Sam Houston State University President Dana Gibson addressed faculty and staff about how SHSU has impacted Walker County’s work force, on Thursday.
According to Gibson, the SHSU-based Gibson D. Lewis Center for Business and Economic Development published a study to detail the economic impact the university had on the community. Walker County averaged 26,100 jobs during FY 2012 of which SHSU students worked 5,800 (22 percent) of the jobs, according to studies published by CBED.
The study showed the total impact on Walker County was about $393 million. Gibson said roughly 8,100 jobs were held by SHSU students in Walker County and surrounding counties, estimating a $664 million contribution to the local economy.
The Houstonian was unable to verify the numbers presented during the meeting. According to Assistant Communications Director Julia May, the report cited by Gibson during her presentation has yet to be released.
“The university, as it’s grown, continues to have a larger impact,” Gibson said. “We’re going to be trying to update these on an annual basis so you can see the growth and impact we have in this area.”
Gibson said that the university has a projected goal of 18,830 students in fall 2013. The projected enrollment shows a 40 percent growth over the past ten years from fall 2003. She also indicated that although the official tally won’t be taken until the 12th day after classes started, enrollment was unofficially over 19,000.
“That is through all of your efforts,” Gibson said to the faculty and staff. “When we see this large of change over this time period, that’s 4 percent annually.”
The ratio of full-time faculty to full-time students decreased by over 14 percent the past ten years from one to 21 in fall 2003 to one to 25 in fall 2012. The projected ratio for fall 2013 is one to 26, which falls just short of Texas A&M’s one to 21 ratio and Texas State’s one to 20, according to US News.
Gibson also highlighted Master Plan changes at the meeting Thursday. She focused on land allocation and gave updates on various building projects.
“It’s good for you to know as member of the university and community to know where we are going,” Gibson said.
The university was transferred 75 acres from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in August and is in the final process of transferring the deeds. The land, which is on the north side of town on Highway 75 North, will be the home to a new TDCJ training facility. This is the first project that’s being planned this year, according to Gibson.
Another project Gibson mentioned was a new residential complex on the south side of campus on the parking lot currently between Ave. I and Ave. J.
“If any of the Resident Life folks are here in the room, they’ll let you know that we are at 99.7 percent occupancy,” Gibson said. “Usually you don’t see those kind of occupancy rates.”
It’s unclear if these numbers are for freshman only or for all undergraduate occupants.
More updates presented include the new Student Health and Counseling Center. She said that she hopes to break ground on the new building by the end of the year.