Fenves named UT's next president

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of UT Austin

The UT System Board of Regents voted to name Gregory Fenves, executive vice president and provost, UT’s next president.

The regents met by phone call for a special meeting Monday to vote on Fenves’ appointment, with eight of the nine regents voting in favor and one abstaining.

Reflecting on an uncertain and, at times, rocky relationship between the Board of Regents and past presidents, Fenves said he looks forward to working together for the benefit of UT.

“As the leader of UT-Austin, I look forward to working with the entire Board of Regents in advancing our great university,” Fenves said.

UT System Chancellor William McRaven said he has become familiar with Fenves in his time as chancellor.

“I’ve had an opportunity to work with Dr. Fenves closely here over the last three-and-a-half months in my time as the chancellor, and I think he is an excellent choice for the job,” McRaven said.

Fenves said his ultimate goal for UT is to move forward and help the University continue to become a world-class institution.

“We want to move forward in a positive way,” Fenves said. “I think we need to agree on a common purpose and a vision for the University, agree on what our goals are and how we’re going to achieve those goals.” 

Regent Alex Cranberg voted against naming Fenves as the sole finalist for the position last month, but he voted in favor of Fenves on Monday. Cranberg said he worried about how Fenves would handle growth at the University.

“I voted against naming Provost Fenves as the sole finalist in the last meeting mostly because of my concerns about the opportunity for growth in undergraduate education at the University of Texas at Austin — balancing extensive growth and desired growth,” Cranberg said.

After conversations with Fenves and UT System chancellor William McRaven, Cranberg said he feels Fenves would lead the University’s growth in the right direction.

“I believe he’ll lead the University forward,” Cranberg said. “I feel that if we choose to embrace enrollment growth that was successfully done with engineering and potentially business — that Dr. Fenves will do a great job leading that.”

Regent Wallace Hall also voted against naming Fenves the sole finalist to be UT’s next President at the meeting in March. Hall said he would prefer UT’s new leadership to have come from outside sources.

“I’ve expressed my strong and unambiguous desire for fresher leadership from outside the University,” Hall said. “This should not be taken as criticism of Dr. Fenves, man or the leader.”

Because of unanswered questions regarding admissions policy at UT, he abstained from the vote Monday, Hall said.

“I look very much forward to working with him as our president in years ahead,” Hall said before the vote. “But due to the lingering and unresolved questions concerning the previous and ongoing admission processes, I will abstain from voting.”

UT-Austin has committed to working with the UT System to resolve issues regarding the admissions process, Fenves said.

“Clearly there are a lot of discussions about admission,” Fenves said. “We have committed as a campus, and I commit as the leader of the University, to work with the chancellor and the board in establishing policies for admission going forward.” 

Fenves will take his position as president June 3.