Ray Keck

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Ray Marvin Keck, III
President of Texas A&M University–Commerce
In office
June 1, 2016 – May 2017
Preceded by Dan Jones
President of Texas A&M International University
In office
September 1, 2001 – May 31, 2016
Preceded by J. Charles Jennett
Succeeded by Pablo Arenas (interim)
Personal details
Born 1947
San Antonio, Texas, USA
Spouse(s) Patricia González Cigarroa Keck (married 1977)
Children Teresa Cigarroa Keck

Joyce Cigarroa Keck Rafati

Lacey Cigarroa Keck (deceased)[1]
Parents Ray, Jr., and Joyce Littlepage Keck
Residence Laredo, Webb County, Texas
Alma mater Texas Military Institute

Princeton University

Harvard Divinity School

Ray Marvin Keck, III (born 1947) is the current president of Texas A&M University - Commerce. Prior to this position he was fifth president of Texas A&M International University, a four-year institution with certain graduate programs as well in Laredo, Texas, USA, a post to which he was initially appointed effective September 1, 2001. He is also a distinguished organist.


Born in San Antonio, Texas, Keck was reared in Cotulla[2] in La Salle County between Laredo and San Antonio. His father, Ray Keck, Jr. (1923-1997), was a veteran of the 1944 D-Day invasion of World War II and a banker by profession. He first worked for the former Alamo National Bank, since Bank One Corporation in San Antonio and then became vice-president and president of Stockmen's National Bank in Cotulla. In 1961, he was named president of his bankers' district.[3] In 1967, Keck, Jr. became affiliated with Union National Bank in Laredo and in 1977 organized the South Texas National Bank in Laredo, of which he was both president and chairman of the board. Keck's mother is the former Joyce Littlepage (born c. 1923), who was widowed after fifty-three years of marriage. He has a brother, John Harrison Keck, Sr. (born c. 1950), a Laredo banker.[4] A younger brother, James Randall Keck (1956-1978), died at the age of twenty-one.[5]

On March 25, 1977, Keck married the former Patricia González Cigarroa[6] (born c. 1954), an educator with the Laredo Independent School District and one of ten children of a prominent Laredo physician, Joaquin González Cigarroa, and his wife, the former Barbara Flores. There are two living Keck daughters, Teresa, named for her maternal great-grandmother, and Joyce, named for her paternal grandmother. A third daughter, Lacey Cigarroa Keck, a kindergarten teacher named for her paternal great-grandmother, is deceased. In 2004, Joyce Cigarroa Keck married Danny Rafati, the son of a Laredo physician of Lebanese descent.[7] The couple resides in Fort Worth, Texas.


In 1965, Keck graduated from an all-male military boarding school, Texas Military Institute, operated by the Episcopal Church in the United States, of which he is a member. The school is now known as TMI — The Episcopal School of Texas and is co-educational. He received both Bachelor of Arts (1969) and Ph.D. (1978) degrees from Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, in the field of Romance languages and literature. He also studied as a Rockefeller Brothers Fellow at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He also studied in 2008 at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.[2] From 2003 to 2007, he was a trustee of Hotchkiss.[8]

Keck is a scholar of Spanish Golden Age literature. He is the author of Love's Dialectic: Mimesis and Allegory in the Romances of Lope de Vega, a study of the poet, novelist, and playwright Lope de Vega. Since his college days, he has played the organ, with specialization in J. S. Bach. He has led church choirs, including Laredo's Christ Church Episcopal,[9] and performed with ensembles and orchestras in the states in which he has resided. He is affiliated with the Philosophical Society of Texas and is an advocate of dual-language instruction in schools.[2]


In 1970, Keck joined the faculty of the Hotchkiss School in Lakeville, in Litchfield County, Connecticut, outside New York City. There he remained until 1978.[8] After a brief period working at his father's Union National Bank from 1978 to 1979, he began teaching at TAMIU's predecessor institution, Laredo State University, which was located on the main downtown campus of Laredo Community College, which dates to 1947. Keck was also the assistant to Laredo State University president Billy F. Cowart. In 1983, he left Laredo for a decade and taught languages at three secondary schools in Virginia: St. Anne's Belfield School in Charlottesville, the Potomac School in McLean, and Episcopal High School in Alexandria.[2] He returned in January 1994 to Laredo State University for the transition to TAMIU, located in a modern new campus off the Bob Bullock Expressway in northeastern Laredo.[8]

From January 1994 to 1999, he was an associate professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of Language, Literature and Art at TAMIU. In 1999, he was named TAMIU provost and vice president for academic affairs, a post he held for the following two years prior to become the university president.[8][9]

In 2005, Men's Health magazine rated Laredo the third most "stupid city" in the United States, a survey based in part on the fact that fewer than 14 percent of residents held bachelor's degrees. Henry Cuellar, the then incoming Democrat member for Texas' 28th congressional district, a position he still holds, rose to the defense of his hometown. Keck agreed: "We know this part of Texas has long been underserved, but thanks to the vision of our legislature and many partners we have an exquisite university that enables us to do what we were created to do, change the face of South Texas."[10] Earlier, in March 2004 a USA Today review ranked Laredo among the worst metropolitan areas for poverty, crime, and the lack of intellectual stimulation. Keck noted that the city had at the time built a new library on McPherson Road, revitalized part of downtown, and promoted preservation of its history and culture through organizations such as the Webb County Heritage Foundation. Keck said that Laredo is "not stupid. We have obstacles, but with a rich 250-year-old history of challenges and triumphs, we have a knack for helping our dreams come true."[10]

As president, Keck takes an active role in recruiting students to his institution. Because of Laredo's negative national image, Keck noted that some parents still call him to inquire if the city is sufficiently safe for their children to attend college.[11] In the spring of 2012, TAMIU had an enrollment of 6,533.[12]

Under Keck, TAMIU is one of two Texas A&M University System institutions declared by Money Magazine as among "736 Schools that Provide the Best Value for Your Tuition Dollar." A degree from TAMIU costs on average $85,504, compared to $84,732 for Texas A&M University in College Station. By contrast, Rice University in Houston costs $157,824.[13]

In 2012, Keck was named "Mr. South Texas" as part of the annual Washington's Birthday Celebration in Laredo.[14] In 2013, along with Laredo Community College President Juan L. Maldonado, Keck was a recipient of the "Imagine Award" from the Imaginarium of South Texas, a children's museum and informal science center located at Mall del Norte in Laredo.[15]

On June 1, 2016, Keck left TAMIU at the request of John Sharp, the chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, to become the interim president at Texas A&M University–Commerce in Hunt County, Texas. The preceding president, Dan Jones, committed suicide on April 29, 2016, though the cause of death was not announced until July.[16] Jones was a former provost at TAMIU, in which capacity he worked closely with Keck. TAMIU provost Pablo Arenas will succeed Keck as interim president pending a search for a permanent successor.[17] He has since been named the official president of TAMUC.

Under Keck's leadership, Sharp noted that enrollment at TAMIU has more than doubled; the institution has the highest percent of Hispanic students of any college or university in the United States. Under Keck, the campus upgraded the Lamar Bruni Vergara Planetarium, established the Senator Judith Zaffirini Student Success Center, and created the Texas Academy of International and Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Studies.[17]


  1. ^ "Lacey Cigarroa Keck Memorial Scholarship". Texas A&M International University. Archived from the original on October 13, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d "Dr. Ray M. Keck, III". zoominfo.com. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  3. ^ "Keck President for Bankers". Laredo Morning Times. March 26, 1961. p. 4. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  4. ^ Judith Zaffirini (January 27, 1997). "Senate Resolution in Memory of Ray M. Keck, Jr". legis.state.tx.us. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  5. ^ "Ray Marvin Keck, Jr". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  6. ^ "The marriage of Ray Keck and Patricia Cigarroa". texasmarriagerecords.org. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  7. ^ "Joyce Cigarroa Keck, Danny Salah Rafati exchange wedding vows" (PDF). Laredo Morning Times. July 4, 2004. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d "Ray Marvin Keck, III". tamiui.edu. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  9. ^ a b "Dr. Ray Keck Selected as A&M International Provost". tamiu.edu. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  10. ^ a b Adriana Arce (January 10, 2005). "Magazine Takes Shot at Laredo". Laredo Morning Times on Free Republic. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  11. ^ Molly Hennessy-Fiske (April 28, 2013). "Laredo, Texas, battles an image problem: There's been an explosion of drug cartel violence across the Mexican border, in Nuevo Laredo. Local officials on the U.S. side seek to assure everyone that the danger hasn't spread north". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  12. ^ "Texas A&M International University". Godzilla.lmtonline.com. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  13. ^ "TAMIU ranks high among schools providing best value for tuition dollar". Laredo Morning Times. July 15, 2015. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  14. ^ "WBCA Names Dr. Keck Mr. South Texas 2012". Texas A&M International University. February 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2015.
  15. ^ "2013 Imagine Award Winners". istx.org. Retrieved October 23, 2015.
  16. ^ Eva-Marie Ayala (July 6, 2016). "Texas A&M-Commerce president Dan Jones' death ruled suicide". Dallas Morning News. Retrieved July 9, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Ray Keck appointed as interim president at TAMU-Commerce". Laredo Morning Times. May 6, 2016. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
Academic offices
Preceded by
J. Charles Jennett
5th President of Texas A&M International University in Laredo, Texas

Ray Marvin Keck, III

Succeeded by
Pablo Arenas (interim)
Preceded by
Dan Jones
President of Texas A&M University–Commerce

Ray Marvin Keck, III

Succeeded by
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