Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and Rio Grande Valley native Antonio Garza will today be inducted in the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business “Hall of Fame.”

The new honor “recognizes outstanding professional, civic, philanthropic and educational contributions made by former students, faculty and other dedicated supporters of the McCombs School,” according to a news release from the McCombs School.

Born and raised in Brownsville, Texas, Garza was educated at St. Joseph Academy in Brownsville. He was elected Cameron County Judge in 1988, the first Republican to hold this office. He was also the youngest county judge in Texas at the time. He served through 1994 and was later named Texas Secretary of State by then-Gov. George W. Bush. He was also elected to and chaired the Texas Railroad Commission.

Garza credits his South Texas roots to his success and has recently said of the Valley, “Home isn’t where you’re from, it’s who you are.”

Garza is a director of the Americas Society/Council of the Americas, member of the Council on Foreign Relations and COMEXI, the CFR’s Mexican counterpart, and has been honored with the “Aguila Azteca,” the Mexican government’s highest honor bestowed upon a foreign national.

Garza is credited as being amongst the leading advocates for the Merida Initiative, a component of the U.S. and Mexico security architecture, and he continues to be active in the Bilateral relationship.

U.S. Federal Judge Ricardo Hinojosa said: “I think Tony’s background is a very positive thing from the standpoint of everyone in South Texas. Tony’s been county judge, served as secretary of state for the State of Texas and elected statewide and chaired the Texas Railroad Commission, all before being appointed Ambassador to Mexico. And that is a subject of great pride to all of us in South Texas because he’s one of ours.”

Then-President George W. Bush appointed Garza U.s. Ambassador to Mexico, where he served from 2002 to 2009. Bobby Chesney, director of the Strauss Security Center at the University of Texas at Austin, said: “He became Ambassador to Mexico at a very tricky time. The 9/11 attacks required someone with a steady hand to be able to strike the balance between America’s interests while at the same time continuing to cultivate the bi-national relationship between the U.S. and Mexico.”

Garza’s op-eds, which often focus on U.S.-Mexico relations, appear regularly in the Rio Grande Guardian.

As for his links to the University of Texas, Garza was recently in the Brownsville for the sendoff of local high school graduates soon to be Longhorns. He previously served as chairman and president of the Texas Exes Alumni Organization, and in 2007 received the University of Texas Distinguished Alumnus Award joining a distinguished list of Rio Grande Valley natives such as former U.S. Senator Lloyd Bentsen, former United States Circuit Judge Reynaldo Garza and U.S. Federal Judge Ricardo Hinojosa.

Evan Smith, co-founder and CEO of The Texas Tribune, said this of Garza’s induction into the McCombs Hall of Fame: “He’s not the most visible person to have served in public office, he’s certainly not got the biggest ego of people who’ve served in public office but he really has, behind the scenes and largely out of sight, influenced so many areas of life in Texas. It’s hard to imagine where we’d be right now had he not played the roles he played.”

Garza currently acts as Counsel to White & Case in Mexico City. He is also a director to both Kansas City Southern Railways, where he is member of the Executive Committee and Chairman of the company’s subsidiary, Kansas City Southern de Mexico, and MoneyGram where he serves as Chairman of the company’s Committee on Compliance and Ethics.

Additionally, Garza is a Trustee at Southern Methodist University and acts as Chairman of the university’s Committee on Legal and Governmental Affairs. He was recently recognized amongst the National Association of Corporate Directors ‘100’ for leadership in the boardroom and named by Hispanic Executive Magazine as one of 2019’s Best of the Boardroom.

Garza holds a BBA from The University of Texas at Austin and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Southern Methodist University School of Law and has been honored as a distinguished alumnus at both institutions as well as being recognized by his high school alma mater, St. Joseph Academy. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the District of Columbia Bar and is admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court.

Garza is married to Dr. Liz Atkinson Garza, also a Brownsville native and 1978 Pace high school graduate.