Former secretary of state to speak on campus

It is not often that you will get the chance to work one-on-one with the president of the United States. However, when the opportunity does present itself one must eagerly accept the offer.

Today, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III will be speaking at Sam Houston State University. The event will take place at 11 a.m. in the James and Nancy Gaertner Performing Arts Center, admission is free and is open to the public.

Baker is a Houston native who graduated from Princeton University in 1952. After serving in the Marine Corps for about two years, he attended and graduated from the University Of Texas School of Law. He is currently working as a senior partner at the Baker Botts law firm.

With such a prestigious background, it is no surprise that Baker is no stranger to politics and all it entails. His political career first began in 1975 as undersecretary of commerce to President Gerald Ford.

Baker has served as not only secretary of state but as secretary of the treasury and White House chief of staff as well. He has served under three different U.S. presidents, which include Presidents Ronald Regan and George H.W. Bush.

He has worked with numerous people throughout his career, including SHSU mass communication professor Peter Roussel.

“I first met and worked with Jim Baker in 1970,” Roussel said. “Over the years, I have had the opportunity to work with and for him in various endeavors. The one that particularly stands out for me is when he was White House chief of staff during President Regan’s first term and I was deputy press secretary. In July 1981, on my first day on the job, he assigned me to go to Phoenix, Arizona and handle media relations for the announcement of Judge Sandra Day O’Conner as the first female ever to be nominated to serve on the United States Supreme Court. It was a moment that will forever be indelible in my memory. ”

This will not be Baker’s first time at SHSU. According to Today@Sam, he is one of four people to have received the Sam Houston Humanitarian award. He also gave the spring commencement address in 2004.

Aside from dedicating a large part of his life to politics, Baker has also written his memoir “Work Hard, Study… And Keep Out of Politics! Adventures and Lessons from an Unexpected Public Life.”  The book was published in 2006.

Roussel has high praise for Baker.

“He is one of the finest, smartest and most able individuals with whom I have ever worked,” Roussel said.  “I have been fortunate to work with him and have seen those qualities evidenced on many occasions. I have learned a great deal just by watching him calmly interface with other when moving toward a decision.”

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