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Light the Tower: Jay Hartzell Named 30th President of UT

McCombs Dean Jay Hartzell poses for a portrait around the business school on August 19, 2019. Photo by Lauren Gerson.

The UT Tower will shine with burnt orange lights and the number “30” displayed on its sides on Wednesday, September 23 in honor of Jay Hartzell, Ph.D., being named the university’s 30th president.

The UT System Board of Regents unanimously voted Wednesday to name Hartzell the next president of UT Austin, effectively immediately. He was named sole finalist for president last month.

While the Tower’s standard lighting shines in Austin’s skyline most nights, a handful of other configurations convey signals of celebration, accomplishment or, sometimes, sorrow. To mark Hartzell’s tenure as the 30th president of The University of Texas at Austin, light will shine from the Tower’s windows to display “30” on its sides in addition to burnt orange lighting covering the full Tower.

Hartzell, a national leader in business education and real estate finance, has spent most of the past 25 years at UT Austin, first as a graduate student, then as a professor and most recently as an academic leader. Before he was named interim president this past April, Hartzell served as dean of the McCombs School of Business, one of the largest and most distinguished business schools in the nation.

“In the short time Jay has been interim president, he has led UT Austin with a steady hand and an eye on the future,” Board Chairman Kevin P. Eltife said. “Jay continues to demonstrate that he is a leader who can manage enormous challenges and still maintain a focus on elevating the academic, research and clinical missions of a world-class institution.”

Eltife thanked members of a special advisory committee who offered the Board additional insight on Hartzell’s academic, administrative and business experiences and abilities.

Hartzell, 50, earned his Ph.D. in finance from UT Austin in 1998 and then returned in 2001 as a faculty member. Before being appointed the dean, he held several key administrative roles at the McCombs School of Business. As dean, Hartzell launched the Goff Real Estate Labs, elevated the Canfield Business Honors program and opened Rowling Hall, the home of UT Austin’s MBA program.

Hartzell also helped create many significant partnerships between the McCombs School and other colleges and schools across campus, including the Dell Medical School, the College of Fine Arts, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Natural Sciences and the Moody College of Communication. He also established the position of Associate Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the McCombs School and the McCombs Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

He currently holds the Lois and Richard Folger Dean’s Leadership Chair, the Centennial Chair in Business Education Leadership and the Trammell Crow Professorship in the McCombs School of Business.

“Jay has been a student, accomplished professor, and outstanding academic administrator at UT Austin. He knows UT and Texas well and has demonstrated that he has the ability to lead the university in the most difficult of times,” UT System Chancellor James B. Milliken said. “I am delighted with the Regents’ vote today.”

Hartzell expressed gratitude to the Board of Regents and Chancellor Milliken following the meeting.

“I’m humbled that Chairman Eltife, the members of the UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor Milliken have given me the honor of a lifetime, selecting me to serve as the next President of The University of Texas at Austin,” Hartzell said. “This is a dream come true for me because it means that I get the chance to go to work with students, faculty, staff and alumni and put all my energy into helping Longhorn Nation do what it does best — change the world.”


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