Update on Alliance with the Texas Tech University System

MSU Texas official update

Update on Alliance with the Texas Tech University System

Almost one year ago, on February 14, 2020, members from the MSU Texas Board of Regents and I announced our intent to explore membership with the Texas Tech University System. Little did we know at the time that just one month later our world would be thrust into a pandemic that would shift our normal operations and alter our plans.

However, our exploration and deliberations continued and, given our established timeline, we were able to accomplish much in the weeks leading up to spring break and our abrupt transition to remote operations. Based on feedback from our constituents, the MSU Texas Board of Regents in May 2020 reviewed input and heard public comment before approval of moving forward with a memorandum of understanding. At its August 2020 meeting the Board then approved the MOU between the University and the Texas Tech University System.

Now we await the introduction and passage of legislation by the 87th Texas Legislature seeking approval for MSU Texas to become the fifth member of the TTU System. We are grateful for the actions of Rep. James Frank and his chief of staff Jim Johnson to file a bill in the Texas House of Representatives. Since his election to the House, Rep. Frank has been a strong advocate for our University. We are also pleased that newly-elected Sen. Drew Springer will champion the bill in the Senate. We look forward to working with Sen. Springer in the coming term.

As we draw nearer to this historic milestone, we want to make you aware of our collaborative efforts with the TTU System to date as well as provide a preview of the work to be accomplished before September 1, 2021.

Leadership from the TTU System has welcomed our administrative team to observe and participate in their regular leadership phone calls and virtual meetings on a variety of topics. Since early March members of our leadership team have participated in weekly calls concerning the pandemic, federal and state guidelines, immigration policies, and CARES Act funding.

Also this past year, the Department of Education approved significant changes in Title IX policy with a narrow timeline for implementation. Because of our collaboration with the TTU System, we were able to draw on their expertise and assistance to navigate through the hundreds of pages of guidelines from the DOE to implement the required changes to our University policy.

We have appreciated the System’s approach that offers guidance and suggestions on emerging topics with a high degree of respect for individual difference and autonomy between its varied institutions.

Even while we await the pending legislation, there are a number of actions we will embark upon beginning this month as we look to the opportunity to transition into the TTU System.

First will be the assignment of MSU individuals to liaison with TTU System counterparts as a Transition Team is established. This team will cover several areas with perhaps the most extensive work in the alignment of policies and procedures. More information will be forthcoming as the team is assembled and given its charge.

Another vital component in the transition will be the matter of our accreditation. Our regional accreditor, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), will consider a Change in Governance from the MSU Board of Regents to the TTU System a Substantive Change. As such, a prospectus will be submitted to SACSCOC by mid-March and considered by the SACSCOC Board of Trustees in the summer. Dr. Jeremy Duff, MSU’s Accreditation Liaison, is working closely with Provost James Johnston, Director of Board and Government Relations Debbie Barrow, and me to ensure the transfer of MSU’s accreditation simultaneous with the legislative transfer on September 1 of this year.

There is much work to be done as we survey the opportunities of 2021, and it may all seem a bit overwhelming, especially as we continue to navigate through what is hopefully the last stages of the pandemic. But as I have expressed to you before we will continue to do as we have done for the past year and take things one step at a time. Thank you for your commitment and your patience as we take this historic next step for Midwestern State University.