Texas Tech's big man visits small campus

TEXAS TECH President Dr. Duane Nellis speaks to a crowd at a reception in the Cherry Spring community. — Standard-Radio Post/Ken Esten Cooke

By Ken Esten Cooke


On the job for exactly one month, new Texas Tech University president Duane Nellis visited Fredericksburg on Monday to get a picture of the school’s regional operations.

Nellis spoke to members of the Fredericksburg Rotary Club, toured Hill Country University Center — one of three TTU Hill Country sites — then met that evening at the Mansfeldt Sheep Barn near Cherry Spring.

“We have a strong presence in the Hill Country and we value the relationship between the university and the Texas Hill Country University Center Foundation,” Nellis said. “Recently, the legislature approved $400,000 for our Hill Country sites.”

Nellis spoke of the recent hire of a full-time enology professor, who will help guide students through viticulture offerings for the burgeoning local wine industry.

“We’re proud of our investments here, and we recently installed teaching vineyards and hired Dr. Maureen Qualia, professor of enology.”

The president, who marked his one month anniversary of his official start date, also said technology has been upgraded at the HCUC.

For locals, that means more potential distance-learning opportunities, where students could take classes offered at the main campus via video lectures, or Lubbock-based students could take a course from a Fredericksburg instructor.

Nellis said TTU is in discussions with community colleges about transfer agreements in hopes of offering students a seamless transition from a two-year institution to a four-year, whether it is Austin Community College or other institutions.

Lastly, he praised Julie Martenson, who was hired as senior director at the HCUC and the TTU regional site in Marble Falls.


TTU challenges

Like every institution of learning, Texas Tech is dealing with an environment of shrinking state funding.

“We have to rely more on private giving and corporate partnerships,” Nellis said. “But we recently reached the $1 billion mark in giving, one of only six institutions in the nation.”

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