Moving up

UT Austin names interim president after Fenves' unexpected resignation

UT Austin names interim president after Fenves' unexpected resignation

2014 Gone to Texas rally UT Tower university of texas with Texas flag
UT has an interim president.  University of Texas at Austin/Facebook

Jay Hartzell, dean of the prestigious University of Texas McCombs School of Business, has been tapped as UT’s interim president. Earlier this week, it was revealed that the current president, Gregory Fenves, was resigning the position this summer. 

In an April 8 release, Kevin Eltife, chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, says the regents and system Chancellor James Milliken “have full confidence in Jay’s abilities to navigate UT Austin through this unprecedented time in the university’s and nation’s history.”

Fenves' resignation was first reported by local outlets on April 6 quoting a high-level unnamed source and confirmed by the university the next day. 

Fenves, president of UT’s flagship campus since 2015, announced he will leave the university June 30 to become president of Emory University in Atlanta. “The timing of this news in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is not what I had expected or wanted,” Fenves wrote in a letter to the UT community.

Hartzell, 50, earned a doctoral degree in finance from UT in 1998 and returned in 2001 as a faculty member. He has worked at UT since then.

“There is no one better suited to lead the flagship campus, inspire Longhorn Nation, and move our university forward,” Eltife says.

UT says the two men will work together to “create a smooth transition.”

Aside from being dean of the McCombs School since 2016, Hartzell holds the Lois and Richard Folger Dean’s Leadership Chair, Centennial Chair in Business Education Leadership, and Trammell Crow Professorship. He previously was senior associate dean for academic affairs, executive director of the McCombs School’s Real Estate Finance and Investment Center, and chairman of the school’s finance department.

“The Forty Acres have been my home for most of my life," Hartzell says, “and I look forward to working with our fantastic leadership team, alumni, faculty, staff, and students to lead UT through today’s crisis and create an even brighter future for this great university.”

At Emory, Fenves succeeds Claire Sterk, who announced her retirement in November 2019 after serving as Emory’s president since 2016.

“It has been a privilege to lead UT Austin, which I believe is among America’s best public institutions of higher education,” Fenves says in an April 7 release from Emory.