Texas Tech partnership has benefitted Burnet County

By LEW K. COHN

The Highlander

Managing Editor

 

Texas Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan's recent visit to Marble Falls has revealed just how important the Highland Lakes campus is to the university system. Friday, May 6 was the first time the chancellor had visited the campus at the Frank Fickett Educational Center and he noted that the regional site is definitely “an asset in the Texas Tech System.”

Joining Duncan and his wife Terry on the trip were Texas Tech provost Lawrence Schovanec, PhD; Regent Emeritus Robert (Bob) Black; Bobbie Walker, PhD, the first director of TTU-Highland Lakes; and Bill Smyrl, event coordinator for the Texas Tech Alumni Association – Highland Lakes.

As he viewed the facility with regional site director Kelly Fox, PhD, Duncan was able to see how a partnership between Texas Tech, Central Texas College in Killeen and the Marble Falls Economic Development Corporation has created what could best be described as an incubator for educational needs in Burnet County and the surrounding environs.

The chancellor also expects to see continued support of the educational center from the Lubbock main campus and has indicated he hopes to see growth at the Highland Lakes and Fredericksburg sites.

“Anything west of I-35 is something we should be taking responsibility for,” he said. “We are responsible to do what our taxpayers want us to produce — an educated workforce.”

Clearly, the nearly two-decades-old partnership has had an impact on the local economy. Since 2000, local sales tax collected has doubled from $3.81 million on taxable sales of $190.7 million in 2000 to $7.61 million on taxable sales of nearly $380.6 million in the 12 months from May 2015 to this past April. The presence of higher education and a skilled workforce have been factors in an economic boom for Burnet County.

Current academic offerings at the Highland Lakes campus include a Bachelor of General Studies, Bachelor of Arts and Science in University Studies, Bachelor of Science in Multidisciplinary Studies (also known as the TechTeach program), Bachelor of Applied Arts and Science in Applied Leadership, Master of Education in Educational Leadership & Principal Professional Certification Preparation, Master of Science in Multidisciplinary Science and Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership.

The campus also offers graduate certificates in Essentials of Business and a Superintendent Professional Certification Preparation Program.

Future offerings could include programs for restaurant, hotel and institutional management if an endowment for a professorship can be found, according to Melanie Hart, the vice provost for the oversight of the regional teaching sites and eLearning, who also visited the campus.

The location of not just one, but two, higher education institutions (Texas Tech and Central Texas College) in Burnet County has been a boon that will hopefully continue for many more years to come and it appears that the local campus has gained an important ally in Chancellor Duncan. We look forward to seeing what expansion and growth can take place here in Marble Falls under his guidance.

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