Each new day may bring new tasks and adventures, but for this man, a day in this life is anything but spontaneous. Years of work and experience have allowed him to rise in his status and career field, yet he never loses the heart of a new employee dedicated to the brand they serve.
For Dr. Steve Fraze, two things signify the start of the day: once he arrives at the office, he checks his email and reviews his schedule for the upcoming day.
The current interim dean for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources describes this routine with a chuckle and shakes his head.
“It’s a bunch of meetings,” he said. “Lots of meetings. But the new things taking form within the college are exciting and worth meeting to collaborate on.”
Fraze takes great pride in his current position within the college, but the journey to this role has been anything but spontaneous.
Fraze came to Texas Tech in the fall of 1988 as a professor of agricultural education. He oversaw the student teaching block structure for several years, a cohort program which allows student teachers within the department to collaborate outside of the high school classroom. Twenty years later in, he was named chair of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications and remained there until August 2016 when he was appointed interim dean of CASNR after Dr. Michael Galyean transitioned from dean of the college to interim Provost of the university.
Shoes to Fill
“[I handle] everything from management of resources, monetary as well as human, and act as the final step out of the college in terms of the approval of anything,” Fraze said with a chuckle. “The big thing is probably just managing all of the different budgets and six departments within CASNR, the management of their departments and working with those department chairs. Filling faculty positions is another responsibility I have encountered lately.”
Dr. Scott Burris, professor of agricultural education was named interim chair of the Department of Agricultural Education and Communications after Fraze took the interim dean position. He considers himself fortunate to have been taken under Fraze’s wing early on and continued to grow within the department.
“I have known and worked with Dr. Fraze for 27 years beginning with when I transferred into this department in 1990,” Burris said. “He was my advisor as an undergraduate student here at Texas Tech. I sat in this very office, which is my office now, and was given my first schedule of classes by him,” Burris said. “To me, Dr. Fraze is this department. I know he’s more than that now but to me, he is. He’s been my one steady connection with this department for a long time now.”
Breaking the Mold
Fraze has began blazing his own trail as interim dean and hopes to see through a number of different projects and initiatives. In addition to continued planning toward Texas Tech’s vet school initiative and development of an undergraduate preparation program, students across the college will have the opportunity to advance their own professional and interpersonal skills within a leadership academy program.
“I’m working on a new initiative of a leadership academy within CASNR, which will be a student-type of academy where we’ll do various things like an etiquette seminar, a ropes course to build team and leadership skills, things of that nature. This is going to be a three-semester leadership academy where the students will engage in different activities each semester culminating with a trip to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators,” Fraze said.
The program is projected to launch within the next two years after a rigorous application and selection process. Fraze also said he has had the honor of working with renovation plans for a number of agricultural buildings on campus and had a hand in the development of the seventh department within the college – the Department of Energy Science. The latest academic addition will focus primarily on the research of large animal health and be restricted to graduate students upon its launch in what is expected to be within the next three years.
Off the Clock
Although he enjoys the new opportunities his current position has allowed him, Fraze said there are certain things about the department he misses.
“I was really just getting started with another study abroad program and trip until I moved over here,” Fraze said, pointing to his desk. “I travelled to parts of Germany and France for two weeks last summer for a study abroad within our department. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed the agricultural tours.”
When he is not in the office or wearing any of the various hats he dons for the university, college, or department, Fraze enjoys playing golf, sharing time with his family and grandchildren, and training his toy Australian Shepherds with his wife.
“My wife just loves those dogs,” he said. “She goes to all these agility classes and she’s always training the dogs. We used to have horses and everything, but we no longer do the horses. We just swapped that for the dogs.”
Leaving a Legacy
Burris said he hopes the legacy Fraze has created will continue.
“I would love to see him in this position long-term, because I can’t think of a better candidate that has a deeper appreciation and is more loyal to CASNR than Dr. Fraze,” Burris said. “He’s been a loyal and faithful faculty member in this college for three decades plus. He’s got as much institutional history as anybody.”
I can’t think of a better candidate that has a deeper appreciation and is more loyal to CASNR than Dr. FrazeDr. Scott Burris
It may not be a job requirement to have been with a place for a long time, but there is something to be said for people who are committed to a cause, or in this case, an institution.”
All In a Day’s Work
Fraze says the people he meets and the connections he has made are his favorite part of the job.
“I go to something every week as far as some kind of a function,” he said. “You get an invitation to this organization and that, but you’re meeting people all the time. Whether it is alumni, students, prospective students, families, everyone knows someone who either attended Texas Tech or has a respect for it. It’s getting to meet those [people] and share that which I find most rewarding.”