TTU West Texas vision includes Highland Lakes

Texas Tech University (TTU) System Chancellor Robert L. Duncan addresses a group at the Frank Fickett Education Center in Marble Falls Friday, May 6.

By Glynis Crawford Smith
The Highlander
Texas Tech University (TTU) System Chancellor Robert L. Duncan made it clear last week that the Highland Lakes are a part of the TTU West Texas vision.
“Anything west of I35 is something we should be taking responsibility for,” Duncan said in a visit to the TTU regional teaching site at the Frank Fickett Education Center in Marble Falls Friday, May 6. “We are responsible to do what our taxpayers want us to produce—an educated workforce.”
To that end, a tour of the new Baylor Scott & White Hospital had been part of Duncan's visit, and he said: “That is a game changer.”
He spoke of the strength of Texas Tech's in preparing some 36,000 students through its Lubbock main campus, medical and law schools and regional campuses: “Texas Tech is one of the 'big boys,' now,” he said.
During almost two decades in Marble Falls, TTU has focused most precisely on teacher education, utilizing technology and partnering with Central Texas College for varied undergraduate needs.
Duncan called it “an asset in the Texas Tech System.”
Kelly Fox, PhD, director of the regional site, noted that the center is leased to the university for just one dollar a year by the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation and introduced it's executive director, Christian Fletcher, CEcD.
“The Marble Falls economy has doubled since Texas Tech joined us,” he said. “Sales tax collected in the year 2000 was $3,815,123.29 on taxable sales of $190,756,164.50. Sales tax collected in the last 12 months (May 2015-April 2016) was $7,611,750.64 on taxable sales: $380,587,532.00.”
“It happened because people wanted to invest in education,” Duncan said, emphasizing the importance of philanthropy in growing university programs.
“If we could get an endowed professorship and support for facilities, I think we could add we could add a program in restaurant, hotel and institutional management (here),” added Melanie Hart, vice provost for the oversight of the regional teaching sites and eLearning.
Lorraine Benini of LaLuna e Le Stelle Ranch, and who established the Benini Sculpture Ranch through the work of her sculptor husband, was in the audience asking about the future of the arts in relation to regional campuses.
“We just moved the regional arts program from Junction to Fredricksburg (TTU-Hill Country),” said Duncan. “We expect to see more involvement in the arts (for regional campuses). We want to see these programs grow.”
The chancellor also was asked about the search for a new Texas Tech president. John Opperman, PhD, now serves as interim president and a search committee has been appointed to a successor for M. Duane Nellis who stepped down from the position in January.
“I have asked, for the first time, our three remaining (former) presidents to serve on the committee,” said Duncan. “Ideally we will have (a nominee) by the end of the summer.”
Duncan was accompanied by his wife Terry. Among other dignataries present were Lawrence Schovanec, PhD, TTU provost; Robert (Bob) Black, regent emeritus; Bobbie Walker, PhD, the first director of TTU-Highland Lakes, and Bill Smyrl, event coordinator for the Texas Tech Alumni Association – Highland Lakes.
Gaynelle Mandell, a mentor teacher from Marble Falls who works with Tech Teach student teachers, and recent students Jessica George, Karina Palacio and Sarah Ramos addressed a TTU luncheon in Horseshoe Bay.
“I enjoyed hearing about what Texas Tech-Highland Lakes has meant to its students,” said Duncan, who went on to speak Friday evening at the ceremony celebrating the graduates of Texas Tech regional teaching sites in Fredericksburg.
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