Remarks Announcing the Resignation of William J. Bennett as Secretary of Education and the Nomination of Lauro F. Cavazos
The President. I brought some security with me today. [Laughter] I want to begin by thanking Bill Bennett for being here today and for his tenure as Secretary of Education. Bill, I'll have some additional things to say at the appropriate moment, but I don't want to let this occasion pass without noting my own belief that you've been the best thing to happen to American education since the ``McGuffey Reader.''
And now I'm delighted to present to you this afternoon Lauro F. Cavazos, my nominee for the post of Secretary of Education. A distinguished educator, Dr. Cavazos holds master's and doctorate degrees in zoology and physiology; has been an anatomy professor at the Medical College of Virginia, Tufts University, and Texas Tech; has served as the department chairman and dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine; and for the last 8 years has been president of Texas Tech University and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, where he has been widely credited with expanding the scope of their programs and endowment, gaining national recognition for himself and his innovative leadership.
the head of the University and
commitment to the profession of teaching and to excellence in education, his
belief in getting back to basics and things like homework, and above all his
emphasis on education's special importance to
finally, I want to add a brief biographical note about Dr. Cavazos. He is the
first Texas Tech graduate to head that university. And it is a special source
of pride to his family and to the people of
let me close, if I may, on a personal note. This job has had its thrills during
the past 91 months, and not a few of those experiences I've shared with those
of you in this room. But it's hard right now to think of a more exciting moment
than this one and the knowledge that Dr. Cavazos will be the first Hispanic-American
member of the Cabinet. That says a lot about him and about Americans of
Hispanic heritage. It also says something about
Q. Did you select him because he was Hispanic?
The President. I selected him because he seemed to be the best-fitted man -- --
Q. Is he a Republican?
The President. -- -- to follow Mr. Bennett.
Q. It is one of George Bush's campaign promises, Mr. President.
The President. I didn't even ask him that. What?
Q. George Bush had promised that if he were elected he would name an Hispanic to his Cabinet. Are you stealing some of his thunder? [Laughter]
The President. No, I'm just still working at the job here. [Laughter]
Q. Well, Mr. President, Helen [Helen Thomas, United Press International] thinks you're naming George Bush's Cabinet.
Q. Did the Vice President have any role in his selection, sir?
Mr. Fitzwater. Let's go ahead with the statements here, John [John Aubuchon, Independent Network News], and then we'll continue.
Mr. Cavazos. I would like to express my appreciation to you, Mr. President, for the confidence and trust that you've placed in me by asking me to lead the Department of Education, if confirmed by the Senate. Your administration has clearly demonstrated that education is one of its highest priorities, and the initiatives that you have begun in this vital area will be of tremendous benefit to this nation and to this nation's future. I share your views, and I look forward to serving you and our great country in this most important post. Thank you very much, Mr. President.
Mr. President, is there any politics in this at all, with
Secretary Bennett. Let me speak to that. [Laughter]
Q. Speaking of politics.
The President. He's on, and he's bigger than I am.
Secretary Bennett. That's right. It's still my classroom for another 30 days -- [laughter] -- --
Q. Oh, no, it's his class.
Secretary Bennett. Well, I mean just for the moment -- --
Q. What was wrong with Terrell Bell [former Secretary of Education]?
Q. But he's the principal.
Bennett. -- -- 30 seconds. I have just met with
Dr. Cavazos. As is plain, he has a distinguished academic career and a strong
commitment to education. His story is an American success story. It's a tribute
to his abilities and his hard work and the opportunity in the
Q. Mr. President, is Noriega going to step down soon? Are we negotiating that?
The President. The principal just told me I've got to get out of the classroom.
Note: The President spoke to reporters at in the Briefing Room at the White House. Marlin Fitzwater was Assistant to the President for Press Relations.