UT System's search for a new chancellor officially underway


The UT System is officially launching the search for a new chancellor to replace Bill McRaven, who is set to step down in May.

The System invited the public to submit comments and nominations for a new chancellor in a Wednesday press release. A website for public feedback and more information on the chancellor search will also be launched within the next couple of days, UT System spokesperson Karen Adler said.

Comments can currently be emailed to Francie Frederick (ffrederick@utsystem.edu), the System’s Board Counsel, and Stephen Newton (UTChancellor@russellreynolds.com) of the executive search firm Russell Reynolds, which has been contracted to assist the System.

The chancellor, or chief executive officer, works with the UT System’s Board of Regents, staff and university presidents to develop and execute the System’s academic and financial plans. The chancellor is also the face of the System and communicates with Texas lawmakers and other higher education leaders.

Chancellor McRaven currently leads the System, but he announced his resignation due to health reasons in last December. The Board of Regents oversees and appoints the chancellor, and hopes to hire a replacement at least six months before the next legislative session begins January 2019.

“The role of chancellor is paramount,” Board Chairman Sara Martinez Tucker said in the press release. “I assure you the Board of Regents will identify the most qualified, exceptional candidate for the job.”

Tucker and a committee made up of the two current Board Vice Chairmen and two former Board Chairmen will use public input to make final recommendations to the rest of
the Board.

As candidates are interviewed, state law protects the Board from disclosing names. After a finalist is announced, state law mandates a 21-day waiting period, after which the Board will vote whether to officially appoint the finalist as chancellor.

Since the Board created the position in 1950, the System has had 11 chancellors and interim chancellors, most previously serving as university presidents and faculty at
UT institutions.

McRaven, the Navy SEALs admiral renowned for directing the capture of Osama bin Laden, was not from the higher education field. But the Board was impressed by McRaven and even offered him a contract that included a $1.2 million base pay.

Previous chancellors only received employee agreements outlining terms of employment and Francisco Cigarroa, the chancellor before McRaven, was paid $750,000 his last year. Between 2012 and 2016, the total pay for chancellors and presidents of Texas universities and systems grew by 70 percent, according to data from the Legislative Budget Board. This trend previously caused concerns among Texas lawmakers.

Higher education researchers such as Judith Wilde, a chief operating officer and professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government, say complex contracts with added bonuses for chancellors and university presidents are becoming increasingly common in the U.S.

“It’s interesting that presidents are getting more involved with perks because in the corporate world CEOs are cutting back on (administrative) costs,” Wilde said.

It is unknown whether the next chancellor will be offered a contract, but Adler said the chancellor’s compensation is paid entirely through donations to the System.

“To assure that we continue to provide the best leaders for our students, faculty and staff, we must fully analyze and understand the competitive marketplace and we must offer competitive compensation,” Adler said in an email.