but faculty. We not only have a rich diversity in race and ethnicity but also in identity and gender. And it’s not just really diverse, it’s the most diverse campus in the state, and I think it really mirrors the diversity of our state,” Damphousse said.
Before he would ever start working in the university system, he was just a kid growing up in the foster care system.
“I grew up in a little fishing village in Northern Canada. I was adopted. My mom had a grade nine education and my dad had a grade 12 education, but they said they wanted to make sure I had the option to go to college, although I had always thought I wasn’t going to go to college. In April of my senior year, I decided to go to college. So I applied really late and went to community college because I wanted to be a police officer. But I was too young. I was only 19, so I got a job as a prison guard. And then one of my former instructors worked out a deal for me to come down to Texas to go to Sam Houston State, get a criminal justice degree and then go back and become a police officer.
“I came down here and met a girl, but she didn’t want to move to Canada and she didn’t wanna marry a police officer. I graduated from Sam Houston in 1987, we got married in ’88, and we’re still happily married. She talked me into going to graduate school, so I went to A&M graduate school and then started working in the professor route, I taught at [The University of Alabama at Birmingham] for a year, and went back to Sam Houston and got two years. Then I was [at the University of Oklahoma] for 20 years as a faculty member, and over time I became a dean. And then in 2017, I became the chancellor at Arkansas State University, and now I’m here,” Damphousse said.
The opportunity to move back to Texas was just a small part of why he decided to accept the position.
“What I love about Texas State is it serves a really noble mission because we attract a lot of students who are first-generation students, some who come from very tough backgrounds economically. President Trauth and I have known each other for five years. We’re on the Sunbelt board together. I started on the board, and she served here for 20 years and I thought ‘there must be something great about that university to work there for 20 years,” Damphousse said.
The beauty of San Marcos and what it offers its residents was not lost on Damphousse either.
“We love San Marcos. It’s great. I used to think San Marcos was just the outlet mall, and that’s something we need to work on as well, is trying to make sure that people understand the story of Texas State University and also make sure that the City of San Marcos understands how we are so connected to them. When we’re recruiting students and faculty here we need to be using San Marcos as a recruiting tool because it’s a really great town,” Damphousse said.
Damphousse understands the importance of the role he is stepping into, but with some advice from former President Trauth, he feels more than up to the task.
“The advice she mostly gave me was about the people who work here. I mentioned something to her about how much I enjoyed the members of the cabinet. That was the first group I met with, and I said ‘you got some great people here,’ and she said,’ we have great people all over this university,’ and she was 100% right,” Damphousse said.
In an effort to try and familiarize himself with the university and vice versa, Damphousse has spent his first few weeks on campus meeting as many people as he can. Whether he’s riding around campus on his golf cart, taking selfies with students or visiting the athletics department, he makes sure that everybody can put a face to his name.
“I want to make sure they know I’m accessible to them; that I’m here to listen to them. If you don’t create opportunities for communication with students, faculty or alumni, then you can get kind of removed from them. People won’t know who you are, and if you’ve never met the person then they’re nervous talking to you and I can’t help the university if I don’t know what’s broken. So that’s what I’m trying to do is create those relationships with everybody, not just students, but employees, alumni, city leaders and state leaders as well so that they know what’s happening here,” Damphousse said.
Damphousse doesn’t plan to stop there. One of his goals is to make sure that the university is always connected to the community of San Marcos. He believes this allows for better service within each other.
“One of the things that’s really important is to understand there are two real entities in the city. There’s our city leadership, the mayor and county judge, or the leadership in the political sphere. So with them, bring them onto our campus, and go to where they are as well, I can learn more about how the city runs. But then San Marcos is also the people. [My wife] and I are people of faith, and we’ll find a place to plug into a church at some point. But also go to local businesses and local restaurants and try to go to a different restaurant each time we go out. And I love The Square. There’s not a lot of towns that have a really well laid out downtown, but ours is better than anybody else’s,” Damphousse said.
As much as he loves the position and place that he’s joining, he also has plans that he thinks can help improve the university for years to come.
“I think there’s a little something missing here that I really want to work on at the university with student engagement. We have these great affinity groups because we come together and create some great culture and great memories for students that will last. I think what happens at universities over time, is that students have become a little bit disconnected from each other and from their university. I’m looking for ways to engage our students and create opportunities for them to come together outside of the classroom.
“For example, going to football games, going to support all the various athletics programs and going to our fine arts productions. There are so many groups on campus for students to join and get involved in. Say you’re a Harry Potter fan and want to play quidditch, there’s a group on campus for that. But if we didn’t have a quidditch program and you wanted to you could start one. There are a lot of options available to students and I want them to experience as many of them as possible. How can we find a common experience for all of us? That’s what I’d love to do,” Damphousse said.
Damphousse has many passions but setting up students for success is his focal point.
“One of the things I’m really passionate about is student success. By that I mean opening the doors to college education, increasing access, and then second, making sure the students here are successful; making sure they’re retained from their freshman year because that’s where you lose the most students. We’ll have record retention this year, probably around 80%. So only 20% of our freshman class didn’t return which is great. My goal is to get that up to 85%. I want to remove the barrier for every student who wants to stay but something happens that doesn’t allow them to come back. All of those things are related to this idea of engagement; of students feeling connected. One of the best things that can happen to me is when a student goes home on Thanksgiving to visit their parents and at the end of the week they say, ‘I gotta go home to San Marcos’,” Damphousse said.
In the seven weeks since he started, President Damphousse has met with the athletics director, the fine arts and band directors, and has had sports teams over to meet his dog and enjoy dinner. He has also met and conversed with hundreds of students as they step back into campus life, which can be seen on his Instagram page. It’s clear the impact Damphousse has had on campus in such a short amount of time, and his excitement to get started melds into his exchanges in the best way.
“We are in the business of changing people’s lives, and I think Texas State changes more lives than any other university in the state and is among the highest in the country, so I want to be a part of that,” Damphousse said.
To learn more about President Kelly Damphousse, visit https://www.president.txst.edu/about-president-damphousse/biography.html.

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