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Home | News | Local News | UT System names Heather Wilson next UTEP president, despite objections from Democrats and LGBTQ activists
University administrators sit in for the Board of Regents, who conferenced in via phone, during the meeting to vote on UTEP president nominee Heather Wilson. Austin, Texas. April 2, 2019. Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

UT System names Heather Wilson next UTEP president, despite objections from Democrats and LGBTQ activists

The University of Texas System Board of Regents has officially selected Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson as the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso, despite the local and state-level uproar about her past positions on LGBTQ issues.

The board vote was unanimous, and Chairman Kevin Eltife called her a “mission-focused, values-driven, people-oriented leader.”

“She has a stellar reputation for serving her community and constituents based on their needs, goals and aspirations,” he said.

The regents chose Wilson as the sole finalist for the position early last month, and the regents have lauded her public service background. Her appointment Tuesday comes after a state-mandated 21-day waiting period.

Her selection has garnered a wave of opposition from El Paso community members, including staff, alumni and students who urged the regents to vote against her. Concerns have sparked on-campus protests, phone banking drives, and an online petition with more than 10,000 signatures.

At issue is Wilson’s record while serving in Congress and concerns about her ability to work with a diverse community. During her time in Congress, she voted for a federal amendment to ban same-sex marriage and against bills aimed at protecting LGBTQ individuals from hate crimes and employment discrimination.

In a statement, Wilson said she looked forward to “leading this great university toward its bright future.”

“No institution means more to the future of El Paso and Juarez region than UTEP. Its deep commitment to providing access to education and excellence in research is a model for the nation,” Wilson said in a statement. “UTEP is a catalyst for economic growth in the fourth largest manufacturing region in North America – the source of ideas and high quality education to meet the needs of the 21st century.”

In addition to local discontent, the state Democratic party and multiple state Democratic legislators have voiced concerns about her presidency and the process used to select her.

“While Secretary Wilson has an impressive resume and numerous political accomplishments, that does not necessarily translate into the appropriate appointment for UTEP president,” said Rep. Mary Gonzalez, D-Clint, in a statement before Tuesday’s vote.

Gonzalez said she spoke on the phone with Wilson, who was “unable to name specific policies she would implement as a university leader to encourage an inclusive learning environment.”

Both Gonzalez and Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso, have called the selection process “flawed,” lacking transparency and community input.

“Most importantly for me, Secretary Wilson is not representative of this community and has no experience with the border,” Rodriguez said.

The regents said they received multiple letters in support and against her nomination, and multiple students, alumni, and community members railed against Wilson’s nomination at the Tuesday morning meeting in Austin.

“She is unqualified. She is harmful to the UTEP community,” said Eden Klein, a UTEP alumna and current UT-Austin law student.

Multiple critics cited UTEP’s mission statement on its homepage and argued that Wilson fell short of UTEP’s ideal “to [provide] quality higher education to a diverse student population.” Critics have also rebuked her March 2006 vote against providing $84 million in grants for colleges that predominantly serve black and Hispanic students, and her vote that same year to construct a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border.

But Regent Ernest Aliseda, who lives along the U.S.-Mexico border in McAllen, highlighted that, as the president of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Wilson worked to increase the number of women, first generation, and low-income students at the school.

Wilson will start in mid-August to replace longtime leader Diana Natalicio. During Natalicio’s 30-year tenure, she boosted the university’s budget and cultivated a nationally recognized research program for the school’s diverse student body, which is 80% Hispanic.

Students will work to ensure the core values Natalicio has instilled at UTEP are upheld by Wilson, said Hira Ali, a leader of the We the Student coalition, a group of student organizations and activists opposed to Wilson’s presidency.

“From here on out as We The Student coalition and other students on campus, we’ve banded together to be a watchdog organization for Wilson,” she said. “We want to let Wilson know we’re going to be watching her every step.”

Disclosure: The University of Texas System, Ernest Aliseda and the University of Texas at El Paso have been financial supporters of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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16 comments

  1. Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

    It’s back to the 1960’s prior to the 1964 civil rights amendment for UTEP! instead of moving past bigotry,the University of Texas board of Bigots cramps right through. Since Texas is a bloody red oppressive confederate state.

    • Albert you can always move back to Commiefornia. Don’t let the door hit you on your rear end on the way out. Good to see the leftists lose. Congratulations Dr. Wilson.

      BTW – The Democraps were against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and filibustered against it. The real racists and bigots in this country are the Democraps and other leftist ilk. Obvious you are a misogynist too.

      • Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

        Democrat,President Lyndon Baines Johnson sighed the civil rights in 1964! in the 1960’s some southern democrats became known as dixiecrats, Became republicans after George Wallace and Hubert Humphrey were defeated by another Trump type of crook Richard Nixon.
        Fero! what’s wrong with the KVIA forum, has it gotten to boring for you than you are now posting on the Herald Post frequently.
        And why should I move to California, I’m from Texas born and raised here when Texas was a blue state. Weird thing is that Texas was still a blue state when I moved to the bay area, and Ann Richards was our governor
        When I moved to California, California was a red state with a republican governor, Pete Wilson.
        Gradually the people of California saw the light with proposition 187, and we started to defeat as many republicans as possible. They started in exodus moving out of the state, I think that many of them relocated to Texas.
        California will always be a blue state, and between 2020 and 2028 Texas will once again return to a blue state.
        You and mad mike have enjoyed your bigotry and racism because of the republican take over of this state. But you both know that is not going to last,I give you 9 more years or less, and you’ll be gone.
        Oh so now I’m a misogynist because I don’t like Wilson, I said many time before, I don’t care if they are a man or a woman, I despise all republicanTURDS!
        Right wing conservatives are nothing but devil worshipers in a cult of demons and warlocks.
        TODOS REPUBLICANOS SON RACISTAS!
        mikey, eat shit and die and you to fero goats ass….

        • Albert I like posting over here periodically just to annoy you and other libtards. Obviously it works. Your rants are just as insane as ever. Happy TDS. rofl.

          • Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

            I’ve never seen you here before till just recently! you republicanTURDS are just pathetically disgusting with all your racism and bigotry. Yea, happy STD’S to your insanity behavior, you sorry LOSER!

    • You must be a product of the public school system here, because you obviously failed history. The 1964 Civil Rights Act was opposed by the democrap party. Based on your daily ranting here, you also failed civics and English/spelling too

      • Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

        President John F Kennedy was the president that proposed the civil rights amendment that was signed into law by president Lyndon Johnson.
        Well mikey you get an F+ in your report card.The democrats opposed to the civil rights act where southern democrats.
        Those same democrats were left without a political party when they all sided with George Wallace in 1968! Another racist bigot just like you and fero and Donald Trump. The GOP knowing about this, gladly invited those southern democrats to join the GOP,and they did. Maybe all but senator Robert Byrd remained as a democrat,the rest fled to the party of hate.
        I doubt that you finished high school, as the Army accepts eighth grade drop outs, you don’t have a high school diploma.You don’t even have a GED!
        Just admit that the Army gave you the Big Chicken Dinner,bad conduct discharge! Then kicked you out to the streets of El Paso.
        You must be that stooge on KVIA aka Wraith or Phantom Renegade!
        I bet it’s you… regardless, you are still the same dumb ass moron.

        • Albert with his internet education trying to rewrite history. Total failure and a nobody. Democraps are racists and bigots…..PERIOD!

          • Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

            Isn’t that what you are trying to do here with you’re failed efforts of misinformation. It’s right here and you can’t deny what you posted about democrats opposing the civil rights act.
            When two great democratic presidents both favored this bill.
            Kennedy proposed it and Johnson signed it into law.
            The whole country knows that the GOP are the party of hate!
            The whole world also knows this too, and you can’t hide or run away from it Fero THE PEDO! pendejo Goat!
            Go back to the KVIA forum where you belong HUEY!

        • Does your lobotomy scar still hurt?

        • Are you still required to wear that ankle monitor??

  2. Sorry Albert. Nice try but no dice. Spin all you want but the truth is the truth. You can’t change the history books no matter how hard you try. Regardless you are too stupid. No proof, source or citation means you made it up or it is all in your delusional mind.

    • Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

      You don’t know any history Cucaracha Fero! you are like other republicans claiming that Puerto Rico is a country or that Mexico has three other countries! I’m not trying and I don’t even have to try to figure you out,you are like Donald Trump, you fake everything based on your own stupidity.
      I’m not here to educate you,but I’m more than sure that you have learned more than what you are worth. You Sack of SHIT!
      I’m just having fun beating you down,both you and Mad Mosca Mikey!
      he must have just had a lobotomy done to him, it couldn’t be a colonoscopy because he is so full of shit just like you.
      Typical confederate rebels, GABACHOS WITHOUT A CAUSE! go light a candle for David Duke, and Steve King! bola de Tontos!

      • So funny. Obviously my last comment got to you since you reverted back to cursing in your stupid rant. You are a typical libtard loser. You couldn’t beat down your own ass. You are too stupid. Now run along and take your anti-psychotic meds.

        • Mueller's gone but the party is just starting!

          Sticks and stones Bitch! I can say what ever I want too, including cussing you out blue head Cucaracha,how many cucarachas have skull tattoos on their ugly faces? only Fero the Cucaracha!

Mountains 728
Soccer/Volleyball 728
Khalid 728
Bordertown Undergroun Show 728
Utep Football Generic 728
STEP 728
EP ELEC 2019 728×729
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Lucha 728