Tag Archives: Texas Tech University

Let there be a second school of veterinary medicine

Texas Tech University’s effort to build a school of veterinary medicine in the Panhandle is moving along.

The university is getting plenty of help from Amarillo government and civic organizations, from private citizens. The city and its economic development arm have pledged $69 million to build the school near the existing Tech medical school campus.

I want the school to be built. Tech sees a need for large-animal veterinary medicine care for the Texas Panhandle and wants to build the vet school in the community that can best serve the region’s agriculture community.

I wrote about this project in an installment posted on KETR-FM, the public radio station based at Texas A&M University-Commerce. I am glad that KETR saw fit to run it, given that I chide the A&M System for what I consider to be its silly resistance to the Texas Tech project.

It’s how I feel. I am not alone. A lot of folks in the Panhandle believe as I do, that Texas is a big enough state to be home to two university-based schools of veterinary medicine.

I want to encourage you to read my post on KETR-FM’s web site. You can read it here.

I just feel like sharing it on my blog, too. Share it if you wish.

Amarillo still ‘Matters’ to this group

A political action group formed two years ago to help elect a slate of candidates to the Amarillo City Council is back at it.

Amarillo Matters, which comprises some well-funded, well-known and successful business and civic leaders, is working to re-elect the council members it helped elect in 2017. They’re all running for re-election this year.

What strikes me as strange — even from my now-distant vantage point — is that Amarillo Matters is being demonized by challengers to the incumbents. For what remains a mystery to me.

I’ve seen the Amarillo Matters website, read its profile, looked at its mission statement. It says it works to develop “positive opportunities” for the city. It vows to be free of conflicts of interest. Amarillo Matters says it believes in “limited government.”

There’s more to the website explaining this group. You can see it here.

It’s a high-minded group with noble goals, ambitions and causes.

The way I view the city now that I no longer live there is that Amarillo has continued nicely on its upward trajectory during the past two years. Downtown continues its revival; the city streets are under significant repair and renovation; the state is tearing the daylights out of Interstates 40 and 27, but that, too, shall pass; Amarillo economic development gurus have gone all in — with significant amounts of public money — on Texas Tech’s plans to build a school of veterinary medicine in Amarillo.

I have to ask: Is this all bad? Is this a reason to toss aside the city’s leadership?

It’s not that everything is peachy in Amarillo. Sure, there are problems. What American city doesn’t have them? The city needs to devote more money and attention to long-neglected neighborhoods, but I hear that the city is aiming to do precisely that.

I keep hearing whispers about feather-bedding, favoritism and assorted accusations of malfeasance. So help me it sounds like sour grapes from those who aren’t deriving some sort of direct financial benefit from all the good that is occurring in the city.

This economic system of ours means that individuals benefit as well as the community at large. I see Amarillo Matters as the positive influence it purports to be. Thus, I do not grasp the basis for the negativity coming from those who seek further “change” in the direction the city has taken.

From my perspective, the city is doing just fine.

Keep our eyes on Texas Tech vet school progress

I have spoken already on this blog about some of the damage that can be done to West Texans who depend on their state senator to look after projects that provide direct benefit to their part of the state.

I want to discuss briefly one specific project: the Texas Tech University System’s plan to build a school of veterinary medicine at its medical school campus in Amarillo.

Why mention it? Because a veteran legislator, Sen. Kel Seliger, an Amarillo Republican, has been yanked out of the chairman’s seat on the Higher Education Committee. Seliger lost the chairmanship he has occupied for several legislative sessions.

The loss of that seat could cost the Panhandle dearly. My sincere and adamant hope is that it does not endanger the veterinary medicine school that Tech wants to build in Amarillo.

The Tech Board of Regents has signed on. The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation has committed tens of millions of dollars to it. The Panhandle community supports the vet school, which would be the second such college in Texas; the only other vet school is run by Texas A&M University, which quite naturally has been pushing back against Tech’s plans to build the school.

The school of veterinary medicine will provide a direct boost to Amarillo and the Panhandle. Tech has established a need for such a school, which could cater to large-animal veterinary care in a region known for its livestock.

Does the Seliger removal from the Higher Ed chairmanship put the vet school in dire peril? It must not! However, there is the possibility that the Panhandle’s lack of a voice on the Higher Ed panel could work against the forward momentum that is building for the completion of the project.

Lt. Gov. Patrick has done some damage to the Panhandle with his apparent vendetta against the region’s senior state senator. Let us all keep our eyes and ears open to the legislative maneuvering as it involves the Texas Tech school of veterinary medicine.

Kliff Kingsbury channels Forrest Gump

I want to offer a salute and a “well done” to my friend Jon Mark Beilue for a fascinating commentary on a former Texas Tech University head football coach who has redefined how one can land on his feet.

Beilue calls Kliff Kingsbury the “real life version of Forrest Gump.” Beilue knows of which he speaks. He’s a Tech grad, a longtime West Texas journalist (including several years as sports editor of the Amarillo Globe-News). The man knows his business.

Kingsbury has managed to parlay a mediocre college coaching career into a head coaching gig with the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals.

Beilue noted this: Over the next five seasons, Kliff has ONE winning season despite having a QB who will likely be the NFL MVP. He’s 35-40 overall, 19-35 in the Big 12, and by the time he was fired in November 2018, Tech was ahead of only Kansas in the Big 12 pecking order. Oh, and he’s getting TWO MILLION DOLLARS from Tech to leave. 

That brings me to the point of this blog item. I do not understand a lot of things, and one of them is how athletic coaches can fail to do their job and still get big-time money after they get fired for non-performance at their jobs.

As Beilue points out, Kingsbury took a header as Tech coach. He didn’t win half of the games he coached. Yet he still gets $2 million for departing a job from which he was fired. He now will get another well-paying gig coaching a team of multimillionaire athletes.

Oh, boy.

***

Here’s Beilue’s essay, posted on Facebook:

Kliff Kingsbury is the real-life version of Forrest Gump. Both are likable guys that have seen timing and great fortune shine on them in their storybook life. Don’t believe me?

Start with:

1. After his record-setting career as a Texas Tech QB, Kliff didn’t really have the skill set for the NFL. He was drafted in 2003 by the New England Patriots in the sixth round. He hurt his arm, and was put on injured reserve. He was ineligible to play, but in his one year, he still got a Super Bowl ring.

2. After bouncing around the NFL briefly and in NFL Europe, he decides to go into coaching. He hooks up with Kevin Sumlin at the University of Houston as quality control assistant. The next year, he’s the QB coach and offensive coordinator just in time when talented QB Case Keenum is a senior.

3. Sumlin goes to A&M and takes Kliff with him in 2012. Who’s there but Johnny Manziel, a generational college QB. Kliff I’m sure refined some of Johnny Football’s play, but Manziel basically ran around like his hair was on fire, and made plays with his legs or threw it up and let WR Mike Evans make a play. Manziel, in Kliff’s only year there, wins the Heisman.

4. Tech is looking to unite a fan base fractured by the firing of Mike Leach and the rocky tenure of Tommy Tuberville, who abruptly left. They go to favorite son Kliff, and give him the keys to the convertible, head coach of your alma mater at age 33 with a whopping THREE YEARS of coaching experience.

5. In his first year in 2013, with the previous staff’s recruits, Kliff goes 7-0, and then loses the next five. In the Holiday Bowl, Tech beats a disinterested Arizona State. Based off that, Tech AD Kirby Hocutt gives Kliff a lucrative contract extension. His $3.7 million salary is 30th highest in the country and has a huge buyout.

6. Over the next five seasons, Kliff has ONE winning season despite having a QB who will likely be the NFL MVP. He’s 35-40 overall, 19-35 in the Big 12, and by the time he was fired in November 2018, Tech was ahead of only Kansas in the Big 12 pecking order. Oh, and he’s getting TWO MILLION DOLLARS from Tech to leave.

7. Six weeks later, he signs a four-year contract to be a head coach in the NFL.

Life is like a box of chocolates.

Texas Tech coach is out . . . despite all the love

Kliff Kingsbury has been fired as head football coach at Texas Tech University.

He was a fan favorite. Kingsbury played quarterback at Tech. He was reportedly destined to be the Red Raiders’ head coach.

Tech’s athletic director heaped praise on him for his character and for being a great role model for his players. Tech’s president said much the same thing and thanked Kingsbury all he did to advance the school’s football program.

Give me a break, will ya?

Neither of them said a word publicly about the reason Kingsbury was canned: He didn’t win enough football games. He had a losing record as a head coach.

All that happy talk was chock full of platitudes.

I feel badly for Kingsbury. I just wish his bosses wouldn’t speak with so many clichés that don’t mean a single thing.

First-class wordsmith gets back in the game

I recently lamented the retirement of a man who has lent his wonderful written “voice” to the Texas Panhandle.

Jon Mark Beilue worked for the Amarillo Globe-News for 37 years before retiring in July from his post as a columnist. I have good news for readers of this blog: Beilue is getting back in the game, this time as a columnist for West Texas A&M University.

I want to share this bit of good news because I have used this blog to bemoan the gutting of the Globe-News — first by Morris Communications and then by the company that purchased the G-N a year ago from Morris, GateHouse Media.

WT announced Beilue’s new writing gig in a press release, which stated in part: “We are excited to welcome Jon Mark to the WTAMU family and to share his many talents with the people of the Panhandle,” Dr. Walter Wendler, University president, said. “West Texas A&M University has many interesting stories to tell, and there is no doubt that Jon Mark will tell them well.”

Read the entire WT statement here.

WT plans to distribute Beilue’s columns weekly to area newspapers. If the folks who run the Globe-News have a brain in their heads, they will make sure this fine journalist’s words are published on the pages of a newspaper in dire need of institutional knowledge of the community.

Beilue provides it. He lived his entire life in the Texas Panhandle, absent his four years as a student at Texas Tech University down the road a bit in Lubbock.

And as WT noted in its release: His talent with words is well known across the region and has been recognized at both the state and national levels as far back as the 1980s until his retirement in 2018.

I have said it before, but it bears repeating: Jon Mark Beilue is a community treasure. I am delighted to know that WT has decided to put him back on display.

Well done.

Texas Tech regents headed for a big shakeup?

Might it be that a former Amarillo mayor, Jerry Hodge, managed to exert enough pressure on the chairman of the Texas Tech University Board of Regents to surrender his chairmanship?

Hodge is angry at the Tech board over the way it handled the ouster — and let’s call it what it was — of former Tech Chancellor Bob Duncan. Frankly, I’m angry, too. So are a lot of Tech partisans throughout the state and beyond.

Hodge launched an effort to get rid of former Tech Regents Chairman Rick Francis, on whose watch the board conducted what it called an “informal vote” in executive, or secret, session. The informal vote said regents no longer had confidence in Duncan’s leadership as chancellor.

Duncan then announced his retirement … and was gone!

To their credit, regents have approved more money for an upcoming college of veterinary medicine that Tech wants to build in Amarillo.

Francis remains on the Tech board. He’s just no longer the chairman. I hope Gov. Greg Abbott chooses not to reappoint him. I believe — and this is just my view only, as someone who didn’t attend Tech, but who got to know Duncan over the years — that Francis and four of the nine regents disserved the university with their no-confidence vote.

What’s more, they well might have acted illegally. That issue needs examination, too. Regents said they had their informal vote in closed session. I’ve always understood that the Texas Open Meetings Law prohibits secret votes. Regents or any governing body aren’t allowed to vote in executive session; they’re supposed to cast those votes in the open.

I don’t know what the appropriate sanction ought to be. Perhaps a public letter of reprimand from the governor’s office might suffice.

At least the chairmanship has been handed over to someone else. If the former Amarillo mayor had a hand in that happening, then I applaud him.

Go for it, Jerry Hodge, in your effort to oust regents chair!

I hereby endorse former Amarillo Mayor Jerry Hodge’s effort to oust the chairman of the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents, Rick Francis.

Hodge is steamed over the way the Tech board treated former Chancellor Bob Duncan. I am, too. Angry, that is. Duncan got the shaft, the bum’s rush and was shown the door after what well might have been an illegal meeting of the Tech regents.

Regents took what was called an “informal vote” in executive sessions to deliver a no-confidence decision against Duncan, who then announced his “retirement” from a post he had held for the past six years.

State law prohibits governing bodies from voting in private, but the Tech regents did so anyway. Thus, we might have a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Law.

Hodge also is miffed that Francis might have sought to undermine Tech’s decision to build a college of veterinary medicine in Amarillo, which has drawn full-throated support from the Amarillo City Council, the Amarillo Economic Development Corporation and a number of corporate donors who have pledged money to help finance the project.

Committee targets Tech chairman

Will the campaign succeed? That remains a wide-open question. The committee that Hodge leads wants Gov. Greg Abbott to take action. Count me as one who doubts the governor will jump to the committee’s cadence.

Still, as a Texas resident with strong sentimental attachments to Amarillo, the Panhandle and a deep and abiding respect for the long public service career of the former Texas Tech chancellor, I want to endorse Jerry Hodge’s effort to raise as much of a ruckus as he can.

AISD boss to, um, retire?

If the recent “retirement” of Texas Tech University System Chancellor Bob Duncan taught us anything, it is to be sure we don’t take their initial statements at face value.

Given that, the announcement today that Amarillo Independent School District Superintendent Dana West is retiring from a job she has held for three years makes me wonder: What’s the story behind the story?

Duncan announced his retirement at Tech, but then we learned that Tech regents had voted secretly to deliver him a vote of no confidence. Sure, he retired. However, it was under duress.

AISD officials are going to meet next week to decide whether to accept West’s retirement. Oh, and then trustees are going to consider appointing an interim superintendent.

Let me think. Is it normal for a school superintendent to “retire” at the start of a school year and then walk away?

I, um, don’t think so.

Hey, Tech regents: Don’t let the vet school wither and die

Bob Duncan is now officially a former Texas Tech University system chancellor.

I remain saddened that he has called it a career. I remain angry that it happened in the manner that it did. I also remain intent on holding Texas Tech’s regents to account for the manner that they engineered Duncan’s departure from the chancellor’s office. Regents well might have violated Texas Open Meetings Act provisions by casting a “straw vote” in secret that produced a no-confidence decision regarding Duncan.

There’s a possible bit of major collateral damage coming from this tempest: the proposed Tech college of veterinary medicine that Tech wants to build in Amarillo.

A lengthy Texas Tribune story discusses how Duncan had been in deep doo-doo with regents for about a year prior to his abrupt resignation/retirement.

Whatever happens, it would be the height — or depth — of folly to let the vet school wither and die.

The interim chancellor, Tedd  Mitchell, said he supports the vet school in Amarillo. Regents also issued a statement in support of the vet school immediately after announcing Duncan’s retirement.

Lurking in the background is Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, who opposes Tech’s effort to build a vet school anywhere, not just Amarillo.

Tribune lays out lengthy simmering of relations.

Amarillo’s Economic Development Corporation has ponied up $69 million to support Tech’s effort, which is a huge statement of public support. The vet school’s economic boon to the Panhandle would be enormous. It needs to proceed.

As for Duncan and his ongoing beef with regents, it strikes me as odd, given the former chancellor’s stellar reputation as a public servant, dating back to his years in the Texas Legislature, as a House member and senator.

My plea is a simple one: Don’t let the Tech vet school wither and die.