Every morning for
one hour Robert S. Nelsen, president of The University of Texas-Pan
American, prepares for his day by meeting with Carol Rausch to
discuss his daily agenda.
For Nelsen, that
is the most important hour of his day.
“During that hour,
we talk about what needs to be done at the University and in the
Valley and who can do it. Because of that hour, we hit the streets
racing instead of just spinning our wheels,” he said.
president in January, Nelsen said he has counted on Rausch,
assistant to the president, when in need of some words of wisdom
and institutional information. He has dubbed her “the Universityís
“Carol Rausch has
been a phenomenal asset for UT-Pan American,” Nelsen said. “From
the very first day on the job, she has taught me what Pan Am is and
how it got there. Her love for the University - for its students,
faculty, and staff - is contagious.”
But all good
things come to an end. Nelsen has to bid adieu to a trusted
confidante in the infancy of his presidency as Rausch prepares to
retire after 25 years of serving the University.
“I am grateful to
Carol, of course, but more honestly, I am indebted to her. I donít
think that I have made any decision yet during my tenure here that
I have not run by her for her advice and wisdom. Itís going to be
very strange not having her next door, ready and willing to help,”
In her 25 years at
UTPA, Rausch has worked for four presidents, served as interim
athletic director for several weeks, and has seen UTPA grow into
the institution it is today.
Rausch, who will
officially retire from her post Aug. 31, said she is ready to start
the next phase of her life that will allow her to travel and
volunteer more, and live a cozy life in Port Isabel.
“It is going to be
very exciting for me. I am going to do the things I really wanted
to do but never had time to do,” she said. “I want to do things
while I am still able to do them.”
DIFFERENT PRESIDENTS, FOUR DIFFERENT STYLES
Born and raised a
“Jersey girl,” Rausch began her career as a teacher in New Jersey
where she taught for seven years. She then came to the Rio Grande
Valley where she was an educator for three years before working at
UTPA. She also had a 3-year stint in the San Antonio school
district. Altogether, Rausch said she has more than 40 years
experience in education, which she credits in helping manage her
day-to-day duties as the assistant to the president.
“As an elementary
school teacher you have to be very multitask-oriented and very
flexible. I think those qualities served me well because I learned
to adjust to each of the presidents,” she said.
under the following UTPA presidents: Dr. Miguel A. Nevárez
(1981-2004), Dr. Blandina Cárdenas (2004-2009), Dr. Charles A.
Sorber (2009-2010), and Nelsen.
Rausch said the
four presidents with whom she had the privilege of working had four
very different styles to which she had to assimilate.
something new from every single one of them. I guess I learned
regardless of the management style that excellent leaders can have
very different management styles. Each one of them was very
successful in what they did,” she said.
“My blessing is
that each of those presidents had integrity, they were honest, they
cared about this institution and South Texas and they had a passion
for our students. If you have all that then I donít have anything
to complain about,” Rausch added.
president came a new vision for the campus, she said.
“Each one of the
presidents had a specific role and sense of history they wanted to
carry the institution to the next level. I believed in the role
they were playing at that particular time in the history of this
institution,” she said.
believing in the new leadership, Rausch said is what made her a
mainstay in the Office of the President. At one point in her
career, Rausch figured when Nevárez retired in 2004 she would be
replaced, but that was not the case.
“In this position
you serve at the pleasure of the president. If there is a new
president you are the first to go because that relationship with
the president has to be mutual. I anticipated when Dr. Nevárez
stepped down a new president would come in and I would be gone,”
HOW IT ALL
Before he became
president, Nevárez said he had previously worked with Rausch when
he was the vice president of student affairs and she was the
financial aid assistant director. Nevárez said when he hired Rausch
as his administrative assistant in 1981 he knew she was the right
person for the job.
“She had the
personality for the job and great insight on issues and people,”
Nevárez said. “The thing about Carol is that she can see a
situation and really understand it and then provide you with some
good guidance,” Nevárez said.
Nevárez allowed her to create her dream job, which was later
changed to assistant to the president when Pan American University
merged with the University of Texas System in 1989.
“We were a good
team. I had strengths where he had weaknesses and he had strengths
where I had weaknesses. It was a really good fit and it worked
really well,” Rausch said.
fall, the title of the position will be changed again to chief of
staff, Rausch said.
Rauschís knowledge about UTPA and its inner workings is what has
allowed her to work with each of his successors.
“She has a
historical background and that is the reason I hired her and the
reason the others have hired her too,” Nevárez said. “She has the
perspective of the whole university.”
During her early
years at UTPA, Rausch said her job consisted of many tasks
including presenting sexual harassment trainings to new employees,
planning campus events, and at one time serving as interim athletic
director for several weeks in the 1990s.
“That was one of
the fun times when I was the interim director of athletics. I
thought it would be fun and I wanted to do it,” she
In 1980, when
Rausch began her career at UTPA, the student population was almost
8,000. Today, the numbers have ballooned to more than 18,000
students, which is one of the many significant changes on campus
she has witnessed, in addition to the move into technology, campus
growth and the merging with the UT System.
Rausch had the opportunity to be a part of was when she co-chaired
a committee with Congressman Rub
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(D-TX) to make recommendations to support the creation of South
Texas Community College.
allowed us to start working on admissions standards that led us to
becoming a full-fledged university. It also began the increase in
program offerings for bachelorís, masterís and doctoral degrees,”
As to what she is
going to miss about UTPA, Rausch said the family unit of
hardworking and dedicated students, faculty and staff, who she
considers stars that will always shine brightly in her life and
“I got everything
from Pan Am,” she said. “I felt like I was part of a very important
cause and I was privileged and honored to be a part of this
wonderful community, both in South Texas and Pan Am.”