“You can’t start much higher than a president of the United States.”
That’s the view of Brent Lindquist, dean of Texas Tech’s College of Arts and Sciences. It’s gotten a top-drawer speaker to further a fundraising campaign announced a year ago. The “Unmasking Innovation” campaign is looking forward to having former President George W. Bush keynote its April event in Dallas.
When administrators in Texas Tech’s College of Arts and Sciences began looking for a keynote speaker for a fundraising event, they considered well-known athletes like Roger Staubach and famous actors like Leonardo DiCaprio. But they decided to aim higher.
“I will claim that I came up with the idea but I can’t say how exactly I came up with the idea,” Lindquist says. “It was just, ‘why not president Bush?’ He’s local. He has a background in West Texas.”
The event is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 26 at the Hyatt Regency in Dallas, which is where the university has its largest alumni base. And the former president lives there.
Table prices start at $35,000 for the Presidential level, which includes seating for 10 at the head table with Bush, access to a VIP cocktail reception, five photo ops and five autographed books. Then there’s the $10,000 Innovator level, the $5,000 Legacy level, the $2,500 Vision level and individual seats for $250.
Last October the College announced its “Unmasking Innovation” campaign to advance its vision for the future. Lindquist says the college has five areas that need financial bolstering. It needs to attract and retain top faculty, recruit top-notch students, support undergraduate research, grow the Dean’s Fund for Excellence and enhance critical infrastructure.
“Our science building, which houses geosciences and physics is such an old building that I can’t put a modern research in it anymore,” he explains. “When we hire new faculty we have to search for a facility outside of that building.”
Fewer state dollars now come to the university. Back in the 1980s, the state of Texas still contributed nearly half of Texas Tech’s budget. Now, state lawmakers contribute just less than 30 percent. That means many of the university’s programs and colleges have turned to donors to help make up the difference.
That’s the reason Lindquist started the “Unmasking Innovation” campaign. The college, one of the university’s original four in 1925, is comprised of 15 departments and is the largest on campus, with about 11,000 students enrolled.
Lindquist says he hopes to raise about $200,000 from the fundraiser. Bush will be paid $125,000 for his appearance.
“What we have negotiated is that we will have a question and answer period—he doesn’t want to give a talk. He much prefers a low-key, question and answer format.”
Lindquist says he’s hopeful alumni and supporters from Lubbock will join those from the Dallas-Fort Worth area at Bush’s appearance.
“I think it’s going to be a great event,” he says.