The University of North Texas at Dallas has named former State of Texas education commissioner, Michael L. Williams, its first Distinguished Leader-In-Residence. Williams will begin his new role effective August 17, 2016. Most recently, he served as Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, where he led oversight of primary and secondary public education in the state.
“Michael’s exceptional set of leadership experiences made him an ideal choice for this position. He brings to our campus and the UNT Dallas College of Law a remarkable set of leadership skills developed in local, state and national arenas,” said UNT Dallas President Bob Mong.
As Distinguished Leader-In-Residence, Williams will teach one course per semester, be available to the deans of UNT Dallas’ five colleges and schools and work with President Mong on important community initiatives. “His TEA experience will be especially helpful as the university works to increase partnerships with area school districts,” Mong said. “He is also eager to engage with students on matters of leadership.”
“President Mong has told me that we are going to have fun and do important work. I am thrilled. I am excited. I expect this to be a remarkable experience, and I hope to be of value to the students and the Dallas community,” said Williams.
The first Black American to hold a statewide elected executive position in Texas’ history, Williams also served on the Texas Railroad Commission from 1999 to 2011. He was first appointed to the commission by then-Governor George W. Bush, but went on to win elections statewide in 2000, 2002 and 2008. He chaired the railroad commission from 1999 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2009. Williams holds undergraduate, graduate and law degrees from the University of Southern California.
In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Williams Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. He also served as Special Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh from 1998-99. He began his career in his hometown of Midland, Texas as an assistant district attorney, later serving as a federal prosecutor. Among other volunteer honors, Williams is past Honorary State Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas.