Looking back on iconic and historic moments for Red Raiders this year.
As we close out another year at Texas Tech University, we also complete the first 99 years of school history. This year has been one for the history books and is a fitting exclamation mark on a century worth of memories.
Join us as we reflect on what made 2022 one of our best years yet.
1. When Red Raiders Made Headlines
Texas Tech is home to celebrities such as Susan Graham, Natalie Maines and Scott Pelley. However, an upcoming generation of notable Texas Tech alumni and students are also making national headlines.
To start off the year, TTU K-12 alumnus Jesse Plemons was nominated for best supporting actor at the 94th Academy Awards. Later in the year, Texas Tech junior Maddy Brum was selected to represent Texas Tech on the 2023 U.S.A. Coed Cheer Team. Brum comes to Texas Tech after two years at Navarro Community College where she became an overnight sensation on Netflix's hit docuseries, “Cheer.” During the holidays, TTU K-12 student River Drosche stole the nation's heart in “A Christmas Story Christmas,” the sequel to the beloved holiday classic.
2. When We Experienced University Firsts
In May, Texas Tech – Costa Rica graduated its inaugural class. The class had six graduates and celebrated the momentous day with visiting administration, including President Lawrence Schovanec. In August, Texas Tech had its first Annual Day of Giving. Within 1,923 minutes Aug. 16-17, the university and its supporters raised $340,000 for special projects and more.
In September, Texas Tech opened the doors of its new Black Cultural Center (BCC). The BCC is a beautiful facility where all Red Raiders can gather as students, scholars, researchers and community members.
And speaking of firsts, we can't forget our football team beating both the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma in the same season!
3. When Philanthropy Kicked It Up a Notch
2022 was a record-shattering year for philanthropic gifts to the university. At the beginning of the year, Gordon W. Davis gave the largest in school history. The $44 million gift to Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources (renamed) will go toward new endowments and future educational efforts.
In no particular order, a handful of other historic gifts followed suit throughout the year. The Huckabee College of Architecture (renamed) received the largest gift in its history from Chris and Robin Huckabee. The gift was made in honor of Chris' father, Tommie J. Huckabee, an alumnus of the college. The National Ranching Heritage Center also received its largest gift ever from the Cash Family. The gift will go toward establishing The Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center, an interactive and immersive ranching education experience.
Bridget Moreno Lopez gave a gift to the Texas Tech School of Law to empower first-generation students to pursue a career in law. Now a managing partner in a large national firm, Lopez herself started her career as a first-gen student at Texas Tech.
In a continuation of an established endowment, Scott Dadich used his birthday in August to raise added funds in honor of Texas Tech's first Day of Giving. Dadich and his wife recently established an endowed scholarship in design communication for art students at Texas Tech. The scholarship prioritizes students from underrepresented communities in the design community.
The list goes on and while there is no way to highlight everyone who gave in 2022, the effects of your generosity are felt school-wide!
4. When We Were National Champions… Again.
Many teams won national championships this year, but above all, the Texas Tech Spirit Program swept the competition. The pom squad became world champions at the NDA National Collegiate Dance Competition and Raider Red was named national champion in the mascot category at Daytona.
In addition to the Spirit Program, Texas Tech's Wool Judging Team won its second consecutive title in the spring at the Houston Livestock Show Rodeo. That same semester, Texas Tech's Advertising Team placed first at the National Student Advertising Competition in Nashville.
Finally, student and Grandmaster Aleksey Sorokin represented Texas Tech when he won the U.S. Chess Open Championship in August of this year.
5. When Some Pretty Cool People Visited Campus
Whether you know him as Machete or Uncle Machete, Danny Trejo is an easily recognizable face. And if you've ever been to California, you might know him for his quirky donuts and tacos. The spirited actor and entrepreneur came to Texas Tech this fall as guest speaker for the Celebrate Diversity Awards Banquet. Not only did Trejo speak at the event, he also spent time with faculty and students in the College of Education. Now we just need a Trejo's Coffee & Donuts here in Lubbock!
If you spend any time on true crime, you know the story of Amanda Knox. The U.S. college student was traveling abroad in Italy in 2007 when she was arrested and wrongfully sentenced for the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Her story became even better known after Netflix dropped its documentary film “Amanda Knox” in 2016 – a year after Knox was officially acquitted by the Italian Supreme Court. A story like Knox's is a relevant case to learn from for Texas Tech School of Law students, especially those involved in the school's Innocence Clinic, which is why the school brought in Knox this year. Students were able to take part in a moderated Q&A with the exoneree and author, learning lessons that will serve them in their future careers.
And speaking of exonerees, Kevin Richardson of the Central Park Five (now known as the Exonerated Five) also came to speak on campus this year. A guest of the Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, Richardson shared his story and participated in a Q&A as part of Black History Month. Richardson, much like Knox, also gained an increased platform to share his story after Netflix shined a light on his experience of injustice with its series, “When They See Us.”
6. When Military & Veterans Programs (MVP) Was the True MVP
2022 reminded us that Texas Tech is one of the best universities for active service members and veterans. We kicked off the year being ranked on the “Best for Vets: Employers” list by Military Times and as a “Top 10 School” in the Military Friendly® Schools Awards designation by VIQTORY.
And while we always love a good ranking, we were also excited to host a few unique events this year. Texas Tech broke ground on new installments at Memorial Circle in November, which will pay tribute to those not already included at the circle. Texas Tech alumnus, Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr., who serves as the chief of staff for the U.S. Air Force, attended the event and Texas Tech's Celebrate America football game in honor of Veteran's Day weekend. Even he was impressed with the sky divers who landed on the Jones AT&T Stadium field before the game.
This year also was the first time in many years that Texas Tech hosted the American Veterans Traveling Tribute. The tribute, made possible by MVP and Texas South Plains Honor Flight (TSPHF), provided Texas Tech and Lubbock community members an opportunity to visit the traveling Vietnam Wall. This was an incredibly meaningful experience for many in our community, offering recognition and closure.
7. When We Hired New Deans
Texas Tech is special because of its people, and we gained some great ones this year. Martin Camacho came from Midwestern State University and became the new dean of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts. Tosha Dupras joined us from the University of Central Florida and is now the dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. Upe Flueckiger was promoted from interim to permanent dean of the Huckabee College of Architecture after working at Texas Tech for more than 20 years. And finally, Jill Hernandez was named dean of the Honors College. Hernandez most recently worked at Central Washington University but is an alumna of Texas A&M University, a fact that was brought up on her interview panel. However, Hernandez had done her homework on which direction Soapspuds' a** points and alleviated any concerns.
8. When We Gave Back to the Community
As mentioned earlier, 2022 marked a year of incredible generosity, but not just through financial giving. Red Raiders gave of their time, skills and resources as well. Starting in August, the university set a goal of one million hours of volunteerism and service in celebration of the centennial. While the drive will continue until December 2023, the university community already has completed 128,331 hours.
Red Raiders also got creative in ways to support the community, like university housing donating used dormitory furniture to Malta Farms, Grace Campus, Open Door Lubbock, Texas Girls & Boys Ranch, St. Francis Ministries, Love Thy Neighbor Baptist Ministries and 4 All of Us Transitional Improvements.
And as always, Texas Tech University made a huge impact through the State Employee Charitable Campaign this year by raising $379,072 dollars for local and national charities alike.
9. When We All Tweeted About a Cactus
We can't forget the day in July when the recruiting coordinator for Texas Christian University's football team took a dig at West Texas, and it didn't end so well for him. In true Red Raider fashion, the Texas Tech community took to Twitter and laid it on thick. And for the record, we're in the Llano Estacado, not a desert.
10. When We Shattered Enrollment Records
Oh yeah, did we mention we had the largest enrollment numbers in school history this year? In September, the university announced it had enrolled 6,850 first-year students, a 2.6% increase from the year prior. But what's equally impressive is the caliber of students admitted. In this most recent class, 23% graduated in the top 10% of their high school class and more than 4,400 are Presidential Merit Scholars.
Over the last 10 years, the number of first-generation students enrolled has doubled, as has the number of new students from historically underrepresented communities.
11. When We Crushed Innovation & Research
Texas Tech received the largest research grant in school history from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to create the Engineering Research Center for Advancing Sustainable and Distributed Fertilizer Production (CASFER). The $26 million initial grant sees Texas Tech leading a group of five institutions with the opportunity to solve one of the largest problems in the world today: feeding a growing population while protecting and sustaining the environment.
Ever dream about flying cars as a kid? Well, that dream may soon be a reality thanks to research being done by Texas Tech Associate Professor Victor Maldonado. He and his team are on the cutting edge of helping develop technology for urban air mobility vehicles. The technology could be used for taxi flights in dense urban areas to reduce traffic.
Texas Tech also cut the ribbon on a new state-of-the-art Cotton Classification Complex. Why is this a big deal? Well, the cotton used to make jeans, sheets and the many other consumer products we use must go through quality control first, and this is where it goes. The facility can process more than 50,000 samples per day and is one of the largest in the nation. This sets Texas Tech as a leader in the industry and a massive contributor to the economy.
12. When Our Office Came Up with New Ideas
Not to toot our own horn, but we will – our office developed new content this year we wanted to share in case you missed out on the fun!
You may have noticed a ton of disposable cameras placed around campus in September. Our staff photographers placed these cameras out so that we could see “Through Red Raiders' Eyes.” The results were amazing!
We also launched a new column called “Mailbag” where we answer your questions about everything Texas Tech. The weekly question-and-answer session has covered everything from pedestrian traffic on campus to where to eat out after commencement.
Although the podcast launched in 2021, we released the second season of “Fearless” this year along with a bonus episode focused on CASFER. The pod features the untold stories of the school we love so dearly, and we hope you add it to your queue during the break!
“Paul Tales” is a series started by Paul Tubbs, a media relations specialist. After coming to work at Texas Tech, he recognized the university was full of tales – some tall, some true but each one unique. “Paul Tales” explores those stories through the lens of the people who have a special connection to the school.
All these ideas paid off when Texas Tech's Office of Communications & Marketing won big at award shows this year. Our office won four international Clarion Awards and three finalist certificates from the Association for Women in Communications. We took home five international Circle of Excellence Awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education and 18 Best of District IV Awards from CASE. At the ADDYs, we received 26 honors, including Judge's Choice and the Best of Show. And finally, Evermore was one of only five magazines in the nation shortlisted for a Bronze Anvil from the Public Relations Society of America.
13. When We Saw for Ourselves That From Here, It's Possible™
And finally, these Red Raiders gave us all the feels this year.
Matthew Chapman is not letting his circumstances limit him. While in high school he started having seizures and doctors discovered he had a cancerous tumor in his brain. That diagnosis motivated him. In May, Texas Tech and Make-A-Wish® surprised Matthew with a scholarship to fund his first year at Texas Tech. Matthew could have had any wish. He could have taken a trip to Europe or gone to Disney World. But he wanted to come to Texas Tech, leave a legacy and set an example. Today, he is a first-year student in the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering majoring in computer engineering.
Melissa Casillas is a first-year student form Mexico who chose to come to Texas Tech after spending a summer at the Joffrey Ballet in New York City, where she met students from Texas Tech's School of Theatre & Dance. When her parents weren't sold on the idea of sending her to Texas, she said it was a video introducing Martin Camacho, dean of the J.T. & Margaret Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts, that convinced them. She said seeing someone in a position of power who looks like you made all the difference for her and her parents.
Amanda Castro exemplifies resilience and determination. The mother of four and wife to a sailor in the U.S. Navy, she became a Red Raider in the fall of 2020, enrolling in the online Bachelor of Science in Human Sciences program. Born to parents who fled Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, Amanda promised her mother she would earn her college degree and honor the sacrifices her parents made. In August of this year, Amanda fulfilled that promise to her late mother when she graduated from Texas Tech.