Texas Tech University

The Year in Review

December 22, 2023

The Year in Review

Here are a few of our favorite memories from what has been a remarkable year.

What a year!  

Texas Tech University had a banner-bearing year as we celebrated our centennial, saw a historic vote pass for research and witnessed Red Raider wins for students and alumni alike. 

It's impossible to highlight every triumph or capture every memory, but we'd be remiss not to mention a few.  

Let's reflect on the moments that made 2023 our best year yet. 

When we celebrated 100 years of our beloved school.

Starting with the opening ceremony at the 2022 Carol of Lights®, the following 12 months included dozens of events across the nation. From Dallas to New York City, Red Raiders joined in the centennial festivities at the Capitol, the Texas State Fair, Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and more. The centennial year concluded with the 2023 Carol of Lights® featuring Cirque, Lost Wax, Annie Chalex Boyle and a drone show.

When the Texas University Fund (TUF) vote passed.

On Nov. 7, 2023, Texas voters passed Proposition 5. This landmark decision allowed the state to set up a $3.9 billion endowment to support research activities at Texas universities.

As part of the TUF, Texas Tech's anticipated allotment for fiscal year 2024 is $44 million to support the university's research activities. Traditional research strengths like agriculture, energy, climate science and national security will be elevated, as will the new One Health collaboration with our colleagues at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

When alumni crushed it.

We can't possibly note every success our alumni had this year, but a few made major headlines. Gen. C.Q. Brown Jr. became the highest-ranking military officer in the armed forces when he was confirmed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

And speaking of Chiefs, Patrick Mahomes led the Kansas City Chiefs to their third Super Bowl win, two of which occurred during Mahomes' time as quarterback.

And just when you think it couldn't get better, Josh Jung helped lead the Texas Rangers to their first World Series win. The third baseman graduated from Texas Tech in 2019 and was selected in the first round of the MLB draft.

Making his PGA Tour debut this year, Ludvig Åberg is taking the world of professional golf by storm. And yes, he also is a Red Raider! During his time at Texas Tech, he was named the No. 1 player in the NCAA Men's Golf Championship.

When donors made historic gifts.

Like our alumni, it would be equally impossible to acknowledge every gesture of generosity Texas Tech received this year. From our record-breaking annual Day of Giving to scholarships and program endowments, donors have displayed a new level of philanthropic passion.

At the beginning of the year, Tito's Vodka made an investment in water sustainability through a gift to the Davis College Water Center. The $1.2 million gift will aid in innovative research, education and outreach to address a wide spectrum of local and global water issues.

And while water is a concern for rural Texans, so is educational access. That's why Carl and Marilynn Thoma launched the Thoma Scholars Program for rural students. The groundbreaking scholarship will be available to students from the Texas Panhandle, the Oklahoma Panhandle and eastern New Mexico who have demonstrated exceptional academic and leadership accomplishments.

That wasn't the only gift future educators received this year, though. The College of Education received a historic gift from the Strickling Family that will provide a $1,000 scholarship to every student during their graduating year. The gift is the largest impact made by an individual on an annual basis in Texas Tech history.

Alumni of the Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering joined forces to honor Professor Emeritus Kwong Shu Chao with an endowed scholarship in his name this year. Chao came to Texas Tech in the late 1960s and made an impact in countless lives, leaving his students wanting to pay it forward.

In October, the School of Music received a historic gift toward its jazz program. Craig and Ann McDonald donated $1 million to build an undergraduate jazz program, hire more faculty and provide scholarships to students who could otherwise not afford to attend.

Susan and Terry Lyons
Susan and Terry Lyons

In December, the Jerry S. Rawls College of Business announced a significant gift made by Terry and Susan Lyons. Subsequently, the school of accounting has been renamed the Terry Lyons School of Accounting. The gift will elevate the ability of the college to create leading-edge programs and prepare students to contribute to the evolution of the accounting field.

Fred Gray
Fred Gray

At the end of the year, Mark and Becky Lanier made a historic gift to the Texas Tech School of Law. They created the Fred D. Gray Endowed Chair for Civil Rights and Constitutional Law. The endowment honors their friend, Fred D. Gray, who was one of the most prominent lawyers during the Civil Rights Movement. Gray represented Rosa Parks and Claudette Colvin and filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those seeking permission to march from Selma to Montgomery, among many other prominent cases. 

When we were national champions.

Red Raiders sweep the competition each year in academics, agriculture, athletics and more. This year was no different.

Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources' Wool Judging Team won first place at the National Western Stock Show. In the same college, the Ranch Horse Team galloped ahead of the competition as well, securing its third straight win at the National Intercollegiate Ranch and Stock Horse Association.

The Rawls College of Business secured a national win in the Defense Data Grand Prix: a challenge from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to encourage academic teams to use data science and tackle compelling, real-world problems.

The Texas Tech Twirlers, part of the Goin' Band from Raiderland, brought home the 2023 College Halftime Twirl Championship in the spring. This was their third national championship.

Texas Tech twirlers win third national championship
Texas Tech twirlers win third national championship

It wasn't only students who brought home the wins this year. Texas Tech's grounds maintenance team was honored with the prestigious Green Star Award from the Professional Grounds Management Society. The award honors the design of the new R07 parking lot and pedestrian mall.

When we shattered enrollment numbers…again.

Texas Tech broke its enrollment record this fall when 40,944 students became Red Raiders. We welcomed 12,000 new students this year – 7,200 of which were first-year students, shattering another record.

More than one-third of the first-year class identify as first-generation. Pell eligible students also make up about 31% of the first-year class and more than a quarter finished in the top 10% of their high school class.

When we engaged in world-changing research.

As we mentioned with the TUF vote, Texas Tech is committed to engaging in world class research. This year furthered our commitment in the areas of energy, weather, environmental conservation and more.

Texas Tech professors Andrew Jackson, Todd Anderson and Balaji Rao took the lead role on a collaborative team which received a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Their research will study the impact fireworks have on various bodies of water and model the potential toxicity of perchlorates.

They're not the only ones looking to the sky. Sandip Pal, assistant professor of atmospheric science in the Department of Geosciences, was awarded a $590,000 grant from the Earth Science Division of NASA. His research will observe and measure precipitation and aerosols in the area's atmosphere. This will give the scientific community a better understanding of weather patterns and hopefully predict extreme weather events with more accuracy.

While quantum entanglement is a bit harder to wrap our minds around than the weather, that's the exact topic Lu Wei is tackling. Wei is an assistant professor in the Department of Computer Science. He received not one, but two grants, to further his research on entanglement within classical computing. The first grant is from the National Science Foundation and the second is from the U.S. Department of Energy. Together, the grants total more than $1 million.

The U.S. Department of Energy showed up again when the Department of Physics and Astronomy was awarded $500,000 for the next three years. The grant will provide training and mentorship for the next generation of scientists at Texas Tech.

When our students reminded us of what it means to be a Red Raider.

Students are the reason we do what we do.

From their academic accomplishments to their personal growth during their time as Red Raiders, they inspire, challenge and amaze us.

This year we met Lindsay Dube who cycled the Monumental Loop while fighting muscular dystrophy. We watched Sgt. 1st Class Elvis Servellon discover he could further his education through Texas Tech Online while stationed overseas.

Cori Borgstadt wowed us with her ambition of becoming Disney's next CEO. She has attended every annual shareholder meeting since she was 3 years old. Now studying economics and film and media studies at Texas Tech, she is well on her way.

Kennedy Carmichael plans to change the world through diplomatic service. The Honors College student was named a recipient of the Hertog Fellowship in Washington, D.C. Joining students from Yale University and Princeton University, Carmichael was among a cohort of 20 War Studies Fellows who spent two weeks studying theory, practice, organization and control of war and military forces with national security leaders and senior military officers.

Lyle Yates-Bourasa reminded us that being fearless often means facing your fears. This young man reclaimed his life after being arrested. Fifteen years after starting college, he finally walked the stage this year, proving anyone can overcome with a little hope and a lot of Red Raider support.

When we started a new series.

One big development this year was the start of “Foundations.”

This video series brings together people from different disciplines on campus to have a conversation about issues that impact us all. From health care to cotton to water conservation, Texas Tech experts discuss the challenges we all face as West Texans.

During Women's History Month, Texas Tech featured some of our own female history makers. In our series, “Women Making History,” we told the stories of an infectious disease specialist who helped lead the way on COVID-19 testing, an advocate for change in the state's foster care system, an Innocence Clinic attorney pushing to right legal-system wrongs, a professor changing the narrative around mariachi and many more.

When we broke new ground.

As our enrollment numbers grow, so do our resources and facilities. This year welcomed some exciting new spaces on campus and beyond.

At the very beginning of the year, Texas Tech became the first to have a full-scale, fully operational, modern drilling rig on a U.S. university campus. The Texas Tech Foundation and the Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering raised the 140-foot mast on the structure at the East Campus Oilfield Technology Center. This rig allows increased training and experience for students and faculty alike.

We collaborated with Lubbock Independent School District (LISD) to open a new Agri-STEM complex for LISD students on the Texas Tech campus. The complex will serve students from all five LISD high schools and help prepare them to further their education and build careers within the agriculture industry.

Staying focused on the next generation, Texas Tech's National Ranching Heritage Center opened the Cash Family Ranch Life Learning Center. The new center was made possible by a gift from the Cash Family. The center features Hank the Cowdog and provides an immersive ranching experience for all ages.

Hank the cowdog
Hank the cowdog

Thanks to a gift from the Helen Jones Foundation, Inc., the Museum of Texas Tech University opened the Dr. Robert Neff and Louise Willson Arnold Wing. The new wing encompasses nearly 12,000 square feet across two levels and a basement with collection storage, classrooms, offices and a new gallery space.

As construction speeds along on the Academic Sciences Building, we hosted a “Topping Out” ceremony in May. University President Lawrence Schovanec and leaders from the Texas Tech System took turns signing the final steel beam before it was placed atop the new structure. The 131,000-square-foot structure will serve as the new home for five departments within the College of Arts & Sciences. The project is scheduled to be completed by early summer 2024.

Bonus: When the rally possum helped us beat Texas Christian University. 

We salute the rally possum that helped us take down the Horned Frogs during the Nov. 2 home football game. Our furry friend's run down the field was nationally broadcasted and went viral, putting Texas Tech in the headlines of Sports Illustrated, USA Today, NBC News and the New York Post. 

Until next time, lil guy.

Texas Tech Now