On Tuesday evening, the University of Texas Board of Regents unanimously voted to name Admiral William McRaven, a University of Texas graduate and Distinguished Alumnus, as the sole finalist to replace Francisco Cigarroa as the chancellor of The University of Texas system. State law, however, requires the regents to wait 21 days before making the announcement official.

McRaven, who grew up in San Antonio, graduated from UT-Austin in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in Middle Eastern Studies. During his time on the 40 Acres, McRaven was a member of the track team as well as the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Upon graduation, McRaven enlisted in the Navy, which was the beginning of an outstanding and heroic career. The four-star admiral and Navy SEAL is currently the commander of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Notably, he is credited for planning the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May of 2011.

Despite his impressive military accomplishments, some have wondered if McRaven is truly the right man to become the highest officer in the State of Texas’ flagship university system. Those doubters consistently reference his lack of experience in higher education.

Let me assure you: Admiral William McRaven is undoubtedly the right man for the job.

As chancellor, McRaven will be the chief administrative officer of the entire UT system, comprised of nine universities and six health institutions, which includes 215,000 students and 90,000 employees. He will oversee the hiring and performance of the presidents throughout the UT system. Additionally, he will determine the budget (which is estimated to be around $16 billion), set tuition rates, and create and implement other important policies. McRaven, in his current position with the military, is in command of 66,000 Special Forces (in all branches), and is in control of a $14 billion budget. There should be no doubting his administrative and leadership experience.

To say he has no higher education experience is also remiss. As a student at the Naval Postgraduate School, he helped write and implement the Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict curriculum, becoming the first graduate of the program. While McRaven may not be the “academic” chancellor the university has had in the past, he has proven to have unmatched leadership skills, which is exactly what the UT system needs at the moment.

McRaven steps into a situation that has recently been quite tumultuous. There are reports of a power struggle among members of the UT Board of Regents, the governing body of the university system and the group to which McRaven will directly report, due primarily to differences in educational ideology. As a result, there has been a great divide in the university’s leadership. Additionally, Regent Wallace Hall has been under investigation, and current UT-Austin President Bill Powers has announced that he will resign after upcoming school year, after a failed attempt by the current chancellor and some of the regents to dismiss him, thus creating even more uncertainty.

The UT system is in dire need of someone to step in and help resolve some of these recurring issues. It needs someone to lead one of the nation’s most renowned universities into the future, and due to his unparalleled leadership abilities as well as administrative experience, there is no doubt that Admiral William McRaven is the perfect man to lead it there.


UT's new Chancellor delivering the commencement speech to the Class of 2014:

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