Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University Bestows Honorary Degree on Cavazos

Chris Cook

March 11, 2016

The recipient is a former university president and U.S. Secretary of Education.

Lauro Cavazos

Lauro Cavazos, former U.S. Secretary of Education and the first Hispanic to serve in the United States Cabinet, will receive an honorary doctor of science degree from Texas Tech University at the May commencement ceremonies. The Texas Tech University System Board of Regents approved the recommendation at the February meeting.

"Texas Tech University is proud to call Dr. Cavazos an alumnus and applaud his long, distinguished and accomplished career as an educator and public servant," said John Opperman, Texas Tech interim president. "His life's work is an example of the tried and true spirit Texans embody and is a model for all students to follow."

Cavazos, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in zoology from Texas Tech, was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate and served as the U.S. Secretary of Education from 1988 through 1990 under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He has a doctorate in physiology from Iowa State University.

"I am deeply honored and appreciate receiving an honorary degree from Texas Tech University," Cavazos said. "During my years as a student, it gave me a solid education that I greatly appreciate. That opened the doors for my subsequent academic achievement. I am proud of my Texas Tech education."

Prior to his appointment as U.S. Secretary of Education, Cavazos served as president of both Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center from 1980 to 1988 and was the first Hispanic and graduate of the university to hold the office. He also was the dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine from 1975 to 1980.

Under his direction, diversity among the Texas Tech student body improved as the number of minorities increased nearly 3 percent. During his tenure, he gave speeches at high school commencement ceremonies and visited grade schools to encourage students to consider higher education.

Named the "Most Influential Hispanic in the United States" by Hispanic Business magazine in 1990, Cavazos returned to higher education as a faculty member at Tufts University in 1991.

"Honorary degrees come from the heart of an institution, and this degree represents a heart-felt thank you for all Dr. Cavazos has done not just for Texas Tech and Texas, but also for the country," said Robert Duncan, Texas Tech University System Chancellor. "We proudly recognize Dr. Cavazos for his leadership and contributions to Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. His influence and presence are still felt by Red Raiders a generation later."

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