The Board of Regents of the Texas Tech University System named Senator Robert L. Duncan (R-Lubbock) as the fourth chancellor of the Texas Tech University System on July 7, 2014. Following his appointment, Senator Duncan retired from the Texas Senate, where he served with great distinction for 18 years. Prior to his election to the Senate, Senator Duncan served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives.
During his long tenure in the Legislature, Senator Duncan provided exceptional and principled leadership to the people of his district and to the state as a whole. Because of his tireless work ethic, integrity and honesty, and the high esteem in which his colleagues held him, virtually no major legislation has been enacted in more than two decades that has not benefited from Senator Duncan’s intelligence, judgment, and good sense. As a member of the legislative staff of Senator John Montford (D-Lubbock), Senator Duncan provided invaluable counsel and advice in the passage of the 1989 Texas Workers’ Compensation Reform Act. As a member of the House, Senator Duncan authored the 1995 venue reform bill and played a central role in negotiating the entire package of civil justice reforms that session. As Chair of the Senate State Affairs Committee for many years, Senator Duncan left his mark on dozens of pieces of major legislation, including the 2003 medical liability and tort reform act and the 2005 asbestos litigation reforms. Senator Duncan has always been the leading champion of judicial selection reform, twice passing constitutional amendments through the Senate calling for an election-retention system. As a friend to the cause of a fair and balanced judicial system, Senator Duncan has no equal, and we will sorely miss his wisdom and leadership in the Texas Senate.
But the Legislature’s loss—and ours—is Texas higher education’s gain. Senator Duncan’s official biography says it all:
“As chancellor, Duncan is the chief executive officer of the Texas Tech University System, which includes four component institutions—Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Angelo State University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso. He is focused on providing each university with the resources needed to ensure the academic achievement of all students enrolled in the system institutions. As part of his leadership, the chancellor also works in both Austin and Washington, D.C. to increase funding for all system institutions.
Before becoming chancellor, Duncan served in the Texas Legislature for more than two decades. 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, where he served until resigning to become chancellor.
While representing District 28 as State Senator, Duncan crafted major legislation impacting Texans and served on three of the Senate’s most powerful committees—Finance, State Affairs and Budget Conference. He served as president pro tempore of the Texas Senate during the 81st Legislative Session and served as a member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, the Education Committee and the Natural Resources Committee. He was widely recognized as a leader in the Texas Legislature. Texas Monthly magazine named Duncan to its ‘Ten Best List’ more times than any other member of the legislature.
Duncan also was a law partner at Crenshaw, Dupree and Milam in Lubbock for more than 25 years. He advised clients in insurance law and commercial litigation, among many others areas of his legal practice, and remains ‘of counsel’ for the law firm.
Duncan is a lifelong West Texan. He was raised in Vernon, Texas. He is the only son of five children born to Frank L. Duncan and Robena Formby Duncan. Duncan and his family have a rich heritage with Texas Tech University. His uncle, Marshall Formby, and cousin, Clint Formby, both served on the Texas Tech Board of Regents.
Duncan received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas Tech University in 1976. While completing his undergraduate degree, he served as the student body president. Duncan received his doctorate of jurisprudence from the Texas Tech University School of Law in 1981.
Duncan has two children. His daughter, Lindsey Pike, is a public school teacher and counselor, and is married to Wes Pike. His son, Matthew Duncan, is a food distribution sales representative. Chancellor Duncan is married to Terri Duncan. Mrs. Duncan also has two children, Justin Patterson, an IT specialist, and Clayton Patterson, an auto-financing assistant. All the children are Texas Tech University graduates.”
All of Senator Duncan’s friends here at TCJL wish him God’s speed in the important work he has before him. Texas Tech could not have put its future in better hands.