Excerpt from Daily Texan, January 31, 1991
For 17 years, Zan Wesley Holmes has been the pastor of St. Luke Community United Methodist
Church. During that time, he also taught at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of
Theology. The 55-year-old Holmes spent more than four years in the Texas Legislature and was
formerly president of the Greater Dallas Community of Churches. Last month, Holmes received the
1990 Peacemaker Award from the Dallas Peace Center. The award recognizes individuals for their
roles in advancing the causes of peace, justice and civil rights.
It is this diverse background that Holmes brings to the UT System that promises to conform with
Gov. Richards' "New Texas" and break what many perceive as the regent stereotype of the
"rich oilman." "Certainly in my case I'm not a rich oilman," Holmes said
Wednesday in a telephone interview from St. Luke's. "I really would like to think that
Governor Richards appointed me because of the experiences I have had in higher education, the
chances I've had in working with diverse groups of people in our Texas society and the
commitment I have to education and to the future welfare of this state." He added,
"I am pleased she is moving in that direction with her selection of regents."
Holmes said he is confident that his background as educator, mediator and pastor will give the
Board of Regents the angle necessary to reform the educational system into one that serves the
future needs of all students and educators. "I hope to bring to the board my own
experiences that I've had in higher education and as an African-American who was born and
grew up in this state," he said. "Having served in the Legislature, I have had
experiences that I think will enable me to represent a number of the concerns that are held by
African-Americans in our state and also I have had experiences in other cultures that will
enable me to communicate those concerns."
Few of the past regents have had the background in educational instruction that Holmes has.
Many hope that his experience with students will, in turn, better educate the entire board on
student issues and needs. "I am in higher education - a professor on a university campus -
and I have dealt with many of the issues that I'm sure are present at the University of Texas
System, even though that system is much larger than Southern Methodist University. "Some
of those similarities and concerns of students are in how you provide access to education, the
concern for hiring and maintaining the best faculty that is available, and the concern for
diversity in education - a multuricultural education that prepares students to live in a
diverse society. I've had experiences in representing those
Holmes said he is dedicated to expanding the state's education curriculum to cover a broader
range of cultural perspectives, which he feels would be key to a complete education. He is
also committed to making the UT System available to all those who desire to take part.
"I have a concern about the overall quality of higher education in our state. I am wanting
it to be of the highest quality that is possible, given the resources that we have. I'm concerned
about accessability to that education to all of the people in our state and removing any barriers
which may exist that don't make that education accessible to everybody," he said. He added,
"I think having a curriculum that expresses diversity and a faculty that expresses that
diversity is certainly essential.
Also, enabeling the university to take the "uni' seriously - the u-n-i - and becoming a
uni-versity in a way that all of its departments are interrelated. That is, the humanities in
relation to the sciences and so on." "I think one of the challenges for me, today,
in higher education is that even though we crave people in scientific and technical fields,
we still don't have a very good finished product if we have not given those persons training
that enables them to be human and relate with people in a healthy way," he said.
Because the work force and the future of Texas depends on a well trained work force, both
professional and otherwise, Holmes says it is necessary to give students a multicultural
education. "I think the key to a multicultural education is enabling everybody to
understand that it's a win-win situation. Given the environment in which we live today,
it seems to me that to be educated, to be truly educated, is to be able to communicate
with persons from diverse backgrounds - enabling people to grasp that idea to me is the
key. "I look forward to the challenge of serving on the Board of Regents. It's an
awesome responsibility, I'm finding out. I'm looking to working with the other regents and
I just trust, hope and pray that together we can make a difference for good for higher education
in our state."