Sen. Robert Duncan (R) to Resign from Texas Senate, Become Chancellor of Texas Tech

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The West Texas desert is probably a more hospitable place than the Texas legislature.

On Monday, Texas Tech announced Republican Senator Robert Duncan had been named as the sole finalist to be the next Chancellor of the the university. Duncan was first elected to the legislature in 1992 and was elevated to the Senate in the 1996 election.

Sen. Duncan will take the job of Chancellor on July 1, and will need to resign from the Texas Senate before then. Governor Perry will need to schedule a special election once the seat is vacant, likely to coincide with the 2014 November general election. District 28, based in West Texas and includes the cities of Lubbock and San Angelo, was not scheduled to host an election this year.

Rep. Charles Perry has already declared he intends to run in the pending special election to replace Sen. Duncan. The Senate District also includes significant land from the House Districts of Reps. Harvey Hidebran, Jim Keffer, Drew Springer, James Frank, Susan King, Drew Darby, Tom Craddick, and John Frullo. All overlapping State Representatives are Republicans. Democrats will need to be creative in candidate recruitment if they want to field an option for this special election. Earlier this year, Democrats did not field a candidate in the special election for Senate District 4 to replace Republican Sen. Tommy Williams.

President Obama received 25.0% in Senate District 28 in 2012.

Sen. Duncan currently chairs the Senate Committee on State Affairs and serves on the Finance, Higher Education, Education and Natural Resources committees.

Read why Texas Tech wanted to be lead by a politician from Austin in their official press release after the jump.

The Texas Tech University System Board of Regents today (May 19) announced that Texas Sen. Robert Duncan has been named the sole finalist for the position of chancellor.

“After conducting a nationwide search and considering several outstanding candidates for the position,” said Larry Anders, vice chairman of the Board of Regents and chairman of the chancellor search committee, “the committee recognized that Sen. Duncan has the vision and leadership skills we need for our great system to continue moving upward.  We look forward to his leadership as each of our universities in the Texas Tech University System continues to grow and thrive.”

“To be able to serve the great universities in the Texas Tech University System is a tremendous honor for my family and me,” Duncan said after learning of his selection.  “I love the people of West Texas and will devote all of my energy to continue to grow the reputations for excellence of all of the universities in the system.  I am deeply indebted to the Board of Regents for this opportunity.”

“Although we looked nationally for candidates to fill this very important position, we are delighted that our selection has strong personal ties to this area and university,” said Mickey Long, chairman of the Board of Regents.  “Texas Tech is fortunate to have someone of Sen. Duncan's stature and reputation willing to step forward to lead our system.  He has had a tremendous legal and political career.  I look forward to him continuing the advances we have made the past several years.”

Now that Duncan has been named the sole finalist for the chancellor position, state law requires that 21 days must pass before final action can be taken by the Board of Regents on his employment.  Duncan's start date as chancellor is expected to be July 1.

Duncan, 60, is a lifelong West Texan. Before calling Lubbock home, he was raised in Vernon, Texas. He is the only son of five children born to Frank L. Duncan and Robena Formby Duncan. 

While completing his undergraduate degree at Texas Tech University, he served as student body president. Duncan went on to receive his law degree from the Texas Tech University School of Law.

He was elected to District 84 in the Texas House of Representatives in 1992. In 1996, he won a special election to the Texas Senate. During his more than two decades in the Texas Legislature, Duncan crafted major legislation impacting water rights; health care transparency and affordability; the integrity of public investment funds; public and higher education; eminent domain; and the efficiency and effectiveness of our civil justice system.

Duncan served on the Senate Finance Committee during each legislative session since 1999. He also served on the budget conference committee, which develops the final appropriations bill.

Duncan has served as chairman of the State Affairs Committee since 2004.  He was elected and served as president pro tempore of the Texas Senate during the 81st Legislative Session. Duncan also has been a member of the Natural Resources Committee, the Committee on Higher Education and the Education Committee.

Duncan's efforts in the Texas Senate have been highlighted by honors based on his work ethic, legislative accomplishments and leadership. Texas Monthly frequently has named him among the state's 10 best legislators. It also has listed him as a “Texas Super Lawyer” for his professional reputation in the private sector as a partner at Crenshaw, Dupree and Milam in Lubbock.

Duncan is married to the former Terri Patterson. He has two children, Lindsey Pike, a public school teacher and counselor, and Matthew, a recent graduate of Texas Tech. Mrs. Duncan also has two children, Justin Patterson of Austin and Clayton Patterson, a recent graduate of Texas Tech. All of their children are Texas Tech graduates.

Duncan succeeds Kent R. Hance, who has served as chancellor since December 2006 and has agreed to continue to serve the TTU System as chancellor emeritus.

You can follow me on Twitter at @trowaman.

About Author

Joseph Vogas

Joseph was raised in Friendswood, Texas in North Galveston County. He went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Political Science. After working for multiple campaigns, Joseph was able to work in the 83rd legislature in Austin in 2013. While retired from professional campaign work, Joseph enjoys sharing his knowledge of campaign data how to win elections in naturally unfriendly turf with others. Joseph is an avid archer and enjoys all things geek including Star Wars and DC Comics.

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