UT System regents elect Tucker as board chair

Maria Mendez

Sara Martinez Tucker was elected to lead the UT System Board of Regents as its new chairwoman on Tuesday.

Regent Tucker, a UT alumna, was nominated by Regent Paul Foster to succeed him, and she was elected by the rest of the Board of Regents at a special board meeting Tuesday, according to a UT System press release. The nine regents on the Board govern all 14 UT System universities and health institutions.

“It has been an immense honor to serve as chairman of the board these last four years, but it was time to pass the gavel to a new leader,” Foster said in the press release. “It was a pleasure to nominate Regent Tucker, who has brought great insight and guidance to the Board over the last two years.”

Tucker, a Laredo native and Dallas resident, was first appointed as a UT System regent by Gov. Greg Abbott and approved for a six-year term by the Texas Senate in 2015. Prior to becoming a regent, Tucker also served as under secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, the highest-ranking education official in the United States, for former President George W. Bush.

UT President Gregory Fenves said in a statement that he looks forward to working with Tucker, who is an experienced education official and a Distinguished Alumna of UT.

“I’ve enjoyed collaborating with Chair Tucker over the past two years on student success initiatives at UT Austin and am excited to work with her even more closely in her new leadership role for the UT System,” Fenves said. “As a former U.S. Under Secretary of Education, she also has a deep knowledge of higher education and understands the support that UT System institutions need to accomplish their missions.”

As under secretary, Tucker oversaw all policies, programs and activities related to higher education, federal student aid and adult vocational training. During this time, Tucker helped create the centralized college resource website college.gov and directed the disbursement of almost $70 billion in federal student loans during the 2008 financial crisis, according to the UT System website.

Tucker also helped fund education for Hispanic students as the CEO of the nonprofit Hispanic Scholarship Fund, after having been a long-time executive for AT&T.

“Having the opportunity to work with extraordinary board members, system administration leaders and visionary university presidents to ensure that UT students and patients have access to the best possible outcomes is and will always be my top priority,” Tucker said after her appointment.