The Interview USA
Texas Tech University
Dean of Students & Vice Provost for Student Life 

Matt Gregory

Promoting a culture of safety and belonging within educational spaces is not merely a legal obligation — it’s a moral imperative. Colleges and universities have a responsibility to foster an environment where all students feel safe from violence and discrimination. Matt Gregory, Dean of Students & Vice Provost for Student Life at Texas Tech University, has put this idea into action, working tirelessly to promote gender equality and tackle sexual violence in higher education. 

Matt sat down with Kitty Hadaway, Co-host of The Interview, to discuss issues ranging from advancing cultural competence among students to fighting against harassment on college campuses. 

Matt's Journey

Kitty: Let’s start with a brief introduction to yourself and your institution.

I’ve been the Dean of Students at Texas Tech for seven years. Since March 2022, I’ve also served as the Vice Provost for Student Life. Our campus is based in Lubbock in North-West Texas. Before I came here, I’d always heard good things about working in higher education in Texas. So when this opportunity came up, I knew I had to take it, and I’ve been honored to serve here ever since. There’s something special about Texas: the people here are very proud and some of the most welcoming you will ever meet. Here at Texas Tech, we consider ourselves a family; we want everyone to feel like they belong. 

Kitty: Can you tell me how your experiences at other institutions have influenced your work at Texas Tech?

That’s an interesting question. I’ve not had the typical pathway to becoming Dean of Students. I studied for a Master’s program in Counselling and Student Affairs, and I got my start working in Housing & Residence Life, running a high-rise building at Western Kentucky University. Then in the middle of my career, I moved into campus law enforcement and served as a police officer for six years. Texas Tech is my sixth institution. Now, I can look back at every place I have worked, and I can see skills and knowledge from each one, which I continue to draw upon.

Kitty: Your PhD dissertation focused on sexual violence. How has that influenced your work, especially when dealing with sexual violence on campus?

It’s been an evolving process. As a man advocating against sexual violence, my approach has been influenced by my partner, who is a survivor of sexual assault. So it’s a personal issue as well as a professional one. It was one of my main motivations for going into law enforcement: I wanted to do something about it. Many women do not have positive experiences when dealing with law enforcement; I believe women need to feel valued and heard, and I wanted to effect positive change. From there, I was inspired to carry out my research on the topic of engaging men in the effort against sexual violence. 

I believe women need to feel valued and heard, and I wanted to effect positive change.

Statistically, women are the most affected by sexual violence, so there was a question of whether it was appropriate for a man to speak on that topic. But at the time, there was a gap in the research, with very little messaging going out to men. There was room at the table for a male researcher to have a voice on the issue; my committee was very supportive, but they encouraged me to do my due diligence and research women’s experiences and feminist theory. I am very grateful for that suggestion — I fear my research would have fallen short without it. Eventually, it led me to become an instructor in our Women and Gender Studies Department, where I teach an introduction to women and gender studies course. As a male instructor, I think I offer a different perspective, and I’ve noticed a lot of male students enrolling who might not otherwise have attended. 

Kitty: Recent guests have been discussing the need to advance cultural competency among students. What initiatives have you been working on to that end?

It might sound simple, but I believe in the value of building experiences — how challenging our own biases can be enhanced by interactions with people who are different from ourselves. As educators, we want to create opportunities to experience diversity so we can build a community that is capable of embracing different cultures and experiences. As individuals, we need to seek out new perspectives to interact with on a daily basis. I struggle with the phrase 'cultural competence' and believe it is not absolute — instead, it’s a continuous journey of learning and growth. 

Kitty: Freedom of speech has become a controversial issue on college campuses. How do you help students get comfortable with opposing viewpoints?

Our approach is based on creating opportunities: through programming, events, and encouraging interaction. We get the most when we learn from each other, not when we listen to lectures or speeches. Student organizations and small group interactions provide forums for dialogue and the creation of valuable learning experiences. The way we deal with harmful speech is through more speech: we don’t want to go down the road of censorship, as that harms everybody’s right to free expression. For example, if one group invites a controversial speaker, we don’t want to cancel them: instead, we might encourage students to invite another speaker with an opposing view. I’m fascinated by the First Amendment, and especially how it operates on college campuses. I’ve learned that our students don’t care about statements; they want to see action. So engaging in constructive dialogue allows us to try and bridge those divides. 

Kitty: It can be challenging to keep students engaged. Where do you see students getting involved the most — and the least?

The pandemic shifted the way we all interact. Reversing that shift has been more difficult than anyone predicted. We are now seeing more and more in-person interaction, especially in our student organizations. Some groups have even more members than they did before the pandemic. People have a desire for interpersonal interaction and engagement, and our student groups are a great channel for that. We’ve mostly returned to in-person teaching, but we have retained some remote and hybrid course options to increase accessibility. 

Kitty: What’s your top tip for anyone starting their career in higher education?

Keep a healthy balance between your work and your personal life. It’s not enough to wait for opportunities: you need to go out there and seek them out. That will help you grow, both as a person and as a professional. 

Curious to see what the future of training looks like?
Kitty Hadaway
Universities Lead
Kitty is passionate about using technology to create safer and more inclusive campuses, and is an expert on student engagement and delivering training at scale. Get in touch at to learn more.

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