ESSM Awards & Merits 2008 2008 College of Agriculture & Life Sciences Outstanding Alumni Award Mr. T. Michael O'Connor a fifth generation Texas cattleman and businessman, graduated from Texas A&M University in 1977, with a bachelor of science in Range Science. After graduation he returned to his family ranch and began working to address ranching and natural resource issues at local, state, national, and international levels. As a member of the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents (1990 - 1999) he was a strong advocate for students, agriculture, and natural resources. Steve Whisenant, Head of the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management nominated Mr. O'Connor for the 2008 Outstanding Alumni Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Mr. John Sharp, former State Comptroller of the state of Texas referred to T. Michael as deserving of the award because " . . . with the status and financial blessings of his family it would have been quite easy for Michael to lay back and enjoy a very good life without having to subject himself to the rigors of public service and just plain hard work, fortunately, for everyone, he chose to build what his family has accomplished and to share that with all of Texas. In every single instance he has served with honor and distinction, seeking to serve rather than to be served and bringing honor, not just to himself and his family but to Texas A&M University as well." Mr. Bob McCan, former President of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association, stated, "I believe T. Michael O'Connor is an individual whose tireless efforts, to promote and support an industry he loves, to serve and protect a community and a state he loves, will never cease." Governor Rick Perry stated "T. Michael applied the knowledge from the degree he received in Range Science to his families ranch and began to positively influence local state and national policies affecting natural resource management. His impacts on agriculture, natural resource management and public service have been far reaching and had lasting impacts on the state of Texas and Texas A&M University. These accomplishments and numerous, low-profile activities reflect his strong personal commitment to public service." Dr. Joseph Schuster, former Head of the Range Science Department, said Michael O'Connor always understood he was to assume a leadership role in agriculture and public service. T. Michael was elected Sheriff of Victoria County in 2004 until present. He also served as a special appointee of the Governor on the Criminal Justice Task Force for the Comprehensive Review of the Criminal Justice System, and served on the State Government Management Task Force. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Club of Victoria and the Crossroads Chapter of the American Red Cross. He and his wife LuAnn have been married for 25 years and have two children: Jane and Thomas.