Hutchison Will Be Speaker for Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin May 21

Feb. 7, 2011

AUSTIN, Texas — U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) will be the speaker for the Spring Commencement ceremonies at The University of Texas at Austin on May 21.

Kay Bailey Hutchison

William Powers Jr., president of The University of Texas at Austin, said Hutchison, who received an Outstanding Alumna award in 1995, will address the graduates and their guests this spring. The evening ceremony will be held on the university’s Main Mall.

"Sen. Hutchison's remarkable and distinguished career as a public servant serves as inspiration for our students as they move forward in pursuit of their own calling," Powers said. "She has been a powerful advocate for Texas and for higher education throughout her life, and the university is proud to recognize her as one of our most accomplished graduates."

Chelsea Adler, president of the university's Senate of College Councils, which participated with other Student Government organizations in the selection of this year's commencement speaker, said the students wanted "someone who knows what it means to be a Longhorn."

"Not only is Senator Hutchison a UT graduate, but she has made it a life commitment to serve the state of Texas," Adler said. "She has always been a personal role model of mine, and I am excited to hear what she has to say to the Class of 2011."

"It is always an honor to address university graduates as they complete their education and begin the next chapter in their lives," said Hutchison. "It is particularly gratifying to be able to speak to the graduates of my alma mater. Like so many generations of UT graduates, life's challenges and potential awaits them."

Hutchison, who grew up in La Marque, Texas, attended The University of Texas at Austin as an undergraduate and received a degree from the university's School of Law in 1967. She was twice elected to the Texas House of Representatives. In 1990, she was elected Texas state treasurer.

In 1993, she was elected to the United States Senate in a special election, making her the first and only woman elected to represent the state in the Senate. One year later, she was re-elected to a full six-year term. In 2000, she received more votes for her re-election to a second full term than any other statewide candidate had ever received. She was re-elected in 2006 for the term ending in January 2013. Hutchison announced on Jan. 13 she would not seek re-election for the next term.

Hutchison is the senior Republican on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. She also is a member of the Appropriations Committee, the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and the Committee on Rules and Administration. In the 110th Congress, Hutchison was chairwoman of the Republican Policy Committee. She is a member of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly National Advisory Committee and chairwoman of the West Point Board of Visitors.

Hutchison was instrumental in establishing The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas. It is the centerpiece of her effort to support research and development while promoting Texas as a science state. During her tenure in the U.S. Senate, Texas has moved to third in the nation in receipt of federal research and development expenditures.

Hutchison has received numerous awards and honors, including the Texas Council on Family Violence Outstanding Leader Award, 2010; Air Force Association Distinguished American Award, 2008; Association of the United States Army Outstanding Legislator Award, 2006; Forbes Magazine's 2005 World's 100 Most Powerful Women; Texas Women's Chamber of Commerce 100 Most Influential Texas Women of the Century, 1999; and Texan of the Year, Texas Legislative Conference, 1997. She was inducted into the Texas Women's Hall of Fame in 1997.

The senator's Texas roots run deep. Thomas Rusk of Nacogdoches was the first Texan to hold the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Hutchison. He and Hutchison's great-great-grandfather, Charles S. Taylor, were friends, and both signed the Texas Declaration of Independence.

Travel Advisory: Interstate 35 to Shut Down Commencement Weekend

Visitors traveling on Interstate 35 to participate in spring commencement activities at The University of Texas at Austin this weekend may wish to allow additional time in their driving schedules due to highway construction south of the university.

The Texas Department of Transportation said construction on new direct connection ramps at Interstate 35 and State Highway 71 (Ben White Freeway) will necessitate the closure of northbound and southbound I-35 this weekend. The northbound main lanes will be closed at 10 p.m. Friday, May 20, while the southbound main lanes will not be shut down until 10 p.m. Saturday, May 21. All lanes are scheduled to be open by 10 p.m. Sunday, May 22.

Texas Department of Transportation details of the closure plans are available online.

For more information, contact: Robert D. Meckel, Office of the President, 512 475 7847; Chelsea Adler, Senate of College Councils, 817-929-7997.

25 Comments to "Hutchison Will Be Speaker for Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin May 21"

1.  Loren said on Feb. 7, 2011

Although everyone is proud that a longhorn serves in the US Senate, it is disappointing to see someone praised for supporting higher education when the dreams of many longhorns were crushed when the Senator voted against the DREAM Act.

This will be a great opportunity for the Senator to look these undocumented longhorn graduates in the eye and tell them why she voted against their dreams.

2.  martha quintanilla said on Feb. 8, 2011

question: Why if students from UT Austin were completely ignored by this woman to the point where students from your own university, even from all other UT system campuses, staged protests and civil disobedience acts...Why would the board members choose her as the commencement speaker?
The reasons for disagreement do not matter, politics and opinions will always be different to certain groups and other student should not be deprived from hearing a great speech by a U.S Senator.
But its the fact that the problem between Senator Hutchison and the students in UT Austin, and all over the UT system, went beyond reasonable acts. Even a hunger strike that lasted 40 days was staged, and the Honorable Senator Hutchison was not nice enough to show up or meet with these students, your UT students. Now she will be confronting them in front of a crowd with the back up of the board members.
It is an insult, overall, an insult.
This is the graduation time for many hard working students who have defended their beliefs in front of Hutchison for many years. Placing this woman and praising her is just, as said before, and insult.

More research should have been done about her and the relationship she has with the student body...the real student body not SGA.

She has been warned that any public demonstration near any of the students she ignored, hurt, and stepped all over, will be picketed.

This are student lives she placed in jeopardy. I cannot believe the UT system is allowing this to happen and still offer her a speaking forum.

3.  Jake Leighton said on Feb. 9, 2011

Can we get someone just a little bit more creative and interesting one year? Just one is all I am asking. We are freaking UT. We can do better actresses and average politicians.

4.  John said on Feb. 9, 2011

chelsea adler clearly doesn't represent the student body even though she senate president... She and the rest of PSAC (President Student Advisory Committee) could have had the common sense to pick someone more neutral for Commencement instead of a republican who stands against a majority of students' beliefs.

5.  Alex said on Feb. 9, 2011

My vote goes for getting the CEO of Whole Foods. How awesome would that be!!

6.  Charlie C. said on Feb. 9, 2011

While some may be disappointed by Senator Hutchison's non support of a single issue, she has been a wonderful representative in the Senate of the United States for Texas. She has supported many issues over the years on both sides and has helped Texas grow and prosper. She is from Texas and is an alumni. I can't think of a better person to give the commencement address. Hook em Senator Hutchison.

7.  s moore said on Feb. 9, 2011

I think she did this already, in 1998 for the 115th Commencement .

8.  Michelle said on Feb. 10, 2011

What a huge disappointment that we invited a senator who did not even support some of our own students. Hutchinson voted against the DREAM Act, which would have allowed many students who are earning their degree the opportunity to obtain their citizenship and remain in the US. Students who would get jobs, pay taxes and be contributing citizens. Students waited for days outside her office to speak with her and she didn't even give them the time of day. Instead she sent a statement to the media. What a disappointment.

9.  L. Kelley said on Feb. 11, 2011

I would rather wait another semester to graduate than to have Kay Hutchinson speak at my commencement. She voted against the Dream Act. She voted against same-sex marriage. She voted against expanding hate crimes to include sexual orientation. She voted for ending funding to for minority and women-owned businesses. She is an enemy to civil rights and equality. Commencement is held on the South Mall where UT honors the leaders of the Confederacy who fought for slavery. UT is sending all of you a message. Send them one back! I advocate protesting commencement. Let Kay deliver a speech to the confederate statues on an otherwise empty mall.

10.  ben l said on Feb. 11, 2011

Really people.....
you disagree politically so she should not be able to speak. that is so "tolerant" there.
this is a special day for the people involved. this is not the time or place for a political statement.
if you don't like her, don't come and listen.
if you come to the speech, you should not be disruptive because a lot of people worked very hard to get to this point and want a pleasant day.
you can make your little political statements another day.

11.  International Student said on Feb. 11, 2011

It really sicks those international students to have to hear illegals argue on their illegality and have the courage of coming out in support of illegal act aka DREAM act. Why can't you go to your country and apply for Visa and then stay here as other international students do. Eventually may be any company could sponsor you and you can have a legal way to become resident. DREAM act is no more than government supporting an illegal issue and that's disgusting to not only United States citizens and residents, but also legal international students.

12.  Zach Russell said on Feb. 13, 2011

How is it that a school that has hosted presidents and foreign politicians, we get stuck with a woman that is so far from the ideals of the majority of the student body? Furthermore, how is it that we get someone that represents the state of Texas, but still lost horribly in a party election? For the amount of resources, alumni, and influence that this university have, this is a sham and a disgrace for the commencement speech for my senior year.......

13.  John said on Feb. 16, 2011

Ben, most of these people complaining, myself included, ARE graduating this coming may. Thus, they don't want her speaking at their graduation, obviously.

14.  Tracy Garrison-Feinberg said on Feb. 17, 2011

Ah, the controversy and debate that arises when a commencement speaker is a politician--I remember those days well... I'm actually quite pleased to see so many thoughtful comments here, and I hope that as UT students and future alumni, you will all find constructive ways to show either your support for Sen. Hutchinson or your disagreement with her policies and voting record, because that it was students at world-class university do. I agree with "@ben i"--she should not be barred as a speaker because people disagree with her. She is one of Texas' senators and a UT grad--even though I don't support most of what she stands for, I do support the right of The University to invite her. And for those who disagree with her? Don't stay away from commencement--attend, listen, and find a way to express your disagreement, respectfully. Surely a group of students could present her with a statement of some sort--she is after all, your senator.

Pres. George HW Bush spoke at my graduate school commencement in 1990--I did not vote for him, and I disagreed with much of his administration. But I attended graduation, and I listened to my president, then talked with my fellow graduates about what we liked and didn't like about the speech. My degree is still just as fine.

Hang in there, Longhorns--I'm sure you'll make alumni like me, and yourselves, proud. That's just what we do in Texas.

15.  Jesus (Corky) Rubio said on Feb. 17, 2011

As a 1970's graduate, is this the best we can do in terms of a speaker? I realize we are in tough financial times, but this is not a High School Graduation! What a Dream Act Nightmare for my old Alma mater.

16.  Kay said on Feb. 17, 2011

What a hoopla!!! Kay Bailey IS your Senator, like it or not. Remember, that the PEOPLE of Texas elected her. I am a Republican but do not agree with her or the party on several issues. She is a woman of political stature, an alumni, and ,generally, a good speaker. You liberals on the Forty Acres need to loosen up and think about all the conservatives in our state and ON this campus. As for the Dream Act, I totally agree with the International Student who suggested a LEGAL way for illegals to attend the University. I am tired of paying for a lot of privileges for those who do not belong to our nation.

17.  Addie Alexander said on Feb. 18, 2011

As a parent of a 2009 graduate I am so happy to not participate in this commencement. Oh yes there was an actress for the 2009 ceremony. Less provocative than a Republican politician in these times. We've relocated to Austin from Brooklyn, New York and find the city to be filled with all kind of creative people. Ms. Hutchison alas is not one of them. What about the Soup Peddler? Much less controversial. Or the Director of AFS? He brings the world to Austin by showing films from all over the world. Nevertheless, congratulations to the class of 2011 and be nice while you protest.

18.  Jonathan said on Feb. 18, 2011

This is very disappointing...

Do they know us at all? Students voted overwhelmingly against Senator Hutchison, and she stands against many of the values we hold dearly.
I can't believe that they could not get someone else.

This just shows how out of touch the administration is with the student body. Now my commencement ceremony will be scathed by a gay-bashing politician.

They could have selected ANYONE else and yet they chose her...

19.  FK said on Feb. 19, 2011

UGH. . .
is this ceremony for graduate students also? if so, i'm definitely not attending.
i predict (and hope for) a massive walkout.

20.  Reed S. said on Feb. 20, 2011

Deal with it.


21.  Mary Anne said on Feb. 21, 2011

Yay! A respectable and noteworthy UT graduate is an exciting addition to those who have spoken at graduation.

Texas loves Kay Bay!!

22.  Kris said on Feb. 22, 2011

Have you considered the fact that UT has been ramming 'liberal' ideology down our throats for four (or for some of us, five or more) years, whether explicitly or subtly? A so-called 'conservative' speaks at graduation and people flip. So much for a liberal education in the true sense of the word.

23.  NJ said on Feb. 22, 2011

Hopefully this doesn't prompt demonstrations on graduation day. What an unnecessary headache that will be. Obviously, she won't be talking politics. She HAS had a long, successful career-- whether we agree with her politics or not-- so she will likely deliver some words of wisdom.

24.  Doug said on Feb. 22, 2011

KBH is one of our elected representatives in Congress. I would rather she were not, but she is. She holds an honorable office and has done nothing to dishonor it though and for that alone, she is qualified to speak at our ceremony and we should listen to what she has to say.

It doesn't matter that I disagree with a lot of her votes in the Senate. She is a politician and will vote as she sees fit. When I or you are elected to the Senate, we will do the same. All things come in time. In the meantime, let us practice our values of tolerance, respect for others rights to hold different views, and genuine love of a reason to celebrate. We should welcome Sen H on this occasion and become "the change that we wish to see" in Texas and in the world.

25.  Rae said on Feb. 22, 2011

Who gets to decide who the commencement speaker will be? I mean we don't have to all agree with Mrs. Hutchinson's votes to listen to her, true. But I strongly feel UT could do sooo much better and bolder.

Ivy Leagues set the example by setting such high standards, why can't we? Wouldn't it be more inspirational and effective to get say, a current or former US president? or a visionary like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, or Steve Jobs? I graduate in 2012 and all I can do is pray hard to have a powerful figure as a speaker.