Commentary: Saddened by exit of popular Texas Tech Chancellor Robert “Bob” Duncan
By Shayne Woodard
J Pete Laney and I both hold agriculture degrees from Texas Tech University and have been blessed to have careers in governmental relations that have allowed both of us to interact for years with retiring Texas Tech Chancellor Robert Duncan, a longtime friend of the Texas dairy industry.
Back in 1989, I remember when the smart young lawyer with a Texas Tech bachelor of science degree in agriculture economics from Vernon, Texas, was the lead staffer on legislative efforts to make momentous changes to what was then a broken Workers Compensation program for Texas employers. Representing the Lubbock area, Duncan went on to win election to the Texas House of Representatives in 1992 and then to the Texas Senate in 1996 prior to becoming Tech’s chancellor in 2014.
I watched Duncan become the stand-up guy that everyone trusted, and many times he found himself recruited by legislative leadership to sit down and work on very difficult policy issues. I used to laughingly say to my Capitol friends and colleagues that “this policy issue must be getting difficult because leadership has brought in Duncan to try and find middle ground or fix it.”
His incredible work ethic and long work hours trickled down to his committed staff that I referred to as “Duncan-ites.” The “Duncan-ites” were always sharp and dedicated to doing what was right for Texas and, like Duncan, are all upright people with successful professional careers.
There are many question, stories and conspiracy theories behind Duncan’s departure, which appears to have taken almost everyone by surprise. You may have read that some or part of the reason could be a clash between Duncan and Tech regents over a newly approved Texas Tech veterinary school, which Duncan supported. Following his retirement announcement, regents sought to quell that rumor by issuing a press release affirming their support of the School of Veterinary Medicine in Amarillo.
Whatever the true reason, I do know this: the Texas Tech University System and the great State of Texas are better off because of the public service provided by Robert Duncan. Others agree, as you can read in another analysis by the Texas Tribune.
On behalf of the Texas Association of Dairymen, we wish Bob and his wife Terri the best of luck in their next steps in life, and we say thank you.