Texas Tech University

Texas Tech Looking to Become Top 50 Research University by 2025

Glenys Young

October 9, 2017

(VIDEO) President Lawrence Schovanec announced the goal during his State of the University address.

Educating and empowering a diverse student body, enabling innovative research and creative activities, and transforming lives and communities through outreach and scholarship are Texas Tech University's top priorities, according to President Lawrence Schovanec's annual State of the University address on Monday.

The university's new strategic plan, "A Foundation for the Next Century: A Pathway to 2025," focuses on Texas Tech's strategy for growth and the necessary steps to achieve it.

"By 2025, Texas Tech needs to be solidly positioned as a top 50 national research university, as determined by those public research institutions in the Carnegie Highest Research Activity category," Schovanec said. "It's an ambitious goal, but it's a realistic goal."

While Schovanec said he understands a new strategic plan may not excite people, he hopes faculty and staff will take advantage of the opportunity to contribute to the university's future.

"What I hope people will get excited about are the discussions that will take place at college and departmental levels as the provost begins a rollout of this plan," he said. "This is where the real substantive behavior occurs, as you try to achieve the benchmarks in this plan."

One of Schovanec's goals is to improve the perception of Texas Tech from the outside. To that end, the new Degrees of Impact campaign has included monthly postcards sent to hundreds of other universities, featuring success stories of Texas Tech's research and faculty.

"I think we have to do a better job of marketing to our peers what we do at Texas Tech," Schovanec said. "This is a special place, and that's the message we want to convey."

Notable firsts

University enrollment set its 10th consecutive record this fall at 37,010, a number that includes the largest freshman class in history. The university also set a record one-year retention rate at 84.1 percent.

Texas Tech reached its desired threshold with 25.3 percent Hispanic enrollment for all students, with 27.8 percent Hispanic enrollment for undergraduates, making the university eligible to become a Hispanic-Serving Institution. This will allow Texas Tech to receive additional federal funding in the future.

The university also has a record 16 National Merit Finalists this year, up from 15 last year, and it more than doubled the number of Presidential Scholarships awarded, with 2,538 – up from 1,145 in 2016.

Educating and empowering students

To deliver transformative learning opportunities for students, Schovanec wants to see growth in undergraduate research, internships, service and experiential learning. He also plans to expand international learning experiences, transdisciplinary collaborations and faculty mentoring to prepare students for leadership in a globally competitive world.

For that purpose, the university will invest in scholarship endowments and endowed professorships in addition to undergraduate research, such as the Program in Inquiry and Investigative Thinking (Pi2).

Schovanec's goal is to raise an additional $200 million for scholarships and put an additional $1.5 million into student support programs.

Research and creative activities

In creating the new strategic plan, university leaders want to see growth in the fields that can have the greatest impact on Texas Tech's reputation.

"Certain areas were identified as areas in which Texas Tech can be nationally renowned: the interconnections of water, land, food and fiber; energy production, distribution and utilization technologies; health, well-being and quality of life; and creative inquiry and expression across the arts, humanities and sciences," Schovanec said.

The university has already set new records in research expenditures this year, with $184 million total expenditures and $61 million in restricted research expenditures, but there is more opportunity for growth in hard-to-come-by federal research expenditures.

Schovanec wants to invest specifically in infrastructure, strategic hires and graduate education.

Outreach and scholarship

Another area in which the university can grow is in collaborative, mutually beneficial community partnerships the stimulate creativity, innovation and economic development. That includes establishing professional development programs to promote co-curricular activities and service-learning programs, as well as establishing community and business networks.

He plans to achieve these goals by providing recognition and rewards for faculty, students and staff who participate, enhancing administrative support, and increasing entrepreneurial opportunities and support for the Innovation Hub at Research Park.

While the new strategic plan leaves a lot of room for interpretation by different individuals, departments and colleges, it boils down to one firm idea:

"We want to make sure that what we do matters," Schovanec said.

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