|Hance during his time in Congress|
|Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System|
December 1, 2006
|Preceded by||David Smith|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 19th district
January 3, 1979 – January 3, 1985
|Preceded by||George H. Mahon|
|Succeeded by||Larry Combest|
|Member of the Texas Railroad Commission|
September 23, 1987 – January 2, 1991
|Preceded by||Mark Wallace|
|Succeeded by||Robert Krueger|
|Texas State Senator from District 28|
|Preceded by||H.J. "Doc" Blanchard|
|Succeeded by||E L Short|
November 14, 1942 |
Dimmitt, Castro County
|Political party||Republican (since 1985)
Democratic (until 1985)
|Alma mater||Texas Tech University|
Kent Ronald Hance (born November 14, 1942) is the current and retiring Chancellor of the Texas Tech University System. In his role, he oversees Texas Tech University, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center and Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. He is also a lobbyist and lawyer who was a Democratic member of the United States House of Representatives from West Texas, having served from 1979 to 1985. After his congressional service, he switched to the Republican Party.
In 2006, Hance was chosen as the third chancellor to succeed David Smith as the chancellor of the Texas Tech University System in Lubbock. He is taking a leave of absence from his Austin law firm Hance Scarborough, LLP but will continue to sit on profit and nonprofit boards and commissions while at the helm of Texas Tech. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal quoted Texas Tech board chairman Rick Francis:
- The regents believed Hance could further the goals that we had for our chancellor, in terms of energizing our alumni, and those legislators in both Austin and Washington, D.C., and provide the vision that we need for the future.
Early years and election to Congress
Hance obtained his Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Texas Tech in 1965 where he was also a member of Delta Tau Delta, in which he served as president. He also served as the Student Government Association Vice-President.
He later attended the University of Texas School of Law. During his time as a law student, he was the Student Bar Association President and chosen as recipient of the Counsel Award. After law school, he was admitted to the Texas bar and in 1968 became a practicing attorney in Lubbock. During this period, he was also a law professor at Texas Tech from 1968 until 1973.
In 1974, Hance ran for the Texas Senate and defeated incumbent H.J. "Doc" Blanchard in the 1974 primary. His campaign at the beginning seemed doomed to failure, but Hance quickly made connection with voters in the sprawling West Texas district.
He served in the state senate from 1975 to 1979. After winning the 1978 Democratic primary nomination for the Lubbock-based 19th Congressional District, he defeated the Republican nominee George W. Bush, then of Midland, Texas. The seat, which was based in Lubbock had been held for a generation by popular Democrat George H. Mahon, long-time chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. (the 19th included most of the Permian Basin at the time). Bush won the Republican nomination in a hard-fought but low-turnout runoff primary against the 1976 party nominee, Jim Reese, former mayor of Odessa in Ector County.
As a Democratic member of Congress from 1979–1985, Hance was a member of the ‘boll-weevil’ conservatives. As such, he became one of President Ronald Reagan's allies and carried his tax-cut, the nation's largest tax cut in 1981.
The 19th Congressional District had long been one of the more conservative areas of Texas (it hasn't supported a Democrat for president since 1964). Although the 19th had begun voting in landslides for Republicans at the national level, conservative Democrats continued to represent much of the region at the state level until 1994. Hance claimed Bush was "not a real Texan" because of his privileged upbringing and Yale education. Hance won by seven points - the only time that the future 43rd President of the United States was ever defeated in an election.
Hance was reelected two times. His voting record was very conservative even by Texas Democratic standards; he compiled a lifetime rating of 72 from the American Conservative Union. He did not run for a fourth term in 1984, opting instead to seek the Democratic nomination for the Senate seat being vacated by the retiring John Tower. Hance announced within hours of Tower's withdrawal that he would run for the Senate. He was very narrowly defeated—by only 273 votes—by State Senator Lloyd Doggett of Austin, who was later a long-term Democratic congressman. Hance had received a great deal of support from conservative Republicans who crossed party lines to vote for him in the race, since Hance had run on a conservative platform. Hance proceeded to endorse Doggett in the general election, which rankled many of the conservative Republicans who had crossed party lines to vote for him. Doggett would go on to lose to Republican nominee Phil Gramm. Geography also played a role in Hance's loss to Doggett; no one from west of San Antonio has ever represented Texas in the Senate (apart from Lyndon Baines Johnson). Hance was succeeded in the U.S. House by a young Republican, Larry Combest, a former aide to Tower.
Hance switches parties
Hance switched parties from Democratic to Republican in 1985. In 1986, he unsuccessfully sought the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Instead, the Republicans called former Governor Bill Clements out of retirement for the right to challenge Democratic Governor Mark White. In 1988, Hance was a Texas delegate to his first ever Republican National Convention, which met in New Orleans.
In 1987, Clements appointed his former intraparty rival Hance to a vacancy on the Texas Railroad Commission. The next year Hance was elected as a Republican to the commission on the coattails of presidential nominee George H.W. Bush, father of the young man Hance had defeated for Congress ten years earlier. He left the Railroad Commission in 1990, once again to seek the GOP nomination for governor but was heavily defeated in the primary by another West Texan, controversial Midland businessman Clayton Williams. In the primary against Williams, Hance finished second but with only 15 percent of the ballots.
Kent R. Hance Chapel
On May 1, 2011, Texas Tech University announced that Kent Hance provided the largest gift, $1.75 million, towards the $3 million privately funded non-denominational campus chapel, named the Kent R. Hance Chapel.
In 1985, Hance received the Texas Tech Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award. In 2009, Hance received the South Plains Council Boy Scouts of America John F. Lott Distinguished Citizen Award. In 2009-2010, Hance received the Outstanding Texas State Leader Award at the Annual Texas Leadership Forum, presented by the John Ben Shepperd Public Leadership Institute. Additionally, Hance received the Hope Award from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society West Texas Chapter in April 2010.
After raising $1.69 billion in funds for Texas Tech, Hance announced on October 13, 2013, that he will step down as chancellor at some time in 2014. The regents voted to name him chancellor-emeritus upon his retirement. His contract expires in December 2013 but he will continue in the position for an undetermined number of months thereafter. Hance has residences in both Austin and Lubbock.
- Kent Hance at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Papers, 1953-1984 and undated, in the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library at Texas Tech University
|Chancellor of Texas Tech University System
|Texas Railroad Commissioner
H. J. “Doc” Blanchard
|Texas State Senator
from District 28 (Lubbock)
E L Short
|United States House of Representatives|
George H. Mahon
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Texas's 19th congressional district