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UT System hires new associate vice chancellor to head leadership and veterans’ programs

AUSTIN – Tony Cucolo, a recently retired U.S. Army major general, has joined The University of Texas System’s Office of Academic Affairs as associate vice chancellor for leadership development and veterans’ affairs.

Cucolo served more than 35 years in the U.S. Army, retiring in September 2014. He has more than two decades of senior management experience leading large and diverse organizations in the U.S. and in international settings. His final tour of duty was spent leading the U.S. Army War College, an accredited institution for strategic studies, whose student bodies include senior U.S. and foreign national security professionals preparing for leadership positons at the strategic level of the government and the military.  

In his new role, Cucolo will work with all UT institutions to identify leadership development opportunities for students, faculty, administrators and staff. This will include establishing an executive level leadership institute that will serve every aspect of higher education and clinical care.

He will also coordinate with and integrate the variety of veterans’ support activities and organizations across the institutions to maximize support for their success. Additionally, he will be in a position to leverage veterans’ experience in the development of the leadership training and education.

“This is critical to my vision for UT and Tony is absolutely the right man for the job,” Chancellor William H. McRaven said. “In conjunction with the institutions, Tony will be developing leadership curriculum for both undergraduate and graduate students and working with institutions to incorporate leadership training and education into the degree programs. He will also be a champion for our veteran students, ensuring veterans at UT institutions can take full advantage of all of the benefits and support they’ve earned through their service to our country.”

While serving as a general officer for the last 11 years of his military career, Cucolo developed a remarkably unique portfolio of experience. He led soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, led analysis teams in combat zones and on natural disaster recovery efforts such as Hurricane Katrina, commanded the largest Army base east of the Mississippi, developed the $35 billion equipment program for the Army, served as the Army’s chief of public affairs and was the commandant of the U.S. Army War College. In the past eight months since his transition to civilian life, he has been the senior advisor to a strategic studies group and a mentor for three executive leader development courses.

Commissioned an Infantry officer in 1979, he served worldwide leading organizations varying in size from 100 personnel to 22,000, with over half of his career spent directly leading operations. Perhaps most notably, three times in the last 20 years he led organizations in significant high-risk, confidence-building efforts between ethnic and religious antagonists. In Bosnia, he encouraged Muslim, Serb and Croat leaders to reach agreements on a range of issues, bringing stability to a hotly contested region. In Afghanistan, he led initial tripartite efforts between U.S., Afghan and Pakistan military leaders. In Iraq, as commander of U.S. forces in the seven provinces north of Baghdad, he successfully initiated a grass-roots effort to build confidence between Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds along their disputed ethnic fault line crossing that country from Syria to Iran.

Cucolo earned a bachelor’s degree from the United States Military Academy at West Point and a master’s degree from the University of San Francisco. Among his awards are three Distinguished Service medals, the Bronze Star, the U.S. State Department Superior Achievement award and the French Legion of Honor.

“I could not be more excited to join this team serving Texas and take on this new role. The responsibilities combine the two things that energized me the most while I was in uniform: leader development and caring for my brothers and sisters in the profession of arms,” Cucolo said. “The topic of leadership, the theory and practice of it and the effort to grow leaders has been and remains my great passion. I’ve been on the receiving end of both wonderful and horrible leadership, been a humble practitioner at multiple levels in a wide variety of environments and conditions, and to this day remain student of it.

“In this increasingly globally interconnected world of ours, effective leadership at the local, state, national and international levels is absolutely necessary for our success – for our survival – as a nation,” Cucolo continued. “UT System institutions have a history of providing our society with those leaders, and it is an honor to be a part of continuing that effort as envisioned by Chancellor McRaven. Add to my responsibilities the mandate to provide support and advocacy for the military veterans across our system, and I’m eager to roll up my sleeves and get after it.”

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.