Regents unanimously choose Dallas executive
By BRETT NAUMAN
Eagle Staff Writer
Current Job: President and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. Also a member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed’s principal monetary policy-making body.
Education: Born and raised in rural Georgia. Received a B.B.A. and Ph.D. in economics at the University of Georgia. Served on the school’s faculty before joining the Fed in 1968.
Regents on Wednesday picked the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas to become the next chancellor of the Texas A&M University System.
The nine-member Board of Regents unanimously chose Robert McTeer to lead the system after a separate poll on interim chancellor Benton Cocanougher fell one vote short of approval.
McTeer, who has led the Federal Reserve’s Dallas district since 1991, is a national figure in economics who has been mentioned as a possible successor to Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, Regent Erle Nye said.
“His reputation is that of a fine manager and leader,” said Nye, who led the chancellor search for the regents. “His record at the Fed has been outstanding. He’s a winner, and I think he will lead our system well.”
The board’s two public votes came after more than an hour of closed-door debate in which regents were divided 5-4 on whether to name McTeer or Cocanougher the finalist for the post, Regent Lionel Sosa said.
“It was a horse race between the two,” Sosa said, describing the closed portion of the board’s telephonic meeting Wednesday. “It could have gone either way, it was so close.”
After the meeting was reopened, Regent Steve Stevens made a motion to name Cocanougher the finalist, saying his 14 months of service as interim chancellor had demonstrated he could effectively lead the system.
However, the motion failed after only four regents — one short of a majority — voted in favor of Cocanougher. They were Stevens, Sosa, Susan Rudd Bailey and board chairman Lowry Mays. Regents Nye, Bill Jones, John White, Phil Adams and Wendy Gramm cast “no” votes.
A second vote moments later ended with each board member agreeing on McTeer as the finalist. Sosa said the regents who supported Cocanougher voted for McTeer so the board’s decision would be unified.
By law, regents must wait at least 21 days before they can vote to offer McTeer the job. The chancellor of the A&M System supervises nine universities, seven state agencies and a health science center.
McTeer would become the first permanent chancellor to succeed the late Howard Graves, who stepped down in August 2003 while battling cancer. Cocanougher has served in an interim capacity since then.
McTeer said regents approached him about the position several months ago. Turning toward higher education management is a challenge he’s anxious to begin, he said.
“It’s a little scary. I feel a little like the dog that caught the car,” McTeer said. “I’ve always loved university life and the fact this system has several college campuses I can have an impact on makes the job attractive.”
Though four board members favored keeping Cocanougher in the post, they recognized that McTeer’s business connections and decades of experience teaching college classes in economics made him a strong candidate, Sosa said.
He said the board was not as divided in the chancellor search as it was two years ago when Robert Gates was chosen over former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm as president of Texas A&M, Sosa said. Five regents voted favor of Gates, ending a contentious and controversial search — and the board never did officially identify Gramm as a candidate.
Regents said they will honor Cocanougher for his service during their next regularly scheduled meeting in December. Cocanougher could not be reached Wednesday to comment on the selection.
In a statement released by the system, Cocanougher said he was honored to serve as interim chancellor and that he plans to return to A&M’s Mays Business School, where he holds the position of dean emeritus.
After the system officially hires him, McTeer said, he will step down from his position with the Federal Reserve and move to College Station to begin immersing himself in the system’s operations.
• Brett Nauman’s e-mail address is email@example.com.