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General Session Speaker

Admiral William H. McRaven, USN (Ret.)

Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command (2011-2014); Commander of U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (2008-2011); Com
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Admiral William H. McRaven is a retired U.S. Navy Four-Star admiral and the former Chancellor of the
University of Texas System. During his time in the military, he commanded special operations forces at
every level, eventually taking charge of the U.S. Special Operations Command. His career included
combat during Desert Storm and both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He commanded the troops that
captured Saddam Hussein and rescued Captain Phillips. McRaven is also credited with developing the
plan and leading the Osama bin Laden mission in 2011.


As the Chancellor of the UT System, he led one of the nation’s largest and most respected systems of
higher education. As the chief executive officer of the UT System, McRaven oversaw 14 institutions that
educated 220,000 students, and employed 20,000 faculty and more than 80,000 health care
professionals, researchers, and staff.


McRaven is a recognized national authority on U.S. foreign policy and has advised Presidents George W.
Bush, Barack Obama, and other U.S. leaders on defense issues. He currently serves on the Council on
Foreign Relations (CFR), the National Football Foundation, and the Board of Directors of CoconoPhilips.
McRaven has been recognized for his leadership numerous times. In 2011, he was the first runner-up for
TIME magazine’s “Person of the Year.” In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named McRaven one of the
nation’s “Top 10 Foreign Policy Experts.” In 2014, Politico magazine named McRaven one of the “Politico
50,” citing his leadership as instrumental in cutting though Washington bureaucracy. In 2015, he received
the Intrepid Freedom Award for his distinguished service in defending the values of democracy. In 2016,
McRaven was named the recipient of the Ambassador Richard M. Helms Award by the CIA Officers’
Memorial Foundation. This year, 2018, he will be receiving the Judge William H. Webster Distinguished
Service Award for a lifetime of service to the nation.


McRaven graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 1977 with a degree in Journalism, and
received his master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey in 1991.
McRaven is the author of two books, SPEC OPS: Case Studies in Special Operations Warfare and Make
Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life and Maybe the World, based on his 2014 UT
Commencement Speech that received worldwide attention.


He met his wife, Georgeann, while they were students at UT Austin, and they have three grown
children. McRaven is now a leadership consultant and stays active with his writing, speaking, and board
commitments.

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