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US Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson is resigning

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson on May 16, 2017, at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. (Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley/Department of Defense)
March 08, 2019

U.S. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson is resigning after two years in her position.

Wilson — a former academic, Congresswoman, and Air Force captain from 1982 to 1989 — plans to return to a career in academia as the president at University of Texas at El Paso.

“Today I informed the President I will resign as Secretary of the Air Force to be President of the University of Texas at El Paso. It has been a privilege to serve with our #Airmen—I am proud of the progress we have made to restore the readiness & lethality of #USAF,” she tweeted Friday afternoon.

News of Wilson’s announcement came immediately after the University of Texas Board of Regents announced Wilson as the sole finalist for the UTEP president role, following a unanimous vote for Wilson, Reuters reported on Friday.

Current UTEP President Dr. Diana Natalicio is retiring and has remained in her role until the board could select a new president. Natalicio announced her retirement last year.

A spokesman for UTEP told KTSM that they would not comment on the decision until after a 21-day waiting period.

“Everyone she has talked to wants her to stay but she thinks the time is right to take on this new challenge,” an anonymous official told Reuters.

Her role will officially end May 31.

Wilson formerly represented New Mexico in Congress from 1998 to 2009 before she was confirmed as Air Force Secretary in May 2017. Vice President Mike Pence has referred to her as an “asset to the team.”

She was the first Air Force Secretary to have graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy.

She was also the President of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology from 2013 to 2017.

She earned a masters and a doctoral degree in philosophy at Oxford University in England.

Wilson was previously rumored to be a contender for the role of Secretary of Defense after the resignation of James Mattis in December.

In October, three anonymous officials said President Trump was considering firing Wilson over an alleged disagreement over his “Space Force” strategy, and delaying his directive.

The sources said Wilson had been carrying out efforts “to undermine this part of the president’s agenda from within,” ultimately pushing back on the Space Force directive, and drawing ire from President Trump, as well as Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan. Wilson, however, refuted the rumors.