Michael L. Williams, the former State of Texas education commissioner, was named UNT Dallas' first Distinguished Leader-In-Residence in August 2016. Williams most recently served as Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency, where he led oversight of primary and secondary public education in the state. As Distinguished Leader-In-Residence, Williams will teach one course per semester, be available to the deans of UNT Dallas' five colleges and schools and work with President Mong on important community initiatives. The only African American to hold a statewide elected executive position in Texas' history, Williams also served on the Texas Railroad Commission from 1999 to 2011. He was first appointed to the commission by then-Governor George W. Bush, but went on to win elections statewide in 2000, 2002 and 2008. He chaired the railroad commission from 1999 to 2003 and again from 2007 to 2009. Williams holds undergraduate, graduate and law degrees from the University of Southern California. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush appointed Williams Assistant Secretary of Education for Civil Rights. He also served as Special Assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh from 1998-99. He began his career in his hometown of Midland, Texas, as an assistant district attorney, later serving as a federal prosecutor. Among other volunteer honors, Williams is past Honorary State Chairman of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Texas.