McRaven delivers final State of System address, honored with endowment

Maria Mendez

UT System chancellor William McRaven, who is leaving office in May, was honored with an endowment in his name during his final State of the System address on Friday. 

McRaven, who joined the System in 2015 after retiring from the U.S. Navy Seals, and his wife Georgeann McRaven were surprised with an endowment to honor their work. The endowment, at the value of “$500,000 and growing,” was created by close friends of the McRavens for future chancellors to use strategically.

“This endowment will allow future chancellors to lead with a bold vision,” said John Rathmell Jr., chairman of the Chancellor’s Council. “We weren’t necessarily looking for a role model in our chancellor, but we certainly found one in McRaven.”

McRaven thanked the Chancellor’s Council, made up of donors to the System, for the endowment before giving his final annual update on the System.

“I was so overwhelmed I couldn’t speak,” McRaven said. “(The  endowment) will go a long way to help the young men and women of the University of Texas System.”

In his final state of the system address, McRaven emphasized the strength of UT institutions and the courage of students and families. He said this strength comes from the leaderships of the System’s university presidents, faculty, staff, administration and its students. 

“We are strong because we have students who come from all over Texas, the nation and the world who come to our institutions to make a better life for themselves,”
McRaven said. 

Across Texas, UT institutions made breakthroughs over the last year, which McRaven said are helping address local and global problems.

“Anything and everything that is of importance to humanity is being studied, researched, taught or confronted somewhere in the UT System,” McRaven said. 

The UT System’s six health institutions are contributing more to cancer research than any other academic health system and leading the way in to preventive neurohealth, while UT Health San Antonio works to cure Type 1 diabetes, McRaven said.

Nine months after Hurricane Harvey struck Texas, McRaven said UT Health Houston is still working to expand healthcare to the storm’s victims.

“I will never ever forget the heroic performance of everyone at UT’s three Houston-area health centers during the aftermath of that terrible storm,” McRaven said.

After UT-Rio Grande Valley researchers helped confirm Einstein’s gravitational waves, McRaven said UT-Austin astronomers at the McDonald Observatory are using that research to “unlock the greatest and fundamental mysteries to mankind.”

UT-Austin’s supercomputer Stampede 2 is also tackling climate change, while the Cockrell School of Engineering works to increase safe, clean drinking water. Led by UT’s Clements Center for National Security, McRaven said the System’s new Texas National Security Network will promote American safety.

In his parting thoughts, McRaven said when he first became chancellor three years ago, he called the UT System to lead in every way possible. He said UT institutions visibly heeded the call but students and families also taught him about leadership.

“I used to believe what real courage looked like was on the battlefield … but in this job I’ve seen another side of courage,” McRaven said. “The courage of students first in their family to attend college, the courage of their parents … and the courage of a family fighting cancer together.”