A Comptroller Rooted In Service
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar '93 harvests his Aggie core values to make the state of Texas a better place for all.
By Rachel Knight ‘18
In 2019, Texas overtook Brazil as the ninth-largest economy in the world. As Texas Comptroller, the states’ chief financial officer — tax collector, chief accountant, chief revenue estimator, and chief treasurer — Glenn Hegar ‘93 played a key role in this success… though you’d be hard-pressed to hear him say so.
Hegar is a humble Aggie who grew up in a rice-farming family in Hockley, Texas. His experiences working in the family’s farming operation from the time he was 6 years old established his strong work ethic. Paired with his degree from the College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University, the values Hegar learned as a young boy and continued developing in Aggieland set him up for a successful career in public service.
When Hegar left for college, like most Aggies, he found a second home and family in Bryan-College Station. The land-grant university’s agricultural roots and core values matched his own. He enjoyed partaking in the rich traditions that make up the “spirit can ne’er be told,” and he still can’t stand the color orange.
“Attending Texas A&M was a pretty clear choice for me,” Hegar said. “I honestly never really considered going anywhere else. The university’s core values, rich history, and dedication to its traditions make it unlike any other university in the world. I wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to be a part of a university-wide culture that promotes making a positive impact on public policy and humanity.”
One of Hegar’s most influential college experiences was afforded to him by the Rudder Normandy Scholarship Program. The program was designed to have students live and study abroad in France after learning about both World Wars. Hegar said the experience was truly transformational. It gave him a desire to travel that he’d not experienced before, but more importantly, it showed him the depth of the United States’ role in the world economy and global policies.
“We really are interconnected more than we often realize,” Hegar shared. “The COVID pandemic is a great example. Our COVID vaccine rollout is a much more successful rollout today than it was just 60 days ago. Though we are more successful now in Texas and in the United States, other places like the U.K. and Brazil are having more difficulty in their vaccination efforts. Overall, vaccination efforts won’t truly be successful until the world is successful, because we are so intertwined economically, politically, and even socially.”
Hegar refers to his liberal arts classes as “building blocks driven by reading and writing.” As a dual history and political science major, he developed a talent for making decisions informed by the past. He continues to use this skill in his role as comptroller today. He reads and digests information from parallel situations in the past to solve current issues in a way that builds a better future for all. Though the state comptroller does not make policies, he has the power to influence policymakers by presenting his findings to his colleagues in Austin. This is where his English minor comes into play.
“I can make a bigger difference in bettering the state as the comptroller than I could in my 12 years serving in the state legislature,” Hegar explained. “No matter what the policy makers ultimately choose to do, I know the research behind the decisions they make is solid, because my team and I work together to find relevant examples from the past to help inform policies that shape the future. Then we take it a step further by making sure our findings are easy to read and understand, because I’ve been on the receiving end of comptroller reports as well and I know the importance of making sure findings are well written, transparent, and clear. So really I use my dual major in history and political science as well as my minor in English everyday.”
After graduating from Texas A&M, Hegar worked in London for an American attorney. For the first time in his life, he was unable to travel back to Hockley and work on the family farm. In addition to diversifying his resume, the experience widened his appre – ciation of world events. He put the skills to use that he’d begun developing in Aggieland, and prepared to attend law school.
While in law school, Hegar met his future wife, Dara Grisbee, who grew up in Katy just 20 miles from Hockley. Though they’re both Aggies with Texas family roots that date back to the 1800s in neighboring towns, their paths didn’t cross until they were at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. During a holiday break, Glenn asked Dara on their first date. He wasn’t sure how to pronounce her first name, so he asked a friend before calling Dara to see if she’d like to grab dinner. His friend guessed wrong, but luckily Glenn simply called her “Grisbee.” The two hit it off and have been together ever since.
The Hegars have three kids: Claire, Julia, and Jonah. Like any proud dad, Hegar can’t help smiling when he talks about each of them, and they’ve all given him plenty to be proud of. He shared that his favorite part of being the father of a 16-year-old and 13-year-old twins is watching each of them grow and develop. He spends quality time with all three teenagers, and seems to truly enjoy their unique and strong personalities. As his kids transition into adulthood, Hegar said he’s realized the parent-child bond is his most rewarding life experience.
In many ways, Hegar approaches his job as comptroller the same way he approaches fatherhood. Though he could easily take credit for a number of Texas economy boosters that have bettered the state throughout his career in office, Hegar said he considers small achievements that make immediately meaningful impacts on Texans his greatest success. “The little things that you don’t get recognized for mean the most to me,” Hegar explained before sharing an example.
After the comptroller delivered a public address one morning, a lady asked Hegar if he was available for a private meeting. Without hesitation, he told her to stop by his office that afternoon. When the lady arrived for their meeting, Hegar allowed her to share her story and troubles. He listened for the root of the problem, and learned that she needed help resolving a clerical error with her child support payments. When she finished talking, he knew exactly what to do, harkened back to his Aggie roots, and selflessly did it.
“The fact that I could pick up the phone and help resolve her child support issues in a matter of minutes sent tears streaming down her face,” Hegar said. “It made me proud to be able to help someone improve their life and their family’s life with a simple phone call. Customer service is what drives me. Pairing problem solving with customer service is something I learned to do in my liberal arts classes at Texas A&M.”
His passion for customer service helped build a company culture that earned his office the distinction of being ranked in the top 10 large-sized workplaces in Austin by the Austin American Statesman, a rarity in political offices across the country. Hegar said happy employees translates to better customer service for Texas taxpayers. Putting emphasis on his employees results in a more effective and efficient agency, which results in a state that’s economically healthy and attracting people who want to do business to the states’ ever growing population.
At the conclusion of this term, Hegar will have served in public office for 20 years. The Comptroller will be up for reelection in two years, and at the time of our interview he seemed eager to continue his service to the state.
A quick look through his Facebook page reveals another passion for service Hegar plans to continue: his passion for charitable giving. Hegar said his affinity for giving back began under the guidance of his grandfather who was a Baptist preacher. He learned at an early age that giving back promotes a better future for everyone, not just the immediate recipient of a gift. He sees this belief reflected in Texas A&M’s core values, and can easily identify Aggies who share it.
“Anywhere you go in the world, you know an Aggie when you see one, because you can see their ring and recognize it in an instant,” he explained. “This is just a visual example of the Aggie bond. The core values that we share will never do you wrong. Integrity and honesty are key in making a difference in society. The Aggie alumni base is truly remarkable. The opportunity to be part of it makes an impact on both you and others, because we are all service oriented.”
Hegar also shared his professional belief that service and buy-in play an important role in bettering all public universities.
“Charitable donations are a critical leg to the public university stool,” he said. “When we give back to our alma matters, we have an invested interest in the success of our university. Being able to provide success back to students is important, but it’s so much more than that. Whether you’re able to give $50 or $50,000, the bottom line is you’re making a difference. You’re funding education for students and critical research that makes the world a better place and so much more.”
True to his farming and Aggie roots, Hegar controls what he can by working hard to prepare for the future and keeps faith in life for the things he can’t control. As comptroller, he works diligently to guide state politicians to make decisions in Texas and taxpayers’ best interests. As a father, he fosters bonds with each of his children to help them grow into responsible young adults. As Aggies, he and his wife invest in the future by giving back to their alma mater.
“My hope is that as someone who is less concerned about the title or the office, I can use my core values to make a difference,” Hegar shared. “I just want a good public policy result. I want to put the state of Texas in a better position than when I came into office.”