Mike McCracken was born in Terrel, Texas. He and his wife, Sally, are both Texas Tech alumni and met on the campus during McCracken's first year. They have one daughter, Donna Blackburn, and a grandson, Carson.
Dr. Mike McCracken joined the university in 1971 to teach biology in the former AddRan College of Arts and Sciences, which he headed as dean beginning in 1981. McCracken continued as dean when the college split into the AddRan College of Humanities and Social Sciences, now AddRan College of Liberal Arts, and the College of Science & Engineering in 2000. In total, Mike McCracken served as the dean of the College of Science & Engineering for 27 years.
Along with the previous Chancellor William Tucker and Provost William Koehler, McCracken helped redesign the learning environment between the social and engineering sciences by the means of the AddRan and CSE split. “The idea was that there would be a natural integration of the sciences and engineering and a high level of camaraderie,” McCracken said. “To some extent it already occurred naturally, as many of the sciences serve as core foundations for one another.”
Nowell Donovan, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, has said that McCracken is one of the few deans whose great duration of involvement at TCU and strong involvement on campus has been a key source of history-making. According to Donovan, “I used to call him the dean of everything. He has his footprint everywhere on campus.”
The annual Michael and Sally McCracken Student Research Symposium has been named in honor of the former dean and the important research showcase he initiated. Dean Phil Hartman now leads the CSE, and has launched a number of new initiatives for students in the sciences.
“So much has happened just since I left. It is amazing to me that everything is being accomplished seamlessly. What all of the programs have done, and what the College has done – it has all exceeded my expectations, and they were high,” McCracken said.
Upon his retirement at the end of the 2008 Fall Semester, McCracken said he feels like doing something new, such as traveling, while he is not impeded by his health.
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Participation in the Symposium offers students practical experience in giving presentations in a professional but relaxed setting. It is also a fun social event where students can learn about research in other departments in the College.