Vice chancellor to step down, teach full time

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Last week, a UT System executive vice chancellor announced he will step down from his position.

Pedro Reyes, UT System executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, will step down once a replacement is found, according to a statement released Thursday.

Reyes joined the UT System in 2003 after being a faculty member at UT-Austin since 1991. Aside from some special projects with the UT System, Reyes will return to the UT College of Education to teach full-time, according to the statement.

UT President William Powers Jr. said Reyes’ move is not surprising, considering he, himself, is planning to teach after he steps down from his position as president in June.

“I think it’s quite typical of administrators to come back to teaching — that’s what I’m going to do,” Powers said.

Wanda Mercer, associate vice chancellor of student affairs, said she knows Reyes well after working with him for the past five years.

“What I really appreciate is his dedication to students, his commitment to UT and his work ethic,” Mercer said. “There is no one that works harder than Pedro Reyes. I come in every day early to do morning workout, and he’s there by seven in the morning and seldom leaves
before six.”

Mercer said in his time at the UT System, Reyes has established a policy of helping the System universities without necessarily exerting complete control. She said this approach is unique to the UT System.

“He is just trying to provide support to the campuses without directing what they do,” Mercer said. “He is trying to help them achieve their goals.”

At a conference in March, UT System Chancellor William McRaven said, like Reyes, he supports the System universities in their own aspirations.

“I’m going to support the [University] presidents,” McRaven said. “What I learned over my years in the military is it’s not about the higher headquarters, it’s about how the higher headquarters support the individual institutions.”

Mercer said students remained Reyes’ primary focus throughout his career.

“What I think is most important is the commitment to students, trying to do what’s right for students, even at the System level,” Mercer said. “Whether he’s setting up [UT Rio Grande Valley] or leading us to establish student success efforts, at every endeavor, students are at the heart of his commitment.”

Mercer said she understands why Reyes would want to step down to return to teaching.

“The job as executive vice chancellor is very demanding, almost all-consuming, so I was quite understanding of the intention of going back to something he still loves to do that might help him achieve a little more balance in his life,” Mercer said.

In his time at the UT System, Reyes has continued to teach part-time in the College of Education. Mercer said Reyes has always been passionate about teaching.

“He’s always been teaching — he’s hardly given that up,” Mercer said. “I think he’s enjoyed his job at the System, but he truly loves teaching and research.”