University Park, IL,
10:06 AM

GSU Connections: Carl Hoecker

Inspector General of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the first-ever IG for the U.S. Capitol Police

As a student at Governors State University in the early 1980s, Carl Hoecker (’85) worked in the Alumni Association office under then-Foundation President William Dodd.

Now, as Inspector General (IG) of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the first-ever IG for the U.S. Capitol Police, Hoecker values the experience he gained in the work-study program and the impact Dodd made on his life.

As a connection to his GSU days, Hoecker holds onto a letter Dodd wrote to him after the death of his grandfather, Hoecker’s best friend, and personal hero.

“I still have it to this day. It was so touching,” Hoecker said. “I thought, ‘This is a person who really cares.’”

Working with Dodd and other professionals at GSU, Hoecker learned how to balance holding people accountable while applying compassion. It is a lesson he carried through his career in law enforcement and government accountability.

Finding his way to GSU

Hoecker earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from GSU after spending a few years in the U.S. Army after high school. The native of South Chicago Heights always felt pulled toward a career in law enforcement.

“Here I was, right out of high school with no college or experience,” Hoecker said. “I visited the local FBI office and told them I was interested in doing investigations. They recommended going into the military.”

While serving as a military police officer in Germany, Hoecker eventually moved into units focused on investigations and narcotics. During that time, he worked during the day and studied in the evenings to earn an Associate of Arts degree.

Comfortable in a community

Once home, Hoecker enrolled at GSU using G.I. Bill benefits in 1982, when the school was 13 years old and served junior, senior, and graduate students. He remembers how well the staff in the finance office worked to coordinate his benefits and how he was led to the work-study program.

Growing up close by and graduating from Bloom High School, Hoecker was familiar with GSU and its solid reputation. He never even considered another university, he said.

“Also, I wasn’t a student right out of high school, and I knew GSU served older students,” he said. “I knew the focus was on folks who likely were already in the professional world and maybe needed a master’s degree or to finish their bachelor’s.”

With business management in mind, Hoecker took classes focused on marketing. At the same time, he also developed a passion for accounting, an interest that would eventually benefit his career in government accountability investigations.

“Sheldon Mendleson was the accounting professor at the time,” Hoecker said. He was the kind of professor I had at GSU who made me say, ‘This accounting stuff can be pretty cool.’”

With work and classes, Hoecker spent significant time on campus. He described GSU as like a small neighborhood where “everybody knows everybody.”

Hoecker remembers ribbing with a janitor friend in the hallways and organizing used textbook sales as a member of the GSU chapter of Society for Advancement of Management.

Hoecker left GSU with a degree in business and a love for accounting. With his military service and background, Hoecker was positioned for his budding career in government work, which had taken him to Virginia.

He spent seven years as a special agent for Army Criminal Investigations Command. Then, in 1995, Hoecker was appointed Deputy Assistant Inspector General for the U.S. Treasury.

Career spent in service

Every government agency is overseen by an Inspector General’s (IG) office, which acts as an independent watchdog. IGs complete audits of financial statements and operations, and conduct investigations of staff misconduct and external threats. IG offices answer directly to Congress.

In 2006, Hoecker was appointed the first IG for the U.S. Capitol Police, building the department from the ground up.

“I consider myself a builder,” Hoecker said. “I needed to go from zero to having a functioning office. I did that, and Congress was very happy with me. That’s something I’m proud of.”

Though he left the role in 2013, Hoecker said seeing Capitol Police officers attacked on Jan. 6 felt like a “gut punch.” The Capitol Police’s mission to protect Congress is one he embraced, and though he didn’t know the officer who was killed by rioters, he said the loss felt personal to him.

“It’s like seeing one of your colleagues or soldiers die in front of you, so to speak,” Hoecker said.

He has connected with former colleagues to process the experience.

Hoecker is now the third-ever Inspector General for the SEC. He said he loves his job and works with smart, dedicated people, and has no plans to retire.

“I had a great experience at GSU as a student, a student worker, and as a member of the GSU community. It changed my life,” Hoecker said.