On June 1, William “Tex” Gross, chairman of Dallas-based Commerce Street Holdings, and Charles G. Cooper, commissioner of the Texas Department of Banking, were honored by the Southwestern Graduate School of Banking (SWGSB) at Southern Methodist University. During an awards banquet, Gross received SWGSB’s Distinguished Service Award Award and Cooper received the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
The Distinguished Service Award is presented to someone who has made a significant contribution to SWGSB, its educational mission and the banking industry overall. The Distinguished Alumnus Award is given to a graduate of SWGSB who has served the financial services industry in a way that goes above and beyond his or her peers. Recipients have made meaningful contributions to banking, and their work draws honor to the school.
Gross founded Commerce Street in 2007 and has since developed new opportunities and lines of business, focusing primarily on the firm’s reputation as a leading investment bank specializing in financial institutions. Commerce Street Holdings is the holding company for Commerce Street Capital and Commerce Street Investment Management. Gross has more than 50 years in the securities business. He founded the Dallas office of SAMCO Capital Markets in 1988 and has held senior positions with Southwest Securities, Schneider, Bernet and Hickman, Cullen Frost Bank and Merrill Lynch. He holds a degree from the University of Texas and serves on the university’s development board.
Cooper’s career in banking spans half a century. He has been Texas’ banking commissioner since 2008. His responsibilities include the chartering, regulation, supervision and examination of 213 state-chartered banks in Texas with aggressive assets of approximately $419.8 billion. He has served in various positions with the Conference of State Bank Supervisors, culminating in his election as chairman in 2016. He currently serves as chairman emeritus. In 2018, state banking supervisors appointed Cooper to serve on the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and he was reappointed in 2020. He is also heavily involved in promoting cybersecurity in the financial sector and serves on the financial and banking information infrastructure committee. The Federal Financial Institutions Examinations Council recently announced his selection to a two-year term on its state liaison committee and serves as the committee’s chairman.
Jelena McWilliams, chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. from 2018 to 2022, was the banquet’s keynote speaker. She managed more than 6,000 employees and 5,000 banks during her tenure with the FDIC, guiding the financial system through much of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was a voting member of the Financial Stability Oversight Council and chaired the Federal Finance Institutions Examination Council. She testified before Congress on numerous occasions and spearheaded the FDIC’s development of a policy on digital assets such as cryptocurrency. McWilliams and Cooper also serve on the 15-member SWGSB Foundation board of trustees.