WASHINGTON — Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson plans to leave her post to become president of the University of Texas at El Paso, should that appointment be approved.
Wilson said Friday that she is the sole candidate for the position, which would begin in September 2019. If approved by the school’s board of regents, she would leave her Pentagon post.
“As you know, I left a university presidency to become Secretary of the Air Force and our family home is in New Mexico, a few hundred miles north of El Paso on the Rio Grande. If approved by the Regents, I look forward to returning to the west to help lead this fine institution,” Wilson said in a statement.
The university has a mandatory 21-day waiting period before announcing a final candidate and the vote by the board of regents.
President Trump thanked Wilson for her service — even though the two disagreed initially over the need to create a Space Corps as a new service branch. She eventually supported the concept and her name has appeared on some speculative lists to be nominated for secretary of Defense.
Congratulations to Heather Wilson, who is the sole finalist to become the next President of University of Texas at El Paso effective September 1, 2019. Heather has done an absolutely fantastic job…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 8, 2019
Wilson was a member of Congress from New Mexico from 1998 to 2009, winning her first race in a four-candidate special election. She failed in two attempts to reach the U.S. Senate, once in a party primary and then in a general election.
Wilson was one of the first females to attend the Air Force Academy and was the first female military veteran elected to Congress.
Wilson served as a congresswoman from New Mexico from 1998 to 2009. She also was president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology for four years.
“It has been a privilege to serve alongside our Airmen over the past two years and I am proud of the progress that we have made restoring our nation’s defense,” Wilson said in her statement. “We have improved the readiness of the force; we have cut years out of acquisition schedules and gotten better prices through competition; we have repealed hundreds of superfluous regulations; and we have strengthened our ability to deter and dominate in space.”