Former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison took office as the president of the Texas Exes alumni association on July 1.
Hutchison, who is 71 years old and a former UT cheerleader, will lead the organization of more than 100,000 UT alumni for the next year. Hutchison said she will use her position to protect the University and its relevance to the state.
“This is a time where I think all of us who love the University need to come together to assure that the value of our diploma and the value of UT to the state of Texas is not diminished,” Hutchison said.
Tim Taliaferro, Texas Exes spokesman, called Hutchison’s involvement an honor for the University and the association.
“It’s just a point of pride, regardless of your politics. She’s the kind of person that Texas Exes are proud to associate with,” Taliaferro said.
Hutchison earned an undergraduate degree from the University in 1962 and graduated from the School of Law in 1967. Hutchison said her love of the University motivated her to accept the position.
“I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it with the other things I’m doing, but I decided that it was so important that we all try to promote our University and give back where we can,” Hutchison said.
Hutchison was the first woman to represent Texas in the U.S. Senate, serving there for 20 years before retiring in 2013. Hutchison has also served in the U.S. House of Representatives and as state treasurer.
The Kay Bailey Hutchison Center for Energy, Business and Law, a joint center of School of Law and McCombs School of Business, was recently named in her honor. She is also a member of the UT Law School Foundation Board of Trustees and the UT Southwestern Medical Foundation Board of Trustees.
“We are proud that such a wonderful public servant who has a long and cherished relationship with the University is going to continue her legacy of service by leading the Texas Exes,” UT spokesman J.B. Bird said.
Hutchison, who has been supportive of Powers, said she hopes the University can move past controversies that have strained relations with the UT System leadership.
“I think the leadership of the Texas Exes has been excellent and the past presidents with whom I’ve met are all very supportive of assuring that the controversies don’t cause any lessening of the value of our diploma, the value of UT to the state of Texas, and the enthusiasm of our alumni,” Hutchison said.
Robert T. Alexander, an Austin attorney and lifetime Texas Exes member, said he was happy with the selection.
“She is without a doubt the classiest lady — she loves this university,” Alexander said.
Hutchison, the seventh female president in the alumni association’s 125-year history, said she is looking forward to the year ahead leading the organization.
"We have the greatest group of chapters all over the state,” she said. “I think we have to get through this and just stay steady in our support of UT.”