Last week, University of Texas (UT) System Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Steven Leslie issued an email statement to the UTSA community concerning the ongoing search for UTSA’s next president.
In an interview with the Paisano, Leslie, who heads the presidential search committee, explained the purpose for the recent update. “We want to make sure that the campus and community are informed and feel like we’re working hard to keep the campus and community up to speed with what the presidential search committee is doing,” Leslie said. “We are happy to talk.”
In his April 11 statement Leslie said:
“Over the last 16 months, the University of Texas System has engaged in searches for three new presidents at UT academic institutions. With the UT San Antonio presidential search, we have heard from many engaged individuals, including members of the UTSA faculty and civic and business leaders, who care deeply about the future of UTSA and its impact on San Antonio and Texas. They have articulated what they want to see to propel UTSA to be highly competitive as an emerging top tier institution, and we are grateful for their input.
While the presidential search advisory committee has worked to recommend a very impressive slate of national candidates, we want to ensure we have conducted the most in-depth search possible and that we do not rush our efforts. It has been almost two decades since UTSA has had a presidential search. We want to be as selective as possible, in the best interest of the institution’s future, by reaching out to a broad group of potential candidates whose perspectives and experiences at top institutions will serve UTSA well. Therefore, the UT System and the search advisory committee plan to continue conversations with additional potential candidates over the next few weeks or months, and we look forward to recommending candidates to the Board of Regents immediately afterward.”
Last September, former UTSA President Ricardo Romo announced his plans to retire, effective August 2017.
The UT System established and tasked the UTSA Presidential Search Advisory Committee—comprised of UT System officials, UTSA faculty and alumni and other community members—to recommend to the Board of Regents their selection for UTSA’s next president. The Board will make the final decision.
In March, Romo stepped down amid allegations of sexual harassment. Former Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at UT System Dr. Pedro Reyes was appointed UTSA’s acting president.
Leslie said Romo’s early departure had no effect on the committee’s presidential search.
“(The presidential search committee) is focusing on the future of the university and is totally directed toward the search process,” Leslie said. “That is the sole mission of the committee.”
Global executive recruitment firm Witt/Kieffer is assisting the UT System in the national search. The applicant pool is strictly confidential, but Leslie expressed that “high priorities” include gender and ethnic considerations.
During a Dec. 2016 open presidential search forum, the lack of Latino/a representation among the committee members, concerned several attendees. Included in those concerned is La Raza–an organization of faculty who seek to voice the concerns of UTSA’s Latino/a community members. The group published a letter to the editor in the last issue of The Paisano.
“Its very important as a criterion for the university itself, students and San Antonio,” Leslie said. “So yes, UTSA’s status as a Hispanic Serving Institution has been and will be a very high priority as we go through the decision making process.”
Leslie also acknowledged gender neutrality as a high priority of the presidential search committee.
“We’ll continue to do periodic status updates to inform campus and the San Antonio community,” Leslie said.
Comments concerning the UTSA presidential search can be made anonymously and will be shared only with the executive search firm. Visit: