McRaven taps two top scholar administrators to help lead UT System

AUSTIN – Chancellor William H. McRaven today announced the hiring of two respected leaders to fill pivotal roles for The University of Texas System. McRaven said these new team members will be critically important in his mission to make the UT System and the state of Texas the world’s center of excellence in higher education.

David E. Daniel, Ph.D., will move from his post as president of UT Dallas to become McRaven’s right-hand man beginning July 1, carrying out the chancellor’s vision for UT in the new role of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer. Daniel will assist McRaven in the implementation of the UT System’s major goals and will handle a number of the daily operational aspects of the organization. Steven Leslie, Ph.D., will become UT System’s chief academic leader as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs beginning May 11. Leslie is succeeding Pedro Reyes, Ph.D., who announced in April that he will return fulltime to teaching and research. Currently a professor and researcher in UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy, Leslie served as provost and executive vice president of UT Austin from 2007 until 2013.

Daniel has spent the last decade at the helm of UT Dallas. During that span, UT Dallas has increased enrollment 60 percent, from 14,000 to 23,000. In that same period, graduation rates climbed: four-year graduation rates went from 30 to 53 percent, and six-year rates went from 56 to 76 percent. UT Dallas’ tenure and tenure-track faculty has grown from 350 to 536.

The average SAT score of incoming freshmen at UT Dallas remains among the highest at any Texas public university. During Daniel’s presidency, UT Dallas added 50 new academic programs and boasts a current enrollment of 285 National Merit Scholars.

UT Dallas is consistently ranked a “best value” in national publications such as Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and The Princeton Review. UT Dallas made its first appearance in US News & World Report’s top tier ranking during Daniel’s decade as president.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology. He is a respected voice on the needs and benefits of higher education to the state of Texas, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to propel an institution forward on a magnificent trajectory,” McRaven said. “Everything he has done as president of UT Dallas prepares him for this new role, and now the entire UT System will be a beneficiary of his leadership.”

Daniel received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering from The University of Texas at Austin and served on the faculty at UT Austin from 1980 to 1996. In 1996, he moved to the University of Illinois, finishing his service as dean of the College of Engineering before being appointed UT Dallas' president in 2005.

“I am excited about this new opportunity,” Daniel said. “Chancellor McRaven is an extraordinary leader who is deeply committed to addressing the most significant challenges facing higher education. The institutions that comprise the UT System – led by our Board of Regents, Chancellor McRaven and the presidents of our institutions – are in an ideal position to be leaders in developing solutions. I look forward to becoming part of the team that will tackle these challenges at a system- and state-wide level.”

McRaven said the UT System will immediately launch a national search to select UT Dallas’ next president.

“David Daniel has successfully put UT Dallas on a path to become one of Texas’ top tier research universities, and we will work diligently to select a new president who will lead and even accelerate the institution’s meteoric rise,” McRaven said.

As provost of UT Austin, Steve Leslie oversaw the university’s deans, admissions and information management, the registrar’s office and financial aid. He was crucial in laying the foundation for the new Dell Medical School and was lauded by university leadership for his steady guidance and ambitious vision.

“Steve has served the students of UT Austin with tremendous distinction for four decades and I couldn’t be more proud to welcome him to UT System where I know he will make an impact at all of our academic institutions across the state,” McRaven said. “Steve is a gifted teacher, brilliant researcher and a consummate leader. I am confident he is the perfect partner to support our academic institutions in their relentless pursuit of excellence.”

Leslie’s experience both in the academic and medical fields is a perfect fit at a time of transition. Historically, health and academic institutions have been separate in the UT System. However, the new Dell Medical School at UT Austin and a medical school at the new UT Rio Grande Valley, scheduled to open in 2016, signal a seismic shift for UT. For the first time, UT academic campuses will be home to schools of medicine, opening up a range of possibilities for research collaboration and synergies. 

“I am honored to join the UT System in this pivotal role to help guide the mission of UT academic campuses across this great state,” Leslie said. “There are many ambitious initiatives already underway that are bound to have national and even international impact, and I am thrilled to join Chancellor McRaven as we work to position The University of Texas System as the undisputed finest public university system in the world.”

Prior to his tenure as provost, Leslie served as dean of UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy for nine years. A dedicated research scientist and teacher, Leslie is renowned for his ground-breaking research in the field of alcoholism studies. He has held several administrative appointments at UT Austin and served as director of the UT Institute for Neuroscience from 1986 to 1992.

With the exception of a two-year stint at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Medical Center, Leslie has been a UT Austin faculty member since 1974. He earned his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and doctorate in pharmacology/toxicology from Purdue University.

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 an enrollment of more than 214,000. 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 $15.6 billion (FY 2015) 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.

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