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McRaven talks UTRGV, campus carry and the future of higher education

Carlos Sanchez (right), executive editor of The Monitor, interviews The University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven (left) during the Newsmaker Breakfast Series on Friday, July 22, 2016, at the McAllen Convention Center. (UTRGV Photo by Paul Chouy.)

By Melissa Vasquez

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – JULY 22, 2016 – Nothing was off the table for The University of Texas System Chancellor William H. McRaven, who was in the Rio Grande Valley on Friday, July 22, as guest speaker for the Newsmaker Breakfast Series.

Held at the McAllen Convention Center, the Newsmaker Breakfast Series is hosted by The Monitor and the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by IBC Bank.

McRaven, who became UT System chancellor in January 2015, is a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral and is CEO of one of the largest and most respected higher education systems in the country. During the Q&A session, McRaven discussed, among other higher education topics, college tuition, campus carry, and the life lessons built into the discipline of making your bed in the morning.

Interviewed by Carlos Sanchez, executive editor of The Monitor, McRaven said he always enjoys coming to the area to see firsthand the progress of The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, which had a role in his taking the chancellor position, which he calls “a large job.”

He told the story of how three UT System Regents visited his home in Tampa, Fla., to pitch why he should be the next UT System chancellor, and they shared their passion and vision for higher education in the Valley. 

They told him, “We need to make sure the Hispanic population in the state of Texas is rocketing up as quickly as it can. We need to make sure that what we do in the Valley, in particular, means something.”

“They were passionate about making sure we did right by this area,” McRaven said. “They really did understand what was important. This is a minority-majority state and the Hispanic population is so crucial. Why would we not do everything we could to make sure everyone that is part of the culture of Texas is getting educated?” 

He admitted that took him over the top pretty quickly on his decision to lead the UT System.

McRaven briefly talked about the coming legislative session and said he is ready for it.

“We are going to work with other chancellors in Texas to make sure that we have some consolidated ideas that will be important for all of Texas higher education,” he said.

As for the heated debate on campus carry, which will go into effect in several weeks and which McRaven opposes, he said the UT System and its institutions are prepared, with each campus having developed its own approach to following the law.

“I am very comfortable that when we start in August, we have put all the right protocols in place and we will be able to provide the safety and security that is expected for our students and for our faculty, and that we will follow the law,” McRaven said.

“And while I was not in support of campus carry at all – as I have told folks – in the military, what you do is argue your points all the way up until a decision is made. And once the decision is made, you salute smartly and you move out.”

McRaven will be in the Valley through Saturday, July 23, when he will attend the inaugural UTRGV School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony on the Edinburg Campus. 

“This is the beginning for those that are going to go on to be MDs. What a great day to recognize their future in life,” he said. “ … There is still a hill to climb, but it is recognizing the beginning of a journey that is incredibly important, and so I am thrilled to be down here to be a part of it.”


Melissa Vasquez
UTRGV Publications Editor / 956-665-8926

Marci Caltabiano-Ponce
UTRGV Director of News and Internal Communications / 956-665-2742