The University of Texas System‘ newly appointed Chancellor, Admiral William H. McRaven, has set new goals for the institution and ways to overcome obstacles in a letter published on the website of the academic hub on his first day on the job. Inspired by his previous military career, the Chancellor aims to challenge both students and professors to think ahead of conventions.
Only five months after being unanimously approved by the UT System Board of Regents as the new Chancellor of The University of Texas System, McRaven began in his new role last Monday with the promise of working “tirelessly to advance the goals of higher education, research, clinical care and service to the State of Texas,” as stated in the opening of the letter.
One of the intentions of his work is enhancing leadership, since he believes that, “the purpose of education is to build great leaders,” as defined by people who are able to change and improve the society in different areas. Although McRaven considers creating great leaders as part of the Texan DNA, he also believes that in order to create them, an environment that is able to challenge, encourage and propel students forward is necessary.
McRaven’s primary goal for The University of Texas System is to foster this challenging leadership-making environment, which will be built on academic and intellectual freedom. “I strongly believe that as students, faculty, and researchers, we should challenge conventional wisdom. We should challenge the great philosophers. We should challenge the nature of the universe. We should challenge our economic models, our governmental models, and our business models. Nothing should go unchallenged. We should be relentless in our pursuit of new ideas,” he advocates.
“We should make people mad, frustrated, irate and alive with curiosity. We should publish papers that shake the foundation of conventional thinking,” McRaven adds. “We need students who challenge professors and professors who challenge students.”
The Chancellor believes that his new approach will not only help educate top leaders in different walks of life who inspire, create and produce cutting-edge research, but also will attract the finest minds from all over the world. In addition to enhancing a challenging academic environment, McRaven believes that, “lessening the bureaucracy, creating a more entrepreneurial environment and encouraging risk-taking,” is also a priority. “My promise to all the senior leaders in our academic and health institutions is that I will work for you — for your goals — to advance your causes.”
With a 37-year military career, McRaven states that he cannot avoid being influenced by it, as well as by his travels in service throughout Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, Europe and the United States. His leadership vision is based on what he saw during those times — experiences that highlight the crucial role of both education and technology.
“My experiences interacting with people from around the world have shaped my thinking about the uniqueness of Texas, the role of higher education, research, and health care, and the rewards of service to our state and nation,” McRaven says.
In addition to education, as a Navy SEAL, the Admiral came to understand the importance of technology in his military service — a realization that he intends to bring to the UT System. In order to integrate quality technology into the educational system, hard work, cutting-edge research, open-minded administrators and staff support, as well as enough funding are all needed, according to McRaven.
“When I look at the magnificent research going on across the UT System — both at the academic and health institutions — I understand and value the work in a way that others may not, because a lot of the research that starts in Texas has saved lives on the battlefield. I have seen it firsthand,” he states.
Finally, the last characteristic of The University of Texas System that the Chancellor William H. McRaven values and wants to enhance is service, both to the nation and to the State of Texas. Remembering the men and women with whom he served with, he reminded that “many of them either didn’t come back or they came back forever changed,” as stated that “these are the same young men and women who are coming to our UT institutions around the state” and “we should find every opportunity to help them serve Texas and the nation.”
In addition to setting the goals and the rhythm of his work as new Chancellor, McRaven also thanked his precursor, the former Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa for his six years of “phenomenal leadership,” in which he “made the UT System one of the finest in the nation and has fundamentally changed the lives of Texans by increasing the availability of and expanding the opportunities for higher education.”
McRaven also stated he was looking forward to working with the Chairman of the Board of Regents, which offers oversight and guidance to the System in order to advance the goals of higher education and research. As well as to establish collaborations with academic and research institutions, industry partners associations, councils, foundations, and groups that support, advise and contribute for advancing The University of Texas System.
The entire letter can be read here.