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.