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U. S. Senator John Cornyn to speak at SMU Commencement

March 29, 2011

United States Senator John Cornyn DALLAS (SMU) – United States Senator John Cornyn will speak at SMU’s 96th Commencement ceremony Saturday, May 14, at 9:30 a.m. in Moody Coliseum on campus. SMU expects to award nearly 2,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees in the University-wide ceremony.

Re-elected in 2008 for a second six-year term in the U.S. Senate, Cornyn currently sits on the Senate Armed Services, Finance, Judiciary and Budget committees. He serves as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee’s Immigration Refugees and Border Security Subcommittee.

In addition to his legislative committees, Cornyn is chair of the Senate IndiaCaucus, chairman of the Senate Radio Frequency Identification Caucus and vice chair of the Senate Republican Conference Task Force on Hispanic Affairs. He also serves on the Senate Republican High Tech Task Force, the Congressional Oversight Group on Trade and the President’s Export Council.

“Senator Cornyn has been a tremendous leader and public servant for the state of Texas and our nation,” said R. Gerald Turner, SMU president. “In the United States Senate, he addresses some of the most critical issues of our time, among them the federal budget, technology, the military, immigration and border security. He has pioneered legislation to make government records more accessible to thepublic. We are honored that he will address our graduates in this special year for SMU, the 100th anniversary of our founding.”

Cornyn was selected by his colleagues to serve as chair of the National RepublicanSenatorial Committee for the 2010 election cycle. After the Republicans gained seven Senate seats, Sen. Cornyn was re-elected to chair the committee for the 2012 cycle.

An ardent believer in open government throughout his public service, Cornyn introduced the Open Government Act of 2007, which was signed into law by President George W. Bush that year. The bill made reforms to the Freedom ofInformation Act, including encouraging timely fulfillment of requests from agencies. In 2006 he received the Sunshine in Government Award from the National Newspaper Association, and in 2001he received the James Madison Award from the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas.

Prior to election to the U.S. Senate, Cornyn served in Texas as a district judge, as a member of the Texas Supreme Court and as Texas Attorney General, arguing two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court during his tenure. Also as Attorney General, his office improved child support collection in the state, obtained more than $4 million in civil penalties from dishonest nursing home operators, reclaimed $5 million from several major insurance companies that underpaid auto repair claims and levied penalties against fraudulent sweepstakes promoters.

“Senator Cornyn’s history of public service on both the state and federal levels shows his commitment and dedication to Texas and the country,” said Jake Torres, SMU student body president. “His passion for service is shared by those within the SMU community, and makes him a perfect choice toaddress the SMU class of 2011 as it enters a new chapter of service upon graduation.”

Born in Houston and raised in San Antonio, Cornyn graduated from Trinity University and St. Mary’s School of Law, both in San Antonio. He also earned a Master of Law degree from the University of Virginia Law School in 1995. Cornyn was named the St. Mary’s Distinguished Law School Graduate in 1994 and Trinity University Distinguished Alumnus in 2001. Married for 31 years to his wife, Sandy, they have two daughters.

After the University-wide Commencement, SMU’s schools and departments will hold individual ceremonies throughout the day to present degrees and honor graduates. For more information, visit smu.edu/commencement.


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

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