Mayor Watson Named Commencement Speaker

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Austin Mayor Kirk Watson has been announced as commencement speaker for the 2024 Sunflower Ceremony. Watson will share wisdom gleaned from over three decades of public service with the class of 2024 before they walk the stage on May 11, 2024. The ceremony begins at 3:30 p.m. and will be held at Gregory Gym.

“I’m thrilled to be part of the Texas Law commencement ceremony and share time with these graduates as they set out to make their lives as lawyers,” says Watson. “I have loved being a lawyer and I can still remember the excitement and anticipation I had at graduation for all the adventures to come.”

Watson, who earned his Juris Doctor from Baylor University, served two consecutive terms as Austin mayor following his initial election in 1997. During this tenure, he led the city through a crucial period of growth by spearheading environmental and economic initiatives that were instrumental to Austin’s development.

In 2006, Watson began a 13-year term in the Texas Senate, where his leadership advanced causes including education, transportation, and government transparency. Among his numerous health care initiatives, he led the development of the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin. Watson’s long-held commitment to the state of Texas was exemplified in 2019 when his peers elected him president pro tempore of the Texas Senate.

In 2023, after serving as founding dean of the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston, Watson was elected to a third term as Austin mayor. By working to address issues such as housing affordability, transportation, public safety, and homelessness, Watson is extending his dedication to public service and the city of Austin.

“We are all terrifically excited to welcome Mayor Watson to our ceremony this year,” says Dean Bobby Chesney. “I cannot think of a finer role model for public service, civil discourse, and hard work on behalf of all Texans. It will be a treat to hear him speak.”

Alongside Watson, Jamaal Lockings ’24 will speak as the student representative. Lockings, who was elected permanent class president in February, has been involved with the Student Bar Association, for which he was president during the 2022-23 academic year, has served as a Dean’s Fellow in the Society Program, and has been an active member of OUTLaw and the Thurgood Marshall Legal Society.

Learn more about the 2024 Sunflower Ceremony.

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