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Vice President Swears In First Hispanic Cabinet Member

September 20, 1988

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Senate unanimously confirmed Lauro Cavazos as education secretary Tuesday and he was sworn in hours later by fellow Texan and Republican presidential candidate George Bush.

In an East Room ceremony at the White House, President Reagan called Cavazos, the first Hispanic Cabinet member in history, ″a sterling example of the magnificent contributions Hispanic Americans have made to our national life.″

Bush gave Cavazos the oath of office as Cavazos’ wife, Peggy, held the family bible. The couple’s 10 children also attended the ceremony.

Cavazos, the president of Texas Tech University and its medical school, said Reagan’s leadership and commitment to education had ″truly helped this country make significant gains and strides.″

But, he said, ″we must awaken America to renew its commitment to education″ to help all citizens reach their potential.

Earlier, senators praised Cavazos as an American success story. The son of a Texas cattleman on the legendary King Ranch, he worked his way through college and graduate school to become president of Texas Tech University.

Some Hispanic leaders have questioned the timing of Reagan’s decision to nominate Cavazos in the waning months of his administration and suggest he was courting Hispanic votes to bolster Bush’s candidacy in Texas, one of the key battleground states in the November election.

″I think the people see it for what it is,″ said Rep. Albert Bustamante, a San Antonio Democrat and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Bustamante said voters will focus on ″more substantial issues like cutbacks in education that occurred under this administration, (as well as in) housing, health care, stipends for higher education, grants; they’ll look at those things and they’ll review the record of both parties, and then they’ll decide and then they’ll not be for Bush and (Dan) Quayle.″

Cavazos testified before the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee that he had been asked if he wanted the post eight years ago but declined because he had just taken over as president of Texas Tech.

Senators voted 94-0 to confirm Cavazos after members praised him as active in education reform, an advocate of the federal government’s role in education, and a healing influence. He replaces outgoing Secretary William J. Bennett.

″It is a great testament to Larry Cavazos and his family that he has risen from the son of a cowboy to become the first educator of America,″ said Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Texas. ″He’s committed to quality education for all our citizens.″

″For the last seven years, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have worked hard to ensure that the federal goverment will continue to have a role in education. It is apparent that Dr. Cavazos will be an ally in these efforts in the future,″ said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.

Cavazos, 61, is the first Hispanic and first graduate of Texas Tech to become the Lubbock university’s president.

Prior to his appointment there in 1980, he was dean of the Tufts Medical School in Boston.

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