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On the Hill, On the Rise

TTU System presence in Washington, D.C. helps support research and elevate national profile.

May 12, 2015 | Written by Doug Hensley

Representatives from the Texas Tech University System spent parts of two weeks in late April visiting Washington, D.C., meeting with lawmakers and discussing the important research taking place at Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso.

The event, intended to help elevate each university’s national profile, occurs each year and is a way for TTU System leaders to spend time with lawmakers from inside and outside the Lone Star State’s borders in an effort to highlight current research projects and discuss the vital link between federal research dollars and excellence in higher education.

The TTU System coordinates federal relations as it falls under the purview of Chancellor Robert L. Duncan.

“We’re extremely appreciative of the Texas delegation in Washington,” Duncan said. “We always look forward to the opportunity to meet with them and discuss the priorities of the system.”

Nellis, Lantonia PaigeTTU President M. Duane Nellis gives a "Guns Up" with Latonia Page, TTU alumna and Student Programs Manager for the Presidential Management Fellows Program.

Texas Tech University representatives, including President M. Duane Nellis and Vice President for Research Robert V. Duncan, spent three days with lawmakers April 21-23. The next week, a contingent from the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, including President Tedd Mitchell, M.D., and Vice President for Research Michael Conn, flew to the nation’s capital for meetings. They were joined by Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., and Peter Rotwein, M.D., the institution’s assistant vice president for research.

Officials from Texas Tech University made stops at the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture. They also met with the editor and co-founder of Inside Higher Ed.

Stops on Capitol Hill included the office of Sen. Jerry Moran (Kansas), Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Texas, 19th District), Rep. John Carter (Texas, 31st District), Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (Texas, 11th District), and Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas, 28th District).

The group also met with U.S. Rep Mac Thornberry (Texas, 13th District), Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), and U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas, 21st District).

“Visiting our Congressmen in Washington provides us an invaluable opportunity to have exclusive one-on-one audiences with those who affect legislation and decisions that directly affect our mission and the overall state of higher education,” Nellis said. “We had a great trip and productive dialogue relating to research at Texas Tech, including how our research is impacting our society.”

Texas Tech University representatives outlined the soon-to-be-completed research park facility that will include lab and research space for public-private partnership as well as space for academic programs that promote entrepreneurship and innovation. The $29 million facility recently announced Chromatin, an agbiotech company that has done research into developing sorghum hybrids, as the park’s first tenant. The Texas Tech University contingent also provided overviews of ground-breaking research being done in wind energy, space science, food safety and security, water, cotton and cybersecurity.

The next week, representatives from the TTU System’s health-related institutions arrived. They made stops at the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Association of American Medical

“Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso Assistant Vice President for Research Dr. Peter Rotwein and I met with several Texas congressmen and Sen. John Cornyn to educate them about our health sciences center,” Lange said. “We received a warm reception and positive feedback from our legislators and their staff.”

Lange, Carter, MitchellTTUHSC El Paso President Richard Lange, M.D., from left, stands with U.S. Rep. and TTU alumnus John Carter and TTUHSC President Tedd Mitchell, M.D.

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center contingent met with U.S. Rep John Culberson (Texas, 7th District), U.S. Rep. Randy Neugebauer (Texas, 19th District), U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (Florida, 1st District), U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas, 30th District), Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith (Texas, 21st District), U.S. Rep. Bill Flores (Texas, 17th District), U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (Texas, 16th District), U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (Texas, 8th District), U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (Texas, 23rd District), U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (Texas, 3rd District), U.S. Rep. John Carter (Texas, 31st District), U.S. Rep., Henry Cuellar (Texas, 28th District), U.S. Rep. Joe Barton (Texas, 6th District), U.S. Rep. Kenny Marchant (Texas, 24th District), U.S. Rep. Michael Burgess (Texas, 26th District), U.S. Rep. Pete Olson (Texas, 22nd District), U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions (Texas, 32nd District), and U.S. Rep. Roger Williams (Texas, 25th District).

“Visiting with our congressional delegation was a great opportunity to share our progress in education, research and patient care and discuss important topics that affect health-related institutions across the state,” Mitchell said. “The members and staff who we met with were receptive to our message.”

A highlight of each week was the chance for system representatives to have lunch with members of the Government & Public Service Internship Programs. The program is coordinated by the President’s Office at Texas Tech University. Texas Tech University has 19 interns per semester on Capitol Hill.

“It is rewarding to hear about the quality of the interns from Texas Tech,” Duncan said. “Whenever our representatives travel to Washington, D.C., one of the recurring themes is how bright our interns are.”

About the Texas Tech University System 
The Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the nation, consisting of four component institutions —Texas Tech UniversityTexas Tech University Health Sciences CenterAngelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso—and operating at 12 academic sites and centers.  Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the Texas Tech University System has an annual operating budget of $1.7 billion and approximately 17,000 employees focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach around the globe. 

In 2014, the Texas Tech University System endowment exceeded $1 billion, total research expenditures were approximately $200 million and total enrollment approached 47,000 students. Whether it’s contributing billions of dollars annually in economic impact or being the only system in Texas to house an academic institution, law school and medical school at the same location, the Texas Tech University System continues to prove that anything is possible.