Love notes from my Alma Mater

Little known fact about me: I graduated from Texas Tech University in 1985.

I attended Tech specifically to study under a professor by the name of Frank Cheatham. Frank taught Design in a method that can only be described as “brutally efficient.” I have a lot of respect for Frank. He was a VERY difficult (but excellent) man to learn from, as he demanded that students *think*, and develop the conceptual skills required, not just the technical ones that are taught in most design programs. Frank had a strong will and ironically those that RESISTED him actually did better in the long run. I was one of those resistors. If you were weak willed, you would basically just do what he implied and your work reflected “Frank” rather than “you.” This meant that you would be unready to stand alone in an intellectual and conceptual way in an industry that was based entirely on intellectual concepts Your ability to promote and defend your ideas became your measure of success.

I argued with Frank a LOT. But it served me well. To illustrate his “brutality” the best example is just number of students. I started the program with approximately 95 other aspiring students, FOUR of us graduated. I’m sure every student experienced the “you should change your major” speech from Frank Cheatham. When it came it felt like a devastating attack on your core values, but in reality it was a challenge for you to defend them. Google tells me that Frank Cheatham died in 2003.

Anyway, I enjoyed my time at Texas Tech, but I do not have any particular fondness for the institution itself. It was merely the broker between myself and the source of my *actual* education, which came from Frank and other faculty there, such as James D. Howze. I met some great peers there too, and still stay in touch with a few other Tech alumni from time to time*… but I have no real affiliation/affection for Texas Tech, or Lubbock. It was just a place I spent four years, got an education, and left.

Texas Tech does have some Ninja-elite Alumni finders though, because they never fail to track me down… no matter where I move. It isn’t like I let them know when I move. I have never sent them a dime, at least after my last semester there in 1985! But they track me down and send me newsletters, credit card offers, invitations to football games, etc. They even found me when I was in the UK!

They’re a 2nd tier University, with a serious inferiority complex, driven by history and location. Every state has one of those, such as the cow college here in my home state. They just try harder because of it. Of course in some situations effort will never get you to rise above your true limitations. Like black roots on a bad hair dye job, the reality peeks out around the shiny polish applied over everything.

I received a communication from the Texas Tech Alumni today… an email newsletter. In it, was this verbatim series of headlines:

CNN Spotlights Recovery Program
Business School Ranked 3rd in Big 12
Meat Evaluation Team Wins National Title
Experience Gourmet in Lubbock

Sigh. What can I say?

* If you were in my class in Design Communications, or shared space in the first floor, short wing of Clement Hall between 82 and 85 let me know!