New UT System Regent Martinez Tucker brings education experience to UT

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Editor’s Note: This story is the first in a two-part series on the two new members of the UT System Board of Regents. The second profile will run Thursday.​UT System Regent Sara Martinez Tucker will join the Board of Regents for the first time at a meeting Friday.

The Texas Senate unanimously confirmed Martinez Tucker, a UT alumna, in early March with little contention, and she was sworn into the office of the Board of regents shortly after.

Martinez Tucker is the president emeritus of the National Math + Science Initiative and served previously as CEO of the organization. Tom Luce, chairman of the National Math + Science Initiative board of directors, said Martinez Tucker worked tirelessly for education. 

“She did a wonderful job at the National Math + Science Initiative,” Luce said. “She really did a terrific job of helping to improve operations and efficiency on a nationwide program, and she has a real passion for education for all kids.”

Luce said Martinez Tucker’s wide variety of experience will benefit the Board of Regents.

“She’s got one of the most impressive résumés anybody could have, in that she’s had private sector achievements, nonprofit achievements and public sector achievements,” Luce said. “It’s difficult to find somebody who’s done all three in their career, and she’s done them,”  

In a June 2014 article from “Hispanic Executive”  magazine, Martinez Tucker spoke about her family’s dedication to education and how it influenced her. Growing up in a family of three children, Martinez Tucker said she understood the importance of education after her youngest brother graduated from college. 

“I recognized how lucky I was to have parents that valued education,” Martinez Tucker said in the article. “They sacrificed to send me to Catholic schools, which had better education, and supported my decision to leave Laredo. Too many people don’t have all those things lined up for them.”

Luce said growing up surrounded by a family that supported her education helped Martinez Tucker develop a passion for education.

“I think she’s grounded by her personal story, growing up in [Laredo], and her mother was very passionate about education,” Luce said. “She served on the University of Notre Dame advisory board — I mean, she’s just got a heart
for education.”

Former President Bush nominated Martinez Tucker to be the undersecretary of education from 2006–2008.

“As undersecretary, she [oversaw] all policies, programs and activities related to postsecondary education, vocational and adult education, and federal student aid,” a Department of  Education report said.

Luce said Martinez Tucker will make decisions on the Board to improve educational opportunities.

“She’ll be very thoughtful, and she’ll ask good questions, and she’ll take an analytical look at things but always from a position of heart for education and education for all people,” Luce said.

Luce said Martinez Tucker is excited to take her place on the Board of Regents and to give back to the school that gave her so many opportunities.

“I’ve heard her describe [becoming a regent] as ‘really a dream come true to serve on the Board,’ where she went to school and was educated, and she’s very excited about the opportunity,” Luce said.

According to UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, Martinez Tucker was not available for comment, pending orientation for her role on the Board.

Editor’s Note: This story is the first in a two-part series on the two new members of the UT System Board of Regents. The second profile will run Thursday.