AUSTIN—The University of Texas System Board of Regents named Sandra K. Woodley, Ph.D., former president of the University of Louisiana System, as the sole finalist for the presidency of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin.
The regents voted unanimously to select Woodley at a special board meeting Tuesday. The decision followed an executive session where regents interviewed several candidates in person and considered recommendations from a presidential search advisory committee that reviewed nominations and applications for the position. The search for a new leader for UT Permian Basin began last year, after President David Watts, Ph.D., announced in August his plans to step down as president on Aug. 31, 2017.
Woodley is no stranger to the UT System. From 2010 to 2013, she served as the System’s vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, where she led long-term strategic planning, policy research and accountability efforts. Woodley worked directly with senior-level academic and professional teams and faculty to develop policies, initiatives and analytics related to the long-term vision of the System, especially those related to improving graduation rates, degree production, affordability and student debt.
Woodley left UT to serve as the chief executive officer for the University of Louisiana System, a post she held from 2013-2016. There she led the state’s largest higher education system, which serves about 90,000 students at nine universities. Woodley worked with the state’s governor and legislature, the system’s Board of Regents, as well as campus presidents and members of the public on matters of higher education policy.
She is currently engaged in multiple higher education consulting projects that include providing strategic planning during a time of transition with Kentucky State University; serving as senior strategy advisor for the National Association of System Heads; and serving as senior fellow for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where she is conducting policy research for AASCU’s Leadership Academy.
Woodley earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business administration, where she focused on finance and economics, from Auburn University. She also holds a Doctor of Business Administration-Management from Nova Southeastern University.
UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven said Woodley is exactly the right leader at the right time for UT Permian Basin and is enthusiastic to partner with her to chart the university’s course into the future.
“These are exciting times at UT Permian Basin, with the addition of new academic programs and facilities, new opportunities for student life and a new football team—UTPB is a university on a good trajectory,” McRaven said, pointing out that enrollment at the university has tripled in the past 15 years. “Dr. Woodley brings innovative, inspiring leadership that can propel UT Permian Basin to even greater heights. Her extensive experience working with faculty, students, boards, elected officials and the philanthropic and business communities make her the ideal candidate.”
Foster said all the candidates the board interviewed were extremely impressive, and he thanked the presidential search advisory committee members, including Regent David Beck, for their dedication and diligence in searching out the right leader for UT Permian Basin. He also commended Executive Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs Steve Leslie, Ph.D., for leading the successful search.
“Choosing a president to guide and lead our institutions into the future is perhaps the most important responsibility that is entrusted to the Board of Regents,” Foster said. “To those who have worked so hard and so long to ensure we make the best decision possible, you have my profound gratitude.
“The search advisory committee recommended exemplary leaders for us to interview, and Dr. Woodley possesses the skills, relationships and vision that are hallmarks of fine UT presidents,” Foster continued. “Ultimately, the students of UTPB and the entire Midland-Odessa community will be the beneficiaries of the committee’s hard work and keen insight.”
Under state law, university governing boards must name finalists for a presidency at least 21 days before making an appointment. During that time, UT System leaders will be coordinating meetings to give the university and Midland-Odessa communities the opportunity to hear from Woodley.
About The University of Texas System
Educating students, providing care for patients, conducting groundbreaking basic, applied and clinical research, and serving the needs of Texans and the nation for more than 130 years, The University of Texas System is one of the largest public university systems in the United States. With 14 institutions and an enrollment of more than 228,000, the UT System confers more than one-third of the state’s undergraduate degrees, educates almost two-thirds of the state’s health care professionals annually and accounts for almost 70 percent of all research funds awarded to public institutions in Texas. The UT System’s operating budget for FY 2017 is $17.9 billion, including $3 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. With more than 20,000 faculty – including Nobel laureates and many members of the National Academies – and nearly 80,000 health care professionals, researchers, student advisors and support staff, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.