Lauro Cavazos 2006
Lauro F. Cavazos
PhD '54, Physiology
Lauro F. Cavazos (PhD ’54, physiology) has devoted his life and his career to medicine and education, consistently breaking new ground along the way.
Dr. Cavazos is a sixth-generation Texan who earned his BA and MA in zoology from Texas Tech University before earning his doctorate from Iowa State University. His academic career has been focused largely on medical education and research, and he is a recognized expert in several medical disciplines. He has published widely in the physiology of reproduction, fine structure of cells and tissues and medical education, and he has served as a consultant to the World Health Organization and many inter-American health groups.
As significant as these contributions are, Dr. Cavazos’ most important and lasting national impact has been in educational leadership and policy. Following several years as a faculty member and administrator at the Medical College of Virginia and the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, where he was dean from 1975 to 1980, Dr. Cavazos was appointed the 10th president of Texas Tech University, becoming both the first alumnus and the first Hispanic to hold the office. He was also appointed president of the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan nominated him for U.S. Secretary of Education and he was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate, becoming the first Hispanic and the first Iowa State graduate to hold the nation’s top education post. As secretary under Reagan and for the first two years of the George H. W. Bush administration, Dr. Cavazos concentrated on reforming U.S. education by raising expectations of students, teachers and parents. He was a strong advocate of parental involvement in education, launched new programs to combat drug and alcohol use, and targeted federal resources to improve conditions and opportunities for the neediest school districts.
In 1988, he received the League of United Latin American Citizens National Hispanic Leadership Award, and in 1990 he was named the “Most Influential Hispanic in the United States” by Hispanic Business magazine. Among his many other recognitions are 22 honorary degrees as well as the Alumni Merit Award from Iowa State. He is currently a professor of family medicine and community health at Tufts University, where he continues to work to expand opportunities for minority students in medical education.
Dr. Cavazos and his wife, Peggy, live in Concord, Mass.