McRaven named sole finalist for UT System chancellor

Admiral William H. McRaven
Admiral William H. McRaven

AUSTIN – The governing board of The University of Texas System has selected Admiral William H. McRaven, currently commander of the United States Special Operations Command, as the sole finalist for chancellor of The University of Texas System.

McRaven’s recommendation was unanimously approved by the UT System Board of Regents at a special called meeting on Tuesday, July 29. McRaven met earlier this spring with Regents’ Chairman Paul Foster and Vice Chairmen Gene Powell and Steve Hicks, who comprised the search committee.

“We are honored to announce Adm. McRaven as our sole finalist for the next chancellor of The University of Texas System,” Foster said. “Adm. McRaven is a nationally and internationally respected leader and a true American hero. 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.

“The health and economic vitality of our state and country are dependent upon the strength and innovation of our public universities, and we believe we have found the best person to lead these efforts,” Foster continued. “I am profoundly grateful to my fellow regents, Vice Chairmen Gene Powell and Steve Hicks, for their service on the search committee, and to all of the UT presidents, students, alumni and many members of the public for providing input and nominations for this leadership position. I would also like to express my sincerest gratitude to Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa for six years of stellar service to the UT System. He will be greatly missed.” 

A 1977 graduate of UT Austin’s College of Communication, McRaven is a Navy SEAL who earned his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School. During his 37-year distinguished military career he has commanded at every level within the special operations community. In 2011, he was named Texan of the Year by the Dallas Morning News and was also honored by Time Magazine as a runner-up for Person of the Year.

President Barack Obama nominated McRaven for his appointment to the rank of four-star admiral in 2011, and soon after he was named commander of the United States Special Operations Command. As the leader of U.S. Special Ops, McRaven oversees a 67,000-person, $10 billion operation and plays one of the nation’s premier roles in keeping the country safe.

Author of “Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare: Theory and Practice,” considered a fundamental text on special operations strategy, McRaven also served as commander of Special Operations Command Europe and was tapped to be the first director of the NATO Special Operation Forces Coordination Centre.

Perhaps best known for planning and orchestrating the operation that led to the death of Osama Bin Laden and playing a supporting role in the capture of Saddam Hussein in 2003, McRaven has been called bold, innovative, visionary and courageous by national leaders and his military peers. His military career has spanned the globe. He has served as a trusted White House advisor and has spent countless hours delivering Congressional testimony, assisting lawmakers in understanding critical policy issues.

“We were aware that getting Adm. McRaven to consider the UT System position might have presented a challenge, given high demand nationally for his leadership,” Foster said. “We were honored that he chose the UT System as the most important place where he could continue to serve his nation upon his pending retirement from a most distinguished military career.”

McRaven’s military legacy is not limited to strategy, warfare and securing federal support. He also spearheaded the creation of the Preservation of the Force & Family initiative, calling it a “moral imperative” to take care of the mental, spiritual and physical well-being of those who serve in the Special Operations Forces, as well as their families.  His wife, Georgeann, has dedicated much of her career to playing a leadership role with military families and wounded warriors.

McRaven is also widely credited with initiating the development of the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit or TALOS project. McRaven challenged researchers and scientists in 2013 to work together to develop a suit that could provide an exoskeleton made of liquid armor and smart fabrics to do things such as repel bullets, stop hemorrhaging and enhance sensory capabilities. Several premier research universities, including Johns Hopkins, MIT and Georgia Tech, are collaborating on the project with defense and industry leaders.  

"I would be honored to have the opportunity to serve The University of Texas System and the people of Texas,” McRaven said. “My wife Georgeann and I are excited about returning home to our family and friends. I thank the Regents for their trust and confidence in my leadership and I look forward to this extraordinary responsibility with enthusiasm and gratitude.”

The son of an Air Force pilot and grandson of an Army doctor, McRaven spent his formative years growing up in San Antonio. He graduated from San Antonio’s Roosevelt High School before heading to UT Austin on an ROTC scholarship. There, he majored in journalism and met his wife.

The selection of McRaven as the finalist for the chief administrative position at the UT System is the result of a national search for a successor to Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. Cigarroa has served as the UT System chancellor since 2009 but announced earlier this year his plans to return full time to pediatric transplant surgery. In January, Cigarroa will return to the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, where he served as president for nine years, to head the pediatric transplant surgery department. During his time as chancellor, Cigarroa continued to perform transplant surgeries several times a month. He maintained a strong focus on the health of Texas, and under his leadership the UT System is establishing two new medical schools, one at UT Austin and another at UT Rio Grande Valley.

“It is a bittersweet time for me. Being chancellor of The University of Texas System has been the highlight of my career,” Cigarroa said. “But I am thrilled by the Board’s selection of Adm. McRaven as the sole finalist, and I truly believe that the future of the UT System could not be in more capable hands.”

Under state law, university governing boards must name finalists for chancellor at least 21 days before making an appointment. The Board of Regents must meet again to make an official appointment. If appointed, McRaven will begin his new duties in January 2015.

About The University of Texas System

Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking research and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States, with nine academic universities, six health institutions and a fall 2013 enrollment of more than 213,000. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public universities in Texas. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $14.6 billion (FY 2014) including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With about 90,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.