First Latino Cabinet member, Lauro Cavazos, dies at 95
Former Education Secretary Lauro F. Cavazos Jr., the first Latino to serve in a Cabinet position, died Tuesday. He was 95 years old.
Cavazos served under former Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. He was first appointed by Reagan at the end of his term in 1988.
His death was confirmed by Texas Tech University, where he was president from 1980-1988.
As president of the university, he was the first alumnus and Latino to serve in the role.
“As Texas Tech’s president, decades later, he worked to preserve the university’s history while directing its continued development and progress. And as U.S. Secretary of Education, he strove to help young people like himself reach their full potential,” Texas Tech President Lawrence Schovanec said in a statement.
“His impact on this university cannot be overstated, nor can his embodiment of the values we hold dear to this day: the value of education, the importance of determination and the significance of giving back,” he added.
While serving under two presidents, Cavazos, a Democrat, ran the Task Force on Hispanic Education, developed programs to combat substance abuse in schools and pushed for more parental involvement in education.
He pushed for bilingual education during his time in the Cabinet and advocated for parents to be allowed to decide which school their child attends, The Associated Press reported.
Cavazos resigned from his post in 1990, saying in the resignation letter “I am especially proud of the contributions I was able to make in expanding choice in education, promoting the executive order on excellence in education for Hispanic Americans, and raising awareness of the growing diversity of America’s student population.”
However, the AP reported that at the time he was pushed out of the Cabinet for not reaching administration education goals.
He married Peggy Ann Murdock, his college sweetheart, in 1954 and had 10 children.