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

El Paso News
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Dr. Heather Wilson, the current Secretary of the Air Force, may become the next University of Texas at El Paso president following a vote by the UT System Board of Regents.

Wilson was unanimously approved by the board, with most members sharing their praise for her. There will be a 21-day waiting period until Wilson can officially become president. 

The Associated Press reported that Wilson has resigned from the Air Force. 

A UTEP spokesman said Dr. Diana Natalicio will not be commenting on the board’s decision until the 21-day waiting period passes.

According to her biography on the Air Force website, Wilson currently oversees the Air Forces’ annual budget of more than $138 billion and directs their strategy and policy.

She has worked in the military, higher education, government and private industry. 

“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 in a news release. “Most importantly, she is deeply committed to student success and has dedicated her life to enhancing upward mobility opportunities for individuals.”

Previously, Wilson was the president at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, which was an engineering and science research university. 

She also was a Congresswoman from 1998 to 2009. Prior to that, she was a New Mexico state cabinet secretary. 

“From 1989 to 1991, Wilson served on the National Security Council staff as director for defense policy and arms control for President George H.W. Bush during the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Warsaw Pact,” the website said. 

Here is a better look at her previous stops, as according to the Air Force biography:

  • 1985 – 1987, Plans and Negotiations, Headquarters, 3rd Air Force, RAF Mildenhall, England
  • 1987 – 1989, Office of Defense Plans, U.S. Mission to NATO, Brussels, Belgium
  • 1989 – 1991, Director, Defense Policy and Arms Control, NSC Staff, Washington, D.C.
  • 1991 – 1995, President, Keystone International, Inc., Albuquerque, N.M.
  • 1995 – 1998, Secretary, New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department, Santa Fe, N.M.
  • 1998 – 2009, Member of Congress, First District, New Mexico, Washington, D.C.
  • 2009 – 2013, President, Heather Wilson & Company, LLC, Albuquerque, N.M.
  • 2011 – 2012, Candidate, U.S. Senate, N.M.
  • 2013 – 2017, President, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, S.D.
  • 2017 – present, Secretary of the Air Force, Arlington, Va.

According to Reuters, Wilson plans to resign from the Air Force.

Current UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio announced her retirement last year. She has stayed in her position until a new president can replace her. 

This is a developing story, KTSM will update it as more information becomes available. 

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