Students, faculty share thoughts on McRaven’s first year as chancellor

Caleb Wong

Admiral William McRaven gave students a memorable piece of advice during UT-Austin’s 2014 commencement ceremony: If you want to change the world, start by making
your bed.

Mere months later, the UT System Board of Regents appointed him as chancellor of the UT System starting Jan. 5, 2015 — just a few weeks from the start of the 84th Texas legislative session. McRaven has received both positive and negative feedback from the UT System community regarding changes made during his first year as chancellor.

McRaven launched a $1.7 million initiative last August to study sexual assault, an issue he has also addressed while in the military, across the UT System. Rachel Osterloh, president of Senate of College Councils, said she was impressed by his willingness to address sexual assault on campus.

“He’s a champion for students,” said Osterloh, a government and philosophy senior. “This sexual assault [initiative] is incredible, especially when people are not willing to talk about sexual assault on campuses.”

McRaven also dove into the Texas legislative session during his first months in office, where he opposed the passage of campus carry — and now is expected to implement the law across the UT System.

Howard Prince, a faculty member in the Lyndon B. Johnson School, said McRaven’s leadership on campus carry and other issues has balanced University interests while carrying out the law.

“I think he’s done very well,” Prince said. “It’s [his] duty to support whatever the decision is, and he’s working to help campuses come to grips with this in a way they can live with and support.”

However, there have been clashes in the legislature over other issues. McRaven has faced opposition from Texas lawmakers on an expansion into southwest Houston and has made several controversial remarks doubting the effectiveness of the top 10 percent rule in increasing diversity at Texas public universities.

Student Government representative Santiago Rosales defended the top 10 percent rule as a way to help students from a wider variety of backgrounds get into UT-Austin.

“Personally, I believe the top 10 percent rules help with diversity,” finance sophomore Rosales said. “I’ve met countless students from other parts of the state who got in as part of the top 10 percent rule, and from the student perspective I’ve seen, the top 10 percent has assisted in the goal of increasing diversity.”

As part of his strategic plan for the future of the UT System, McRaven recently announced he would implement a required leadership program for students at UT System institutions. Annie Albrecht, Plan II and corporate communications junior, said she thinks the leadership program will help students learn more about themselves and how they can use those skills in the service of others.

“I’m really encouraged by his new push for making sure students have leadership experience on campus,” Albrecht said. “I think my positions of leadership are the way I’ve grown most and contributed to UT and the city of Austin, and I think leadership is valuable and students should have this opportunity.”