It was interesting Tuesday to consider how partnerships can work well.
Or fall apart.
A who's who list of Abilenians and those representing Texas Tech, including Chancellor Tedd Mitchell, gathered under a tent to celebrate the naming of the School of Population and Public Health here for Julia Jones Matthews.
Judy Matthews, to most of us.
It was stated time and again that the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Abilene would not have been built had it not been for Matthews and the Dodge Jones Foundation, as well as other local players working with Tech.
The idea bubbled up in 2004 and by 2007, a pharmacy school on the regional campus had been constructed. The familiar brown brick and red tile roof seen on the Tech campus in Lubbock had been duplicated here.
Tech had moved southeast 165 miles.
In the following years, more schools would be added, with public health added in 2016, the same year that Judy Matthews died at 97.
Tech's campus is just south of Hendrick Medical Center. Just north of Hendrick is Patty Hanks Shelton School of Nursing.
This became a visionary project more than 50 year ago.
There was Mary Meeks School of Nursing at Hendrick but in 1979, Abilene Christian, Hardin-Simmons and McMurry united with a singular goal: provide clinical training for nurses and other healthcare providers. Even then, we were short of nurses.
The idea made sense and ushered in an era during which the three universities began working more closely together. There was a real bond, and the respective presidents often were publicly present together.
ACU left the effort, first known as Abilene Intercollegiate School of Nursing, in 2012, giving notice as required. ACU, which soon would launch efforts to become an NCAA Division I campus, began its own program.
That left HSU and McMurry, whose total enrollment does not equal that of ACU. Working together benefits each.
Meanwhile, Tech had arrived in town and opened its own nursing school. In following years, Cisco College would join with programs for licensed vocational nurses and to train LVNs to be registered nurses.
We would have to say that, as a regional health center, Abilene was doing what it could to benefit healthcare.
But that effort took a step backward last week when McMurry announced its lawsuit against HSU, accusing its partner of attempting to dissolve the school rather than sell its interest to McMurry. HSU had offered to buy out McMurry, which declined.
The lawsuit, from an out-of-town firm, provided McMurry an opportunity to criticize HSU for not being a team player as
It also puts another cloud over HSU, which has been under attack from alumni and others for closing programs, including Logsdon Seminary and its orchestra program.
It is unusual to see entities battle it out publicly in Abilene. We remember Abilene ISD Superintendent Heath Burns and Police Chief Stan Standridge at odds over how to handle a teacher's inappropriate relationship with a student. And a few years back, the county pushed back on the city's request to offer a tax abatement for a downtown hotel project.
Perhaps McMurry wanted to make a point. The city's smallest university was not going to be pushed around.
HSU certainly doesn't need another public relations issue to deal with.
We trust this can be worked out civilly. The city and county recently worked as partners to land the Lancium Bitcoin farm.
We've seen a spirit of cooperation before. It's needed now to benefit healthcare and, yes, our universities.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: 2 tales of partnership: Tech, city celebrate while McMurry, HSU squabble