TXEXplainer: What Does the UT System Chancellor Do?

 

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By now you’re aware that Admiral William McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, the orator of possibly the best commencement speech of all time, has been tapped to be the UT System’s next chancellor. So what does that mean? Well, make your bed and get ready to learn about what he will actually be doing.

Lets start at the beginning, with the UT System.

UT-Austin is the flagship university in a system of universities known as the UT System. The UT System chancellor works in conjunction with the Board of Regents to oversee these 15 institutions: nine academic and six health care.

That sounds like a lot of responsibility, but what does the chancellor do?

Broadly speaking, the chancellor is like a CEO, at the top of the pyramid that is the UT System. While individual presidents of UT institutions are more academically focused, the chancellor, overseeing the UT System, is the manager of all the other managers. UT Board of Regents chairman Paul Foster said, upon the announcement of McRaven’s selection as sole finalist, “The way we looked at it is that obviously your university presidents have to have extraordinary academic backgrounds and skills, but I think the chancellor’s job is more of a management and leadership role than a pure academic role.”

So what are the chancellor’s main duties?

The chancellor, as stated in Rule 20101 of the Board of Regents’ rules and regulations, has 12 responsibilities, which are: counseling, implementing, and representing; strategic planning; directing; organizing; preparing and approving recommendations; budgeting; preparing legislative submissions; fund development; appointment of officers, including executive vice chancellors and vice chancellors; nominating a chief audit executive; appointing a compliance officer; and oversight of UTIMCO.

UTIMCO? Another organization? What does that one do?

The University of Texas Investment Management Company, created in 1996, is the first external investment corporation founded by a public university and oversees both the University of Texas and Texas A&M Systems. There is a nine-member board of directors, including the UT System chancellor, at least three members of the UT System board, three independent investment directors, and two appointees from the Texas A&M System Board. Not surprisingly, UT outnumbers A&M.

Does the chancellor have a direct report? Who reports to the chancellor?

According to the University of Texas Organizational Chart, the chancellor reports only to the Board of Regents, and oversees seven vice chancellors, including external relations, business affairs, academic affairs, health affairs, strategic initiatives, a governmental relations officer, and his or her general counsel.

How are chancellors selected?

When the current chancellor resigns, the Board of Regents begins a search for the next chancellor. Once a sole finalist is named, there is a mandatory 21-day waiting period before the announcement is official. The waiting period ends today, when the regents are expected to approve McRaven as chancellor officially.

How long does the chancellor serve?

There are no term limits for chancellors. Logan Wilson, in his official term as chancellor, served for exactly 10 months, while his successor, Harry Ransom, served for almost 10 years.

What are some major actions undertaken by the previous chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa?

The most well-known and acclaimed of Cigarroa’s achievements came in 2011 when he laid out a plan called the Framework for Advancing Excellence. The plan was unanimously approved by the Board of Regents, and has nine main goals, in fields like research, undergraduate access and success, and expanding education and health opportunities in South Texas. Of the latter goal, the University of Texas at Brownsville became a free-standing four-year university under Cigarroa’s leadership, and in 2015, UTB will merge with UT-Pan American to become UT-Rio Grande Valley, and will include a new medical school.

Where does the chancellor live?

As Austin is the hub of the UT System, the chancellor lives in Austin. In fact, on McRaven’s job application, one of the questions he answered to the affirmative was “Would you relocate to Austin if offered this position?” Since 1971, all seven chancellors and their families have resided in a white colonial mansion known as the Bauer House, located in the Tarrytown neighborhood of West Austin. The original house was constructed in 1936, and when the property was conveyed to the UT Board of Regents in 1968, it was evaluated for a remodel but eventually torn down and rebuilt in 1971, which was controversial based on its extravagant cost of nearly $1 million. McRaven and his family will reside on the second floor of the Bauer House, with the other amenities, such as the ground floor, pool, pool house, and garage serving both the chancellor and the university.

How many chancellors has the UT System had?

James Pickney Hart was the first UT System chancellor, from 1950 until he resigned in 1953. Logan Wilson was acting chancellor until the chancellor position was abolished in 1954, though he remained president of UT-Austin from 1953-1960, when he was officially named chancellor in 1960 after the Board of Regents voted to reestablish the position. Since then, there have been eight chancellors. Admiral McRaven will the the 11th UT System chancellor.

Is our next chancellor a total badass?

Yes.

File photo of the Bauer House in West Austin, where the chancellor lives.

 

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