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Tech began playing name-change game in '50s
Students, faculty wanted university's title to reflect new mission statement

By ELIZABETH LANGTON
Avalanche-Journal

It hardly seems conceivable now no Texas Tech, no Double T.

But in the late 1950s, as Tech moved away from its roots as a technological institution, the rumblings of a name-change campaign began.

''This move from being Texas Technological College to Texas Tech University really heated up in the 60s,'' Tech spokeswoman Margaret Lutherer said.

A large faction of students and faculty members wanted a name that better reflected the university's new mission statement and role as a liberal arts school.

Tech President Edward Jones first mentioned changing Tech's name in the late 1950s. His successor, R.C. Goodwin, publicly announced his support of a name change based on Tech's eligibility to be classified as a university because of growing enrollment numbers.

''The name Texas Technological College, much as we love it, actually proves to be a handicap to some of our graduates. It is embarrassing at times to have to explain how graduates from a technological college can hold a degree in areas other than technological,'' he said at a Dad's Day luncheon in October 1959.

''The only arguments that I know against this change center around tradition,'' he said. ''The euphony of the name Texas Tech and the symbolism of the Double T are as dear to alumni, students and some of the faculty as they are to many friends of the college.''

But changing the name was no easy task. The decision rested with the state Legislature, which had to act on a bill offered by an area legislator. And once the university community reached a consensus on changing the name, a battle began over what name to choose.

A student vote in 1963 backed the name Texas State University, following Goodwin's proposal to eliminate Technological from the name. But a variety of ex-students organizations wanted the university to keep a similar name and the traditional Double T logo.

The first shot at legislative action came in 1965, when Rep. Delwin Jones submitted a name-change proposal at the request of the board of directors (now the board of regents).

That action spurred the reactivation of the Joint Name Change Committee, comprising ex-students, faculty, students, parents of students and other friends of the university.

''They didn't want to keep Tech in the name because they thought it would take away from a new broadened mission,'' Lutherer said. ''Then there was another faction that thought the Double T was too important to do away with.''

The group wanted Texas State University, a name better suitng the university's expanded degree offerings. Between 1964 and 1969, the group held demonstrations and protests, gathered petition signatures, printed fliers and conducted polls.

The decade-long battle came to a head in May 1969, when Jones again submitted Tech name-change bills. Jones offered six suggestions: Texas Technological University; Texas Tech University; Texas State University; Texas State University of Arts, Science and Technology; Texas Technological College and State University; and University of the Southwest.

On May 7, more than 500 students gathered in front of main library to write letters to their legislators supporting Texas State University. A House committee May 8 eliminated all the name bills except Texas Tech University and Texas State University.

Jones essentially killed the Texas State bill by offering the Texas Tech bill for consideration in the House on May 25. He said he supported the name on recommendation of the the Tech board of directors, the Ex-Students Association and businessmen of Lubbock.

The following day, Texas State supporters sought a compromise that they had previously declined. The group asked for the name Texas Technological College and State University. The board of directors, close to getting the name they had supported for years, refused to yield.

After passing the House, the bill headed to the Senate, gaining approval just two days before the Legislative session ended.

''The swirling controversy over the new name, which had raged for a decade, now rests on the desk of Gov. Preston Smith, who is expected to sign the name-change bill, possibly this week,'' The Avalanche-Journal reported June 1, 1969.

Impassioned pleas and accusations filled the hearing, during which the Senate sat as a committee of whole for the first time in 16 years. The previous hearing was over impeaching a district judge.

One senator charged that a professor, advocating Texas State, was a liar for making allegations of bribery against him.

Another professor asked the Senate to issue a reprieve for the university by killing the name Texas Tech.

''This is the last chance we have to kill a name we believe will cripple the institution in years to come,'' he said.

At the time, Capitol sources said the ''ridiculous'' dispute ''almost certainly'' had damaged the image and Tech and had made both the college and Lubbock ''the laughingstock of the state,'' The A-J reported.

On June 6, 1969, Smith signed the Texas Tech bill, officially renaming the university in September 1969.

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