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After new legislation passed in the state house and senate in 1921, Governor Pat Neff vetoed it, citing hard financial times in West Texas. Chitwood, the chairman of the House Education Committee, who became the first Texas Tech business manager, spoke at the event. Sterling, was the architect of all campus PWA projects.

Furious about Neff's veto, some in West Texas went so far as to recommend West Texas secede from the state. Chitwood served in the position only fifteen months; he died in November 1926. During the 1930s, Bradford Knapp, the university's second president, proceeded with an expansion program, which included new dormitories, the first library (now the mathematics building), a golf course, a swimming pool, paved streets and alleys, and landscaping. Because the state cut appropriations by 30% at the start of the Great Depression, President Knapp applied for assistance from the major New Deal agencies to expand Texas Tech, including the Works Progress Administration, Public Works Administration (PWA), Civil Works Administration, and the National Youth Administration. Military training was conducted at the college as early as 1925, but formal Reserve Officers' Training Corps training did not start until 1936.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the university invested US0 million in the campus to construct buildings for the library, foreign languages, social sciences, communications, philosophy, electrical and petroleum engineering, art, and architecture. The Texas Legislature expanded the medical school charter in 1979, creating the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center.

TTUHSC, which is now part of the Texas Tech University System, includes Schools of Allied Health Sciences, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Texas Tech was integrated in 1961 when three African-American students were admitted.

A failed move by Governor John Connally to have the school placed into the Texas A&M University System, as well as continued disagreement and heated debate over the school's new name, kept the name change from being approved.Although the majority of the university's students are from the southwestern United States, the school has served students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.Texas Tech University alumni and former students have gone on to prominent careers in government, business, science, medicine, education, sports, and entertainment.Texas Tech University has awarded over 200,000 degrees since 1927, including over 40,000 graduate and professional degrees.The Carnegie Foundation classifies Texas Tech as having "highest research activity".

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