ASU, Texas Tech System Reap Rewards of Lobbying

Sharon Rieger's picture

For Texans, lobbying is just a way to get things done.

It is something Kent Hance, chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, is up front about. The system, which includes Angelo State University as well as Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, has spent more than $1.58 million in the past five years on direct payments to lobbyists.

Hance, a former state senator, U.S. congressman and Texas Railroad commissioner, says right on his résumé posted to the TTUS website, "The chancellor also works in Austin and Washington, D.C., to enhance funding for all institutions."

"Probably our greatest return on investment is the lobbying we've done," Hance said in a phone interview. "Congressman Mike Conaway is a good friend to Texas Tech but he and the other representatives, they've got thousands of issues. We have to stay on top of our two or three or four issues daily so they don't fall through the cracks.

"I wish we didn't have to but that's a reality."

TTUS says the system has received nearly $170 million in federal funding in that same five-year span, including $5.4 million so far from the Department of Defense to launch the Center for Security Studies at Angelo State.

Hance and Brian May, ASU's dean of the College of Graduate Studies and interim provost, said ASU did not have formal governmental relations representation before it became part of the Texas Tech system in 2007.

"The thing we definitely experience, having on-the-ground lobbyists representing you day to day, those kinds of infrastructure gives you a quicker response," May said. "We were able to secure that earmark for $3 million (in 2009) in order to get us off the ground (with the Center for Security Studies). It was reduced to $2.4 million because it went through some cuts."

In 2010, the CSS program was approved for a second grant, this time for a full $3 million. May said the center has applied for an additional $2 million for 2011 and expects to get a decision in September, not long after its first classes launch in August.

May and Phil Neighbors, president of the San Angelo Chamber of Commerce, also credited the advocacy of Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas and of now-retired Gen. T. Michael Moseley, a Texas native and Texas A&M graduate who was then chief of staff of the Air Force, for getting the CSS off the drawing board.

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