LUBBOCK, Texas – Back in 1925 when it began counting, Texas Tech University (TTU) had only 910 students. Fast forward nearly a hundred years, the school opened its fall 2023 semester on Thursday with thousands more Red Raiders.

The university estimated more than 40,000 students would head to Raiderland for the first day of classes. TTU president, Dr. Lawrence Schovanec, projected that included over 7,000 first-year students.

“Nearly 1/3 of our new class is first-generation, and about a 1/3 are in the top 10% of their high school class,” Schovanec said. “86% of this year’s new class is in the top half of their class. That’s a record GPA. We’re able to recruit very qualified students, but at Tech, we’ve always been about access and opportunity” 

The big first-year class took up all on-campus housing. The university said it offered scholarships to 32 returning students to live off-campus for the semester.

“We had a shortage of beds,” Schovanec said. “Our class was larger than we anticipated. We definitely do need another dormitory, and our intentions are to move forward and construct another dorm. At this point, we’re not 100% certain of the location of the dorm, but it’ll be somewhere along 19th St.”

Schovanec looks at each new school year as a celebration of growth, all of which is made possible through his team’s recruitment and retention strategies.

“We’re looking at the demographics in this state and nationwide,” Schovanec said. “We’re looking at the capacity of programs and departments on this campus, and where we can most strategically invest our resources to meet the needs of those students that may come to Texas Tech.”

Schovanec said efforts to attract top students must be purposeful.

“We have to make sure that we never compromise their experience by the size of our enrollment,” Schovanec said. “As we try to achieve certain designations, we’re never going to forsake our mission that’s built around the Red Raider experience.”

Schovanec commended state lawmakers for their hard work this past legislative session. TTU is receiving $50 million in funding over the next two years, and possibly a piece of the $3 billion Texas University Fund if approved by voters in November.

“I’m very grateful for the support we received in Austin during this past session,” Schovanec said. “Some would characterize it as a legacy session for higher education.”

Schovanec said the state’s support plays a significant role in helping students excel in the classroom and beyond.

“As we become more focused on how we’re going to invest the resources we received in this last session, we’ll never lose sight of the fact that we’re here, fundamentally, to educate these students and to provide them with an exceptional experience,” Schovanec said. “We’ve always done that, and that will always be our priority.”

Coming off of the school’s grand centennial celebration, Schovanec said he’s confident that the best is yet to come for Red Raiders.

“We celebrate our past, but we want to make sure that we seize the opportunities that are in front of us right now,” Schovanec said.