Texas Tech Alumni Association works to connect, inspire Red Raiders
In 1927, 26 Texas Technological College students walked the stage at the first graduation ceremony for the new college in West Texas.
Those 26 students would go on to create an organization that would grow to over 27,000 members strong and that exists "to connect, inspire and love our Red Raider family and that we support our university, build relationships and foster growth."
Curt Langford, CEO and president of the Texas Tech Alumni Association, said the association strives to support the university's academic goals while also providing a way for alumni to stay connected to their alma mater.
"We do that primarily by way of academic scholarships," he said. "We have alumni chapters throughout the country — I think we're sitting at 89, right now. Our goal is to have 100 alumni chapters established by the end of (association's) centennial year."
With Texas Tech in the middle of its centennial celebrations, the association is helping champion some of the festivities and events.
Heath Cheek, centennial chair for the TTAA National Board of Directors, said when the association was talking with the university's Office of the President the idea of decentralized centennial celebrations prompted what would become various celebrations across the state and nation.
"The Alumni Association has been there to try to fill in the gaps for the Alumni who can't make it to one of those events," he said.
He said events like the recent celebrations in Houston and Austin were not created to attract big donors to the school but rather to connect alumni and have them celebrate milestones with other alumni and university leadership.
Cheek said there are a lot more celebrations in the works, such as a pep rally in Times Square in New York City and a Centennial Game when Texas Tech faces Texas Christian University.
However, there is an event still in the works from the association that Cheek said is going to be big, but he couldn't reveal any details about it just yet - it's a surprise.
Langford said the association supports these projects and celebrations the university is organizing because it helps create a recruiting opportunity for the university and lines up with the association's goal to advance's Tech academic goals.
Two of those initiatives are the Raider Roadshow and the Texas Tech Centennial Tour.
"The roadshow takes place throughout the state — it's an initiative that's been going on for several years," he said. "I would say that that roadshow has a lot to do with Tech's enrollment being over 40,000 because it has taken the university to a lot of places for high school students and their parents to experience and to hear the Texas Tech story that they wouldn't have heard otherwise."
The other tour, according to Texas Tech, is a mobile billboard that is traveling across the state at high school and association events to help promote the university.
The billboard recently stopped in the Lubbock area this past week, including visits at Lubbock-Cooper High School, Frenship High School, Lubbock High School and Monterey High School.
It will make its final stops in the Hub City at Coronado and Estacado High School on Monday before hitting the road to travel to the Midland-Odessa area.
The association also champions several traditions on the main campus, one being the Ring Ceremony where upperclassman receive their official Texas Tech ring, Cheek said.
And this year a major change is coming to a time-honored tradition at Texas Tech — a tradition that led to the founding of the organization.
"The actual commencement has special regalia this year for the centennial that won't be available any other year except for 2023," he said.
As can be seen on the Office of the Provost's website, bachelor's degree regalia will feature the prominent red stole; however, it will have the centennial logo on the left side instead of the traditional Texas Tech logo. And the lining of the gown will be red.
The master's and doctoral regalia will feature red pipping on the gown.
As the university celebrates its centennial milestones, the association's milestone is just on the horizon.
And since its founding, Langford said, the association has been telling the stories of the university's alumni and giving them a chance to connect and give back to the university creating this symbolic relation that has lasted for almost 100 years.
"We look forward to moving into the next century," Langford said. "As President (Lawrence) Schovanec says, 'From thinking big to thinking bold — from our first century into the second century,' the alumni association is completely aligned with the university in that initiative."
This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech Alumni Association works to connect, inspire Red Raiders