Monday, April 26, 2010

Why, Texas Tech? Why?

Gary Bell, the dean of the Honors College at my alma mater and probably the best teacher I have ever had, resigned last week because he felt the school and its administrators were more interested in getting lots of money from the Legislature through research than they were in educating students.
That makes me so sad to think of all the students who won't get to take a class from him and all of the wisdom and insight that Tech is losing. Granted, he's coming back next spring as a history professor, so all his talents won't be lost. I'm just angry at Tech for what seems like a bunch of really stupid moves. Everyone who reads this knows I'm a huge Mike Leach fan, so of course I'm going to defend him, but the administrators fired him the day before they would have owed him $800K if he were still the coach. They sent e-mails more than a year ago during the contract process with Coach Leach that said he was getting too expensive and they needed to get rid of him. Clearly, profitability is becoming an issue.
And, while I have no doubt that the stands will be full when Tommy Tuberville comes out out of the tunnel this fall, I do know that Tech sacrificed a top-notch educator and administrator when Dr. Bell was ignored. He told the newspaper that he was an educator, not a fund-raiser, and that's why he wasn't out beating the streets every day looking for more money.
"They're pursuing policies with which I don't agree. I'm just kind of backing away," he said. "What are the true costs of tier one? Yes, we're going to get a big chunk of money from the Legislature, but what is that going to do to undergraduate education?"
Bob Smith, Tech's provost, said Bell is "dead wrong" about the school's priorities for undergraduates.
"We're not going to compromise undergraduate education," Smith said. "It's a part of our legacy and it will continue to be a part of our legacy.
Bell replied, "He can say that. I can say 'I'm a zebra' all day. That doesn't make me a zebra."
I don't know what's going on with the administration at Texas Tech and why all of this garbage seems to be going down all of a sudden. What I do know is that the next time an 806 number shows up on my phone, I'm not going to ignore the call. I'm going to answer it and tell the caller exactly why I will not be donating my money to Texas Tech. Should that ever change, I'll send a check directly to the Honors College in recognition of Dr. Bell, or maybe to Student Media as encouragement to tell the administration where they can stick it.

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