Looking to the Future
In a message to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) community, President Lori Rice-Spearman, Ph.D., unveiled the university’s new vision, which seeks to unite faculty, staff and students across campuses with a common goal to transform health care through innovation and collaboration. Rice-Spearman reflected on the ways in which TTUHSC has adapted and responded to every need generated by the past 50 years of health care—including the dramatic changes brought about by the pandemic.
“We looked back, we celebrated all the wonderful things we had done as a university, and now we’re looking forward,” said Rice-Spearman. “We know without a doubt that we are the future of health care in West Texas, and we’ve developed models for care that can be applied across Texas and across the nation.”
Detailing what this new vision means to the community, Rice-Spearman broke down the terms—innovation and collaboration—and spoke of the dedication and teamwork that our community will use to revolutionize health care.
“Innovation and collaboration are when teams from diverse backgrounds and thoughts come together and begin solving problems,” Rice-Spearman explained.
The Purpose of a Vision
Why is a vision statement important for the university? Rice-Spearman clarified that TTUHSC is a complex institution, stretching across six campuses and 108 counties in West Texas, where there is a population of approximately three million individuals. The new vision serves as a guide to help best serve these individuals.
“We are responsible for taking care of the people who provide the food, fiber and fuel not just for our state, but across the nation,” said Rice-Spearman. “We know that when we engage our internal and external stakeholders, we’re able to solve problems like we never have before.”
West Texas Spirit
A major factor setting us apart from other institutions, President Rice-Spearman pointed out, is the spirit and work ethic for which West Texas is well known.
“The one thing that we’ve learned, especially recently, is that we don’t wait for others to solve our problems. We roll up our sleeves, we get together, and we start solving problems,” said Rice-Spearman. “So that’s exactly what we are going to focus on as a university. We are thinking outside the box, bringing individuals together—both within our university and outside our university—that will allow us to transform health care.”
Lessons from COVID-19
When the coronavirus swept the nation, TTUHSC leapt into action. Whether it was finding new ways to create PPE, providing viral transport media (VTM) or simply supplying individuals with expert-driven information surrounding the virus, TTUHSC was able to join forces with others in the region to keep West Texas as safe as possible.
“The pandemic allowed us to really examine how we interact with our communities,” said Rice-Spearman. “Across West Texas our faculty, our staff and even our students were coming to the table and saying ‘how do we work with you? How do we work together to solve our problems?’”
In combining our efforts with others in the area, TTUHSC was able to visualize how the institution could mold the future of health care.
“We are in a perfect position to continue to innovate and collaborate and move our university forward,” Rice-Spearman said. “We now have skills and information and experiences that are going to allow us to transform health care models.”
Your Role Matters
There is one crucial message within the new vision that stood out above all others: innovation and collaboration as a university starts with the individual.
“We know that we have a diverse campus,” said Rice-Spearman. “We have over 40 academic programs, we have those that serve in managed care, we have facilities and infrastructure—all of which contribute to our grand vision of transforming health care.”
Each individual within the TTUHSC community is the reason for the university’s bright future. The vision is not about the biggest names in science and leadership: everyone plays a vital role.
“Every day we want you to know that whatever you're doing within your teams and within your offices, you are working to solve problems that are going to help us transform health care,” Rice-Spearman said proudly, expressing excitement not only for the future, but for each person’s role within that future. “I have no doubt that we are going to look back in 2030 and in 2040 and say this was a critical time in our university when we decided to innovate, collaborate and move our great university forward.”
The president’s statement was not merely an explanation of the vision, but an invitation for all within the TTUHSC community to come along on the journey to innovate, collaborate and transform the institution for the better. The new vision asks each of us to conceptualize our unique role and contribution to the shaping of TTUHSC.
“You are the future of this great university,” said Rice-Spearman. “You are the future of health care.”