(VIDEO) As a student, faculty member in the College of Media & Communication and executive director of the Texas Tech Alumni Association, Bill Dean has spent 55 years teaching and leading fellow Red Raiders.
Ask any Texas Tech University student or alumnus and chances are, they know Bill Dean. It's understandable, considering Dean has taught in the College of Media & Communication for the past 51 years and has led the Texas Tech Alumni Association as executive director for the past 40.
He got his start at Texas Tech as a marketing student and baseball player in 1957, serving as student body president before graduating with a bachelor's degree in 1961. Dean spent six years in the U.S. Army, then served in several roles within Lubbock Independent School District. He obtained his master's degree in secondary education in 1965.
In 1967, Dean returned to Texas Tech as director of student publications and completed his doctorate in education administration in 1971. He has since served in numerous roles within the College of Media & Communication, including associate dean, academic adviser and associate professor of mass communications, journalism and public relations. In 2017, the college presented him with its first Lifetime Service Award.
Though Dean will retire from the alumni association on Dec. 31, he said he has no current plans to leave teaching. On Tuesday, he was presented with a Length of Service Award for a total of 55 years serving Texas Tech University.
Can you describe some of the things you've done at Texas Tech?
“I'm the president and CEO of the alumni association. I'm in charge of the entire operation, which includes publishing a magazine six times a year, our membership program, our marketing program, our chapter development program – we have about 74 Texas Tech alumni chapters out there – as well as the financial reporting and accounting aspect of things and the class ring program.
“I'm an associate professor in the College of Media & Communications. I came to Texas Tech in 1967. I was director of student publications, I taught journalism and during that time, I did get tenure as an associate professor in what was then the Department of Mass Communications. Later, it became a school, and now it's a college.”
Did you ever imagine being at Texas Tech this long?
“No, not really. I just kind of take things day to day, and I didn't think 40 years ahead.”
What's the secret to maintaining a career for so long? Any advice for someone who is just starting their career at Texas Tech?
“God has blessed me throughout my entire life with good health. I've had some ups and downs. I've had major back surgery, but I've worked my way through that. I think it's just a matter of, as I said before, you kind of take one day at a time. Do the best you can that day, and then do the best you can the next day, and everything takes care of itself. But I do think I've been very blessed, and I think my faith is a very strong element in the longevity part.”
What kind of changes have you seen during your time at Texas Tech?
“Obviously there has been great physical change on the campus, just enormous change. Alumni who come back, who haven't been back in years, have a hard time recognizing things. But I think, more important than that, is the academic stature of the university has changed dramatically. I think the Carnegie recognition we've received recently puts us on a much higher plane and a different level. I think it's a great credit to the people who lead this university that we've arrived at that level.”
What have you enjoyed the most about being a Red Raider?
“Well, it's my school. I bleed red and black, and I love this place. I love teaching students. It may not look like it, but it kind of keeps you young, and I just thoroughly enjoy the interaction I have with students. Then, this is another world at the Alumni Association. We're dealing with alumni over here. It's kind of a mixed bag, but I love it.”
Do you have a favorite Texas Tech memory or tradition?
“The first Carol of Lights, I was honored as student government president to flip the switch. Every Carol of Lights since then, I don't think my wife and I have ever missed one, except when I was in the army. That's a special Texas Tech tradition.
“I think the evolution of the Alumni Association and the growth, not necessarily one specific thing, but obviously the building of the first Merket Alumni Center, and now the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center, have been highlights.
“I am a huge baseball fan. I played baseball in college, and a big highlight for me was having Texas Tech in the College World Series a couple years ago. We hope to go back real soon. The Michael Crabtree catch in the 2008 football game against Texas was another big highlight, and just lately, the basketball team making the Elite 8. What a tremendous deal that was.”
What does being a Red Raider mean to you?
“I take a lot of pride in being a Red Raider. I think Texas Tech University has accomplished far more, with far less, than most of its major competitors. Our work ethic is strong. We accomplish a lot of things you seemingly would not be able to accomplish. I think that's the story of Texas Tech. It's a great story and one we all ought to be proud of.”
Do you have plans to ever retire completely?
“Yes, I do, but we'll take that when it comes.”