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.

Since becoming

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

institutional memory.”

“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,”

he said.

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.”



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.

Rausch served

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.

“I learned

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.

With each

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.

Adapting and

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,”

she said.



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.

Rausch 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.

Starting next

fall, the title of the position will be changed again to chief of

staff, Rausch said.

Nevárez believes

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.

Another change

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.

“That change

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,”

she said.

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.”