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Longhorns Assume Leadership Roles in Trump Administration

Two alumni of UT Austin are assuming leadership positions in the administration of President Donald Trump.

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AUSTIN, Texas — Two alumni of The University of Texas at Austin have been tapped to serve leadership roles in the administration of President Donald J. Trump: Rex Tillerson, confirmed today as U.S. secretary of state, and Dina Habib Powell, who will serve as a senior counselor for economic initiatives.

Rex Tillerson

“Rex Tillerson’s tremendous experience with international issues and working around the globe gives him an outstanding background to serve as U.S. secretary of state,” said Gregory L. Fenves, president of UT Austin. “A Distinguished Alumnus who has been committed to the mission of The University of Texas, Mr. Tillerson has demonstrated leadership throughout his career as an executive. I know he will be dedicated to serving the United States as a leader in the world, and I look forward to seeing his accomplishments as secretary of state.”

Tillerson earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at UT Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering in 1975. He began his career that year as a production engineer at the former Exxon Company, U.S.A., and went on to hold positions of increasing responsibility at the company, rising to become chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil in 2006.

“For decades, Rex has been an outstanding leader, a loyal friend of the university and a source of inspiration for our community,” said Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School. “I congratulate him on his confirmation, and I wish him much success as our new secretary of state.”

Tillerson serves as a member of the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board, the UT Development Board and the UT System Chancellor’s Council. He was named a Distinguished Engineering Graduate of the Cockrell School in 2006 and a UT Austin Distinguished Alumnus in 2007. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.

Dina Habib Powell

Dina Habib Powell, who earned a bachelor’s degree in humanities from the College of Liberal Arts in 1995, will serve as an assistant to President Trump and senior counselor for economic initiatives. According to a statement from the Trump transition team, Powell will focus on “entrepreneurship, small business growth and the global economic empowerment of women.”

Powell, who was born in Egypt, was one of the highest-ranking Arab Americans in the George W. Bush administration. She served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and deputy to then-Undersecretary of State Karen P. Hughes. She is currently president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation, where she oversees some of the bank’s largest philanthropic initiatives, including the “10,000 Women” program, which helps female entrepreneurs around the world.

“Dina Powell, who received the Outstanding Young Texas Ex Award in 2006, has been a dynamic advocate for women’s leadership and entrepreneurship,” said Fenves. “I am confident she will continue to change the world for the better in her new role.”

This post will be updated as news comes in of other Texas Exes joining the administration.