William H. McRaven

Chancellor, University of Texas System

William H. McRaven is a retired four-star admiral and former chancellor of the University of Texas (UT) system. During his time in the U.S. Navy, he commanded special operations forces at every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command. Admiral McRaven’s career included combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He commanded the troops that captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Richard Phillips. Admiral McRaven is also credited with developing the plan for and leading the mission that killed Osama bin Laden in 2011. He is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and other U.S. leaders on defense issues.

As the chancellor of the UT system, Admiral McRaven led one of the nation’s largest and most respected systems of higher education. As the CEO of the UT system, he oversaw fourteen institutions that educated 220,000 students and employed 20,000 faculty members and more than 80,000 health-care professionals, researchers, and staff.

Admiral McRaven has been recognized for his leadership numerous times. In 2011, he was the first runner-up for Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.” In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Admiral McRaven one of the nation’s “Top 10 Foreign Policy Experts.” In 2014, Politico magazine named Admiral McRaven one of the “Politico 50,” citing his leadership as instrumental in cutting though Washington bureaucracy. In 2015, he received the Intrepid Freedom Award for his distinguished service in defending the values of democracy. In 2016, Admiral McRaven was named the recipient of the Ambassador Richard M. Helms Award by the CIA Officers’ Memorial Foundation. In 2018, he will receive the Judge William H. Webster Distinguished Service Award for a lifetime of service to the nation. He currently serves on the boards of the Council on Foreign Relations and Defense Innovation.

Admiral McRaven is the author of two books, Spec Ops: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare and Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World, based on his 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas that received worldwide attention. Admiral McRaven graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977 with a degree in journalism and received his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, in 1991.