This summer, Dr. Rafael A. Lecuona, professor of political science, will retire after having given Texas A&M International University more than 30 years of service. In recognition of his commitment and contribution to TAMIU and its predecessors, the The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents has named him Professor Emeritus.
The honor will be presented at the University's Spring Commencement Excercises, Saturday, May 11.
Dr. Lecuona's involvement with the University began in 1970 when Texas A&I University at Kingsville opened a two-year, upper-level 'Center' of higher education in Laredo. This soon became officially known as Laredo State University, precursor to Texas A&M International University.
As one of the original founding faculty, Lecuona shared with his colleagues the burden of teaching and building what has become today a full-fledged, four-year university within The Texas A&M University System.
At that time, Lecuona was the sole Ph.D. in political science and offered all the essential courses within his area of expertise required for students to earn a Bachelor of Science in education, business, or liberal arts.
Lecuona's involvement with the University and the surrounding community has been extensive.
As a faculty member and coordinator of the arts and sciences division for several years, he was an active participant in the development of most of the University's basic and innovative policies and programs such as faculty evaluation by peers, students, and administrators, faculty post-tenure revision procedures, the development of the political science Master's degree program, and the current Latin American Studies program. Lecuona has also been a strong and active advocate of what is now the Western Hemispheric Trade Center.
TAMIU President Dr. Ray Keck said the University is grateful for Lecuona's commitment to the growth of both Laredo and the University.
" Dr. Lecuona's rare combination of hard work, energy, intelligence, and good humor made him an invaluable member of this faculty. He and his wife Diana have been stalwart and steady forces for good in this institution for a very long time. Repeatedly, Dr. Lecuona's dean turned to him to head difficult tasks and complex committee assignments. His service was always stellar. We wish him well, and hope to see him often," said Keck.
Lecuona, a citizen of the United States, was born in Cuba and has been a U.S. resident since 1953. He traveled widely as a member of three Olympic gymnastics teams, two Pan American teams, and three Central American teams, and won many Pan-American and state championships.
He received his Ph.D. in political science from Florida State University as well as his M.S. in international affairs and B.S. in business.
Lecuona's interest in international studies and political economy led him to serve as a faculty advisor to the University's foreign student body.
"I am particularly proud of having been asked, and at their request, having served, as faculty advisor and sponsor of the Chinese Student's Association, the Malaysian Students Association, the African Students Association, and their umbrella organization, the International Students Association," said Lecuona.
His involvement with the Laredo community included many years as a Little League coach and the creation of a successful swimming program for which he acted as head coach.
"These activities not only contributed to the improvement of the city's quality of life, but also helped build the University's image as an institution whose faculty were very much a part of the Laredo community," indicated Lecuona.
He said his public outreach included inviting outstanding Laredo public figures such as judges, consuls, U.S. foreign service officers, Texas Border Patrol members, and business persons to visit and lecture in his classes, strengthening the bonds between the University, its students, and the people of Laredo.
Lecuona is a prolific author and has published numerous research papers in such academic journals as the International Journal on World Peace. He has been included in scholarly works such as Irving Louis Horowitz' Cuban Communism, and Khosrow Fatemi's International Trade and Finance: A North American Perspective.
Lecuona says his research has covered a wide area and he has been pleased that the passage of time has proved his analysis correct in many cases.
"I've researched a great variety of subjects such as international law, Latin American and United States of America political systems, ethnic politics, the ruling of elites, political thought and ideologies, and international trade and economics, among others. In fact, in an analytical research paper published in 1989 dealing with the idea of a North American Common Market, I was unequivocally correct in predicting Mexico's inevitability in joining, in 1994, the United States and Canada in the establishment of what today we know as NAFTA or North American Free Trade Area," said Lecuona.
He also enjoys writing short stories, most of them fiction, including a published work entitled En Busca de Castro.
Lecuona says he is looking forward to retirement but will continue reading and writing, while enjoying a less demanding life of traveling in the company of his wife, Diana. Lecuona indicated that he will still maintain close ties to TAMIU.
Lecuona is proud of the Emeritus title granted to him by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents and of the support received from his TAMIU faculty colleagues and administrators.
"Without their approval and recommendation, such honor could not have been vested on me," he said, "To each and all of the outstanding Board members and University faculty and staff participating in the process I am eternally grateful for their trust and consideration, and I will carry the Emeritus title with the pride, the dignity and the honor that it entails."
For more information, please contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at 326.2180, visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268 or email email@example.com. University office hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.