UT-Austin’s Cockrell School of Engineering alumnus Rex Tillerson, BS ’75, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, has been tapped to serve as U.S. secretary of state under President Donald J. Trump’s administration.
“I want to express my profound thanks to President Trump for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to serve my country,” Tillerson said during his swearing-in ceremony on Tuesday.
After Tillerson graduated from UT, he was almost immediately recruited to work at the former Exxon Company, U.S.A., which later became Exxon Mobil. He started as a production engineer, then was named president of Exxon-Yemen in 1995 and took charge of Exxon’s ventures in Russia in 1998. Eventually, Tillerson climbed the ranks to become chairman and CEO of the company in 2006. “Those early assignments where I worked internationally and the things I learned there have served me ever since,” Tillerson said in a 2007 interview with the Alcalde.
In Tillerson’s first act as secretary of state, he gave a speech to his staff at the State Department on Wednesday. He said as secretary of state he will deploy the talent and resources of the State Department in the most efficient way possible.
“That may mean making some changes to how things are traditionally done,” he said. “Change for the sake of change can be counterproductive and that will never be my approach. But we cannot sustain ineffective traditions over optional outcomes. I will gather information on what processes should be reformed and do my part to make sure we are functioning in the most productive and efficient way possible.”
Tillerson, who is a former Tejas Club member, serves on the Cockrell School’s Engineering Advisory Board and the UT System Chancellor’s Council. He also was elected to the National Academy of Engineering.
“Rex Tillerson’s tremendous experience with international issues and working around the globe gives him an outstanding background to serve as U.S. secretary of state,” UT President Gregory L. Fenves said in a news release. “A Distinguished Alumnus who has been committed to the mission of The University of Texas, Mr. Tillerson has demonstrated leadership throughout his career as an executive. I know he will be dedicated to serving the United States as a leader in the world, and I look forward to seeing his accomplishments as secretary of state.”
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