WHITE, MARK WELLS, JR. (1940~) Mark Wells White, Jr., forty-third Governor of Texas, was born in Henderson, Rusk County, Texas on March 17, 1940. His family moved from Henderson to Houston, where he attended public schools and graduated from Lamar High School in 1958. White worked his way through Baylor University, where he received a degree in Business Administration in 1962, and a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree in May 1965.
After being admitted to the State Bar of Texas on September 20, 1965, White began his career in public service as an Assistant Attorney General in the Insurance, Banking, and Securities Division. While there, he spent three years handling some of the first consumer protection investigations and representing state agencies in both trial and appellate cases. During this time, White also served in the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas National Guard. In 1969, after working for the Attorney General's Office, White practiced law for four years with the Houston law firm of Reynolds, Allen, and Cook.
On January 1, 1973, Governor Dolph Briscoe appointed White Secretary of State. During his tenure, he streamlined operations and made his office more responsive to the public. White was elected President of the National Association of Secretaries of State in 1977. He was the youngest Secretary of State ever elected to the Association's highest office. He also was elected Treasurer and Secretary of the Association. White also served as a member of the Federal Elections Commission Advisory Panel on Voter Registration.
On January 1, 1979, White became the forty-sixth Attorney General of Texas. As the state's chief enforcement officer, he co-chaired the Federal-State Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee and was a member of the Governor's Organized Crime Prevention Council. On the national level, White was elected Chairman of the Southern Conference of Attorneys General in May of 1981.
On January 18, 1983, Mark White was inaugurated as the forty-third Governor of Texas. As Governor, White worked to "preserve and enhance . . . resources so that Texas would not fall back, but go forward as a state of the future." His main concerns were the economy and education. By focusing on Texas' resources, White was able to work on many problems facing the state in the early 1980s. The Texas economy during the early and mid 1980s was very volatile. The price of oil declined and pushed Texas into a recession. This led Governor White to "lay the groundwork for a more diversified economy - one less reliant upon the . . . swings of a single industry." Governor White sought to improve education, transportation, water resources, law enforcement, and taxes to lure new industry to Texas. Education was an essential factor for White. When he took office, Texas was ranked as one of the lowest performing states for the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) also in teachers' salaries. After taking office, White immediately appointed a committee on Public Education, called a special session of the legislature in 1984, and worked with lawmakers to pass the Educational Opportunity Act (EOA). The EOA was committed to building the finest public education system in the country. Through White's work, Texas saw the desired results. SAT scores increased by twelve points, Texas first graders improved in statewide tests and teacher salaries increased by $5,000. By focusing on education, Governor White was able to make Texas a "state of the future" with regard to its most important resource, its children. Through his diligent work as Governor of Texas, many of the problems of the present and the future were alleviated. After serving as Governor, White returned to Houston, where he now practices law.