Nestled in the heart of campus, the Office of the Provost ensures the culture of Texas Tech University is centered around student success. Ronald Hendrick Ph.D. recently assumed his role as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs with plans to enhance the tradition of excellence for the university.
Hendrick grew up in Jackson, Michigan, an industrial town located in the southern part of the state. His father was a toolmaker, and he had plans to take a similar route. However, after the collapse of the auto industry in the 1970s, he knew the skilled trade profession was not sustainable. In turn, he enrolled in a local community college in his hometown – a decision that led him down a very different path.
He later transferred to Michigan State University where he obtained his bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in forestry and forest ecology. Despite not growing up in the agriculture industry, Hendrick’s interests and experiences in the outdoors inspired him to pursue studies in environmental and natural resources.
“I didn’t grow up on a farm,” Hendrick said. “I spent a lot of time outdoors as a kid, and that piqued my interest in natural resources. I eventually landed on forestry and then also soil science.” He enrolled in various courses related to agriculture and agronomy while working toward his undergraduate degree. After graduating from Michigan State, Hendrick began his career in higher education at the University of Georgia. He worked his way up faculty ranks and was later hired by Ohio State 1 University as the director of the School of Environment and Natural Resources. Hendrick returned to his alma mater, Michigan State, in 2016 to serve as dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Hendrick began his role as provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at Texas Tech in July 2021. He said it was the university’s similar morals and culture that helped him decide to relocate from East Lansing, Michigan, to Lubbock, Texas.
“For me, what’s important is that the university’s priorities and ethics align with mine,” Hendrick said. “The emphasis here on community and doing research that not just advances our basic understanding of things but has real-world application as well.”
With Texas Tech’s enrollment numbers expanding exponentially, Hendrick hopes to utilize the university’s growth to make a lasting impact on society. He believes universities and higher education institutions hold a responsibility to utilize the information and knowledge acquired through research to combat societal problems.
“Elevating our stature helps us to continue to get great students here.”– Ronald Hendrick Ph.D.
“Growing the impact you have in terms of advancing knowledge and solving problems elevates the stature of Texas Tech,” Hendrick said. “Elevating our stature helps us to continue to get great students here. It helps to attract faculty here. It helps to diversify and add breadth to the kind of work that we’re doing.”
Research is a top priority outlined in Texas Tech’s strategic plan, A Pathway to 2025, which aims to solidify Texas Tech as a premier research university.
As provost, Hendrick has numerous roles. He provides oversight of the hiring, promotion and tenure of faculty. His office ensures the curriculum meets state accreditation standards and is in compliance with federal guidelines. Hendrick also provides oversight of the study-abroad 2 programs and international affairs associated with the university. Hedrick’s mission and initiatives aim toward improving the institution and creating a culture focused on student and faculty success.
“It’s basically focused around making, creating an environment where people can be successful, creating a place where they belong, and making sure that we’ve got up to date cutting edge state of the art facilities and equipment, whether we’re teaching or doing research,” Hendrick said.
Eileen Gianiodis, senior director of marketing and communications for the Office of the Provost at Texas Tech, also worked with Hendrick at Michigan State. She said diversity, equity and inclusion were at the forefront of his priorities as when he was dean of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at Michigan State. Through that scope, Hendrick was able to improve the reputation of Michigan State.
“He is taking those kinds of priorities and weaving them into what the priority is now,” Gianiodis said. “So, raising an academic profile at the university, through that lens of diversity, equity and inclusion.”
As for the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources, Hendrick envisions a bright future. He anticipates the generous $44 million gift from Gordon and Joyce Davis in early 2022 to have a substantial impact in securing a new dean for the Davis College. The trajectory of the Davis College aligns with the research initiatives of the university outlined in the strategic plan.
“Obviously, agriculture and natural resources are very important to the state, both for the production of food and fiber, but also having healthy soils, water, air and all those other things that are necessary to support agriculture and natural resources,” Hendrick said.
Hendrick serves as an advocate for Texas Tech’s reputation of excellence. In his recruitment of new faculty and students, Hendrick said he hopes to elevate the academic and culture of the university.
“I want people to keep letting us know how we are doing here,” Hendrick said. “I want people to keep staying engaged with Tech whether they are a student here or after they leave. Keep investing themselves in Tech. It is the people that make this such a great institution.”