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Robert Duncan Receives Honorary Recognition as Chancellor Emeritus

Robert Duncan served as the fourth chancellor of the Texas Tech University System from 2014-18.
Robert Duncan served as the fourth chancellor of the Texas Tech University System from 2014-18.(Texas Tech University)
Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 12:12 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (NEWS RELEASE) - Robert Duncan, who served as the fourth chancellor of the Texas Tech University System (TTU System), has been recognized with the honorary appointment and title of Chancellor Emeritus by Chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell, M.D., the TTU System announced Monday (Nov. 22).

“It is an honor to present Robert Duncan with the title of Chancellor Emeritus,” said Mitchell. “Bob has been a constant champion for the TTU System and all of our universities throughout his tenure as chancellor – and long before during his time as a true statesman in the legislature. His leadership and guidance have been critical to our success, and on behalf of the Board of Regents and leadership across the system, I congratulate him on this honor, and I thank him for his contributions and dedication to serving the TTU System.”

Duncan was recognized for serving a distinguished and faithful four-year tenure (2014-18) as chancellor and a longstanding commitment to supporting the TTU System and its member institutions. Since his retirement, he has continued to advocate for system initiatives with constituents in Austin and recently joined the Texas Tech Foundation board of directors.

Emeritus titles are an honorific recognition for administrative officers who have performed distinguished services for an institution or the system. The TTU System Board of Regents unanimously passed a motion out of executive session at its November meeting to authorize Mitchell to make the honorary appointment.

“This is a significant honor, and I can’t thank Chancellor Mitchell and the Board of Regents enough as this means so much to us – my wife, Terri, and our family,” said Duncan. “We love the Texas Tech University System and all it stands for. We are proud of the many accomplishments of our students, faculty and staff. Our institutions are fortunate to have excellent leadership from the Board of Regents, chancellor and presidents of our universities. I would also like to thank our West Texas legislative delegation, who have worked tirelessly to help make the Texas Tech vision a reality and prove that from all of our institutions, it is possible.”

Under Duncan’s tenure, the TTU System experienced record-setting growth and elevated the maturity of its operations to ensure long-term success and sustainability while advancing several key initiatives.

Duncan set forth a vision for impactful, need-based university expansions that serve West Texas communities and the overall prosperity of the state. Under his leadership, the TTU System began its pursuit for the Texas Tech University (TTU) School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine. These schools, which both welcomed their inaugural class of students this fall, are the first of their kind in the state in over 100 years and 50 years, respectively.

Duncan brought together the comprehensive mental health resources and services of TTU and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to establish the Texas Tech Mental Health Institute to serve the mental health needs of rural West Texas and communities across the state.

In addition, during his tenure, more than $615 million in philanthropic funds were raised across the TTU System, more than any previous chancellor raised during the first four years of an administration. In that same period, the TTU System endowment grew from more than $150 million to a total of $1.3 billion.

Prior to his tenure as chancellor, Duncan served in the Texas Legislature for more than two decades. He was elected to District 84 in the Texas House of Representatives in 1992, and four years later, won a special election to the Texas Senate, where he served until leaving to become chancellor.

His service to the state resulted in great benefits for higher education. He helped craft programs such as the National Research University Fund and the Texas Research Incentive Program, known as TRIP, which incentivizes giving to university research priorities by awarding state matching funds, among other programs.

In addition, Duncan carried legislation to assist Angelo State University to become the third member institution of the TTU System in 2007, and he championed legislation for TTUHSC El Paso to become a standalone university and the fourth member institution of the TTU System in 2013.

Duncan becomes the third former chancellor of the TTU System to receive the honorific title of Chancellor Emeritus, following the Honorable John T. Montford (1996-2001) and the Honorable Kent R. Hance (2006-2014).

A lifelong West Texan, Duncan was raised in Vernon, Texas, and earned both his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics (1976) and juris doctorate (1981) from TTU. While completing his undergraduate degree, Duncan served as the student body president. He has a rich family heritage at TTU, where his uncle, Marshall Formby (1967-1971), and cousin, Clint Formby (1971-1983), both served on the Board of Regents. Duncan has two children who are TTU graduates, and his wife, Terri, also has two sons who are graduates of TTU.

J. Michael Lewis, Chairman, TTU System Board of Regents

“The Texas Tech University System pursued and reached great milestones under the direction of Robert Duncan. He led our system to achieve unprecedented excellence. His legacy is one of honor, admiration and dignity, and it transcends his tenure as chancellor. We are all thankful for his dedication and service to our system, higher education and the state.”

Mark Griffin, Vice Chairman, TTU System Board of Regents

“Robert Duncan is an honorable leader – and someone who is respected by all who know him. His vision and leadership led the way during a transformative period for our system. I am grateful for his commitment and steadfast perseverance that guided us to greatness in several historic initiatives we pursued under his administration.”

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