Mayor Bill White chosen as Rices 06 commencement speaker

first_imgShareCONTACT: B.J. Almond PHONE: (713) 348-6770 E-MAIL: [email protected] Mayor Bill White chosen as Rice’s ’06 commencement speakerSelection pays tribute to White’s vision and leadership as mayor Houston Mayor Bill White will deliver the commencement address to Rice University’s Class of 2006 at ceremonies May 13. ” Mayor White has demonstrated extraordinary vision and leadership for the city of Houston since his election,” said Rice President David W. Leebron. “His performance over the last month in response to hurricanes Katrina and Rita showed the nation, and indeed the world, the kind of compassionate and decisive leader we have at the helm in Houston.   He is a leader with national visibility who has enhanced the reputation of our city. The students made a perfect choice.” Katharine Donato, associate professor of sociology at Rice and chair of the selection committee for a commencement speaker, said students on the committee were inspired by White’s accomplishments and found him to be the epitome of a public servant. “Meeting as the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was unfolding around us, we all praised Mayor White’s efforts and agreed that he had exemplified the utmost compassion, generosity and preparedness,” Donato said. “As a result, we enthusiastically recommended him to President Leebron to be our next commencement speaker.” White became mayor of the nation’s fourth-largest city in 2004 after winning a runoff election with 63 percent of the vote.   White has a record of accomplishment as a lawyer, federal official, businessman and state and city leader.   An honors graduate of Harvard University, White attended the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, where he was elected editor in chief of its law review and graduated at the top of his class.   President Bill Clinton appointed White to serve as deputy secretary of energy, where he reformed contracting practices to benefit taxpayers and promoted policies to reduce oil imports. White chaired the Texas Democratic Party from 1995 to 1997 before becoming president and CEO of Wedge Group prior to his mayoral campaign.  From 1979 to 1993, White was an attorney and then partner with Susman Godfrey. While practicing law, he taught law at the University of Texas at Austin, authored dozens of publications and testified before Congress on antitrust and voting rights issues.   In 1975, while serving as a young legislative assistant in the U.S. Congress, White helped draft landmark energy legislation. He has served on numerous corporate and nonprofit boards, including Baylor College of Medicine, Pew Hispanic Center, Center for Public Policy Priorities, Center for Houston’s Future, U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board, Advisory Board of Environmental Defense of Texas, Advisory Board of McDonald Observatory and Astronomy, and the Steering Committee of Houston’s Quality of Life Coalition. For many years he served on the Executive Committee of the Greater Houston Partnership and twice served as chairman of its World Trade Division and once as chair of its Environmental Advisory Committee.   White is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is former chairman of the Houston World Affairs Council.   He has served on the board of five public companies. As mayor, White has earned praise for his consensus-based leadership style and his nonpartisanship as he has worked in close collaboration with Harris County Judge Robert A. Eckels in responding to the two hurricanes.   An editorial in the Houston Chronicle praised the mayor’s performance after his first 100 days in office, noting that his “attention to detail — political, emotional, practical — exemplifies the nuts-and-bolts management style he brought to City government.” The committee that recommended White to speak at Rice’s commencement consisted of Donato, chair; undergraduate student representatives Breck Garrett and James Lloyd; and graduate student representatives Sheila Moore and Matthew Murphy. “I am very grateful for the thoughtful work of the committee,” President Leebron said, “and especially pleased that its choice of Mayor White as commencement speaker reflects the strong bond between Rice University and the great city of Houston which is its home.” AddThislast_img read more