chancellor

McRaven appoints UT System deputy, vice chancellor

Former UT vice president and provost Steven Leslie and UT Dallas president David Daniel will join the UT System as administrators, Chancellor William McRaven announced Wednesday.

Beginning May 11, Leslie will serve as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Daniel will join the System July 1 as deputy chancellor and chief operating officer, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Leslie, currently a professor and researcher in UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy, served as provost and executive vice president from 2007 until 2013.

“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,” Leslie said in the statement.

Leslie will succeed executive vice chancellor Pedro Reyes, who announced in April that he planned to leave the System and return to teaching.

Daniel, a UT alumnus, has served as president of UT Dallas since 2005. During his presidency, UT Dallas has seen increased enrollment and graduation rates, according to the statement.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology,” McRaven said in the statement. “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.”

The System will immidiately begin a national search for the next UT Dallas president, according to the statement.

UT System chancellor William McRaven, center, and Daniel Sharphorn, general counsel and vice chancellor for the UT System, right, met with the Board of Regents on Monday.
Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor William McRaven sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Ken Paxton arguing that individual regents’ access to records can be subject to limitations in certain situations.

At a specially called meeting Monday morning, eight members of the board voted unanimously to file a brief with the AG’s office outlining the System’s official stance on regent information requests. The ninth regent, Wallace Hall, abstained from the vote.

System counsels filed the brief in response to an appeal Hall’s private attorney filed with Paxton on April 20. Hall’s attorney, Bill Aleshire, asked Paxton to formally provide advice on Hall’s request to review thousands of documents related to UT-Austin admissions and asked whether the Board or the Chancellor had the authority to prohibit Hall from obtaining copies of those records.

Hall is attempting to review the thousands of documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used in an independent investigation earlier this year. The Kroll report found President William Powers Jr. intervened in a handful of admissions cases, but concluded Powers did not violate any policies.

When Hall asked to review the Kroll documents, three regents, including Hall himself, voted to grant him access. Under Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” UT System employees must respond to information requests “without undue delay” if two or more regents vote in support of the request. 

However, McRaven told Hall that Hall’s requests ventured into independent “inquiry and investigation” and therefore would require a majority board vote for approval. In a terse email exchange, McRaven told Hall his requests for information go beyond “any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.”

“This current request for information … is detrimental to the overall well-being of the system,” McRaven wrote in an email to Hall. 

The brief filed Monday, which represented McRaven and the Board of Regents’ official position on Hall’s appeal, argued that Hall’s attorney did not have standing to seek formal advice from Paxton in the first place.

“An individual Regent is not authorized to seek an opinion of the Attorney General in his official capacity without the consent of the Board, nor may an individual Regent be represented in his official capacity by private counsel,” System lawyers wrote. “In addition, the Attorney General generally declines fact-finding and answering hypothetical questions, both of which would be required in answering the questions presented.”

Even if Paxton did agree to provide Hall advice, Hall’s requests for the documents should still be denied, according to the brief. System counsel said Regents’ Rules and federal laws exist to regulate individual regents’ access to records, especially when student privacy is a consideration.

“A Regent’s access to information is not ‘unfettered,’” the System counsel wrote. “Given the potential volume of a request for information by an individual member of the Board and the impact on workload priorities, it is inherently reasonable that the Regents’ Rules provide checks and balances.”

In his letter to Paxton, Hall’s attorney argued that Regents do have an unfettered right to agency records. 

“A regent is not a mere figurehead, passive servant of corporate management,” Aleshire wrote. “Other opinions of the Attorney General also demonstrate that a regent’s inherent right of access to the agency records is not subject to judgement of the other board members (or of the Chancellor).” 

After the meeting Monday, Regent Alex Cranberg, who originally voted to grant Hall access to the Kroll records, explained his vote in support of the brief to the AG.

“I certainly feel it’s very important to express the need for individual regents to have [the] capacity to ask hard questions, even as the majority of the board might feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think this response suggests that the regents don’t have that capacity,” Cranberg said. “[I believe the response suggests] merely that there might be some limits placed on what a regent might reasonably ask for.”

UT System Chancellor William McRaven, center, and Daniel Sharphorn, General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for the UT System, right, met with the Board of Regents on Monday morning to discuss Regent Wallace Hall's document request. The board voted to file a brief with the Texas Attorney General's Office regarding the request.

Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:34 p.m.): In a brief submitted on behalf of Chancellor William McRaven and the UT System Board of Regents, lawyers for the System asked the Attorney General to dismiss Regent Wallace Hall’s request for advice on Hall's disputed right to request thousands of admissions-related documents.

The nine-page brief comes after a two-hour meeting this morning when the Regents met with the Chancellor and the System’s legal advisers to determine their position on Hall’s request.

In the brief, Daniel Sharphorn, vice chancellor and general counsel for the UT System, and Francie Frederick, general counsel to the Board, argue that Hall did not have standing to seek formal advice from AG Ken Paxton in the first place.

“We respectfully suggest that the Attorney General consider the following...the request is not properly presented for formal advice from the Attorney General,” they wrote. “An individual Regent is not authorized to seek an opinion of the Attorney General in his official capacity without the consent of the Board, nor may an individual Regent be represented in his official capacity by private counsel. In addition, the Attorney General generally declines fact-finding and answering hypothetical questions, both of which would be required in answering the questions presented.”

Even if Paxton did agree to provide Hall advice, Hall’s requests for thousands of documents used in the admissions investigation should still be denied, they wrote.

“A Regent’s access to information is not ‘unfettered,’” Sharphorn and Frederick wrote. “Given the potential volume of a request for information by an individual member of the Board and the impact on workload priorities, it is inherently reasonable that the Regents’ Rules provide checks and balances.”

To read the full brief from Sharphorn and Frederick, scroll to the bottom of the story.

Original story: After more than two hours in executive session, the UT System Board of Regents voted to file a brief with the Texas Attorney General’s Office relating to Regent Wallace Hall's search for documents about UT-Austin admissions. UT System Chancellor William McRaven said the brief will be filed later today but declined to elaborate on its contents. 

Although the brief will address Hall’s appeal to Attorney General Ken Paxton for assistance in obtaining access to thousands of documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used in its independent investigation of UT-Austin admissions practices, board members also declined to address what the brief’s specific focus will be. The board voted to file the brief by a unanimous vote of eight, with Hall abstaining.

After the board reconvened in open session, Regent Alex Cranberg indicated the System brief will likely outline reasons Hall should not be granted the documents.

“I certainly feel it’s very important to express the need for individual regents to have [the] capacity to ask hard questions, even as the majority of the board might feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think this response suggests that the regents don’t have that capacity,” Cranberg said. “[I believe the response suggests] merely that there might be some limits placed on what a regent might reasonably ask for.”

Cranberg also alluded to concerns that some of the documents Hall is requesting might contain personal student information, protected under federal privacy laws.

“If anyone is asking, in effect, for the System to violate federal law, that should not be allowed to occur,” Cranberg said.

Hall began asking for this round of documents in early March, after the Kroll investigation concluded that President William Powers Jr. had exerted influence in the admissions of a handful of students but had not technically broken any rules. The investigation found that administrators at the University and within the UT System held “wildly divergent” attitudes about whether considering relationships between the University and high-ranking officials is an appropriate factor in the holistic review process.

After the results of the investigation were released, McRaven declined to take punitive action, although he said he would like to see admissions policies clarified going forward.

“There are a lot of thing we could do better, but, at the end of the day, no willful misconduct [occurred], and I found no criminal activity, and, therefore, I intend to take no disciplinary action,” McRaven said in February.

When Hall asked for the documents Kroll had used in the investigation, three regents, including Hall himself, voted to allow him access. Under Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” UT System employees must respond to information requests “without undue delay” if two or more regents vote in support of the request.

However, McRaven said Hall’s request fell under the category of “inquiry and investigation,” invoking another policy that would require a majority board vote for approval.

“I have no concerns about giving you information that is consistent with your regental needs to be better informed, i.e. how the admissions process works … that is what the board approved,” McRaven told Hall in a terse email exchange in April. “However, your twelve requests for information lead any reader to believe that you are further investigating the Kroll report, the Fisher litigation, Legislative compliance, all of which are perfectly acceptable for a board, if procedurally the majority of the board wants to undertake these new inquiries...If it is [a new inquiry], I have no problem with that, as long as the majority of the board approves.”

Hall responded by having his lawyer, Bill Aleshire, ask Paxton to address whether the board or the chancellor have the legal authority to prohibit regents from having access to copies of records they believes are necessary to fulfill regential duties.

“Regent Wallace Hall has concerns about corrupted processes at the University of Texas at Austin, most recently regarding student admissions practices,” Aleshire wrote to Paxton. “Other opinions of the Attorney General also demonstrate that a regent’s inherent right of access to [records] is not subject to the judgement of other board members (or of the Chancellor) as to whether they think the regent ‘needs’ that information.”

Read the brief the UT System counsel filed with the Attorney General's office here: 

Brief to Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor William McRaven...

Chancellor William McRaven discusses national defense and security Monday night at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. McRaven served as a four-star general in the U.S. Military.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Chancellor William McRaven gave a lecture on national defense and security Monday for the Glickman Centennial Lecture at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. 

McRaven, a retired four-star admiral in the United States Military, spoke about the greatest changes in the field during his time. 

“9/11 has fundamentally changed everything about how we do business,” McRaven said. “Fortunately, the government was good to us. They recognized the value of special operations, and they funded it, and they grew the force appropriately.” 

Plan II senior Mark Jbeily said he agreed with McRaven that terrorism is the greatest threat to society. Jbeily, a Marshall Scholar, said Americans are reminded of the threat of terrorism because of recent successful terrorist attacks. 

“I agree with what [McRaven] said about the greatest threat to our security,” Jbeily said. “The terrorist threat that we saw after 9/11 has evolved, but it’s an ongoing threat, and when you don’t have — thank goodness — attacks on the homeland and attacks on high-visibility targets, I think people start to forget. But the reason we don’t have those attacks is because there [are] a lot of people working hard to make sure those attacks don’t happen.” 

McRaven said the first thing he did when he took his job at U.S. Special Operations was to call on FedEx to share how they do business. 

“[FedEx] is a global enterprise, just like we were, and I wanted to know how they were able to act locally but function globally,” McRaven said. 

The connections between illegal and malicious entities throughout the world continue to be areas of great concern for national defense, McRaven said. 

“Everything is connected — it is a network out there, and this was the thing that we found very early on in our fight, and it surprised us,” McRaven said. “We in special operations had to build a network to defeat a network.”

Having dealt with international struggles in special operations, McRaven said the notion that global struggles should not concern the United States worries him. 

“There is no such thing as a local problem,” McRaven said. “Today, in the environment we’re in, part of my concern is sometimes we sit between the Pacific and the Atlantic, and we say, ‘You know what happens in Algeria. That’s a long ways away. I don’t really think we have to worry about it.’” 

Suzan Glickman, the wife of the lecture’s namesake, Julius Glickman, said the lecture was a good opportunity for the community to interact with McRaven. 

“I think it’s great the people get to know [McRaven] and see what his vision is, partly for the University of Texas but also the special ops and what’s going on in the world,” Glickman said. “He’s very bright, has been in all kinds of positions of authority, and when you see his personality, you can know what he’s going to be and how far-thinking he is for the University
of Texas.”

UT System Regent Wallace Hall is continuing his investigation into the University’s admission practices.
Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

UT System Regent Wallace Hall is appealing to the attorney general to review student information, despite UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s admonition that Hall’s requests go “well beyond any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.”

In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office earlier this week, Hall’s attorney asked Paxton to intervene after McRaven denied Hall access to requested material. Hall is seeking files used in an independent investigation into admission practices at the University.

In early March, Hall asked to be provided with the documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used to review admissions. The results of the investigation, released in February, found that UT President William Powers Jr. had exerted influence in the admission of a handful of students but concluded that no formal rules were broken. 

Three regents voted to support Hall’s requests, but the Chancellor said Hall would not be given the records unless the Board authorized such access by majority vote, according to the letter Hall’s lawyer sent Paxton, first obtained by the Texas Tribune.

“The Chancellor asserted that giving Regent Hall access to the Kroll records constituted reopening the investigation of student admissions practices or involved FERPA-protected records,” the email said. “The Chancellor decided that Regent Hall did not have an ‘educational purpose’ for reviewing the Kroll records that was sufficient in the Chancellor’s opinion.”

In the email, Hall’s lawyer, Bill Aleshire, asked the attorney general to consider two questions: whether the Board of Regents can prohibit a regent from obtaining access to records the regent believes are “necessary to review to fulfill his duties as a regent,” and whether the chancellor can do to the same.

Aleshire invoked Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” which says that UT System employees must respond to requests for information “without undue delay.” 

“For the purpose of a Board vote on this issue, the vote of any two or more Regents in support of the request is sufficient to direct that the request will be filled without delay,” the policy says.

Barbara Holthaus, UT System assistant general counsel, said there is an exception to FERPA rules called the university official exception. Under this exception, anyone employed by the University who needs access to the confidential information to perform a job may have access. 

Holthaus said any University official seeking access must have an educational purpose, and a person’s position or title does not immediately justify a request for confidential student information. 

“In the case of a regent or a chancellor or president, as long as the access they are requiring is pursuant to a legitimate educational purpose and it’s part of their duties, then they can have access to information that is subject to FERPA,” Holthaus said. “What we know under FERPA, though, is the mere fact that you have a position such as a chancellor or a president doesn’t mean that you get access to any information that you need.” 

In another email to Hall, McRaven further attempted to explain why he did not feel Hall’s requests met those criteria.

“I have no concerns about giving you information that is consistent with your regental needs to be better informed, i.e. how the admissions process works … that is what the board approved,” McRaven wrote. “However, your twelve requests for information lead any reader to believe that you are further investigating the Kroll report, the Fisher litigation, Legislative compliance, all of which are perfectly acceptable for a board, if procedurally the majority of the board wants to undertake these new inquiries. I remain willing to meet with you and provide you information as long as that information isn’t part of an additional inquiry. If it is, I have no problem with that, as long as the majority of the board approves.”

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.

Andrew Hamilton, reported as finalist to replace Powers, will be NYU's next president

Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor at the University of Oxford, will be New York University's next president. Hamilton was widely reported as the front-runner to replace President William Powers Jr. in the search for UT's next president.
Andrew Hamilton, vice chancellor at the University of Oxford, will be New York University's next president. Hamilton was widely reported as the front-runner to replace President William Powers Jr. in the search for UT's next president.

Oxford University vice chancellor Andrew Hamilton has been selected as New York University's next president, NYU administrators announced Wednesday.

Hamilton, whom many considered to be the front-runner for the UT presidency, will succeed NYU president John Sexton in January 2016. Hamilton was interviewed by the UT System Board of Regents and met with a small search committee earlier this month.

“I am delighted to be selected as NYU’s 16th president,” Hamilton said in a statement. “I am looking forward with great eagerness to working with NYU’s faculty, students, administrators, and staff, and to joining a university that is so manifestly energetic, innovative, and successful.”

Greg Fenves, executive vice president and provost of the University, and David Daniel, president of UT-Dallas, are the remaining finalists in the search for the UT president, according sources directly involved with the search committee.

Before joining Oxford in 2009, Hamilton worked as an assistant professor of chemistry at Princeton University, and then as a department chair and professor of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh. He also served as provost of Yale University from 2004 until 2008.

To read more about the presidential search process, click here. 

UT faculty and students don't want campus carry

On Monday, the Faculty Council (unanimously, I might add) reaffirmed its ban of firearms on campus following UT System Chancellor William McRaven's statement against the open carry bill currently making its way through the Legislature. Student Government came out with its decision to oppose the bill as well on Tuesday night. Senate Bill 17, the campus carry bill, and Senate Bill 17, the open carry bill, passed out of committee 7-2 last week despite objections from faculty and students. The fact that UT faculty and students' continuing opposition to Campus Carry is not being reflected in the decisions of our public officials is worrisome. 

Beyond the threatening and unsafe atmosphere SB 11 would bring to campus, the bills would symbolize law being made without support from or consideration of the opinions of those being directly affected. It is in situations like these that the voices of Student Government and the Faculty Council should not be ignored. They are the representatives of our campus community and should have an integral say in the matter. 

Colin Goddard, a survivor of the Virginia Tech massacre who was shot four times, spoke at a Feb. 12 hearing concerning the bills before the committee voted, as did several UT students. Goddard said, “We survivors do not think that it is a good idea to have guns on campus. There is no evidence that a bill like SB 11 would do anything to stop a mass shooting, but SB 11 would make the average day on campus more dangerous in an environment where students are dealing with failing grades, alcohol abuse [and] relationship problems.” He's totally right. SB 11 would have no positive effects on campus life. 

Unsurprisingly, Texas A&M's chancellor recently came out in support of Campus Carry and some of his students have followed suit. Fine. Let them do what they want on their campus. If they support it, let them decide that for themselves. But UT does not want campus carry, and that should matter. Let us keep our campus gun-free and listen to and respect the voices of our students and faculty.

Bounds is an associate editor.

McRaven not afraid to confront governor, legislature

At the beginning of this year, William McRaven, a retired admiral in the U.S. Navy, became the next chancellor of the University of Texas system. He succeeded Francisco Cigarroa, a longtime surgeon who had served in the position for five years. Already, McRaven has taken steps to positively distinguish himself from his predecessor. Namely, his few weeks in office have already been filled with confrontations against state government officials, namely in an attempt to allow the system campuses — especially this one — to retain autonomy against an overbearing and micromanaging legislature.

First, in the wake of news that the Texas Senate had all-but-assured passage of the so-called "Campus Carry" bill, which would allow for concealed handgun license holders to bring their guns to college, McRaven was firm in his opposition to the asinine proposal. No sane person could allege that McRaven, a career military officer who led the famous operation to kill Osama bin Laden, is anti-gun; he's just pro-common sense.

"There is great concern that the presence of handguns, even if limited to licensed individuals 21 or older, will lead to an increase in both accidental shootings and self-inflicted wounds," McRaven wrote in a letter sent to Governor Greg Abbott and others. "I feel that the presence of concealed weapons will make a campus a less-safe environment."

But it's not just issues of public safety. On Thursday, the Texas Tribune reported that McRaven, in an interview with Tribune CEO Evan Smith, iterated his steadfast support for the Texas Dream act, which allows for undocumented students to pay in-state tuition to public universities. The law, which was passed nearly unanimously by the legislature and signed by then-Governor Rick Perry in 2001, is in jeopardy after both Abbott and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick have set their sights on it.

"My job is to help educate the young men and women of Texas," McRaven told Smith during the interview. "If we have been doing that for these undocumented students for, at a minimum, the past three years as they’ve made it through high school, and in many cases since they were in elementary school, I think it’s appropriate to continue to educate them."

The current leadership in Texas, specifically Abbott and Patrick, are confessed enemies of local control, be it in municipal regulations or how a university runs things on campus. Thankfully, in McRaven, this university has a chancellor willing to stand up to the madness.

Horwitz is  the Senior Associate Editor.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa speaks at the Student Government meeting in October. Cigarroa, who has held his position for over five years, is leaving his role as chancellor in January to return to medicine. 

Photo Credit: Amy Zhang | Daily Texan Staff

The Cigarroa family has had a long and affectionate relationship with the University of Texas at Austin. My father attended UT in the 1940s and left when Harvard Medical School admitted him after his junior year. That’s a strong endorsement of UT’s academic preparation, even 70 years ago. He is still practicing medicine to this day, and he credits UT for his success and for inspiring him to be a critical thinker and lifelong learner. 

In the summer after my freshman year at Yale, I took a course in physics here at UT. It was the most difficult course I’ve ever taken. I wanted to do research on cell biology, so I looked at the syllabus and discovered that Dr. Guy Thompson was an expert in cell membrane physiology. I knocked on his door and asked if I could do research in his laboratory that summer.  Even though he didn’t know me, he was pleased by my interest and determination, and he welcomed me into his lab. He taught me the fundamentals of basic science research, and to this day, I credit Dr. Thompson for my love of biomedical research.

The lives of three generations of Cigarroas from South Texas as well as many other lives have been transformed by their educational experiences at UT Austin. What starts at UT truly changes the world, and that is one of many reasons this great flagship university is regarded with the utmost admiration and respect. It is also why one of my most important priorities as chancellor of the University of Texas System was to advance excellence at the UT flagship and strive to make it the best public university in the nation. 

Over the past six years, the System leadership team and I — in close collaboration with the Board of Regents and institution presidents — focused our attention on several important initiatives:

We worked on accessibility and affordability for UT students and their families, with a special emphasis on controlling tuition increases and student debt. 

We improved student advising. 

We provided greater safeguards for campus security and addressed a growing need for mental health counseling in the university community.

We developed and implemented best-in-class blended and online learning and greatly expanded access to online educational tools.

We supported a flurry of new state-of-the-art centers and complexes that are indicative of UT Austin’s growth and national stature in a wide range of fields, including the Belo Center for New Media in the Moody College of Communication, the Engineering Education and Research Center, the Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Science Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall and the Liberal Arts Building.

After several years of planning, the UT System, working in close collaboration with President William Powers Jr. and his leadership team, are building the new Dell Medical School at UT Austin, which will educate and train new generations of doctors and health professionals and give the University a major biomedical research component. It will also solidify Austin as a world-class center for research, technology innovation and entrepreneurship. 

And we are funding the establishment of major institutes which will benefit UT Austin in the fields of neuroscience and neurotechnology, engineering education, energy research and computer science.

As I leave the chancellor’s office and return to transplant surgery at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, I see a very bright future ahead for UT Austin and all UT institutions across the state. Retired Admiral William McRaven will serve as the next chancellor, and he is an experienced and effective leader with impeccable integrity and a long and distinguished career of service to our nation. The System is in excellent hands. 

Serving as chancellor has been an extraordinary experience. People have asked what motivated me most, and it’s a very easy question to answer. What inspired me most every day was my interaction with remarkable people and the knowledge that, while the daily work was challenging, the end result was eminently worth it. My days were enriched by getting to know students, alumni, presidents, donors, faculty and staff members at UT institutions spread across this great state. I cherish those many interactions, and I will carry their memory with me for the rest of my life.   

University of Texas students — you are our future, and you will shape the intellectual and economic landscape of our state and nation in the years ahead. I have complete faith in you. If your educational experience on this campus has been like my father’s and mine, and countless others for more than a 130 years, then UT has instilled in you a love of learning that will lead you toward an abundant and fulfilling life. Embrace this experience. It is a rare and wonderful thing.

As I prepare to step down from this truly extraordinary job, I want to take the time to thank you, the students of the University of Texas, for entrusting your education to us. Education is an investment that will never fail you. I know that sometimes pursuing higher education takes great personal sacrifice, and being a part of your journey has been the honor of my lifetime. 

Cigarroa is the outgoing chancellor of the UT System.