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TTU System Receives 6,000-Acre Land Gift to Expand Research & Educational Opportunities

Letter from Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D.

Feb. 27, 2024 | Contact: Scott Lacefield

The Texas Tech University System (TTU System) announced Tuesday (Feb. 27) it received a major land gift of 6,000 acres from the 3 Rivers Foundation for Arts and Sciences for property that includes the Comanche Springs Astronomy Campus (CSAC) and facilities located 10 miles west of Crowell, Texas. The CSAC property sits in the “Big Empty,” an area that stretches from outside the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex to Amarillo and presents significant research, educational and community engagement opportunities for the TTU System and its five component universities.

The historic gift, made by Fred Koch, M.D. (pronounced “KAH”), founding member of the 3 Rivers Foundation, is the first of its kind to the TTU System. It is the largest donation of real estate to the TTU System. A Quanah, Texas, native, Koch is a 1975 graduate of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

“We are thrilled about the boundless collaborative opportunities this property and land presents for the Texas Tech University System as we increase the footprint and reach of our five-institution system,” said Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., chancellor of the TTU System. “I am grateful to Dr. Koch and the 3 Rivers Foundation for this visionary and transformative gift that will provide and expand phenomenal experiences for our students, faculty, staff and community members for generations to come.”

The 3 Rivers property – named after the region’s rivers, the Pease, Red and Wichita – enjoys vast biodiversity and a healthy ecosystem common in short-grass prairies. Facilities on the property include state-of-the-art telescopes, observatories, living classrooms and laboratories, a pavilion, and lodging for students, faculty and the surrounding communities. This property also includes extensive undeveloped land, allowing for greater research and learning opportunities spanning agriculture and environmental sciences, arts and humanities and health and medicine.

“The 3 Rivers Foundation believes in the culture and rigorous research being conducted throughout the TTU System and its universities,” said Koch. “We’re excited to play a role in shaping the future of learning where students are encouraged to engage with the world around them. We hope this contribution will spark curiosity within students of the arts and sciences and beyond.”

The 3 Rivers Foundation is an educational nonprofit whose mission is to inspire lifelong learning through the arts and sciences. The foundation provides experiences for teachers, students and the public through wildlife conservation, astronomy education and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) more broadly.

“This gift is the latest example of the spirit of generosity that has long defined the TTU System and our institutions,” said Patrick Kramer, TTU System vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement and CEO of the Texas Tech Foundation, Inc. “It’s donors like Dr. Koch and the 3 Rivers Foundation who serve as an inspiration and encourage others to contribute to impactful initiatives across the TTU System.”

The TTU System will manage the facility and coordinate operations, collaborations and utilization of the property along with the institutions of the system and the community.

“Our goal is to continue the great work that has been done by the 3 Rivers Foundation and expand and honor its legacy and impact,” said Mitchell. “We look forward to finding even more ways to serve Quanah and the surrounding communities while broadening our system’s research opportunities and educational collaborations.”

About the Texas Tech University System 
Established in 1996, the Texas Tech University System is one of the top public university systems in the nation, consisting of five universities – Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and Midwestern State University.

Headquartered in Lubbock, Texas, the TTU System is a nearly $3 billion enterprise focused on advancing higher education, health care, research and outreach with approximately 21,000 employees and 63,000 students, nearly 400,000 alumni, a statewide economic impact of $16.4 billion and an endowment valued at $1.7 billion. In its short history, the TTU System has grown tremendously and is nationally acclaimed, operating at 24 academic locations in 20 cities (18 in Texas, 2 international). In addition, the TTU System is one of only nine in the nation to offer programs for undergraduate, medical, law, nursing, pharmacy, dental and veterinary education, among other academic areas.

About the Texas Tech Foundation, Inc. 
For more than 75 years, the Texas Tech Foundation, Inc., has partnered with institutions of the Texas Tech University System to raise, manage and invest private gifts that benefit the universities of the system. Through their giving, donors make a lasting impact on the future of the system and make it possible for its component institutions to address challenges facing Texas and the world through higher education, health care, research and outreach.