Senator selected as graduation speaker

Mary Ellen Knewtson

The presidents of UT’s three student governance organizations selected U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as the commencement speaker for the May 21 event on the Main Mall.

The senator will speak at a UT graduation ceremony for the second time. Hutchison also addressed the graduating class of 1998. As an alumna of the class of 1962, law school graduate and former cheerleader, Hutchison agreed to speak to the University at no charge.

“It is particularly gratifying to be able to speak to the graduates of my alma mater,” Hutchison said, in a statement. “Like so many generations of UT graduates, life’s challenges and potential awaits them.”

Student Government President Scott Parks, Graduate Student Assembly President Manny Gonzalez and Senate of College Councils President Chelsea Adler decided that Hutchison should speak at the ceremony because of her UT background and her career. Adler said the trio attended meetings in President William Powers’s office starting last summer to come to a decision.

“It was an informal consensus,” Adler said. “Hutchison was on the list from the beginning.”

While Parks, Adler and Gonzalez had the final say, Adler said the bodies of students that each president led suggested other potential commencement speakers. Powers also had oversight of the decision. Adler said Powers met Hutchison and said he was sure that there was no chance of the senator turning the opportunity into a political situation.

“We see her as a Longhorn first and a Republican second,” Adler said. “She’s not quite as polarizing as other politicians.”

Notable speakers from past commencements include President Lyndon B. Johnson and computer pioneer Michael Dell. Actress Marcia Gay Harden spoke last year.

College Republicans President Justin May said he thinks Hutchison is the best choice for speaker in his four years at UT.

May said he thinks Hutchison is one of the more bipartisan politicians.

University Democrats President Billy Calve said he looks forward to hearing Hutchison’s remarks.

“Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of UT graduates and put partisan politics aside,” Calve said.