Texas Tech University

Alumni Focus: Nicky Ladkin

Museum of Texas Tech University

Where are you from originally?

I was born and raised in Leicester, England, and received my BA (Hons) in English Literature and English History from the University of East Anglia in Norwich. After graduating I lived and worked in the beautiful county of Dorset in the southwest of England.

What brought you to Texas Tech and why did you stay?

After working and volunteering in museums and on archaeological projects in England, I first came to Lubbock Lake Landmark in the summer of 1989 after reading about the summer field season volunteer program in a book of working holidays that I borrowed from the local library – as we did back in the last century! I had no knowledge of where Lubbock was and had to go and look it up in the World Atlas. While in Lubbock I discovered the Museum Science MA program at Texas Tech University and I enjoyed the summer field season so much that I returned the following year and stayed to enroll in the program. I intended to stay only so long as it took me to complete my Master's, but somewhere along the way I wondered why I was in such a hurry to leave and realized I had lost my heart to the open spaces, warm sunshine, and beautiful skies. More than twenty-five years later I am still here, and still love it.

Could you tell us more about the Museum Science program?

As a student in the Museum Science Program I could hardly believe my good fortune to be doing real museum work in a real museum as part of my studies – for example I built supportive mounts for 800 year old ceramics and stabilized an Apache pack saddle that was very fragile and old! Years later and from the perspective of a faculty member I understand the exceptional value of experiential learning to both academic and professional development and it is a great strength of our program. The program is a 45 credit hour Masters degree with a specialization in Museum Science or Heritage Management that requires either an internship or thesis for graduation. We welcome students from all over the US and all over the world, and our graduates work at some of the world's best-known museums.

Could you tell us about your position at the museum (i.e. what are your job duties, what projects are you currently working on, etc.)?

After graduating in 1993, I held a number of staff positions at the Museum of Texas Tech University. I currently serve the Museum as Assistant Director for Academic Engagement where I work to encourage and support collaborative partnerships based on the Museum's collections, research, and exhibits. I joined the Graduate Faculty of TTU in 1995, teach the Preventive Conservation course in the Museum Science program, and also serve as Graduate Advisor for the program.

My interest in international museum issues and training has given me deeply appreciated opportunities to work in and make presentations in some wonderful places around the world including Egypt, Norway, Brazil, South Korea, Austria, the Cayman Islands, and Mongolia (twice!). An annual project I am excited to work on brings museum professionals from different countries each year to Lubbock to participate in the International Council of Museums Committee on Museum Documentation Summer School. Now in its sixth year, the 2016 program brought together museum professionals from Ethiopia, Egypt, Vietnam, Puerto Rico and the US.

What are some of the exciting things about working at the TTU Museum?

Being in close physical proximity to intriguing, beautiful, significant objects, artworks, artifacts and specimens in the cultural, art and natural science collections is exciting. Also, working alongside scholar practitioners, curators, and scientists and seeing their research and creativity are inspiring to me.

What are some of your favorite things about TTU?

I am honored to serve as the Museum's Liaison to the TTU Military and Veterans Programs (MVP). MVP spearheads the excellent job that TTU does to support military and veteran students. Prior to every commencement the Museum partners with MVP to host a Stole and Recognition Ceremony for graduating veterans and veteran dependents and family members and it is one of my favorite things at TTU. Another favorite is witnessing the internship presentation or thesis defense of each Museum Science student at a very exciting time for them as they prepare to graduate.

Also, I couldn't let this opportunity pass without acknowledging the role of and expressing my gratitude to OIA in helping me with visa and other international issues during my time as a student. When I first arrived I was matched with a wonderful host family with whom I am still very close. Now I work with OIA when we host international students in the Museum Science program and when we bring in visiting scholars and faculty or partner to host international programs.

About Texas?

I love the incredible diversity of cultural and natural heritage in Texas. I have been lucky to travel a fair bit around the state but I feel as though there still is so much more to see.

About the U.S.?

I was very proud to become a naturalized US citizen in 2012. I will always have England as my ancestral home, but the US has become my chosen home, which is personally very meaningful.

Any favorite TTU customs/traditions?

I have loved animals, especially horses, all my life and so the Masked Rider is my favorite TTU tradition. It was a treat to meet Fearless Champion (“Woody”) at an event at the Museum and he is such a calm and beautifully well-behaved horse. To see him gallop across the turf at the stadium is something special indeed.

Nicky Ladkin