If you are keeping score, you might say John Montford's contributions to Texas extend way off the charts. Among his many accomplishments, Montford's Horizon Campaign here at Texas Tech raised more money for the university than any other fundraising campaign in Tech's history.
Then, last September he announced he was leaving Texas Tech to pursue a career in the private sector. After five years at Texas Tech, former Chancellor John Montford left Lubbock and tipped his hat as he rode off to begin a new career with telecommunications giant SBC. Last week, he returned to the Hub City for the first time and NewsChannel 11 sat down with him one on one.
Most agree John Montford set a standard of excellence as Texas Tech's first ever chancellor. He raised $500-million for the university in a little less than five years. Montford literally made his mark and moved on. He left this time last year to head up one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country, which has been a challenge given the instability of the economy.
"It's been a tough year in telecommunications. A lot of companies have failed. I think we're a very solid company financially. SBC is noted for solid management," says Montford who is now the president of Southwestern Bell Company in San Antonio.
He says SBC is facing several issues right now, including a fight for even handed regulations of high speed Internet access. "We're still regulated while cable and satellite aren't regulated," says Montford. "And as a consequence, there's not a level playing field, and we simply want the same chance that everyone else has."
Montford returned to the Hub City last week pushing his vision for SBC and for economic development in Lubbock. The former Lubbock County District Attorney says the key to economic development here is taking care of what you have.
"There are so many cities in Texas that are green with envy about the presence of Texas Tech here, South Plains College, Lubbock Christian University, and Wayland Baptist University. My first piece of advice is to take care of what you have. It is extremely important in terms of future growth and development to emphasize what you have. Then, you can recruit new business successfully," says Montford.
Montford now lives in San Antonio with his wife Debbie. He misses Lubbock a lot and always enjoys returning. "First and foremost we miss the people. And we have a lot of dear friends here. There's also nothing quite like a fall football day in Lubbock. And you know, we miss the Lady Raiders. We weren't here long enough to enjoy Bob Knight basketball, but we sure do watch a lot of it on television," says Montford.
When he left last year, Montford said he and his wife would consider retiring here, and he says that is still an option. But for now, he is determined to meet the current challenges at SBC. "This is my ninth career, and about every five years, I go do something else. So, who knows. Right now, I'm grateful to be with a company that's forward thinking and I want to try and make a difference there."
Montford also had a 14-year tenure as a member of the Texas State Senate. He is recognized throughout the state as a leader in the fields of Texas constitutional revision, water legislation, reform of the civil justice system, secondary and higher education and now telecommunications.