Texas Tech a Major Part of Hub City History

Covering more than 1,800 acres, Texas Tech University is the nation's second largest campus. It stretches from 4th Street to 19th Street and from University Avenue to Quaker Avenue.

Tech is Lubbock's largest employer with more than 4,000 people on its payroll. Its economic impact on the Hub City was last calculated by Tech's Institutional Research Division in 1992. At that time, which was more than 15 years ago, it was more than $352 million annually.  That is why many say Lubbock would not be what it is were it not for a decision made more than 85 years ago.

The push to bring a higher level learning institution to West Texas began in 1916. The following year, the state legislature passed a bill that would have created a branch of Texas A&M in Abilene. That bill was shot down at least twice, before lawmakers questioned whether a branch of A&M was the best choice for the region.

In February 1923, the legislature signed off on the new Texas Technological College. Selection committee members started visiting West Texas towns in July, and a newspaper report says they were overwhelmed by folks in Lubbock.

"They really rallied. Also, Floydada, Plainview, Sweetwater a lot of other towns tried to get this school, and the Lubbock community, they rallied together and they were real aggressive and that's the reason Texas Tech University is in Lubbock, Texas today," Chancellor Kent Hance said.

In August 1923, Lubbock found out they would be the home of the new college. Classes began in the fall of 1925 with just 914 students.

To help pay for tuition, students would bring their own cow to campus, and market their own milk products through the student dairy association. The dairy barn still stands on the Tech campus, added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

The legislature approved funds for a law school in 1965. Seventy two students made up the first class in 1967. The college became Texas Tech University in September of 1969. That same year, lawmakers approved funding for a medical school, which expanded to become the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center in 1979.

"We're the only campus in the state and one of the few in the nation that has a law school, a medical school, and an undergraduate school on the same campus," Hance said.

Dates alone don't uncover the school's full history. "I guess, I taught folklore for the last 10 or 15 years," former TTU Professor Kenneth Davis said.

Davis recalls ghost stories that have passed through the student body for decades, such as the ghost of the cleaning lady at the biology building. A Texas Tech student killed custodian Sarah Morgan in 1967. The student was trying to steal answers to a final exam, when Morgan caught him. "She would shake her head sadly and look at them as they were taking the examinations," Davis said.

Or the ghost that still rumbles through the honeycomb of tunnels underneath the campus. It's rumored a young man would sneak through the tunnels to see his girlfriend in the girl's dorm. When dorm mother discovered this, she had the entrance gated shut. The young man tried to turn around, but got lost, and never emerged from the tunnels. "Some of the stories say that the young man is still alive and wondering the tunnels," Davis said.

Today, Texas Tech University is the most visited site in Lubbock. "We're very proud of Texas Tech for our number one attraction," Visit Lubbock Communication Director Abie Cox said.

School leaders have big plans for the future. "We hope to grow to 40,000 by the year 2020. We hope to increase research spending to $100 million a year. The future is very bright for Texas Tech, especially for Lubbock, because as we grow, the city of Lubbock will continue to grow," Hance said.

Another milestone for the university came in 1996 when Texas Tech athletics joined the Big 12 Conference.

We know there is much more history on this university, including the impact of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center.  Thursday night on NewsChannel 11 at 10 we'll explore the roll medicine has played in the development of Lubbock, making it the medical hub for the entire West Texas and eastern New Mexico region.

The Texas Tech Administration Building
Once called the Texas Technological College, Texas Tech University has had perhaps the most influence on Lubbock if not the entire South Plains.