Former U.S. attorney general to speak Oct. 22 at university
Posted: Wednesday, October 14, 2009 12:04 pm
The Messenger 10.14.09
Alberto Gonzales, U.S. attorney general from 2005 to 2007, will speak Oct. 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Elam Center at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
He will speak on “Living Legal History: Working With the White House, the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court.”
His appearance is co-sponsored by Honors Programs, the College of Business and Global Affairs, the Department of Accounting, Finance, Economics, and Political Science, the First-Year Initiative and the Office of Student Life.
The second of eight children, Gonzales was born in San Antonio and raised in Houston, living in a house built by his father and two uncles. Receiving his early education in the Texas public schools, he joined the U.S. Air Force in 1973, serving through 1975, after which time he attended the U.S. Air Force Academy from 1975-77.
The first member of his family to attend college, Gonzales graduated from Rice University in 1979. After receiving his law degree from Harvard University Law School in 1982, he returned to Houston and joined the law firm of Vinson & Elkins, eventually becoming a partner in the firm.
He entered government service in 1995 as general counsel to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, during which time he also served as chief elections officer and as the governor’s lead liaison on Mexican and border affairs. In 1997, he was named Texas’ secretary of state and served in this position until his appointment to the Texas Supreme Court in 1999. In 2001, he accompanied President Bush to Washington and served as White House counsel from 2001-05.
In 2005, he was appointed the 80th attorney general of the United States, the first Hispanic to serve as the nation’s leading law enforcement official.
Gonzales’ tenure as attorney general was not free from controversy, as he established the Justice Department’s national security division to deal with new legal problems posed by the post 9/11 world. In the process, he clashed with Congress on several matters, most prominently the administration’s handling of terrorism suspects and prisoners detained during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Following his service at the Justice Department, he returned to Texas and currently teaches at Texas Tech University, where he also contributes to increasing Hispanic enrollment.
Gonzales has a long record of public service and has served on numerous boards, including the Big Brothers and Sisters, Catholic Charities, the State Bar of Texas and the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast. He served as Houston Hispanic Bar Association president, Leadership Houston president and as Houston Hispanic Forum president.
Among his numerous honors and awards are his recognition as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of Texas by the Texas Young Lawyers Association in 1992 and as Latino Lawyer of the Year by the Hispanic National Bar Association in 1999. In 2002, he was recognized as a Distinguished Alumnus of Rice University by the Association of Rice Alumni and with the Harvard Law School Association Award by the Harvard Law School Association.
“Alberto Gonzales is definitely a prototypical American success story,” said Dr. Dan McDonough, UT Martin Honors Program director. “The son of a Mexican immigrant who never finished grade school, he was the first member of his family to attend college and received degrees from Rice University and Harvard Law School. Rising in the political world as a protégé of President Bush, he served in several prominent positions and was even on the short list for appointment to the United States Supreme Court, before serving as the first Hispanic attorney general of the United States. His policies were controversial in a very controversial period in American History.”