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December 19, 2008

Senate confirms Ron Kirk, ’79, as U.S. Trade Representative

Photo of Ron Kirk
Ron Kirk, ’79

The United States Senate has confirmed Ron Kirk, ’79, as U.S. trade representative in President Obama’s cabinet. The U.S. trade representative is an ambassador-level post with a staff of more than 200 and offices in Washington, Geneva, and Brussels. Kirk is the first African American to serve as U.S. trade representative.

Kirk is a long-time friend of the Law School and has served on the Law School Foundation Board of Trustees since 2006.

Ron Kirk earned a B.A. from Austin College in 1976. After graduating from the Law School, Kirk practiced law and worked as an aide to Senator Lloyd Bentsen, ’42. He served as Texas Secretary of State under Governor Ann Richards in 1994, and then ran successfully for mayor of Dallas in 1995. He was reelected as Dallas mayor in 1999, resigning his office in 2001 to run for the U.S. Senate, and was the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2002. While mayor of Dallas, Kirk proposed the “Dallas Plan,” an urban plan for the next 25 years, which includes the Trinity River Project, a $246 million development project calling for the construction of a network of parks and highways in the flood plain of the Trinity River. He also supported the construction of the American Airlines Center, which opened in 2002.

He served as Chair of the Texas General Services Commission from 1991 to 1993. He has served as Chair of the U. S. Department of Commerce’s 2000 Census Advisory Committee, and also as a member of the Federal Advisory Commission on Electronic Commerce. He serves as a director for Brinker International, Dean Foods, PetSmart, and was a National Trustee for the March of Dimes. He has been a board member of more than a dozen prestigious organizations, including the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association, the State Fair of Texas, and the Museum of African-American Life and Culture. He received the Austin College Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1992 and the Young Texas Ex Award from The University of Texas at Austin in 1995.  Mr. Kirk is also the 1996 recipient of the Law School’s Honorary Order of the Coif award and the Texas Exes’ 2001 Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Before his appointment, Kirk was a partner at the Dallas office of Vinson & Elkins representing clients in the areas of public finance and policy.


Kirston Fortune, UT Law Communications Office, (512) 471-7330, or