The rise of San Marcos: Interview with President Kelly Damphousse

todaySeptember 19, 2023 86 2 5

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By Sydney Seidel

Blog Content Contributor

BrokeScholar, a University scholarship website, recently dubbed San Marcos as the fourth fastest growing U.S. college town placing us right behind Bozeman, Montana, Oxford, Mississippi and Cedar City, Utah.

Since the year 2000, San Marcos population has grown to nearly 71,000 residents giving the community an 88.3% growth percentage rate. The biggest contributor to this is the Texas State University undergraduate enrollment. As of fall of 2021, the total number of undergraduate students was 33,175. Since then, the number has only continued to rise.

I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Texas State University President, Dr. Kelly Damphousse, about this phenomenon. Here is how the conversation went.

The photo was taken in front of the quad bus stop of the newest dorm being built.
Newest dorm being built to house over 1,000 students. | Sydney Seidel

Seidel: What is your take on this significant increase in students? Why do you think this rise is happening now considering the university is over 100 years old?

Damphousse: A couple things are happening. First, I believe when we changed the university name from Southwest to Texas State, we changed the perception of the school both regionally and nationally. Additionally, we have transitioned into becoming an emerging research institution. We have always had great faculty, but now our faculty is more engaged in research which is very attractive to incoming students. We are the most applied to school in Texas through the ApplyTexas software.

Seidel: BrokeScholar claims that “It’s not just a university or its enrollment that attracts newcomers, but the ‘cultural oasis’ that the college towns maintain.” As a semi newcomer yourself, what is your take on this observation?

Damphousse:  We are in the middle of what is becoming the next megaplex between San Antonio and Austin. At some point in the next 25-30 years, we will be the same as DFW with their huge population and location between the two large cities. Yet, San Marcos has still managed to keep its small-town feel. We have a great Downtown Square and the San Marcos River that runs through the community which entices many newcomers.

Seidel: I have, along with most San Martians, seen the new dorm that is being built on campus. What other plans does TXST have to keep up with the rising student body?

Damphousse: Our new resident hall will open in 2024 and will have about 1,000 beds. We also have another resident hall that we are beginning to plan which will have around 1,000 beds as well and will be behind where Ingram Hall is. We are also constructing a new science education building in the same area. Those are our current projects right now. I think it is also important for us to have a good relationship with apartment companies nearby as we are only able to house freshmen on campus currently. I am always concerned about the rising cost of off campus housing as we cannot control that.

Seidel: Do you believe we as a community will be able to keep up?

Damphousse: Absolutely! We have room for growth, especially on our campus. I think it is natural for people to be concerned about our University becoming too big and losing its personality. However, it is important to understand that worrying about it won’t stop it from happening. The University will grow. The city will grow. What we need to do is think about how to manage that growth rather than how to prohibit it. We certainly have the space on campus to continue building further and expand the number of students.

BrokeScholar estimates the city’s population to expand to over 86,000 people by 2030 and nearly 154,000 people by 2050. If you or someone you know has any concerns about the future of the University, reach out to President Damphousse via his online website here.

Written by: Cayla Soriano

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