The University of St. Thomas is considering opening a second campus in Conroe, Texas by fall 2020.
In an email to the Independent, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Jeff Olsen wrote that in April 2018, Conroe city council member Jody Czajkoski approached the University of St. Thomas about opening a campus there. Several months later, University President Richard Ludwick traveled to Conroe to meet with city council members and other officials to look at the Deison Technology Park property, which is where the second campus would be built.
Olsen said discussions about expanding to a second location tie into the University’s Call To Tomorrow plan for enrollment growth. He said that building the second campus in Conroe would attract new students from that area to enroll in UST programs.
Ludwick said the University looked into the demographics of Conroe and the city’s growth trajectory to see if they would match UST’s mission. He said student enrollment starts to decline approximately 30 miles out from campus, and that Conroe is located about 50 miles away.
Olsen said that there was another factor that encouraged the choice to build a second campus in the Conroe area.
“Some of the officials up there in Conroe have connections to the University through friends and kids and so they are familiar with the university and its mission,” Olsen said.
Many of these connections are through alumni, which have expressed excitement about the plans for expansion, according to Ludwick.
Ludwick said the University is still discussing which programs would work best in the new location. As a result, he said there are currently no accurate cost projections, since expanding the nursing program, for example, would entail different costs than those of another department.
Ludwick said UST needs to first make sure the project would make good business sense for the University and be something that fits with the Conroe community.
Olsen said some start-up costs are inevitable, but that “we’ll try to keep that pretty low.”
He said UST’s board of directors is very curious about the proposal, and that the UST community has been receiving a positive response to the initiative from the Basilian Fathers and alumni as well.
“One of the things, even with all of the growth, is that we want to make sure we have personal connections with students,” Ludwick said, “We want to maintain the Celt family.”