Statement on Regents’ appointment of UTEP President

Austin – The following statement was released by State Sen. José Rodríguez:

On Monday, the journal Inside Higher Ed reported that more than 50 percent of UTEP faculty responding to a Faculty Senate survey opposed the appointment of Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson as UTEP President. This was just the latest sign of discontent on campus, which also included protests, petitions, and the failure of the Student Government Association to endorse Secretary Wilson’s candidacy. Yet despite this latest news, which capped three weeks of increasing concerns that were met with minimal public outreach, UT Regents voted today to appoint Secretary Wilson.

This is disrespectful of UTEP students and faculty, as well as the community members who reached out to the UT System at the beginning of the selection process. It also illustrates why this selection process, which provided very little campus or community engagement and produced only one finalist, is inherently flawed.

UTEP is too important an institution to El Paso, the border, and the state to risk. I issued a statement last week in opposition to Secretary Wilson’s appointment. That still stands. Now, the task of ensuring that UTEP remains a rich source of opportunity, intellectual capital, and academic freedom falls on all of us. We will be watching closely to ensure that UTEP continues its trajectory, and that the campus remains free, open, and embracing of El Paso’s diversity; I also will work with Regents to ensure that the next opportunity to pick a president, here or elsewhere, is more open to campus and community input. 

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