Robert Duncan

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Robert Lloyd Duncan

Chancellor of Texas Tech University
In office
July 2014 – August 31, 2018
Preceded by Kent Hance
Succeeded by Tedd L. Mitchell

Texas State Senator for District 28
In office
1997 – July 2014
Preceded by John Thomas Montford
Succeeded by Charles Lee Perry

Texas State Representative
for District 84
In office
Preceded by Warren Darrel Chisum
Succeeded by Carl Isett

Born August 5, 1953
Vernon, Wilbarger County, Texas
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) (1) Lynne Stebbins (divorced)

(2) Terri Patterson Duncan

Relations Marshall Formby (uncle)

Clint Formby (cousin)
Margaret Formby (cousin's wife)

Children From first marriage:

Lindsey and Matthew Duncan
Frank L. and Robena Formby Duncan

Residence Lubbock, Texas
Alma mater Texas Tech University
Occupation Attorney

Robert Lloyd Duncan (born August 5, 1953) is the former chancellor of the Texas Tech University System, based in Lubbock, Texas, and a Republican former member of both houses of the Texas State Legislature.

He represented District 28 in the state Senate from 1996 to 2014, when he won a special election caused by the resignation of Democrat John Thomas Montford. Prior to his state Senate tenure, he represented District 84 in the Texas House from 1992 to 1996. On May 19, 2014, the Texas Tech regents named Duncan the sole finalist to succeed former U.S. Representative Kent Hance as the system chancellor.[1]


Duncan is the only son of the five children of Frank L. Duncan, a district conservationist for the United States Department of Agriculture in Vernon in Wilbarger County in West Texas, and the former Robena Formby, who married Joe King of San Marcos and later Roaring Springs after the death of Frank Duncan. Robena Duncan King was the sister of Marshall Formby, Jr., an attorney and radio station owner from Plainview in Hale County fifty miles north of Lubbock. Formby was also the county judge of Dickens Count and a state senator from Lubbock (then District 30) from 1941 to 1945, and was thereafter an influential member of the Texas Highway Commission. Marshall Formby was also an unsuccessful Democratic gubernatorial candidate in 1962, having lost out to John B. Connally, Jr. Duncan was a cousin of the late radio broadcasterClint Formby of Hereford, also in West Texas.

Duncan holds bachelor's and law degrees from Texas Tech University.[2] He practices law and has been a partner at the Lubbock firm of Crenshaw Dupree & Milam, L.L.P. Duncan is married to the former Terri Patterson. From his first marriage to the former Lynne Stebbins, he has two children, Lindsey and Matthew Duncan.[3]

Based on his legislative record, Duncan is considered a Moderate Republican. Along with colleagues Bob Deuell of Greenville, John Carona of Dallas, Kevin Eltife of Tyler, and Kel Seliger of Amarillo, he was named in 2013 among the most liberal members of the then nineteen Senate Republicans, according to an analysis by Mark P. Jones of Rice University in Houston. Jones also found that these Republicans saw passage of 90 percent of the bills for which they had voted.[4] In the 2014 primaries, Carona was narrowly defeated, and Deuell narrowly lost a runoff contest with fellow Republican and the more conservative Bob Hall.[5]

As Texas Tech chancellor

After four years as the fourth chancellor of the Texas Tech System, Duncan suddenly announced his retirement on August 13, 2018, effective August 31. In his time at the helm, Duncan raised more than $585 million in philanthropic funds. The system endowment has grown to a total value of $1.3 billion. Records were established in degrees awarded, student enrollment, and expenditures on faculty research. In his retirement announcement, Duncan said serving the system has been the highlight of his career in public service. “As we approach the start of a new school year, I look back with pride on the tremendous strides we have made in recent years. But I have also reflected on my life, my decades of public service, and realize that, at 65, it’s time to retire, move on, and begin to tackle new challenges," Duncan said.[6]

Reports by the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal contend that the regents in a 5-4 vote expressed "No confidence" in Duncan continuing as the chancellor. Speculation persists that his unfavorable evaluation came from fallout over his plan to build a second state veterinary medical school in Amarillo. The existing veterinary school is at Texas A&M University in College Station, which opposes building a second such facility. Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who appointed the regents, denied rumors that he was behind the decision to give Duncan a "No confidence" vote.[7]

Three Lubbock developers and their wives, Linda and George McMahan, Carolyn and Delbert McDougal, and Pamela and Marc McDougal, who were sponsoring a campaign reception for Abbott on August 22 withdrew from the host committee in light of Duncan's departure. The McMahans and the two McDougals have been large contributors to Texas Tech and to political candidates. The remaining fifteen committee members paid $10,000 each for the privilege of hosting the reception. Three of the five regents who voted not to renew Duncan's contract remained on the host committee.[8] Prior to the reception, Abbott told reporters that he has enjoyed a friendship with Duncan for more than twenty years and that he was not involved in the regents' decision. Abbott also affirmed that he supports the second veterinary school in Amarillo. He promised support to interim Chancellor Tedd Mitchell, who succeeds Duncan on August 31, 2018.[9]

L. Frederick "Rick" Francis, then the chairman of the Texas Tech regents, said that Duncan's departure is a result of disagreement among the regents over university finances:

After three years of double-digit increases in the system administrative budget, beginning with the 2017/2018 budget cycle, the regents pushed back on the proposed increase in the system budget. Many, if not most members of the board, feel the system administrative budget is a tax on the component universities and is ultimately reflected in the rising cost of student tuition. The chancellor was asked to cut the system budget and to begin to find ways to limit the size and scope of services ...

During the 2018/2019 budget presentation, the chancellor initially proposed a 15 percent increase, which would have represented a 48 percent increase during his first five years. For context, during the previous chancellor’s first five years, the budget increased 7 percent. This highlighted a fundamental disagreement between the chancellor and the regents regarding the size, scope of services, and budget of the system administration. Regents voted to keep the existing budget with no increase from the previous year, to the objection of the chancellor.

The result was a decision supported by the majority of the board not to renew the chancellor’s contract and instead set a course for new leadership at the end of the chancellor’s term. Coming to this conclusion was not easy for anyone involved, but there was a decision made by Chancellor Duncan that now would be the best time to retire, and for the system to move in a new direction.[10]

In October 2018, Rick Francis stepped down as chairman but will remain a regent until at least January pending possble reappointment. The regents also voted to name interim chancellor Tedd L. Mitchell as the permanent successor to Duncan.[11] Francis' exodus as chairman was pushed by Jerry Hodge, a former mayor of Amarillo. Governor Abbott reportedly received a thousand emails demanding Francis' ouster. Hodge also opposes reappointment of Francis as a regent.[12]

Meanwhile, state Representative Sarah Davis, a Moderate Republican from suburban Houston, said that there was insufficient information for her House General Investigating & Ethics Committee to conduct a probe into why Duncan resigned as chancellor. Davis vowed to monitor developments in the matter and welcome any additional information. State Representative Four Price of Amarillo, who backs Duncan' proposed veterinary school in his city, said that he would support an investigation into Duncan's retirement if any misconduct surfaces: "It may be a little premature to speculate this afternoon, or to say a full-blown committee investigation is warranted. I think we still don’t know."[13]


  1. Blake Ursch (May 19, 2014). Duncan named sole finalist for Texas Tech chancellor. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on May 20, 2014.
  2. Crenshaw Dupree & Milam, L.L.P.: Robert L. Duncan. Retrieved on September 21, 2009; no longer accessible.
  3. Senator Robert Duncan's Biography. Retrieved on October 3, 2013.
  4. Enrique Rangel (February 24, 2014). Why state Sen. Kel Seliger has a Republican primary challenger. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on March 8, 2014.
  5. Republican primary election returns, March 4, 2014. Retrieved on March 6, 2014.
  6. Sarah Self-Walbrick (August 13, 2018). Chancellor Duncan retiring from Texas Tech System. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on August 17, 2018.
  7. Matt Dotray (August 15, 2018). Abbott denies rumors of involvement in Texas Tech Chancellor Duncan's retirement. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on August 17, 2018.
  8. Matt Dotray (August 20, 2018). Several Lubbock area movers and shakers withdraw from host committee for Governor reception. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on August 21, 2018.
  9. Abbott talks support for Texas Tech vet school, praises Duncan during Lubbock visit. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (August 22, 2018). Retrieved on August 23, 2018.
  10. Rick Francis (August 20, 2018). Differences between regents, chancellor can be distilled into a primary contention. Retrieved on August 21, 2018.
  11. Francis resigns as chairman of Texas Tech regents; Mitchell named sole finalist for chancellor. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (October 4, 2018). Retrieved on October 5, 2018.
  12. Karen Michael (October 5, 2018). Former Amarillo mayor praises Francis' resignation as Texas Tech board chair. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on October 6, 2018.
  13. Matt Dotray (August 17, 2018). Ethics chair says current facts don't warrant an investigation. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Retrieved on August 18, 2018.