The University of Texas at Austin
  • Campus & Community

    10 Things You Need to Know About UT System’s Next Chancellor

    By Nicholas Persac
    Published: July 29, 2014

    William McRaven

    Admiral William McRaven, a University of Texas at Austin alumnus, is the sole finalist to become chancellor of the University of Texas System.

    He started as a Longhorn and then became a SEAL.

    Now, Admiral William McRaven, a University of Texas at Austin alumnus responsible for the raid that claimed Osama Bin Laden’s life, has been named the sole finalist to become chancellor of the University of Texas System.

    (See the statement from the UT System announcing McRaven’s selection.)

    As the state’s flagship university, The University of Texas at Austin is part of the University of Texas System.

    While a president helms UT Austin, a Board of Regents and a chancellor together govern the overarching UT System, composed of nine academic institutions and six health-care institutions.

    Today the Board of Regents unanimously selected McRaven (B.J. ’77) the sole finalist to replace outgoing UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa. Under state law, the board must wait 21 days after naming the sole finalist before making an appointment.

    “We were aware that getting Admiral McRaven to consider the UT System position might have presented a challenge, given high demand nationally for his leadership,” Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster said in a statement from the UT System on Tuesday. “We were honored that he chose the UT System as the most important place where he could continue to serve his nation upon his pending retirement from a most distinguished military career.”

    Before McRaven, a Navy SEAL who will turn over leadership of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and retire from active duty in August, is officially installed as chancellor, here’s a quick look at the leader not every university system could handle.

    1) McRaven spearheaded the military raid that led to the death of the world’s most wanted terrorist, Osama Bin Laden …

    Time magazine speculated, “if the Pulitzer Prize board establishes a new category — for killing the world’s most wanted terrorist — it’s a safe bet Bill McRaven will win it.”

    Defense Secretary Robert Gates praised McRaven’s leadership, saying he’s “effectively [taken] the fight to America’s most dangerous and vicious enemies.” Politico published a lengthy profile on McRaven, dubbing him “The Last American Hero.”

    2) … and he sometimes still goes into the field with his special-ops teams on raids

    In 2011 the Washington Post reported that although McRaven is “a three-star* admiral, the muscular 55-year-old still sometimes accompanies his teams on snatch-and-grab missions.” The Post called McRaven “one of the most experienced terrorist hunters in the U.S. government,” but noted the leader “demands high standards” in every endeavor.

    (*Editor’s note: McRaven is now a four-star admiral.)

    3) McRaven is a powerhouse speaker who doles out unforgettable life advice

    In May, McRaven delivered one of the year’s most popular commencement speeches (2 million YouTube views and counting) to The University of Texas at Austin’s Class of 2014. His 10 life lessons to change the world have been praised not only as spot-on advice for recent graduates to follow but also as words by which everyone should live.

    4) He answers fan mail (and he can hold his breath for a long time)

    Last year, six-year-old Walker Greentree wrote McRaven a letter asking the admiral not only how long he can hold his breath but also who’s quieter, a Navy SEAL or a ninja?

    McRaven penned the boy a reply, settling the back-and-forth debate: “Ninjas are probably quieter than SEALs,” he responded. “But we are better swimmers and also better with guns and blowing things up.”

    McRaven then answered the second question, “I can hold my breath for a long time, but I try not to unless I really have to.”

    McRaven ended his letter to Greentree with two pieces of advice to help the boy achieve his goal of becoming a SEAL someday: “Listen to your parents, and be nice to the other kids. If you do that, then you can probably be a SEAL too.”

    5) McRaven served in numerous overseas conflicts

    McRaven’s 37-year military career took him overseas and onto the front lines. According to a USSOCOM news release, McRaven is a veteran of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom as well as other missions.

    6) He commanded from every level within special operations

    McRaven commanded at every level in special operations during his military service. He also served as director for strategic planning on the National Security Council Staff.

    7) He has higher education and curriculum-creation experience

    As a student in the Naval Postgraduate School, McRaven helped create and launch the Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict curriculum, a program still in existence today.

    The curriculum, according to USSOCOM, is “specifically built around operational art and strategy with an emphasis on the use of special operations.” After overseeing the program’s inception, McRaven became its first graduate.

    8) He wrote the book on that

    In 1996 McRaven published a book based on the thesis he authored while a student at the Naval Postgraduate School. “Spec Ops” highlights eight special operations from WWII through conflicts in the 1970s, showcasing the principles needed for successful military operations. (The book has a 4.5 star rating out of a possible five on Amazon.)

    9) McRaven is a UT Distinguished Alumnus

    In 2012 the Texas Exes honored McRaven with a Distinguished Alumnus Award, which is given each year to alumni who embody the spirit of The University of Texas at Austin.

    His fellow honorees that year: Laura Bush, former first lady of the United States; Julius Glickman, philanthropist and attorney; Charles Matthews, former vice president and general counsel of Exxon Mobil Corp.; Melinda Perrin, civic leader and former chair of the Hermann Hospital board of trustees; and Dr. Hector Ruiz, partner and managing director of Bull Ventures and ANSI Capital.

    10) He started here, and he changed the world

    McRaven graduated from UT in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in Middle Eastern studies. He ran track and was a member of ROTC.

    Looking at a career like his, it’s easy to see why we say What starts here changes the world.

    • Quote 2
      Marianne Payne said on Aug. 22, 2014 at 1:23 p.m.
      I'm proud to see this. Congratulations, UT, for this selection.
    • Quote 2
      Mark Null said on Aug. 21, 2014 at 12:40 p.m.
      Outstanding selection and one proud retired Navy Texas Ex here. However, my only concern, especially with the current state of world events, is potential increased securtiy concerns/risk on campus due to Admiral McRaven's notariety.
    • Quote 2
      Einor Donnell said on Aug. 8, 2014 at 2:18 p.m.
      WOW--what an awesome choice for Chancellor of the University of Texas System!!! He is exactly what we need to get us back in line and on the same page to making our Universitys THE BEST in the nation. I have great confidence in him and his abilities and applaud the Regeants for selecting him as the sole finalist for Chancellor!!
    • Quote 2
      Manuel R. Suarez said on Aug. 8, 2014 at 12:11 a.m.
      As a ChE major (class of 76’) I was contemporary with Admiral McRaven at UT. As neighbors (at E. P. Schoch Lab and the ROTC building) we shared one experience that I’m sure he remembers as clearly as I do, one which was fundamental in hardening our bodies and minds and prepared us for life’s toughest tests ahead: the meals at Varsity Cafeteria !!. What an experience and what a great time were those years at UT. I don’t know of any UT grad who does not keep a warm memory of the university. What better driver for someone going back to work with UT to do an outstanding job ?. Some people have posted negative comments about his appointment, to them “a military” is not what UT needs. What UT does need is dedication, love and honesty. No human activity or profession has a monopoly on these three virtues, they are found in people from all walks of life. Particular expertise, if needed for a specific job, is surely available from various sources and far easier to find than these three characteristics. Admiral McRaven seems to have them and I sure wish him and the University all the success that they deserve.
    • Quote 2
      Mark Ballard said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 10:53 p.m.
      As a former Army noncommissioned officer now retired from the Department of the Army and a life member of the University of Texas. I am so proud of what he's accomplished for this country and what he is going to accomplish at the university of Texas. Hook 'Em
    • Quote 2
      Joe Stafford said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 1:36 p.m.
      I have served in the Pentagon and in the UT System Office under four Chancellors. Admiral McRaven's appointment to this important and challenging position is outstanding. Many thanks to the Regents for a job well done.
    • Quote 2
      john loughran said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 1:12 p.m.
      Listening to comments and reflecting on the current appointment of Admiral McRaven I have to say "Bravo" It is refreshing and lifts my spirit to see a real leader attain a position of leadership and authority. Currently many of our most capable and brightest leaders avoid the these positions that are inhabited by carpetbaggers and special interest groups that bicker endlessly and where infighting becomes the rule of governance. Choosing instead to pursue other more productive and selfless careers that can and do "Change the world". When he is finished at UT, maybe we can send him to Washington...
    • Quote 2
      Nick said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 11:06 a.m.
      On the surface, he appears to be a good choice. No doubt that it is a highly political position and maybe the right one given the nonsense by some of the regents and gov. Let's face it, the intellect of Texas is hanging in the balance; some want to turn a degree into a commodity while others consider it an achievement.
    • Quote 2
      Lila Walters Moorer said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 11:03 a.m.
      I am thrilled with this appointment. My children and grandchildren all listened to his commencement address. Hook 'Em Horns.
    • Quote 2
      Mike Guy said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 10:41 a.m.
      No. The University needs a progressive and distinguished scholar to head the system, not a military mind. I am a great admirer of McRaven but this is not his expertise.
    • Quote 2
      Bill said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 10:29 a.m.
      Admiral William McRaven is featured in the 2013 movie which was nominated for an Oscar. Please watch Dirty Wars directed by Rick Rowley. It is on Netflix right now.
    • Quote 2
      Henry J. Hansen said on Aug. 7, 2014 at 10:14 a.m.
      In response to Kathy Golden's comment on August 1st, the statement that he was 55 was from a newspaper article in 2011, when the Admiral was 55. Congratulations Admiral. Great to have you aboard!!!
    • Quote 2
      Kevin Cleary said on Aug. 5, 2014 at 12:44 p.m.
      UT is super lucky to get Admiral McRaven, but like most Longhorns, he's probably been secretly dreaming of a way to score a few more years back on the coolest campus in the world. BRAVO UT !
    • Quote 2
      Prashant said on Aug. 4, 2014 at 9:35 a.m.
      Excellent choice.
    • Quote 2
      Kathy Golden said on Aug. 1, 2014 at 11:48 p.m.
      Admiral McRaven is actually 58, not 55, as stated in number 2. His birthday in Nov. 4, 1955. In order to have graduated from UT in '77, and currently be 55, he would have had to skip at least a couple of years of school at some point growing up.
    • Quote 2
      qt said on Aug. 1, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.
      Is he just going undercover? Is this an OP?
    • Quote 2
      Josh said on July 31, 2014 at 5:30 p.m.
      I had the pleasure of serving with this man under one of his many commands. I look forward to eating my graduate degree under his helm.
    • Quote 2
      Marilynn Midura said on July 30, 2014 at 3:18 p.m.
      Hello fellow Rough Rider! Congratulations! Hook 'em Horns!
    • Quote 2
      Jennifer Potter-Miller said on July 30, 2014 at 3:01 p.m.
      This is so disheartening. I fail to see how being super duper at special ops has ANYTHING to do with leading a university system with over 200,000 students, and no, helping to "create and launch the Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict curriculum" is NOT sufficient "higher education and curriculum-creation experience."
    • Quote 2
      Alex Pena said on July 30, 2014 at 10:31 a.m.
      Congratulations Admiral McRaven on being named Chancellor. Your commencement address was awesome and could be the blueprint for your administration at UT. Hook 'em Horns!
    • Quote 2
      S. A. Lee said on July 30, 2014 at 10:12 a.m.
      What a fantastic hire to lead the system and a Texas Ex!!!
    • Quote 2
      Kathy Kennedy BJ'71, MBA '76 said on July 30, 2014 at 8:48 a.m.
      Admiral McRaven has an impressive resume and is clearly a strong leader. My prayer is that he is able to use his leadership and political skills to promote the academic, athletic, and social functions of my beloved University of Texas.
    • Quote 2
      Praveen Gupta said on July 29, 2014 at 11:46 p.m.
      I am reading this very awe inspiring account, sitting in India, forwarded to me by my son who was at UT Austin 2002-7. Makes me a prouder father. Am sure this fantastic leadership will take UT Austin to greater heights!!!
    • Quote 2
      Randy Cooper said on July 29, 2014 at 10:11 p.m.
    • Quote 2
      Darius said on July 29, 2014 at 9:09 p.m.
      Brining on board such a distinguished soldier, public servant, and national hero to UT, is not only a service to UT, Texas, but the nation as a whole. I salute Admiral McRaven for choosing UT to continue his service, and take my hat off to the Board of Regents for their bold decision and this immense achievement.
    • Quote 2
      Bill Kuenstler said on July 29, 2014 at 7:54 p.m.
      An excellent choice! We heard his speech at commencement in May (our daughter graduated, with honors, from the College of Communications) and were very impressed. Hook 'em Horns!
    • Digg
    • StumbleUpon
    • Facebook
    • Google Bookmarks
    • LinkedIn
    • Twitter
    • Print
    • email

    Related Topics

    , , ,

  • Top Videos

    • ...
    Inventors of the Year Transforming Medical Field
    Inventors of the Year Transforming Medical Field
    [Video] One created tamper-proof technology for drug tablets, the other is developing...
    How to March: Secrets of the Longhorn Band
    How to March: Secrets of the Longhorn Band
    [Video] Have you ever wondered how to play an instrument and be part of a football-field-sized...
    Five Great UT Ideas
    Five Great UT Ideas
    From 3-D printing to a battery used by millions, these inventions from UT researchers...
    10 Things You Need to Know About UT System’s Next Chancellor
    10 Things You Need to Know About UT System’s Next Chancellor
    Longhorn and Navy SEAL Admiral William McRaven was named the sole finalist to become...
    How Do You Reinvent Health Care?
    How Do You Reinvent Health Care?
    Start by re-imagining medical education, says Dell Med School Dean Clay Johnston....
    Preventing Earthquake Damage
    Preventing Earthquake Damage
    A team of Cockrell School engineers is working in New Zealand to understand soil...
    The Psychology of Home Decor
    The Psychology of Home Decor
    Is your bedroom scattered with laundry? Adorned with photos? Do you and your partner...
    Reflect, Explain, Apply: Transforming Chem 301
    Reflect, Explain, Apply: Transforming Chem 301
    Jimmy Wadman went from failing to teaching in Chemistry 301, a course transformed...