Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

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Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center in Lubbock, TX

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Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center was authorized by the Texas legislature in May 1969 under the name Texas Technological College School of Medicine. When Texas Technological College became a university that same year, the medical school became Texas Tech University School of Medicine. In 1979, in recognition of its expanding scope, the medical school was renamed Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. Lubbock began actively seeking a medical division for Texas Tech in the early 1960s. Legislators placed a bill calling for the medical department before the regular session of the Fifty-ninth Legislature in 1965. Several Texas cities that wanted medical schools of their own, including Amarillo, Houston, and El Paso, opposed the legislation. The bill passed both the House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor John Connally. The 1965 action started a heated confrontation between state regions and among West Texas cities. West Texans claimed that any new medical school should be in their area because the rest of Texas was served by the University of Texas schools and Baylor. They also argued that medical resources in West Texas were not equal to those of the rest of the state. There was a shortage of hospital beds, twice the ratio of patients to doctors of the national average, and a high infant-mortality rate. The three largest West Texas cities-Lubbock, Amarillo, and El Paso-waged war over which would be the best site for a medical school. El Paso based its claim on having the largest source of patients for teaching purposes, Amarillo argued that it was building a new medical park that included a city hospital, and Lubbock declared that the benefits of locating a medical school on the campus of a major university warranted the medical school's establishment in that city. The Coordinating Board (see TEXAS HIGHER EDUCATION COORDINATING BOARD) examined the issue and, on the basis of the state's shortage of physicians, authorized the founding of two new medical schools, one in Houston under the authority of the University of Texas, and one in Lubbock under the administrative control of Texas Technological College. The Lubbock school was to utilize the medical facilities in other West Texas cities. Lubbock's legislators were able to get a bill through the Sixty-first Legislature in 1969, and Governor Preston Smith, who had supported Tech's getting a medical school since 1949, signed the bill into law. Because ad valorem taxes cannot be used for constructing educational facilities, however, the medical school could not be a part of Texas Tech University; it had to be a separate state institution. Both institutions, however, had the same persons sitting on their boards of regents, and the same individual was president of both schools. The difference between the legal status and the common conception of the medical school's dependency caused problems that still plague both TTU and TTUSM.

Proposed innovations in curriculum and instruction at the new school included shortening the period of time required to get the M.D. degree, using electronic teaching aids, introducing the students to clinical settings early in their training, using existing medical facilities instead of one large teaching hospital, encouraging students to go into family practice, and extending programs to outlying areas. Virtually all innovations were incorporated into the school's original program but were modified in 1975 to follow more established principles. The school continues to encourage family practice, to urge its residents to remain in West Texas, and to strive to develop better rural health care. The School of Medicine opened for classes with thirty-six freshmen and twenty-five junior transfer students in August 1972 and graduated its first class in May 1974. In the 1980s the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center opened schools of nursing and allied health, which were both approved for funding by the Texas legislature in 1981; the new schools admitted the first students into their bachelor's degree programs in 1981 (nursing) and 1983 (allied health). All five schools in the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center are dedicated to the mission of providing medical and health education, research, and services to West Texas, and particularly to improving rural health care. TTUHSC is a multicampus institution composed of four regional academic health centers, located in El Paso, Amarillo, Odessa, and Lubbock. The administrative center is in Lubbock. In the 1980s the center's clinics at its four regional health centers recorded a total annual average of 350,000 patient visits.

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Robert L. McCartor | © TSHA

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Adapted from the official Handbook of Texas, a state encyclopedia developed by Texas State Historical Association (TSHA). It is an authoritative source of trusted historical records.

Belongs to

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is part of or belongs to the following places:

Date of Founding Notes

Classes first held in 1972


  • President, Lori Rice-Spearman 2020–Present

Currently Exists


Place type

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center is classified as a College or University

External Websites

Fall Faculty Count, 2017


Fall Enrollment Count, 2022 View more »