LUBBOCK, Texas — Ahead of the first day of classes at Texas Tech, System Chancellor Dr. Tedd Mitchell and University President Dr. Lawrence Schovanec sat down to discuss priorities for the upcoming academic year.
They said the challenges of the past year and successes from the spring legislative session shaped their purposes and plans for 2019-2020.
Watch the entire interview:
Both Mitchell and Schovanec said fighting student debt was a top goal.
“I will be taking this up at a retreat with the board in early September,” Schovanec said. “We really think we need to take a few innovative steps that might be a model for the rest of the state.”
Mitchell elaborated that a partnership with students is necessary, helping them graduate in four years and making the best use of any credits they have when entering college.
Mitchell, also the president of the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, said he was aware of a report from a site called Student Loan Hero claiming TTUHSC students have eighth most amount of loan debt among U.S. public institutions.
He said they would be working closely with medical students to tackle any loans they are bringing with them from their undergraduate studies.
This fall marks Mitchell’s first year in the Chancellor position, taking over after the resignation of Robert Duncan.
He said they are really trying to catch their breath after the state’s legislative session. They said they spent much of the fall of 2018 in preparation and much of this spring down in Austin, advocating for the system initiatives like the TTU Vet School.
This fall also marks two years since the tragic shooting of Officer East on campus. Schovanec said in light of that anniversary and of a recent mass shooting in El Paso, safety was forefront in their minds.
“We enlisted DPS to do a study of all matters related to safety, and as a result of that study and what’s happened recently, we’ve added more police officers this summer, we’ve added more cameras,” he said.
He added their police officers took active shooter training alongside local law enforcement.
He and Mitchell said they’ve tried to improve the safeguards to the way people access buildings on all of the system campuses, saying they can “lock down from a central location” more easily than before.
But Mitchell said it has to be a partnership with the students.
“There are simple things, habits that we need to break. You’ll have students, for example, that would block open certain doors waiting for their friends to come in who may have forgotten their ID’s. Those are the types of things that are luxuries we can do with anymore.”
On a lighter note, Schovanec said a visit with the Red Raider football team was on his “back-to-school” agenda, encouraging the team to continue to bring the energy we have seen from other athletic teams so far this year.
“I told them, I thought of football as I sat in United Supermarkets Arena, and at Griffin park. I thought, ‘Can we recreate this for football?'” Schovanec said. “We’ve had it before, and I’m confident we can have it again, because football is pretty darn important.”