Distinguished Alumna is First Female Dean of the Texas Senate

For the first time in more than 175 years, the title of dean of the Texas Senate belongs to a woman: Judith Zaffirini, BS ’67, MA ’70, PhD ’78, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna. The role is held by the chamber’s most senior member and oversees much of the legislative procedure.

When Zaffirini first joined the Texas Senate in 1986, she became the first Mexican American woman elected in its 140-year history. “Never did I think when I was ranked 30th of 31 members in 1987 that I would end 2023 as the highest-ranking,” she said in a post online. “I hope to promote bipartisanship, collaboration, and friendship while cumulatively honoring our cherished traditions, protocol, and decorum.”

Zaffirini is pictured above earning a ceremonial gavel for her 70,000th consecutive Senate vote from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in May 2023.


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