AUSTIN, Texas — Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, the first woman to represent the state of Texas in the U.S. Senate and a celebrated University of Texas at Austin graduate, has accepted an invitation to deliver the 115th UT Commencement address May 23.
As a fifth generation Texan and a leading official in the state, Hutchison will add her perspective to this year’s Commencement theme — “We’re Texas.” The theme celebrates the rich cultural heritage of Texas and the University. UT is home to more than 48,000 students representing all 254 counties in Texas, all 50 states in the United States and some 115 foreign countries.
“I am very pleased that Sen. Hutchison has accepted our invitation to speak at Commencement 1998,” said President ad interim Peter T. Flawn. “As a national leader, she has been a strong supporter of higher education. As a Texan and a distinguished alumna of the University, she embodies the theme ‘We’re Texas.'”
Hutchison, the great-great-granddaughter of a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, has risen quickly in the U.S. Senate to key positions of leadership. Elected to the Senate in 1993 for a partial term and again in 1994 for a full term, she now serves as Deputy Majority Whip and is a member of not only the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, but also the Senate Appropriations Committee, where she has become a strong advocate for federal funding of basic research at UT and other universities.
She has been responsible for passage of several federal laws, including the federal anti-stalking bill and Homemaker IRA legislation that significantly expands retirement opportunities for stay-at-home spouses. As Texas State Treasurer from 1990 to 1993, she reduced her agency’s budget while increasing returns on Texas’ investments.
Hutchison, a recipient of UT Austin’s 1995 Distinguished Alumnus Award, maintains close ties to her alma mater, serving on the UT Law Foundation Board of Trustees and the UT Development Board. She also is a past member of the board of directors of the Texas Exes. With her husband, Ray, she funds two scholarships at UT, the Ray and Kay Bailey Hutchison Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Law, and the Texas Exes Award of Recognition.
The senator grew up in La Marque and, after having been graduated from the University and the UT Law School, she worked as a news reporter for KPRC-TV in Houston. Hutchison then moved to Washington, D.C. where she worked in press relations. She returned to Houston and was twice elected to the Texas House of Representatives.