Texas Tech University.
All Things Texas Tech

Inside ATTT: Illuminating Academic Life at Texas Tech

Spring 2011

"It's all on the inside
To say you can find it elsewhere
Would be wrong.
It's all on the inside . . . "


—Michael Franks (1944- )
Composer, jazz singer, and guitar performer; from his song, All on the Inside

Texas Tech Administration

 

Bob Smith
Provost

Katie Allen
Senior Editor, Academic Communications

 

Reflecting on the publication of All Things Texas Tech (ATTT; The Journal of Higher Education at Texas Tech University [TTU]) during the past two years, we hope that it has contributed to a better understanding of the TTU academic enterprise. Indeed, through the past few issues we have covered topics ranging from strategic planning to budget planning to study abroad. But, in many instances, published articles have tended to portray the what of academic life at Texas Tech. On a few occasions, however, we have delved into the how and why of academic life with contributions covering such items as integrated scholarship, digitizing library resources, and modeling strategic planning for peer institutions. We would like to do more of these types of articles and have thus crafted the Inside ATTT feature to pursue that end. As importantly, we want to use this new feature to better engage our academic community—through contributions from faculty, students, and staff. This paper provides further elaboration on the idea of an Inside ATTT feature and offers examples of topics that might lead to future contributions—across many areas of the university.

Background

Public universities and their operations often seem mysterious to our constituents, from students and their parents to local and state citizens to public officials. Even within public higher education institutions, the how and why of academic culture, operations, policies, and procedures are not always well understood by students, faculty, and staff. For example, recent discussions at TTU regarding Tier One status are often confounded by misunderstandings of the mission of a research university. On the one hand, you might observe external constituents or constituent groups espousing an exclusive role for teaching in the university's mission. On the other hand, within the TTU community, you might hear criticisms about how the university administration is only interested in research. A simple reading of the university's mission should help to set the record straight:

As a public research university, Texas Tech advances knowledge through innovative and creative teaching, research, and scholarship. The university is dedicated to student success by preparing learners to be ethical leaders for a diverse and globally competitive workforce. The university is committed to enhancing the cultural and economic development of the state, nation, and world.

TTU Mission Statement, approved by the Board of Regents on May 14, 2010

Even with such core principles in place, there will be disbelievers who might charge, "That's what you say, but that is not what you do." The skepticism at best and cynicism at worst can lead to mistrust, dysfunction, and harm. Seeking an antidote to such misunderstanding, we can turn to our raison d'être—education. And, we, as editors of All Things Texas Tech, believe that our academic community, our students, faculty, and staff, have the wisdom to help. Accordingly, we wish to offer the opportunity for contributions from our colleagues on the how and why of our emerging research university.

Offering Some Specific Examples

We have already published articles in ATTT that contain how and why elements. For example, when the university needed to mount a new strategic planning effort in 2009, we asked Texas Tech's Vice Provost of Strategic Planning and Assessment Valerie Paton to write an article (Paton, 2009) on earlier strategic planning efforts to place the then current efforts in context—specifically, offering some how and why background.

The integrated scholar articles (Smith, 2009; Smith and Allen, 2010) all contain allusions to the how and why of motivations and actions that have helped the profiled TTU faculty to contribute to the multi-component mission of the university. In the 2010 integrated scholar article, we also asked the highlighted faculty members to tell their own stories through videos that were developed and published along with derivative podcasts (see AcademiCast) and podcast transcripts. In fall of 2011, we will launch a companion series titled, Students of Integrated Scholarship, which will highlight learning, scholarship, and outreach efforts of TTU students who are best positioning themselves for life-long learning and societal contributions. This new student-oriented series will also be enhanced through video and podcast productions.

So, how might TTU student, faculty, and staff colleagues contribute to Inside ATTT? Here are some suggestions:

The above are just a few examples of how students, faculty, and staff might contribute to Inside ATTT. If you have other ideas and wish to share them with us before beginning to write an article, feel free to contact Bob Smith or Katie Allen. We look forward to hearing from you.

Bibliography

Bailey, Guy and Bob Smith. 2011. "Undergraduate Research: A Core Element of Texas Tech's Movement to Tier One." All Things Texas Tech 3(1); http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2011/02/undergrad-research.php

Paton, Valerie Osland. 2009. "Strategic Planning in Transition Periods." All Things Texas Tech 1(1); http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2009/04/paton.php

Paulson, Heather. 2009. "What the Heck is Twitter, and What Do I Do With It?" Women's Magazine; http://womensmag.com/arts-entertainment/wired-women-what-the-heck-is-twitter-and-what-do-i-do-with-it

Smith, Bob. 2009. "Integrated Scholars: You Will Find Many at Texas Tech." All Things Texas Tech 1(2); http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2009/09/integratedscholar.php

Smith, Bob and Katie Allen. 2010. "Texas Tech Integrated Scholars 2010." All Things Texas Tech 2(2); http://www.depts.ttu.edu/provost/attt/2010/09/integratedscholars.php

About the Authors

Bob Smith serves as provost and senior vice president at Texas Tech University.

Katie Allen serves as senior editor, academic communications, Office of Communications and Marketing, Texas Tech University.

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