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UT Austin President Greg Fenves leaving for Emory University; interim UT president selected

Fenves has been president of the university since 2015.

AUSTIN, Texas — University of Texas at Austin President Greg Fenves is leaving UT for Emory University after serving the Forty Acres for 12 years.

In a letter dated April 7, Fenves said on the morning of April 7, the board of trustees at Emory University in Atlanta voted to name him as their next president. He will begin that job on Aug. 1 and his time at UT will end on June 30. 

On April 8, the UT System Regents selected McCombs School of Business Dean Jay Hartzell to serve as the interim president at UT.

Fenves said that a lot has changed in the past several weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic, and that "the timing of this news in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic is not what I had expected or wanted." He said that "there is often a natural end" to the job of a university president, and that he decided "it was the right time to conclude my tenure at UT" earlier this year, before the coronavirus pandemic. 

Until his last day, Fenves said he will stay focused on making the spring 2020 semester meaningful for students and getting the UT community back to normal.

Fenves has been president of the university since 2015. Prior to taking that position, he served as executive vice president and provost and as dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. 

"I am proud and honored to have served as dean of engineering, provost and, for the past five years, president of UT," his letter said in part. "I am grateful for the trust you placed in me as leader of this great university that improves the lives of Texans and changes the world every day. Improving lives is at the heart of The University of Texas’ mission and will always be in the future."

On Tuesday, Kevin Helgren, student body president from 2016 to 2017, released a statement praising Fenves's leadership.

"Greg Fenves is a man of character, integrity, and drive – and he led the University of Texas with each of those attributes," said Helgren. "He cares deeply for the university and its people – students, faculty and staff alike – and working alongside him as student body president was an honor and a privilege. I'm grateful for his leadership, mentorship and friendship. Emory University is lucky to have him."

University of Texas System Board of Regents Chairman Kevin Eltife said every member of the board has "full confidence" in the interim president's abilities.

“Jay Hartzell is a Longhorn for life," Eltife said. "Over the past 25 years, he has been a student, professor and academic leader on the Forty Acres and a leader nationally in business education and real estate finance. There is no one better suited to lead the flagship campus, inspire Longhorn Nation and move our university forward.”

WATCH: UT researchers working on emergency ventilator prototype

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