Texas Tech University

Texas Tech mourns passing of Dean Ridley

Robert Stein

October 24, 2018

"We will forever be grateful for his leadership, innovation and spirit that elevated the stature of the college and its programs and benefited the lives of so many future educators."

The Texas Tech University family is saddened by the death of Scott Ridley, dean of the College of Education, who passed away Monday afternoon after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was 63.

Ridley served as dean of the College of Education since 2011. He led significant academic reform, brought a huge wave of grant funding to the college and launched nationally recognized initiatives.

His most celebrated accomplishment is the creation of East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood, which was launched after the college received a $25 million federal grant, the largest grant in university history. The Promise Neighborhood, one of just a dozen in the nation, has helped thousands of east Lubbock youngsters access social services and improved educational opportunities.

"The work on this project has been the most rewarding of my career," Ridley, a self-described "pragmatic scholar-activist," said in a newspaper editorial this year.

The college under his leadership also revamped its teacher preparation programs, creating innovative partnerships between schools, communities and Texas Tech.

Ridley was born in 1955 in Kenneth, Missouri, and he grew up on a farm in Deaf Smith County in the Texas Panhandle. True to his roots, he was known for always wearing cowboy boots.

After graduating from Grady High School in Grady, New Mexico, Ridley earned a bachelor's degree in economics from New Mexico State University in 1978. His first job was in domestic and international marketing at Eli Lilly, a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis.

He went on to earn a master's degree and Ph.D from The University of Texas at Austin. Ridley spent 21 years at Arizona State University as a professor and program director before his appointment as dean at Texas Tech.

Ridley was a founding member of Deans for Impact, and he was a member of Educate Texas and the Southern Regional Education Board Teacher Preparation Commission. He was also a member of the Lubbock Area United Way Board of Directors.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 10, at The Difference Maker's Fellowship, 224 Buddy Holly Ave. Interment will follow the same day at 2 p.m. MST at the Grady City Cemetery in Grady, New Mexico.


Scott's illness did not deter from his commitment to his students, faculty and staff, and he continued to lead to the very end. We will forever be grateful for his leadership, innovation and spirit that elevated the stature of the college and its programs and benefited the lives of so many future educators.
— Lawrence Schovanec, Texas Tech University president

Scott was one of a kind with a gigantic vision and an indefatigable drive focused on bringing about equity for even the youngest child. Growing up in West Texas, Scott embraced and implemented ideas bigger than our sky. Although we have been grieving for several months, we still miss his cowboy boots and the "next big thing."
— Robin Lock, vice dean of the Texas Tech University College of Education

Dr. Ridley was an innovative thinker and had big plans for the College of Education, which have brought nationwide attention to TTU. His drive to produce quality teachers and form partnerships with school districts to improve our education system is a legacy I hope TTU will continue.

I for one am honored to have worked with Dr. Ridley for the past seven years and will truly miss the sound of his boots coming down the hallway and the excitement in his eyes when the next big "RFP" was released and we began working on a new project.
— Tena Gonzales, director of research grants at Texas Tech University

Dr. Scott Ridley was a visionary leader who made an impressive impact on the lives of so many! His transformational leadership of the College of Education at Texas Tech brought innovation to educator preparation programs which will positively impact the future of education well beyond our community. I am eternally grateful for his leadership and friendship.
— Kathy Rollo, Lubbock ISD superintendent

Dr. Scott Ridley marked his life with passion for educating all kids. He was instrumental in reaching out to rural communities and working with school districts to make sure opportunity for higher learning was available no matter where you live. His legacy of learning is generational and will be missed. I have no doubt he was greeted in his eternal home with, "Well done, my good and faithful servant."
— Charles Perry, state senator

Scott Ridley cut an unforgettable figure in our world, most recently as dean of the college of education at Texas Tech, and after a long tenure at Arizona State University. As a founding member of Deans for Impact, as in so many of his other roles, he made incalculable contributions that will continue to reverberate as our work presses on, as it must. What I will remember most about him was his relentless commitment to improving education in egalitarian fashion; his unswerving bias toward action; and his love of a good whiskey, preferably consumed on his ranch porch in his beloved home state of Texas.
— Benjamin Riley, executive director of Deans for Impact

With the passing of Dean Scott Ridley of @TTUEducation, teacher education has lost one of its most passionate and visionary leaders. And I have lost a wonderful colleague.
— Robert McPhearson, dean of the University of Houston College of Education