Release Date: April 17, 2008
Railroad Commission Chair to Give ASU Spring Commencement Address
Texas Railroad Commission Chairman Michael L. Williams will deliver the commencement address during ASU’s spring graduation ceremonies Saturday, May 10, in the Junell Center/Stephens Arena.
Williams will address graduates of the College of Business and the College of Education during a 10 a.m. ceremony that Saturday. He will speak to graduates of the College of Liberal and Fine Arts and the College of Sciences in a 2 p.m. ceremony. More than 600 students will receive diplomas during the two graduation exercises.
Williams is the chairman of the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oldest regulatory commission, and the first African-American in Texas history to hold an executive statewide elected post. He was initially appointed to fill a vacant seat on the commission in 1998 by then Gov. George W. Bush, was elected to complete an unexpired term in 2000 and was re-elected to a full six-year term in 2002. Williams initially served as chairman of the commission from 1999-2003.
He chairs the Clean Coal Technology Council and FutureGen Texas, an initiative to build the first near-zero, carbon-free coal power plant in the world. He represents the governor on the Southern States Energy Board and in 2005 was Gov. Perry’s designee to lead the state’s long-term Hurricanes Katrina and Rita relief efforts.
Previously, Williams served as general counsel for a Texas high-tech corporation and was affiliated with the law firm of Haynes and Boone, L.L.P. He also has served in a volunteer capacity as the general counsel of the Republican Party of Texas, chairman of the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission and board member for the Arlington Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Our Mother of Mercy Catholic School.
The son of public school teachers, Williams holds a bachelor’s, a master’s and a law degree from the University of Southern California. He has served as an adjunct professor at Texas Southern University in the School of Public Affairs and Texas Wesleyan School of Law.
His presidential appointments have been as assistant secretary of education for civil rights at the U.S. Department of Education and as deputy assistant secretary for law enforcement at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. Williams also served in the Department of Justice as special assistant to the attorney general. In 1988, he was awarded the Attorney General’s “Special Achievement Award” for the conviction of six Ku Klux Klan members.
Prior to that, he was an assistant district attorney in his hometown of Midland. He has been married to his best friend, Donna, for 22 years.