Isaac C. Hunt, Jr.

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Isaac "Ike" C. Hunt, Jr.
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Isaac "Ike" C. Hunt Jr. (August 1, 1937 – November 26, 2017) was an American lawyer and public servant who served as a commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) from 1996 to 2002. He was the second African American graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law in 1962 and the first African American to head a major division at the SEC.[1][2][3][4]

Early Life and Education[edit]

Hunt was born on August 1, 1937, in Danville, Virginia. He went to college a month after turning 15 years old and attended Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor's degree with a double major in mathematics and economics in 1957. He was part of a Ford Foundation program for early admission to Fisk University. While at Fisk, he participated in an student exchange with a white school and he was the first black student to attend Dennison University in Ohio. At Fisk Hunt was on the debate team and participated in a debate against Oxbridge, the combined team from Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the U.K. He was also the head of the Men's Senate at Fisk. He did photography work for his class yearbook and was the photographer editor.

He later obtained his LL.B. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1962, becoming the second African American graduate of the law school. Attending his in-state school was inexpensive, with this total tuition for a year being about $300. Hunt said the school was mostly male and his law school classmates were mostly top graduates from Ivy League schools like Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Because of the make up of the law school, compared to the rest of the University of Virginia at the time, there was not a lot of racial animosity, Hunt said in an interview with the SEC.

Career[edit]

SEC and Government Service[edit]

Hunt received an offer from the SEC while at law school and joined the SEC in 1962. In the SEC interview, he said the SEC at the time was "filled with a lot of very bright Jewish lawyers who could not get jobs in predominantly WASP law firms." After starting his career as a staff attorney at the SEC, he worked there from 1962 to 1967.

He later served as the principal deputy general counsel and acting general counsel at the U.S. Department of the Army under the Carter and Reagan administrations.

In 1995, President Bill Clinton nominated Hunt as a commissioner of the SEC, and he was confirmed by the Senate in January 1996. Hunt said another African-American was being considered for the role, but he had testified for on behalf of Clarence Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearing and there was concern of feminist backlash if he were nominated. Hunt's friend Fred Siesel, who he had worked with at the SEC earlier, and was working in the Washington office of the New York Stock Exchange, suggested Hunt's name to SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt.[5][6]

He was sworn in on February 29, 1996, and served until August 2002, after being renominated by President George W. Bush as a recess appointee.[7][8]

During his tenure at the SEC, Hunt was the first African American to head a major division, serving as the director of the Enforcement Division. He played a crucial role in defining the relationships between the SEC and international securities regulators.

Academic and Private Practice[edit]

Hunt served as the Dean and Professor of Law at the University of Akron School of Law from 1987 to 1995, where he taught securities law for seven years. Prior to that, he was the Dean of the Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., where he also taught securities law.[9][10]

In private practice, Hunt was an associate at the law firm of Jones, Day, Reavis & Pogue, specializing in corporate and securities law, government procurement litigation, administrative law, and international trade.

Contributions and Legacy[edit]

Early in his career, Hunt wrote two influential reports: "The Aftermath of Disorder," which was part of the report issued by the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (Kerner Commission) in 1968, examining race riots in 1967; and "Minority Recruiting in the New York City Police Department," issued by the RAND Corporation in 1971.

Throughout his career, Hunt spoke extensively on civil rights, legal education, and securities law, both in the United States and abroad. He was active in promoting diversity and inclusion in the legal profession and served on various boards and advisory councils, including the Professional Directors Institute and the Commodity Markets Council.

The SEC Historical Society in 2024 announced the Isaac C. Hunt Jr. Hall of Honor, with the initial honorees being Richard M. Humes, Aulana L. Peters, Paul F. Roye, and Erica Y. Williams.[11]

Hunt passed away on November 26, 2017, in Washington, D.C., at the age of 80. He was remembered as a trailblazer and a dedicated public servant who made significant contributions to the legal field and civil rights.[12]

References[edit]

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