McRaven is the Man: The Higher Ed Week in Review


This week, the UT System Board of Regents gathered in Austin for a two-day meeting intended to set the course for the coming year. Here are some of the decisions and deliberations that came out of it.

McRaven Comes Home to Roost

It came as no surprise that Adm. William McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, was officially appointed the next chancellor of the UT System. Current chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has indicated that he wishes to stay in office through the end of the year, though McRaven will join the System in December as “chancellor designate” according to the Texas Tribune.

In his brief remarks, McRaven paid homage to his predecessor while hinting at a very progressive administration:

I have seen the change from my current position in the military. The demographics are changing. The technology is changing. The funding model is changing. We must not only keep up with the pace of change—we must lead the change.

You can read his full remarks courtesy of the Austin-American Statesman. If you’re still unclear on who McRaven is or what a chancellor does, we’ve got you covered here and here, respectively. You can even read his job application here.

All the President’s Men (and Women)

Regents announced the co-chairs of the search committee for UT-Austin’s next president, naming former UT president Larry Faulkner and executive vice chancellor Pedro Reyes. McRaven, as an alum, will also serve on the committee. Current UT-Austin president Bill Powers agreed to step down next June after negotiations with Cigarroa.

According to regents’ rules, Texas Exes president Kay Bailey Hutchison, LLB ’67, BA ’92, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, will also serve on the search committee.

Budget Whoas

The board approved a $15.6 billion budget for the 2015 fiscal year. Here are a few highlights:

  • Hot on the heels of a $50 million gift from the Livestrong Foundation that put UT-Austin past the finish line on its ambitious $3 billion capital campaign, regents approved $800,000 to grow philanthropic efforts across the UT System. The Campaign for Texas, as UT-Austin’s campaign is known, has been one of the biggest initiatives of Powers’ administration.
  • Citing sobering statistics about a statewide shortage of scientists and engineers, regents approved major investments in engineering education, including $20 million over two years for the Science and Technology Acquisition and Retention, or STARS program. They also approved $2 million to kick-start a new Engineering, Research, and Education Institute in Houston.
  • They also ponied up $20 million over two years to establish a UT System Neuroscience and Neurotechnology Institute, a virtual institute to be launched in collaboration with UT-Austin to advance brain science.

Come Dell and High Water

UT medical school namesake Michael Dell may have made headlines by taking the ALS “ice bucket challenge” on the school’s future site this week, but the real buzz came with the aforementioned Livestrong donation, which will establish the Livestrong Cancer Institute at the Dell School, as well as inaugural dean Clay Johnston’s update to the regents.

According to The Horn:

Dr. Claiborne “Clay” Johnston, dean of the UT Austin Dell Medical School, which is expected to open in 2016, gave an update on school construction at the meeting, telling the board that plans for the school are on schedule.

He said accreditation of the school is pending approval and he expects it to go through by winter. He went on to say that the school is stepping up faculty recruitment efforts.

… Along with the construction of UT’s new medical school, a new teaching hospital owned and operated by Seton Family Healthcare is expected to open in 2017, replacing University Medical Center Brackenridge, which is adjacent to the site for the medical school.


The meeting covered dozens of topics across the System, and even an exhaustive Week in Review couldn’t cover them all. There were, however a few other decisions of interest to the Longhorn universe. Regents approved contract extensions for men’s basketball coach Rick Barnes and baseball skipper Augie Garrido, dispatching any suspicions that athletic director Steve Patterson was brought in to clean out Bellmont.

Students (and their parents) will also be happy to hear that the regents will draw from the System’s endowment to keep tuition flat.

The next meeting of the board is scheduled for Nov. 5-6 in El Paso.

Above: McRaven makes a statement after officially being appointed chancellor of the UT System. 

Photo by Anna Donlan. 


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