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Just What Does the University of Texas System Chancellor Do?

University of Texas Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa during Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence & Tansparency on September 21st, 2011
Marjorie Kamys Cotera, Texas Tribune
University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa's replacement is being finalized.

University of Texas System regents plan to meet today and they could name a finalist in their search for a new University of Texas System chancellor. That's after UT's current chancellor announced in February that he would step down. But just what does a chancellor do?

The two candidates being considered for the University of Texas System are Richard Fisher – the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas – and Admiral William H. McRaven, a 36-year Navy Seal who led the task force that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011.

Paul Burka of Texas Monthly says the next chancellor will need patience to be successful.

"You know, academic politics … the smaller the stakes, the more bitter the fight," Burka says, with a chuckle.

The chancellor oversees the entire UT system, which has 15 campuses – nine academic and six health campuses.

"The chancellor is the highest officer in the UT hierarchy," Burka says. "He’s the person who determines all the other presidents in the system work for him."

The chancellor reports to the board of regents.

"They do very important business such as determining the budget for the UT system, making decisions about hiring presidents for UT system institutions, they set tuition and other very important policy," says UT system spokesperson Jenny LaCoste-Caputo.

"So the chancellor is the CEO who essentially makes the recommendations on all those very important matters to the board of regents," LaCoste-Caputo says. "Our current chancellor joins the board in executive session where they discuss personnel, legal matters, financial matters. So it’s an extremely critical role."

The chancellor works at the UT System headquarters in downtown Austin and gets to live in the official residence, called Bauer House, during their tenure. Bauer House is in the West Austin neighborhood of Tarrytown.

So does the chancellor get long summer breaks like students?

"The chancellor’s job is a year-round job, not just with the academic year," LaCoste-Caputo says. "And I can tell you with the current chancellor who I work for, he works very hard and he works long hours and many days other people aren’t working, he’s at work."

So if the board of regents does meet to name a finalist, how long will it take for them to decide?

"Days … perhaps hours," Burka says.

The current chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa, will step down when his successor is chosen.