Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson chosen as the next president of University of Texas at El Paso

March 8, 2019

Heather Wilson, the 24th secretary of the Air Force, will be the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso. 

The University of Texas System Board of Regents unanimously approved the decision on Friday to name Wilson the sole finalist for the position. Before ascending to the role of Air Force secretary, Wilson worked in a variety of defense and public sector positions, including on the National Security Council, the U.S. Mission to NATO, and as a member of Congress representing New Mexico. She also served as the president of South Dakota School of Mines & Technology for four years. 

“Secretary Wilson is a unique candidate with her background of academic and government service,” said Regent Steve Hicks at a special meeting of the UT System board. 

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“She … has an incredible record of public service to her nation,” said Regent Ernest Aliseda. 

The Washington Post reported that Wilson has already sent a letter of resignation to President Trump, and she is expected to step down from her current position in May. Wilson will replace Diana Natalicio, who announced her retirement last May after three decades as president. 

Natalicio, who was listed among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2016, has been lauded as a transformative figure for UTEP. Many colleagues have credited her with increasing access to higher education and boosting the university’s research funding. The El Paso Times called her “the voice, the strength, the sheer rock” of UTEP. Natalicio has remained in her position until a new president could replace her. 

Wilson’s appointment can be made official after 21 days. State law requires a university president finalist be named for three weeks before a formal vote on a hire. 

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Disclosure: The University of Texas at El Paso has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here. 

“Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson chosen as the next president of University of Texas at El Paso” was first published at by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.