The University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Duane Leach's honor


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Contact: Iris Foster, Interim Public Information Officer, 432-552-2806

Former University of Texas of the Permian Basin President Duane Leach was named Professor Emeritus by the UT System Board of Regents at a recent meeting. He served as UT Permian Basin’s president from 1983 to 1991. Following that administrative career, Dr. Leach became a history professor at UTPB and then the founding director of the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute which he led until his retirement in 2003.

Dr. Leach’s nomination for emeritus status was strongly supported by the Faculty Senate. Dr. Todd Richardson, President of the UTPB Faculty Senate, stated, “Dr. Leach demonstrated distinguished and honorable service to UTPB as the third president of the University and director of the JBS Leadership Institute. Moreover, Dr. Leach was an excellent history professor; many former students speak fondly of his engaging lecturing style.”

The longtime Ector County resident was educated at the University of South Dakota and the University of Oklahoma where he earned his Ph.D. in history and political science. His early career was spent as Dean of the College at The College of Idaho and president of Northern Montana College. From 1980 until 1983, he was the Chancellor of the University System of South Texas in Kingsville.

While he claims to have stood on the shoulders of others, Dr. Leach is most proud of the fact that during his presidency UTPB weathered a major storm after one house of the Legislature took the funding away. With the support of others like John Ben Shepperd, William (Bill) Noel, Louis Rochester, Regent Bill Roden, his brother, Tom (Pinkie) Roden, Bill Fowler, and Bill Elms, he was able to get the University back on track with its funding and even move forward toward a four- year institution. The assistance of John Montford and Gary Watkins ultimately led to Governor Ann Richard’s signing the bill in 1991 which awarded UTPB four year status.

Another milestone Dr. Leach believes helped improve UTPB was the creation of the Center for Energy and Economic Diversification (CEED) which was closely tied to economic development and situated in Midland County. Again, Dr. Leach credits others: the friendship between Bill Noel and Clarence Scharbauer as well as support from Cy Wagner, Jack Brown of Midland and James Roberts of Andrews to get it started.

According to Dean Jack Ladd who was director of the JBS Public Leadership Institute before becoming dean of the School of Business, “Dr. Leach is a visionary. Of great importance to this region and all of Texas is his work to establish and direct the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute. His efforts brought high school and
college leadership training to the entire state. Furthermore, the JBS Texas Leadership Forum has been the cradle for many ideas and has been the inspiration for many state and community leaders in Texas. The JBS Distinguished Lecture Series which he started has been an enlightening forum airing many important public issues. He is well deserving of the honor.”

Current JBS Director Bobby Burns adds, “Dr. Leach is widely known and respected for his leadership. In fact, he set the tone and the direction for future generations who strive to be effective and efficient leaders. All of us are grateful for his legacy.”

For Dr. Lois Hale, now interim dean of the School of Education and former dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, “President Duane Leach accomplished three incredibly important goals: (1) four year status, (2) "real" tenure for faculty, and (3) financial support for the University from Midland community members. The last was given in support of CEED. He understood both the history and the politics of the state and the region and used that knowledge to the benefit of UTPB and the citizens of the Permian Basin. Founding faculty member Dr. Doug Hale added, “Then, as today, Dr. Leach, the historian, carries on his scholarly work concerning the history of South Texas and particularly the King Ranch.”

Original history faculty member Dr. J. Tillapaugh described him this way: “Duane Leach has been interested in all endeavors at UT Permian Basin, regardless of the position he has held. As president, director, professor, and now emeritus, he will continue to contribute to the successes of the institution.”

Dr. Shawn Watson, associate professor of English and drama, agreed, “He committed himself to quality, generosity, and civility. His leadership positioned UTPB to achieve the growth which it now enjoys; his scholarship confers prestige on UTPB; his example continues to inspire us as teachers, academicians, and members of the West Texas community.”

Building upon Thomas Jefferson’s belief that “every campus needs to be a village,” Dr. Leach adds, “Universities are built in generations, not days or decades. With growing enrollment and new facilities, UTPB is now on its way.” And that progress would not have been possible without the work of this remarkable professor emeritus.