|Tech celebrates 75th birthday with
more than cake
Spectacular concert followed by Montfords Horizon Campaign
By WILLIAM KERNS
A-J Entertainment Editor
A-J PHOTO: Ann Reece talks with former Governer Ann Richards
Friday during the Texas Tech 75th Anniversary Gala reception at the Texas Tech Museum.
Texas Tech Health Science Center President Dr. Smith. (A-J Photo / Brad Farris)
Accompanied by a stellar orchestra comprised primarily of Texas Tech School of Music
faculty and staff - a skilled and eclectic ensemble able to impressively shift from
operatic and classical to music from Broadway hits - an array of entertainers and a sold
out Municipal Auditorium celebrated Texas Techs 75th birthday Friday at the
Billed as a concert titled "Celebrate," the program also boasted an ongoing
tale revolving around a despondent Tech mascot, a tuxedo-clad Raider Red.
For almost two and a half hours, Raider Red relayed through his Major Domo, played by
Richard Privitt, that not even Tim Walshs exquisite set designs, Diana Moores
exciting choreography or the unforgettable songs could cheer him.
Happily for Raider Red, the finale found Tech Chancellor John Montford announcing from
center stage that the initial $162 million of his $300 million Horizon Campaign for Tech
already has been raised.
Montford also pulled a few rabbits out of his figurative hat, making sure that the show
- and financial figures - were heard in person by Texas Speaker of the House Pete Laney
and former Texas governors Preston Smith, Dolph Briscoe, Mark White and Ann Richards.
All praised Tech, as did Edward A. Whitacre Jr., chairman of Techs Board of
With the entertainers travel fees, many rented costumes, hired sound technicians,
set design and crew fees no doubt sending the shows budget past even the $100,000
total contributed by Southwestern Bell, the concert, while unevenly paced, highlighted
professional entertainment throughout.
Co-hosts Ann Sanders Oliver and G.W. Bailey earned a plethora of laughs, though it was
difficult to determine how much was scripted by Norman A. Bert and how many ad libs were
hilariously tossed in by Bailey.
The shows second half, however, was obviously rushed and, in all honesty, the
sequence from the much-staged "Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story" appeared out of
place Friday night.
It arrived so quickly after the orchestras gorgeous rendition of selections from
composer David Kneuppers "The Music of Apollo/Saturn V Center" that
listeners had little time to truly digest the wonder of that music.
Staged by producer and artistic director John Gillas, however, flaws were few. Mary
Jane Johnson should have been miked before singing "Vissi dArte" from
Puccinis "Tosca," but did grab a microphone before taking part in
Strauss "Champagne Song."
Montford was spoofed in a scene from "The Pirates of Penzance," but few
lyrics actually were changed and the sequence worked not because of the attempts at humor,
but rather because of the vocal work by David Gaschen and Kelly McClendon. Then again,
there was a roar of laughter when Bailey explained afterward that the female characters on
stage were not all daughters of the chancellor.
"Actually, they were interns," he quipped.
But so much of the show was nothing short of emotionally thrilling, especially when
Gaschen, who proved he can sing just about anything, was featured during songs from
"Phantom of the Opera," "Miss Saigon" and "Guys and Dolls,"
the latter as a foil for Oliver.
Making her first appearance at Tech in several years, Oliver blew away listeners with a
combination of sense of humor and powerful vocals. While she had fun with "Shy"
and "Sue Me," her voice soared during "The Last Night of the World."
There was no need for Gillas to bring in so many extra female singers before the climax
of "Tonight;" that decision only served to dilute the work by soloists Brandon
Bohannon, Jana Campbell and Oliver. But he and Moore made perfect decisions in allowing
talented Tech dancers to perform while clarinetist Robert Walzel made Artie Shaws
"Clarinet Concerto" seem like his own, and lending the stage a Carnegie Hall
feel as pianist William Westney played Liszts Hungarian Rhapsody No. 8.
One wondered how Gillas would introduce Techs Goin Band from Raiderland,
especially after Walshs Tech setting on stage had earned appreciative gasps. The
question was answered when the band entered from all directions and filled the aisles,
with the percussion corps at the center of the hall.
Walshs picturesque campus design, by the way, served as a backdrop when Bailey
dropped comic pretenses and read - no, not read, interpreted - a speech written by
Techs first president, Paul Whitfield Horn, for the 1926 class of what was then
Texas Technological College.
It may have been the most moving moment in a program filled with many. Indeed, while
Raider Red held off smiling until Montford "showed him the money," those present
no doubt recognized the entire evening as a celebratory tribute to Tech that wont
soon be equaled.
Tech's roots based in effort to start West Texas college
By MATTHEW HENRY
The struggle for a college in West Texas began in earnest before 1917 when area
residents tried to get an extension of Texas A&M University placed in West Texas.
After months of hard lobbying, the state Legislature voted to appropriate $500,000 to
create Texas A&M of West Texas. But to the surprise of many lawmakers, Gov. James E.
''Pa'' Ferguson announced the college would be located in Abilene.
Ferguson was later impeached, perhaps over of his handling of the college issue, and
the Legislature repealed action concerning the college.
Although the attempt to bring a college to Lubbock had stalled, the event spawned the
West Texas Chamber of Commerce, formed with the sole intent of getting a state college for
West Texas. In 1921, Gov. Pat Neff vetoed a bill to create a new college.
The chamber was so outraged that it began an secessionist movement.
A year later, Neff apparently had a change of heart and asked State Sen. W.H. Bledsoe
of Lubbock to author a bill asking for an appropriation of $1 million for a West Texas
college. Bledsoe wanted the new school to operate independently of A&M.
Neff signed Senate Bill 103 Feb. 10, 1923, creating Texas Technological College.
Now the issue was where to build the new school.
A location committee inspected 37 sites, traveling 1,500 miles. The committee consisted
of S.B. Cowell, the blind chair of the State Board of Control; Dr F.M. Bralley, president
of the Texas College of Industrial Arts; Dr. S.M. Marss, state superintendent of
education, Dr. W.B. Bizzell, president of Texas A&M College, and Dr. William B.
Sutton, acting president of the University of Texas.
The towns hoping for the college pulled out all the stops, providing the board and
three reporters with free costs of meals, lodging and transportation.
The act creating Tech said only that it had to be north of the 29th parallel and west
of the 98th meridian and on 2,000 acres. Along with Lubbock, towns vying for Tech were
Boerne, Lampasas, Brady, Menard, Brownwood, Coleman, Ballinger, Paint Rock, Miles, San
Angelo, Midland, Stanton, Big Spring, Colorado, Sweetwater, Abilene, Buffalo Gap, Clyde,
Cisco, Seymour, Munday, Haskell, Stamford, Snyder, Post, Wilson, Crosbyton, Spur,
Floydada, Plainview, Tulia, Amarillo, Claude, Memphis, Quanah and Vernon.
But only 10 of the towns had a population of at least 5,000 and seven of those 10 had
colleges or were near a college. Then came another contentious vote in 1923. Dallas
residents were lobbying for a college in the Dallas area, so West Texans pulled together
to push for a college in Lubbock and won.
Lubbock reaped the reward of the unification of West Texas.
Several state leaders at the time gave much of the credit for Lubbock's victory to
Bledsoe, whose home was Lubbock. T. Whitfield Davidson, Neff's lieutenant governor, said,
''Senator Bledsoe was one of the most powerful figures in the state Senate ... Those
familiar with the situation felt that the location of the school at Lubbock was to a large
measure due to its being the home of Senator Bledsoe, the author of the bill.''
When the news came to Lubbock by telegraph, the town exploded. Merchants closed their
doors as people gathered in main streets for a parade and celebration. Street whistles
shrieked and brass bands kept the town hopping far into early morning hours, according to
old newspaper accounts.
The celebration was even larger Aug. 28, 1923, when Neff rolled into town.
He told a huge crowd, ''I'm for this institution because I want the red-faced boys of
Texas cared for as well as the white-faced cattle. I am opposed to a people hearing the
squeal of a pig above the cry of a child.''