Texas Tech University was created by legislative action in 1923 and has the distinction of being the largest comprehensive higher education institution in the western two-thirds of the state of Texas.
A History of Texas Tech University
The university is the major institution of higher education in a region larger than 46 of the nation’s 50 states and is the only campus in Texas that is home to a major university, law school and medical school.
Originally named Texas Technological College, the college opened in 1925 with six buildings and an enrollment of 914. Graduate instruction did not begin until 1927 within the school of Liberal Arts. A “Division of Graduate Studies” was established in 1935 and eventually became known as the Graduate School in 1954. By action of the Texas State Legislature, Texas Technological College formally became Texas Tech University on September 1, 1969.
At that time the schools of Agricultural Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Education, Engineering and Home Economics also became known as “colleges.” Architecture became a college in 1986. Two colleges changed their names in 1993 to reflect the broadening fields each serves: the College of Agricultural Sciences became the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Home Economics became the College of Human Sciences. The Honors College was established in 1998, and the College of Visual and Performing Arts opened in 2002. Mass Communications became a college in 2004.
The Texas State Legislature authorized funds in 1965 for establishing the Texas Tech University School of Law, and the Law School’s first dean was appointed in 1966. The first class of 72 students enrolled in 1967. The Law School was approved by the American Bar Association in 1970 and is fully accredited by the Supreme Court of Texas (1968) and the Association of American Law Schools (1969).
As a member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Texas Tech began competing in the Big 12 Conference in 1996 after a 35-year membership in the former Southwest Conference.
When Texas Tech first started, most of the funds went towards the buildings, but the campus was lacking its landscape. Then, in 1937, president Knapp decided to dedicate one day every spring to beautify the campus. On the first day of this now annual tradition, 20,000 trees were planted. This Tech tradition still goes on today as student and teachers plant trees and beautify the campus on Arbor Day.
Saddle Tramps carry Bangin Bertha, a bell on a trailer, to all home football games and homecoming events. Bertha was designed in 1959 by Saddle Tramp Joe Winegar, and was donated by the Santa Fe Railroad. Bangin’ Bertha is considered a spirit-raiser and a big tradition at Texas Tech.
On St. Patrick’s Day in 1939 Texas Tech University unveiled that they had discovered a piece of the Blarney Stone. According to the legend the stone was discovered by a group of petroleum engineers while they were on a field trip. After doing tests it was discovered that the stone was a piece of the original Blarney Stone. The stone now lies on a stand in front of the old Electrical Engineering Building. It is said that seniors that kiss the Blarney Stone upon graduation will receive the gift of eloquent speech.
In 1973, Ruth Baird Larabee made a donation to Texas Tech University to buy and install a carillon in memory of her parents. The Charles and Ruth Baird Memorial Carillon is located in the west tower of the administration building at the center of the Texas Tech campus. The beautiful music of the 36-bell instrument rang out over the campus during times of celebration and solemnity. Students, faculty, and staff, as well as visitors to the university, enjoyed the music for thirty years. The carillon became a one of our treasured Tech traditions.
The carillon was refurbished and extended in 2005, adding additional bells to make 3 ½ octaves. The bourdon (the largest bell) weighs approximately eight hundred pounds, and the smallest, only about eight pounds. 12 of the bells were cast by Whitechapel Bell Foundry in England, 24 were cast by the Paccard Foundry in France, and the newest bells, by Meek & Watson Foundry in Ohio. The estimated value of this collection of bells today is $250,000.
According to The Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, “A carillon is a musical instrument composed of at least 23 bells, arranged in chromatic sequence, so tuned as to produce concordant harmony when many bells are sounded together. It is played from a keyboard that allows expression through variation of touch.”
Every year since its inception, the Carol of Lights has featured carillon music. Additionally, each year on the Fourth of July at 1:00 p.m., the carillon is played in conjunction with the ceremonial ringing of the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia. Summer Sunday evening concerts are another of the Tech traditions.
To celebrate the holiday season Texas Tech holds an annual event called the Carol of Lights. The event starts off with the Texas Tech University Combined Choirs performing selections of classic holiday songs at the Science Quadrangle. When the lighting ceremony commences, Students as well as those who came for the show stand in awe as over 25,000 red, white, and orange lights illuminate the 13 buildings surrounding memorial circle.
This tradition started in 1959 when Harold Hinn came up with the idea and provided the funds to cover the science quadrangle and the administration building with lights. Unfortunately students were away on Christmas break and did not see the display. The next year the Residence Hall Association created the Christmas Sing, which is now known as the Carol of Lights. Today, the Carol of Lights is one of Texas Tech’s favorite traditions.
Located in the courtyard behind the Administration Building, this special bench was given by the seniors of the class of 1931. It was an announced tradition that no freshmen were allowed to sit on it.
Before the football team goes out onto the field they touch the sculpture of a saddle. The saddle was dedicated by the Saddle Tramps to Double T, one of the many Masked Rider Horses that served proudly over the years.
Fight, Raiders, Fight! Fight, Raiders, Fight!
Fight for the school we love so dearly.
You’ll hit ‘em high, you’ll hit ‘em low.
You’ll push the ball across the goal,
Tech, Fight! Fight!
We’ll praise your name, boost you to fame.
Fight for the Scarlet and Black.
You will hit ‘em, you will wreck ‘em.
Hit ‘em! Wreck ‘em, Texas Tech!
And the Victory Bells will ring out!
The Goin’ Band from Raiderland – is one of the largest spirit raisers on campus and among the finest bands in the country. The original band in 1925, numbering only 21 members, was dressed in matador uniforms. In recent years, the band’s 400 members have returned to variations on that original look. The Goin’ Band performs at home and away football games, parades and at other special events. Following home games, devoted fans stick around to join the band in their traditional march out of Jones SBC Stadium, through the engineering key, around the circle, by the Administration Building and ending at the band parking lot behind the Music Building. The band was the 1998 recipient of the prestigious Sudler Trophy as the nation’s top marching band.
The “Guns Up” sign is the widely recognized greeting of one Red Raider to another. It is also the sign of victory displayed by the crowd at every athletic event. The sign is made by extending the index finger outward while extending the thumb upward and tucking in the middle, little and fourth fingers to form a gun.
The sign can be traced back to L. Glenn Dippel, a 1961 alumnus of Texas Tech. He and his wife Roxie were living in Austin and faced the daily presence of the “Hook ‘em Horns” hand sign used by University of Texas fans. So, the Dippels decided to retaliate. They looked to mascot Raider Red and his raised guns for their inspiration and in 1971 developed the Guns Up hand symbol. The Saddle Tramps and Texas Tech cheerleaders immediately adopted Guns Up and a new tradition was born.
Homecoming is an exciting week full of activities for Texas Tech students. Such activities include a bonfire, parade, float competitions, open houses, award programs, and of course the homecoming football game. Another favorite event, which has been around since 1954, is the election of the homecoming queen.
The Masked Rider is the oldest and most popular mascot of Texas Tech University that still exists today. Originally the Masked Rider started as a dare in 1936 and was then called the ghost rider, because no one knew the rider’s identity. These ghost riders circled the field at home football games and then disappeared.
The Masked Rider did not become an official mascot until 1954, when Joe Kirk Fulton led the team out onto the field at the Gator Bowl. Fulton, wearing Levi’s, red shirt, a black cape and mounted on a black horse awed the crowd as the team made one of the most sensational entrances ever.
Today the Masked Rider, with his or her guns up, leads the team out onto the field for all of the home games. The Masked Rider is one of the most visible figures at Tech.
Fight, Matadors, for Tech!
Songs of love we’ll sing to thee,
Bear our banners far and wide.
Ever to be our pride,
Fearless champions ever be.
Stand on heights of victory.
Strive for honor evermore.
Long live the Matadors!
RaiderGate is Texas Tech’s official Student Tailgating section. Close to 10,000 Texas Tech students will attend the largest party on campus. Come out to RaiderGate, have fun, listen to some live bands, and Get Fired up for YOUR Texas Tech Red Raiders. RaiderGate is held 4 hours prior to each Home Football game and is brought to you by YOUR Student Government Association.
Prior to the 1971 season, the Southwest Conference passed a rule that prevented members of the conference from taking live animals to non-home games unless the host team had no objections. So Jim Gaspard, a member of the Saddle Tramps, created Raider Red from a drawing by the late Lubbock cartoonist Dirk West as an alternative to the Masked Rider. Raider Red’s student persona is kept a secret from the Tech community. Red is a public relations mascot who shakes hands with the crowds at athletic events and poses for pictures. He changes from boots to high-top court shoes for basketball games. Raider Red fires his two 12-gauge shotguns using powder-filled shells after every Tech touchdown and field goal.
Since 1999, The Official Texas Tech Alumni Association Class Ring has been the universal symbol of academic achievement at Texas Tech. The single ring is a tradition that was brought back from the 1950s that encompasses the Double T, Masked Rider, Administration Bell Tower, and the Texas Tech seal. Cast inside each ring is “Strive For Honor,” taken from “The Matador Song.” Rings are presented by the University president at the Official Ring Ceremony in the Merket Alumni Center.
Formed by Tech student Arch Lamb in 1936, this all-male booster organization supports men’s athletics at Texas Tech. The name Saddle Tramp came from the stories of traveling men who would come to a farm for a brief time, fix up some things and move on. Lamb said he decided that he could fix up some things himself before moving on, and the Saddle Tramps were born. Since that time the Saddle Tramps believe if something was for the betterment of Texas Tech then they would work at it. These Midnight Raiders “paint the campus red” with crepe paper before big home games, form the legendary “Bell Circle” moments before kickoff, ring Bangin’ Bertha, participate in parades and other campus events (including the Carol of Lights), and ring the Victory Bells after Red Raider victories.
Designed by the campus’ master planner, William Ward Watkin, in 1924, the Tech Seal’s symbols are the lamp, which represents “school,” the key for “home,” the book for “church,” and the star for “state.” Cotton bolls represent the area’s strong cotton industry and the eagle is suggestive of our country. The seal first appeared on Tech diplomas in 1948, but it wasn’t officially approved as “The” Seal of Texas Tech University until 1953. On April 27, 1972, the seal was placed at the Broadway and University entrance to the campus in what became known as the Amon G. Carter Plaza. It is made of red granite and stands 12 feet high. It has been referred to by students through the years as “the Oreo.”
In 1936 victory bells were given to Texas Tech as a class gift. The bells rang for the first time at the 1936 class’s graduation. It is said that after the win over TCU, the following year, the bells rang through out the night. The bells kept Lubbock residents up all night. Thereafter, the bell ringing was limited to 30 minutes. Saddle Tramps ring the bells after Texas Tech victories and during special occasions. The Victory Bells – one large and one small, which combine to weigh 1,200 pounds – hang in the east tower of the Administration Building.
One of the most well known landmarks on campus is the statue of Will Rogers and his horse Soapsuds. This memorial was dedicated on February 16, 1950 by longtime friend of Rogers, Amon G. Carter. Carter believed Texas Tech was the perfect setting for the statue and that it would fit into the traditions and scenery of West Texas.
The statue stands at 9’11″ tall and weighs 3,200 pounds; its estimated cost was $25,000. On the base of the statue, the inscription reads “Lovable Old Will Rogers on his favorite horse, ‘Soapsuds,’ riding into the Western sunset.”
Today Texas Tech tradition and legends surrounds the statue. According to one legend, the plan to face Will Rogers so that he could be riding off into the sunset did not work out as it would cause Soapsuds’ rear to be facing downtown. To solve this problem, the horse and Will was turned 23 degrees to the east so the horse’s posterior was facing in the direction of Texas A&M, one of the school’s rivals.
Before every home football game the Saddle Tramps wrap Old Will with red crepe paper. Will Rogers and Soapsuds have also been wrapped up in black crepe paper to mourn national tragedies.