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TCU Magazine "Capturing Budapest"

Articles:   Business | Nursing |AddRan | Fine arts

Deans list

The University names five (three newcomers and two current TCU deans) of the seven who will lead its new colleges

Dean Michael McCracken
College of Science and Engineering

Personal: Born Feb. 15, 1941, in Terrel; he and his wife of 27 years, Sally, are both Texas Tech alumni but actually met on the campus during McCracken’s first year. They have one grown daughter, Donna Blackburn, and a 3-year-old grandson, Carson.

Education: PhD, Indiana University, 1969
MS, Texas Tech University, 1965
BS, Texas Tech University, 1963

Professional: Established Dept. of Engineering in 1994; the fledgling program has since grown to 100 majors and been granted full accreditation. Integral to the successful division of the AddRan College of Arts and Sciences and the summer groundbreaking of the William E. and Jean Jones Tucker Technology Center

Thirty years ago on a cool fall day, a young University of Wisconsin research professor named Mike McCracken bumped into a student.It would change his life.

Indeed, McCracken had two research grants, several working projects, and handful of grad students in his employ—a departure from the former high school jock and Texas Tech graduate who had planned on more of a teaching career.

"I was charging right up the hill to my office, and I bumped into a student," the 59-year-old McCracken recalled. "I said excuse me and continued on, and then I stopped. "I realized that I didn't see the students anymore. I hadn't had an undergraduate in my office all semester. I didn't have time for them. I had been told I didn't have time for them."

McCracken called TCU a few moments later -- to inquire about a job he had turned down the previous spring. It was still available.

Thirty years later, much has changed for McCracken. From assistant professor to professor to chair and, for the last decade, Dean of AddRan College of Arts and Sciences.

"There's a certain irony to my career path," he said. "When I joined the biology department, [Provost] Bill Koehler had been on the chemistry faculty for two or three years. We had the same jaded view of college administrators. As a chair, I was glad I didn't have to deal with me as a faculty member, and as a dean, I was glad I didn't have to deal with me as a chair. I dare say Bill would say the same thing about himself."

Yet, even though he stopped teaching years ago, students remain his focus. He has hired more than 70 percent of the AddRan faculty working today.

The first question he asks during the interview process is, Can you tell me about yourself as a teacher?

He continues to advise problematic students; a special cause of his includes football players who return as serious students after their dream of a pro career falls short. McCracken laughs. "And the advantage of having me as an advisor is that if I make a mistake, I'll just change the policy."

As dean of the newly formed College of Science and Engineering, McCracken is excited by the prospect of greater interaction among the sciences, mathematics and engineering.

"We have the opportunity to establish greater cohesion between disciplines that have so much in common. We will develop more interdisciplinary activities and more common goals so that we don't function just as individual departments and disciplines."

And McCracken also believes in fostering the special relationship between the two colleges that used to be AddRan College of Arts and Sciences.

"We are all committed to the liberal arts as the core component of a broad education. We're not suddenly creating a gulf between the two colleges. We're going to make sure that there are plenty of bridges."