Nominee Described as Consensus-Builder With a 'Hands-On' Style of Management

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Julie Miller

Those who know the Secretary of Education-designate expect that he will continue in his new job to emphasize dropout prevention and minority participation in higher education--two issues in which he has a longstanding interest.

Michael Stoune, a professor of music at Texas Tech who is president of the faculty senate, said Lauro Cavazos is also likely to continue Secretary of Education William J. Bennett's emphasis on "the quality of education and the increasing need for institutions to take responsibility for their own work."

However, Mr. Stoune said, "I think I can comfortably say that he will not operate the same way publicly that Mr. Bennett operated. Cavazos is not as loud, doesn't make his statements in that broadly forceful way."

He described Mr. Cavazos' management style as "working towards consensus but reserving the right to make the final judgments."

'Hands-On Type of Person'

E.C. Leslie, superintendent of the Lubbock, Tex., schools, said Mr. Cavazos "is a hands-on type of person" likely to continue Mr. Bennett's practice of making visits to schools.

"I don't think he will come in with any preconceived ideas, but would be responsive to the needs of public education and would listen to the people who are in the field doing the job," Mr. Leslie added.

Mr. Leslie said Mr. Cavazos has been deeply involved with the local schools during his tenure at Texas Tech, "talking to our students on a regular basis about staying in school, speaking at our events, walking into my office suggesting ways we can work together."

He said the nominee organized several programs in which Texas Tech faculty worked with public-school students, and chaired a task force on dropouts for the district in 1987.

Awards and Committee Work

That chairmanship was not a singular event; Mr. Cavazos' resume lists two pages of committees the nominee has served on while at Texas Tech and in his previous post as dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

In addition to numerous panels on higher education, the committees include such disparate groups as a task force on undocumented Mexican workers, the Texas-South Australia Sesquicentennial Celebration Committee, and the selection panel for nasa's journalist-in-space project.

Mr. Cavazos has received several awards for his work in Hispanic education from the League of United Latin American Citizens, as well as an "outstanding leadership award" from President Reagan.

A Texas Tech alumnus, Mr. Cavazos has been president of the university since 1980, as well as head of its health-sciences center and a tenured professor. He had informed the university in May that he planned to step down as president next year, take a one-year sabbatical, and return as a professor of anatomy.

He is credited with improving Texas Tech's fundraising efforts, increasing minority enrollment, enhancing the university's image with a successful public-relations campaign, and beefing up its research programs, particularly in the health-sciences center.

Altercation With Faculty

But his tenure at the university has not been devoid of controversy.

In 1984, Mr. Cavazos proposed a new tenure policy that would have limited the number of professors with tenure to 60 percent of the faculty, and would have required reviews of tenured professors.

The faculty handed Mr. Cavazos a vote of no confidence, with 80 percent voting against the president. The American Association of University Professors found that his actions were "detrimental to the principles of academic government."

Mr. Cavazos backed down, and in 1986 the university adopted a tenure policy that had the support of the faculty.

Mr. Stoune said the controversy "has been put very well behind us" and Mr. Cavazos' relationship with the faculty is now cordial. Some faculty members have complaints about his administration, Mr. Stoune said, but "those who are detractors don't all point at the same thing, and they are raising mostly parochial concerns."

Born on the King Ranch

Mr. Cavazos was born in 1927 on the King Ranch, where his father was a foreman. Along with two of his brothers, he attended what was then Texas Technical College, earning a bachelor's degree in zoology and a master's in cytology.

Mr. Cavazos went on to earn a doctorate in physiology from Iowa State University, then taught anatomy at the Medical College of Virginia and Tufts University before becoming dean of the Tufts School of Medicine in 1975. He retained that post until he moved to Texas Tech.

He and his wife, Peggy Ann, an operating-room nurse at Lubbock General Hospital, have 10 children ranging in age from 21 to 31.--jm

Vol. 08, Issue 01

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