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Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson named sole finalist for UTEP president by UT Board of Regents

Heather Wilson


The University of Texas System Board of Regents named Secretary of the U.S. Air Force Heather Wilson – a former university president and U.S. congresswoman from New Mexico – as the sole finalist for the president of UT El Paso.


Regents voted unanimously Friday to select Wilson, whose accomplished career in public service and higher education has spanned more than 35 years and includes top leadership roles in higher education, the military, government and private industry.


Wilson was the first woman selected to serve as president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, an engineering and science research university. During her tenure there, from 2013 until 2017, the institution doubled its research awards and experienced enrollment growth, the creation of new masters and doctoral degree programs and significant investments in capital projects. Wilson also strengthened a scholar program to increase the number of American Indian graduates, and she successfully orchestrated the institution’s athletics transition from NAIA to NCAA Division II.


In 1998, Wilson became the first female military veteran elected to a full term in Congress, representing New Mexico’s First District until 2009.  Previous appointments to the National Security Council and as cabinet secretary of the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department put Wilson at the helm of leading teams, building consensus and making qualitative organizational advancements.  A successful reformer of the foster care and adoption system, Wilson led efforts to reduce the number of children waiting for adoption. 


As Secretary of the Air Force, Wilson oversees 685,000 active-duty, Guard, Reserve and civilian forces, and an annual budget of more than $138 billion.


The Regents’ decision followed an executive session last week where they interviewed candidates and considered recommendations from a presidential search advisory committee that reviewed applications and met with candidates for the position.


“Dr. Wilson’s broad experience in the highest levels of university leadership, and state and national government– whether securing federal grant awards, advising our nation’s most important national research laboratories, raising philanthropic dollars or running large, dynamic organizations – will help ensure that UTEP continues its remarkable trajectory as a nationally recognized public research institution,” Regents’ chairman Kevin Eltife said. “Most importantly, she is deeply committed to student success and has dedicated her life to enhancing upward mobility opportunities for individuals.”


Read the full story by The University of Texas System Board of Regents


Heather Wilson Summary and professional experience