Texas Tech’s out-going chancellor reflects on legacy, hints at future growth in Abilene
|By Brian Bethel, Abilene Reporter-News, Texas|
|McClatchy-Tribune Information Services|
"We're still building," said Hance, Tech's third chancellor, who spoke to the
When asked what, exactly, might be in the pipeline, Hance, who leaves his position in June after becoming chancellor in 2006, remained coy, explaining the school is "not ready to say" what such projects might be.
But some could emerge as soon as "the next 12 months," he noted, adding that
"I think that's where the need is," Hance said.
A site for Texas Tech Health Sciences System's
Established in 2007, with locations in
"We have planned for some time to have a
In general, "our job is to utilize the number of patients that are here so you have good clinical education and to produce more health care providers," Hance said, praising the presence and growth of
The former, in particular, is key -- along with other local nursing programs -- in helping to lessen the impact of expected nursing shortages in
"We started out small in nursing -- we're over 100 students now," he said. "My goal is for us to have 500 students."
Hance, 71, noted that when he came to Tech as chancellor, the school had no footprint in
From an initial 40 students, TTHSC's
But the school in both its traditional four-year college and health incarnations plans to tread lightly around the area's existing four-year universities --
While a merger with
"We've been successful in areas where we've been invited," he said. "We don't want to cause internal problems within a city."
While such might happen "some other way some day," it's "not something that we considered on my watch," he said.
Hance said that he does believe local colleges are doing a good job educating students, noting that candidates for graduate school, law school and medical school from those institutions come well-regarded.
Tech does have a strong connection with
Not every program has been successful.
An engineering program the school brought to
With tight budgets at the state level, local community support is absolutely essential to any future expansion, he said.
Under Hance's watch, the TTU System has doubled in size, growing from two components to four institutions with the addition of ASU and the creation of
Hance's "Vision & Tradition:
The school's endowment, since 2006, has increased about 80 percent, topping more than
Hance, said he who preaches a doctrine of "dream no little dreams" to students, said he wanted his legacy to be that "he changed the face of the
Crediting his mother, who read "Little House on the Prairie" books and enrolled him in classes that taught "expression," Hance, who himself has a degree in business administration from Tech, said those early experiences forged him into someone with the raw confidence needed to succeed.
He has a successful law practice and entered politics in 1974, winning a slot on the
Four years later, Hance won election to the
"The thing I worry about today is students who don't have a (similar) foundation," he said.
Increasing the number of minorities at Tech has been important, he said. Hispanics at Tech have grown from 11 percent to 19 percent and African Americans have doubled from 3 percent to 6 percent.
Under his watch, the school has increased its standards, accompanied by a bump in SAT scores.
"We've been aggressive in recruiting good students, he said.
And his goal to raise
"It's just like a jack rabbit in a hailstorm: You've got to keep on going," he said. He's also been willing, he said, to try out the occasional experiment, such as an effort by the
Third- and fourth year medical students started seeing people who didn't have insurance, consulting with experts on campus in areas such as internal medicine and cardiology.
In addition, pharmaceutical companies were enticed to donate drugs for the same population, with the exception of narcotics.
Now five years out, the program has only spent a cumulative
"This year we'll see 3,000 patients," he said, noting that telemedicine makes such a cheap approach possible even in areas that don't have a medical school.
It's part of what Hance sees as an imperative to help solve real problems.
"I feel like Obamacare was not good and it's a tremendous waste of money," he said. "There are other ways to do it, and we've proven that."
Keeping college affordable is a challenge, Hance said, and Tech has been the only public school in America that "two times in seven years" didn't raise tuition, fees, or room and board.
"We've learned to do more with less," he said, shaving dollars through such techniques as bid-based competition for who offers janitorial services.
Since tuition was deregulated in 2003, Hance said, Tech and other schools have seen less money from the state. In 2004, 53 percent of its budget came from state funds, compared to only 24 percent now.
Keeping costs reasonable is important, Hance said, who said he can't stand the thought of some future leader not having access to education because of cost.
Students who graduate from
Students who receive dual college credit while still in high school can still benefit greatly from an on-campus experience, even it's its shorter than for some, he said.
"They're going to grow up a lot and it's going to have an impact on them," he said. Hance's own daughter took a fast track, becoming a practicing lawyer at age 23.
And not everyone needs or wants to go to college, Hance said. Vocational schools are "excellent" choices for many, he said.
He does, he said, encourage students who can't afford to go to a four-year school to "do the community college (route) and then go a four-year school."
"But they're better off getting the full college experience if they can spend four years at one spot," he said.
As he leaves his full-time position with Tech, he plans to still teach one course and help with government relations or fundraising.
"If they start calling every day, that's not going to work," he said.
And he plans to return to actively practicing law.
"I'm not ever going to retire, he said, "I want to someday put on my tombstone, 'He did not rust.'"
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