Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Selects New Vice President for Research from Fellow Big 12 School

Glenys Young

August 16, 2017


Joseph A. Heppert is currently the associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas.

Joseph A. Heppert
Joseph A. Heppert

Joseph A. Heppert, a professor of chemistry and associate vice chancellor for research at the University of Kansas, has been named the new vice president for research at Texas Tech University.

The University of Kansas, one of only 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities, is a major research university with a distinguished record of research collaboration promoted through independent, multidisciplinary research centers that focus on common themes. During Heppert's tenure in the research office, the University of Kansas has achieved annual research expenditures of more than $240 million.

As associate vice chancellor for research and vice president for the University of Kansas Center for Research, a nonprofit corporation formed to administer the university's externally sponsored research, Heppert provided oversight for many of the university's centers and institutes, all core research laboratories, research facilities and infrastructure, and the Office of Research Development.

"I am very excited to be appointed as the next Vice President for Research at Texas Tech University," Heppert said. "Texas Tech is a great institution, with a great history of contributions to scholarly fields including engineering, the humanities, agriculture, the natural sciences and the arts. It is an honor to serve the students, faculty and research staff of one of Texas' premier research universities in such a pivotal leadership role."

One of four finalists for the position, Heppert replaces Interim Vice President for Research Guy Loneragan, who has filled the position since April 2016 when former Vice President for Research Robert V. Duncan was named the vice president for strategic research initiatives. Heppert will start in his new role on Sept. 18.

"Dr. Heppert has served an integral role in the success of Kansas' research initiatives and increasing global profile," said Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech president. "He has an extensive research background as a faculty member and is a productive leader. He will be a great addition to Texas Tech University.

"I would like to acknowledge Isaacson, Miller, the search committee and search chair Dean Al Sacco Jr. for their thorough review of candidates and identifying four outstanding finalists," Schovanec added. "I commend them on this successful process."

Heppert earned his bachelor's degree from San Jose State University in 1978, where he participated in heavy elements research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1982. He completed postdoctoral training at Indiana University and joined the faculty at Kansas in 1985.

He served as the director for the university's Center for Science Education from 2000 until 2009, as chair of the department of chemistry from 2005 to 2009 and as associate vice provost for research and graduate studies from 2009 to 2010, when he became associate vice chancellor for research.

"Like other public research universities, Texas Tech University is called to achieve excellence in all aspects of its mission, including its research programs," Heppert said. "President Schovanec and Provost Michael Galyean are committed to enhancing Texas Tech's stature in research, scholarship and creative activity. The advancement of Texas Tech's research and scholarly endeavors will strengthen our ability to spur entrepreneurship and economic growth in the West Texas region.

"I believe Texas Tech's research mission is central for preparing our students for the globally competitive job markets of the 21st century. I know that Texas Tech research, scholarship and creative activity will make a positive impact on the health of communities throughout Texas and the nation. I am confident that Texas Tech research is fostering a fertile environment for economic growth in the region and throughout Texas. It will be my honor to work with the entire Texas Tech team to transform this vision for the future of Texas Tech University into a reality."

Heppert is a member and fellow of the American Chemical Society and a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Chemistry Teachers, Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research, Sigma Xi and the National Science Teachers Association. He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, four book chapters and two book reviews. He has filed 10 invention disclosures and one patent application.

"Joe was the best fit for Texas Tech out of a strong group of candidates for the VPR position," said Sacco, dean of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering. "He has the experience, the understanding of how innovation, research and scholarship is done and the soft skills to bring our scholars together to address regional, national and global problems. Texas Tech's research, scholarship and creative activities will flourish under Dr. Heppert."

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