Texas State President Kelly Damphousse greets students on the sidelines at the homecoming football game against Southern Miss, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022. 

With almost forty thousand students and over five thousand faculty and staff members on the Texas State campus, it can be difficult to make a close-knit connection on campus. President Kelly Damphousse wants to show that the task is not impossible by creating opportunities for students, faculty and staff to come together through small, come-and-go socials, Bobcat Kindle with KDamp and Coffee with Kelly.

Once a month, Damphousse hosts Bobcat Kindle with KDamp so students can ask him questions, give feedback or chat. Coffee with Kelly has the same purpose for faculty and staff.

“It's all about trying to create relationships with students and with faculty and staff that aren't that aren't built around the crisis at the moment,” Damphousse said. “When a student comes to talk to me about how terrible their life is, I would rather us already have that relationship, where we're not introducing [ourselves] in the middle of something bad happening.”

Before Texas State, Damphousse was the Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma where he had about eight thousand students and six hundred and fifty faculty members. Prior to becoming a dean, Damphousse was an associate dean and lived on campus where he could interact with and create better connections with his students on a daily basis.

After becoming dean, Damphousse’s daughters, who attended the University of Oklahoma at the time, would come into his office to chat all the time. He thought about other students and if they also had someone to talk to or complain to. He missed the connection that he had with students when he lived on campus, and so he began hosting Desserts with the Dean to create that connection again. Later, the idea spread to his faculty and staff.

“I'd have desserts and coffee and they'd be like 10 students… and they’d just talk about whatever and that's where that started,” Damphousse said. “I was trying to keep connecting with the students because [what] I discovered is that students want to feel connected and they [have] problems.”

Moving the events to Texas State meant a name change. Names like Pounce with the President and Desserts with Damphousse were suggested until he decided on Bobcat Kindle with KDamp. A kindle is a term for a group of Bobcats.

With Bobcat Kindle with KDamp and Coffee with Kelly, Damphousse hopes to make talking to him more accessible and comfortable for students. He believes building these connections will not only help him in times of crisis but can lower issues on campus.

“We live in a complicated world already and universities are complicated,” Damphousse said. “Anything we do to make it less complicated and make it a little more accessible to people make access to power and authority more accessible and that's all that's also valuable.”

A student who attended a Bobcat Kindle with KDamp gave his feedback and had a hand in raising peer mentors' wages after he talked about his friend who he believed was not making enough. Damphousse said issues about parking and other campus problems have been brought up as well.

Registration for the next Bobcat Kindle with KDamp on March 8 is full. Registration for all of the Coffee with Kelly events for faculty and staff on the San Marcos and Round Rock campuses is also full. The next Bobcat Kindle with KDamp students can register for will be from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, April 6.

“When I can really reduce those barriers, I think the university is a better place to live and work in,” Damphousse said. “More fun for me too.”

To register for Bobcat Kindle with KDamp visit https://www.president.txst.edu/student-engagement.html.

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