AUSTIN, Texas — Sara Martinez Tucker, a former under secretary of education at the U.S. Department of Education and a member of The University of Texas System Board of Regents, will deliver the keynote address during the 133rd Spring Commencement at The University of Texas at Austin on May 21.
Tucker, B.J. ’76, MBA ’79, will address thousands of students, their parents and guests of the university during the 8 p.m. ceremony on UT Austin’s Main Mall.
As a national leader in education, Tucker has had an impact on the lives of thousands of students. Most recently, she served as the CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative, an organization working to improve educational outcomes in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
At the Department of Education, Tucker oversaw $32 billion in appropriations and led the development of two signature programs to increase access to college. An initiative to make $70 billion in federal student loans available during the financial crisis of 2008-2009 was described by The Wall Street Journal as “one bright spot in a season of crises and bailouts,” and the creation of college.gov, which helps students and families prepare for college, received Computerworld’s Laureate Medal for exceptional use of technology to better society.
“I am very excited that Regent Tucker will motivate our more than 8,000 graduates with her insights, experience and wisdom,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of the university. “As a leader for excellence, access and diversity in higher education, Sara Martinez Tucker has been a supporter, adviser, and now member of the governing board for the university. I am glad to have my good friend Regent Tucker join us at my first university commencement as president.”
“I’m looking forward to hearing what life advice Regent Tucker will share with the Class of 2016,” said Xavier Rotnofsky, student body president, adding, “I also hope she’ll do everything in her power to make sure it doesn’t rain.”
Among her many distinctions, Tucker was named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the 25 most influential Hispanics, thanks to her work as CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund. During nine years at the helm of the nation’s leading organization in support of Hispanic higher education, Tucker raised $280 million for scholarships, growing annual scholarships from $3 million to more than $250 million. She helped expand the organization’s focus beyond scholarships to outreach programs to inspire more Hispanic students to attend college.
Prior to joining the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Tucker spent 16 years at AT&T. In her last assignment, she served as a regional vice president for AT&T’s Global Business Communications Systems, where she led the division to its highest profit levels.
A native of Laredo, Tucker earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at UT Austin in 1976. She worked as a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News before returning to UT to earn her master’s in business administration. In 2005, Tucker received a Distinguished Alumna Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Texas Exes, the university’s alumni association.
In addition to her role on the UT System Board of Regents, Tucker currently serves on the boards of directors of American Electric Power, Sprint and Xerox, and on the University of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees.