Arkansas State University chancellor resigning to lead Texas university

Arkansas State University chancellor resigning to lead Texas university

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The chancellor of Arkansas State University will resign effective June 30, the university announced on Thursday, ahead of his expected confirmation as president of a public university in Texas.

Kelly Damphousse, 59, has served as Arkansas State University’s chancellor since 2017.

He has been named the sole finalist to replace the outgoing president of Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, on July 1, according to an Arkansas State University news release.

“As Beth and I take this opportunity to be closer to her mother, our family, and friends, we pray that our A-State family understands our decision to return home, and knows that we gave our university and adopted hometown everything we had during our time here,” Damphousse said in a statement.

Originally from Canada, Damphousse received an associate’s degree in law enforcement from Lethbridge Community College, according to his online university biography.

After a stint as an Alberta correctional officer, he continued his education in Texas, where he met the woman who would become his wife.

Damphousse received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, and a master’s degree and Ph.D. in sociology from Texas A&M University.

Before joining Arkansas State University, Damphousse spent most of his academic career at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a faculty member and administrator.

“We have been blessed by a welcoming A-State and Jonesboro community, and we will never forget our time here,” Damphousse said.

According to a news release, Arkansas State University System President Chuck Welch plans to meet with university constituency groups on next steps, but no decisions have been made with regard to an interim appointment or a search process.

“This is certainly a bittersweet moment as we hate to lose the Damphousse family at A-State,” Welch said in a statement. “But we are also proud of them for this new opportunity and the ability to live closer to family. Kelly has been a trusted colleague and friend, and I always knew that his top priority was our students and their success.”

Welch added that Damphousse was leaving the university in “a very strong position and well-poised for the future.” He also praised his leadership during the pandemic.

“Financial positioning, fund-raising efforts, exciting new facilities, and academic program growth have made A-State a better place because of Kelly’s leadership,” Welch said.

Welch will presumably recommend a permanent replacement to the Arkansas State University System’s seven-member board of trustees.

Damphousse still faces confirmation by the Texas State University board of regents, according to a separate news release from that university system.

Denise Trauth, the current Texas State University president, is set to retire June 30 after 20 years at the helm.

“Dr. Damphousse is a respected university and community leader who possesses the knowledge, experience and passion to lead Texas State to new levels of achievement and success,” Texas State University System Chancellor Brian McCall said in a news release issued Thursday.

Bill Smith, an Arkansas State University spokesman, declined to make Damphousse or Welch available for interviews Thursday, referring to the statements already provided.

When asked if Welch anticipated naming an interim appointee before Damphousse’s last day, Arkansas State University System spokesman Jeff Hankins wrote in an email, “This will depend largely on the search process that is ultimately developed. Dr. Welch will begin working with the respective shared governance groups on campus to make these decisions.”

Asked if an interim appointee would have to receive the approval of the system’s board of trustees, Hankins said no.

Damphousse’s 2017 appointment as permanent chancellor came in the wake of former Arkansas State University Chancellor Tim Hudson’s resignation.

Hudson resigned in August 2016 shortly after an initial audit was delivered to university system officials that dealt with the operations of study-abroad programs overseen by Hudson’s wife, Deidra, who had served as a part-time university employee.

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