Adm. William H. McRaven Will Be UT’s Next Chancellor

Adm. William McRaven Will Be UT's Next Chancellor

Adm. William McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, was named sole finalist for the position of Chancellor of the UT System at a meeting of the UT System Board of Regents Tuesday evening. Regents met by phone to discuss their choice to succeed current chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, who announced his resignation earlier this year. In his new position, McRaven will serve as the chief administrative officer of the System, which is currently composed of nine universities and six health institutions, though UT-Brownsville and UT-Pan American are poised to be folded into the new UT-Rio Grande Valley.

After a half-hour phone call, the regents voted unanimously to approve McRaven as the sole finalist for the position.

Texas Exes president Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison welcomed the announcement, calling McRaven “a superb choice to be the next chancellor of the University of Texas System.”

“He has an impeccable reputation rising to the highest levels of the U.S. Navy; managing large operations and budgets,” Hutchison, LLB ’67, BA ’92, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, said in a statement Tuesday. “That he is a UT alumnus and a Texas Exes Life Member is icing on the cake!”

McRaven was widely rumored to be the top finalist in recent weeks, though Dallas Federal Reserve chief Richard Fisher was also mentioned. Last Friday, U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) announced that McRaven would be stepping down from its helm, adding more fuel to fire of speculation around his candidacy.

No stranger to running large, complex agencies, McRaven has been at the head of USSOCOM since 2011. In his previous role as the head of Joint Special Operations Command, he directed Operation Neptune Spear, the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011. His long and distinguished military career began at UT, where he was a member of UT’s Naval ROTC unit.

In May, McRaven served as the university’s commencement speaker, cautioning grads to make their beds in a speech that went viral after the Texas Exes posted it on YouTube.

“In [Navy] SEAL training there is a bell,” he said. “A brass bell that hangs in the center of the compound for all the students to see. All you have to do to quit is ring the bell. Ring the bell and you no longer have to wake up at 5 o’clock. Ring the bell and you no longer have to do the freezing cold swims … If you want to change the world don’t ever, ever ring the bell.”

Cigarroa, whose tenure at the top of the System has seen the establishment of a new university in his native Rio Grande Valley, as well as two medical schools in Austin and the Valley, will return to his first career as a pediatric surgeon. Earlier this year, Cigarroa told reporters that his resignation was not related to ongoing tensions between UT-Austin and some members of the UT System board.

Those tensions were at least partially defused this month, when UT-Austin president Bill Powers came to an agreement with Cigarroa to step down at the end of next year’s legislative session. Cigarroa has previously encouraged Powers to step down earlier, and many believed Powers would be fired by regents before the 11th-hour deal was made.

The new chancellor will join a number of new UT officials in 2015. Aside from new men’s athletics director Steve Patterson, BBA ’80, JD ’84, and head football coach Charlie Strong (who has implemented some military-like discipline lately), McRaven will join a new UT-Austin president and director of admissions—all while shepherding the newest System institutions and monitoring the as-yet undetermined fate of regent Wallace Hall.

“McRaven is a nationally and internationally respected leader and a true American hero,” regents chairman Paul Foster said in a statement released shortly after the vote. “His decades-long experience in proven strategic leadership, teamwork, vision, decision making, discipline, and working directly with national and world leaders make him an excellent choice—among a pool of extraordinarily distinguished candidates–to guide the UT System into its next chapter of greatness.”

Photo by Marsha Miller.


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