The Following is a letter, written by Chancellor David Smith, which will appear in the June issue of Texas Techsan, the Texas Tech alumni magazine:

Many of you are aware that for more than a year, Texas Tech has been actively engaged in a process to improve our institution's visibility throughout the nation. Texas Tech's quality parameters have increased impressively in recent years in areas such as freshmen SAT scores, freshman retention rates, graduation rates, the size of our University Honors College, the rigor of our research enterprise, the accomplishments of our students and faculty, to name a few. Now is the time for our visibility nationally to catch up with our real progress.

Through research done by a nationally recognized higher education communications firm, we learned that Texas Tech's reputation among the general public outside the "Tech family" was based largely on its excellent athletic accomplishments. The Red Raiders have done well and helped establish Texas Tech as a player on the national athletic scene. This is a great thing and certainly not an uncommon phenomenon, as athletic accomplishments often get more publicity for institutions than their academic pursuits. However, the Texas Tech Board of Regents believe the time has come to make special efforts to bolster the visibility of our university's academic and research accomplishments as well.

To accomplish this goal, one of the first steps we must take is to establish a unified and very professional "visual identity" for Texas Tech's academic and research enterprise. Currently, each college, department and program has its own logo, many of which have no Texas Tech identifier. These hundreds of disparate academic "identities" overall represent missed opportunities for the institution as a whole to make a lasting impression. All these disparate academic identities will be replaced with one highly professional and unified academic identity. This new academic identity is built around the oldest visual identity symbol we have at Texas Tech, which is the hand-drawn 1923 Texas Tech official seal. We have updated the seal and "shield" inside the seal to 21st-century graphic standards. The shield is paired with the university's name to create the new "academic" visual identity. By pairing that academic identity with the name of each college, program or department, we will have a consistent, professional and unified academic identity for all parts of the institution, so that each college and department will be contributing in turn to the identity and visibility of the institution.

But what about our beloved Double T? We're not messing with the Double T! The current official Double T, which was created and is licensed by the Athletics Department, is and always will be alive and well. The Double T is our "spirit mark" and it will continue to be used to promote and celebrate the rich tradition, spirit and pride of Texas Tech. So we expect that alumni, faculty, students and staff will keep sporting the Double T on their clothes and cars and in any other context in which they are celebrating the pride, traditions and athletic prowess of this great university. The Double T is and always will be a high-status, important symbol of Texas Tech. The Double T will simply represent a different area of the overall institutional enterprise than the new unified academic mark.

In addition to the updated visual identity system, you should begin seeing common 'themes" and messages in various communications coming out of Texas Tech. Many of the institution's leaders, including the academic deans, participated in formulating an "identity platform" that describes Texas Tech's unique place or "niche" in the higher education landscape. The "niche" we will be communicating reflects the reality of who Texas Tech is, so these communications will ring true to what you as alumni learned to love about your alma mater.

These changes were not undertaken lightly, but were based on months of research of "best practices" in identity systems of universities throughout the country. Even the most cursory search of other universities' websites (for example, SMU, Rice, The University of Texas at Austin, Baylor, Oklahoma, UCLA and hundreds of others) will reveal that the change we are now adopting − that is, a unified "academic visual identity' that functions separately from the institution's "spirit mark" − has been implemented in like manner in most institutions throughout the country in recent years.

What does all this mean to you? The better the reputation and higher the visibility of Texas Tech, the greater the value of your diploma. And the better our reputation, the greater the probability that even more quality students will be attracted to become part of the Texas Tech family. Another expected outcome is that a greater number of employers will understand the robust preparedness and work ethic of Texas Tech graduates.

Our strategic plan calls for actively engaging local alumni chapter members in new efforts to enhance Texas Tech's academic visibility in local communities throughout the state and nation. We'll be developing new outreach tools that you can use to help enhance Texas Tech's reputation in your own communities and among those families with students you would like to see come to Texas Tech.

Change is in the air. We know it's not always easy, but we're excited and optimistic that these changes will make a big contribution to and difference for Texas Tech. We're grateful for the support of the fantastic staff and members of the TTU Alumni Association. Stay tuned for more updates in upcoming issues of the Texas Techsan.


David Smith, Chancellor
Texas Tech University System