President Suzanne Shipley explains what it means for Texas Tech University to extend a formal invitation to join the university’s system on Friday, Feb. 14. Shipley said there is still conversations to have with students, faculty, staff and stakeholders as to whether this is a step in the right direction for MSU Texas. (Bridget Reilly)
President Suzanne Shipley explains what it means for Texas Tech University to extend a formal invitation to join the university’s system on Friday, Feb. 14. Shipley said there is still conversations to have with students, faculty, staff and stakeholders as to whether this is a step in the right direction for MSU Texas.

Bridget Reilly

MSU Texas administration considers invitation to join Texas Tech University system

February 14, 2020

President Suzanne Shipley met with Student Government Association administration members to discuss student reaction and involvement after Midwestern State University officials announced an invitation to be in alliance with the Texas Tech University on Friday, Feb. 14.

According to Shipley, she felt it was vital to meet with SGA members to discuss how students would like to be heard.

“We think the students would rather be in a group of students discussing this,” Shipley said. “This is just a time to see how people respond to the opportunity.”

 

Shipley, Board of Regents chairman Craven Crossnoe and Executive Committee vice-chairwoman Nancy Marks announced the formal invitation to join the Texas Tech University System Friday morning during a faculty and staff meeting at 10 a.m. Following that meeting, university officials held a press conference at 11 a.m. to further elaborate on this option.

“We need to, as a board, determine what is best for this university at this time,” Crossnoe said. “It would have been awful easy to say ‘we’ll just bump this down the road and let the next board decide,’ but we think that would have been shrinking out duties, so we think it is the best thing to look at this right now to determine whether it’s best for us to do it or not do it.”

Should the partnership pass, Midwestern State University will not change its name, color or mascot, but there will be an addition “a member of the Texas Tech University System” to its identity. Midwestern State University will continue to be a part of the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges.

“We don’t think students are going to see a big difference,” Shipley said. “The main difference will be that this board goes away and you answer to a different board; students don’t really care about this board. The president of Angelo said they make all independent budget decisions, all independent curricular decision, their tuition doesn’t have to match Tech’s tuition, so it’s not like we’re in locked step with them. It’s a looser confederation and that’s what appealed to us about it.”

Shipley said this alliance would help the university financially because it would allow the university to have better borrowing prices.

“We have debt that is related to our bond rating, so for us to borrow money is more expensive than for Tech to borrow money,” Shipley said. “They would borrow money for us at a much lower rate. To build a building or to do anything with borrowed money would be cheaper with Tech.”

Midwestern State University is one of four independent Texas universities, and it would be the fifth university to join the Texas Tech University System if this plan is approved. According to Crossnoe, Texas state education officials are encouraging independent universities to join larger university systems.

“There’s very clearly some push from the state government for all the independent [universities] to comfortably become part of a system,” Crossnoe said. “We felt that nobody has directed us to do that, but al lof those things are moving forward towards the future of us being part of a system.”

Crossnoe said the system’s capacity to influence state-level is much greater than independent universities. If officials elect to join the Texas Tech University System, the local Board of Regents will not continue as the Midwestern State University Board of Regents. Crossnoe said the Board of Regents feel confident that there will be a local person selected to represent the Wichita Falls and Midwestern State University community on the board as well as likely an advisory board.

President Suzanne Shipley
Bridget Reilly
President Suzanne Shipley talks to a crowd of around 35 at the Campus Conversation event about joining the Texas Tech System. Feb. 18.

“The circumstances of our education have changed over the last couple of years,” Crossnoe said. “If you had asked the Board of Regents a year or two ago whether we could consider this, the answer probably would have been definitely no. Since that time, we face the realities we are pretty limited right now. The new Gunn Health Sciences Center was a tremendous project from us. We probably don’t have the capacity in the immediate future to do anything comparable to that again. That is kind of driving the system. Being a part of a system would help us with that.”

TTU President Lawrence Schovanec responded to MSU Texas’s tweet announcement on Feb. 14.

Shipley said this decision could be made as soon as May, but there’s no definite answer because the board has to have enough information and research to ensure this would be the best decision for MSU as an institution.

“We’re not just free to do this,” Shipley said. “It’s the legislature’s decision, so we can’t say ‘they’re offering us membership and we’re accepting it,’ they’ve invited us to consider it, so we’re considering it. If we decide to pursue it, we’ll draft legislation and the legislators have to approve it. Then we have to have six months where our accrediting body decides whether we can do it or not. If everybody said this is wrong for the community, I don’t think the board would do it.”

Shipley said the university doesn’t have to ask opinions of faculty, staff and students, but they really want to know how everyone feels about this before any decision is made.

Important dates for continued discussion:

February Dates:

  • Thursday, Feb. 20 — Campus Conversation in CSC Kiowa | 10—11 a.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 21 — Campus Conversation in Dillard 189 | 9—10 a.m.
  • Friday, Feb. 21 — Community Conversation at WFMA  10:30 a.m.—noon
  • Wednesday, Feb. 26 — Community Conversation at WFMA | 4—5 p.m.

May Board of Regents

  • Thursday, May 14

August Board of Regents

  • Thursday, Aug. 6
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