Damphousse Seeks Community Ties

By Kimberely Blackburn
Delta Digital News Service

Damphousse Window Art

Window art featuring Kelly, Beth and Maple Leif Damphousse decorated the window of the Chancellor’s office. Damphousse became A-State’s chancellor on July 1. Photo by Kimberely Blackburn

JONESBORO – A native Canadian and Montréal Canadians fan, Arkansas State University’s new chancellor aspired to become either a goaltender for the NHL or a Mountie before coming to Northeast Arkansas by way of Oklahoma.

Chancellor Kelly Damphousse said he planned to stay at his last position as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Oklahoma until retirement, but an email sent by A-State President Chuck Welch prompted him to apply. When he first visited the campus, Damphousse saw the challenges but viewed A-State as a diamond in the rough. He said he can impact a community as a chancellor in a much different way than he could as a dean.

“It’s important for us to have a relationship with the people on our campus. Sometimes it’s easy for someone who in administration to get removed from the reality of the world that they’re serving,” Damphousse said.

Damphousse explained why he creates relationships:

Campus and Community

Damphousse said his main concern will always be the students, faculty and staff. He said he understands he can only see a few students per day due to his position. Yet faculty and staff members interact with hundreds.

Damphousse said he wants to use his position to help bridge the gap between campus and community. He said there seems to be a strain between the two due to past events. He said he believes strains occur due to a lack of communication, meaning people do not truly know each other.

To remedy this, Damphousse said he speaks to any community club that extends an invitation, as well as local merchants and companies to see how A-State can help their business. Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin said he and Damphousse agreed to work together on several projects.

Perrin said he hopes to help get the word out of what A-State offers the community. He said A-State remains a driving force in the Craighead County community.

Perrin said A-State can help employers by providing both new employees and education for existing workers. Perrin said he believes A-State and the Jonesboro community can achieve this by fine-tuning programs already on campus.

“I’ve always learned in business, you build and become strong on what you have. If you’ll continue to build and to redefine what you’ve got, you’ll be highly successful,” Perrin said.

Damphousse explained his plans to keep A-State movng forward:

United Way

Damphousse recently announced on his Facebook account that The United Way of Northeast Arkansas named him and his wife, Beth, as co-chairs of Arkansas State University’s United Way Campaign.

Nanette Heard, executive director of United Way of Northeast Arkansas, said the Damphousses will encourage the A-State community to designate part of their salary to help fund projects throughout the eight-county region.

UWNEA covers residents of Clay, Craighead, Cross, Greene, Jackson, Lawrence, Poinsett and Randolph counties. Heard said the projects include shelters, after-school programs and programs that help feed the hungry.

Damphousse said the community matters to him and to A-State. Because the campus and community will always be tied together, he said if one rises, they both rise. Damphousse said he and Beth plan to be around for the long run.

He mentioned an analogy about planting trees you never get to sit under. But Damphousse said he wants to sit under the trees he plants. He said he wants to see the efforts that come from the changes he implements.

This is why, Damphousse said, the motto “Every Red Wolf Counts” truly encompasses everyone.

“Every Red Wolf Counts. That means every student, every faculty member, every staff member, every alumnus, every member of the Jonesboro community,” Damphousse said. “I see them all as Red Wolves because we’re all tied together.”

He even let students name the family dog:

Listen to the entire interview: