The University of Texas System Board of Regents on Aug. 27 voted unanimously to appoint James B. Milliken as the next chancellor of the UT System. Milliken previously was named sole finalist at a special board meeting held on Aug. 4. Per Texas law, regents waited at least 21 days before voting to make the appointment official.
Milliken has spent more than 30 years in higher education with extensive leadership experience at major public university systems that include The City University of New York (CUNY), the University of Nebraska (NU) and the University of North Carolina (UNC).
“Chancellor-designate Milliken has worked in practically every facet of higher education administration for large, dynamic university systems in three states,” Chairman Sara Martinez Tucker said. “In each case, our regents were impressed with his ability to develop a strategic vision, garner support for it, and then implement it with positive, measurable results. The regents were also particularly interested in his innovations in the areas of student success and access.”
Milliken’s first day on the job will be Sept. 17.
“The UT System has an extraordinary opportunity and responsibility to prepare Texas to lead nationally and globally,” Milliken said. “I’ve been very impressed by the optimism and confidence of the leadership of UT’s academic and health institutions, and I’m looking forward to working closely with them on efforts to advance their vital missions in education, research and health care.”
Milliken will become the 12th chancellor of the UT System which, with 14 health and academic institutions and enrollment topping 235,000, is one of the largest systems of higher education in the country.
Milliken has deep familiarity with the benefits and challenges of running a system the size of UT. From 2014 to 2018, he served as chancellor of CUNY, which has 24 institutions – including four-year colleges and universities, community colleges, and graduate and professional schools – and more than 270,000 degree-seeking students. Milliken led the development and implementation of CUNY’s first university-wide strategic plan, which addressed student access and success and in short order significantly increased graduation rates.
During a decade as president of NU, a four-campus system, Milliken established his reputation as a relationship builder, leading initiatives that resulted in expanded access, enrollment growth, record increases in research, a successful capital campaign and much-needed emphasis on global engagement and workforce development.
At UNC, Milliken served as senior vice president at the 16-campus system, where he led strategy and economic development, federal and state relations and university advancement. He was instrumental in an overwhelmingly successful $3.1 billion statewide bond campaign, which at the time was the largest higher education bond package in the nation’s history.
Milliken is a fifth-generation Nebraskan who received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and a law degree from New York University. He began his career at a Wall Street law firm but left to become an administrator and professor at NU, his alma mater.
“I discovered a passion for public higher education because I saw firsthand the transformational impact of an accessible, high quality education,” he said. “I’m eager to get started at the UT System and do everything I can to help ensure that our institutions are successful in their roles that have never been more important to the people of Texas and our nation.”
Milliken and his wife, Nana Smith, a graduate of Yale University and the New York University School of Law, have three adult children.
Milliken will succeed William H. McRaven, who became chancellor in 2015 and stepped down at the end of May. Larry Faulkner, the former president of UT Austin, has been serving as chancellor ad interim since then.