Former Lt. Gov. Barnes visits Honors College students

Ben Barnes Visiting Scholar

Tarleton State University

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

STEPHENVILLE, Texas—As part of Honors Week and to kick off the celebration of the transition to an Honors College, former Tarleton student and lieutenant governor of Texas Ben Barnes visited campus this week to share his experiences in Texas politics.

During his visit on Tuesday, several students from the Presidential Honors and Honors Degree Program had the opportunity to enjoy breakfast with the former lieutenant governor before he gave a lecture to students enrolled in honors Texas government courses. Barnes detailed his rise in Texas politics and, ultimately, his election to the state’s lieutenant governor’s post in 1968. Barnes also offered his thoughts on some of the major public policy issues of the day.

Students in Dr. Mallory Young’s honors literature course also received a visit by Barnes, who sat in on a discussion of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, before attending a luncheon in his honor along with the honors students and faculty. Barnes also received a tour of the recently renovated Honors Residence Hall by Honors director Dr. Craig Clifford.

“It was a great honor to have Mr. Barnes participate in Honors Week as the Inaugural Honors College Visiting Scholar for Texas Politics. It’s a rare opportunity for our honors students to be able to sit down face-to-face with someone with Mr. Barnes’ experience and passion,” said Clifford. “One of the core values of the new Honors College is that greater ability implies greater responsibility, and Mr. Barnes did a great job of inspiring these students to realize how important it is for talented young people to dedicate themselves to service and leadership.”

“Meeting with Mr. Barnes was one of the greatest honors I have had during my time at Tarleton,” said Presidential Honors student Ryan Cheek, a senior political science major. “Mr. Barnes’ tremendous energy and spirit were evident in our short meeting, and it is inspiring to hear how he is still doing so much to help this state and this country.”

Emma Krahn, a freshman Presidential Honors music student, said, “listening to Mr. Barnes encouraged me to think about higher education and its relation to the state government. He made me realize that even though we are college students, we are able to make a difference, beginning in our community and our local government.”

Another Presidential Honors student, freshman communications major Bethany Kyle said, “I am so glad that I had the opportunity to hear Mr. Barnes speak. He is incredibly knowledgeable on the subjects of politics and government, and I came away from his lecture better informed. Hearing from someone who has first-hand experience in Texas government was an interesting experience, and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it.”

Barnes, a native of Eastland County who attended Tarleton in the late 1950s and later graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, was selected as speaker of the Texas House of Representatives in 1965 at the age of 26.

Born on April 17, 1938, in Gorman, Texas, Barnes attended UT School of Law and became interested in politics while working for the state health department as a student. He ran successfully for a seat in the Texas House after his graduation. As a resident of De Leon in Comanche County, Barnes served in the 57th through 60th Legislatures.

While a representative, Barnes served as chairman of the House Rules Committee and vice-chairman of the Banks and Banking Committee, in addition to serving as liaison between Gov. John Connally and speaker Byron M. Tunnell. Just before the opening of the 59th legislature, Tunnell accepted a position on the Railroad Commission of Texas, and Barnes became speaker ahead of his intended schedule.

In 1967, Barnes won a second term as speaker in the 60th Legislature. The following year, he was elected lieutenant governor. Winning a second term in that office as well, Barnes presided over the Texas Senate in the 61st and 62nd legislatures.

Throughout his four terms in the two offices, Barnes was interested in the issue of higher education—a topic he discussed with students—and recalled his efforts during his time in office to increase appropriations for higher education more than threefold, rising to near the top among the 50 states in expenditures for higher education. Several new universities and graduate schools originated as a result of increased appropriations.

He served as chairman of both the Southern Legislative Conference and the National Legislative Conference, and also has been a member of the Executive Committee of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors, the National Conference of State Legislative Leaders, and President Lyndon Johnson’s Commission on Intergovernmental Relations. Additionally, the former legislator has served as the United States representative to the NATO Civil Defense Committee Conference in Brussels and as a special representative to the United Nations in Geneva in 1968.

After leaving elected office in 1972, Barnes began to actively pursue his many professional interests and in 1989 combined his love of politics and business to form the Ben Barnes Group.

According to the firm’s website, Barnes was joined by strategists Kent Caperton, Wyeth Wiedeman, Patsy Thomasson and Scott Moorhead to form the Ben Barnes Group. The firm offers expertise in crisis management, legislative processes and strategy, legal issues and public-private partnerships with clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small family-owned businesses, representing a variety of both international and domestic industries.

The Ben Barnes Group maintains offices in Washington D.C. and Austin, Texas, and in 2010, an alliance was formed with Strategic Partnerships, Inc., which broadened the team’s expertise in business development, procurement consulting, customized research and marketing. The joint venture has resulted in the creation of the Gemini Global Group.


Tarleton State University
A member of The Texas A&M University System

Contact: Kurt Mogonye

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Former Lt. Gov. Barnes visits Honors College students - Media Relations - Tarleton State University