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McRaven among front-runners for chancellor post at Texas school

Adm. William H. McRaven, commander of U. S. Special Operations Command, speaks to airmen of the 58th Special Operations Wing during a visit to Kirtland Air Force Base on June 18, 2013.
The short list to head the vast University of Texas System includes two nationally known names: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher and Adm. William McRaven, UT sources said this week.

Fisher, one of 12 voting members of the Federal Reserve, or the Fed, didn’t return a call left for him Thursday. McRaven, chief of the U.S. Special Operations Command who directed the team that killed Osama bin Laden, didn’t respond to an email sent Thursday seeking comment.

Both men are on the list of chancellor candidates, a UT source on Thursday and another on Friday told the Statesman. Both contenders also have UT ties.

Fisher, who was former President Bill Clinton’s deputy trade representative, has served on the board of the UT Investment Management Company, called UTIMCO. McRaven is a UT graduate whose commencement speech at his alma mater went viral in May.

Regent Steve Hicks, one of three on the search committee for a chancellor, said Friday that he signed a confidentiality agreement and couldn’t name candidates. But, he said, regents are likely to announce their pick at the Aug. 20-21 board meeting, “if not sooner.”

“I’m very pleased with the quality of people that have come forward and that we’ve been able to talk to,” Hicks said. “It’s down to a handful.”

He added that he was “really surprised” to get such good candidates at a time of tumult at the UT System and its flagship UT-Austin. Some of the controversy surrounds Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa, who announced in February that he would step down when his successor is found, and UT-Austin President Bill Powers, to whom Cigarroa issued an ultimatum earlier this month: agree to resign by October or risk being fired by the board at its Thursday meeting.

Cigarroa and Powers have had problems with communication and trust. On the eve of Thursday’s meeting, officials announced that Powers would remain in the presidency until June 2, as Powers had wished. The new chancellor is expected to play a key role in choosing Powers’ replacement.

Regents hired the search firm Wheless Partners, based in Atlanta, to assist with identifying candidates. The firm is led by Jodie Jiles, who served with Fisher at the Dallas Fed and is a UT graduate.

Fisher earned an economics degree from Harvard University in 1971 and a master’s of business administration from Stanford University in 1975. He serves on Harvard University’s Board of Overseers, one of the Harvard’s two governing boards, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In 1994, he beat former Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate before losing in the fall to Republican Kay Bailey Hutchison.

McRaven, whose command is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida, graduated from UT in 1977 with a degree in journalism and has a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School, according to his Facebook page.

A Navy SEAL, he ended his commencement speech by saying: “Know that life is not fair and that you will fail often, but if you take some risks, step up when the times are toughest, face down the bullies, lift up the downtrodden and never, ever give up … (the) next generation and the generations that follow will live in a world far better than the one we have today and what started here will indeed have changed the world — for the better.”
 

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