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Names Swirling of Candidates for Texas Teachers CIO

Britt Harris’s surprising exit for UTIMCO opens up the second most sought-after CIO role in Texas.

Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) Deputy CIO Jerry Albright took over as Interim CIO last week, the fund said — one member of a deep bench of Austin investment talent who could potentially succeed Britt Harris.

Chief investment officer Harris is departing after a decade to lead the University of Texas Investment Management Company (UTIMCO), a smaller fund headquartered blocks from TRS, the pension confirmed last week.

With the UTIMCO job filled after a long search, Harris’s position has unexpectedly opened. Names of potential replacements — or at least those interested — have begun swirling in the Texas capital’s tight-knit investment community.

Albright took over as interim CIO last week, in an immediate decision announced by TRS executive director Brian Guthrie. “I’m confident that Jerry will carry on Britt’s legacy as we continue the outstanding program that he established,” Guthrie said in the statement.

Three other internal candidates are being talked about, according to sources close to the situation: Eric Lang (Senior Managing Director of External Private Markets), Chi Chai (Senior Managing Director of Internal Public Markets), and Chief Risk Officer Jase Auby.

Auby has been named deputy CIO, according to a spokesman for TRS. He said in an email that the board will consider plans for filling the CIO position permanently at its July 13 meeting.

“Eric Lang is the co-chair of the Management Committee and a member of the Investment Committee, so if there is anyone that looks to me like Britt’s number two guy, it would be him,” says one source.

The TRS board has not announced a search for a permanent replacement. Many public entities are obliged to conduct formal searches for executive openings, but TRS is not, according to the spokesperson.

In the meantime, speculation continues as to who will strive to follow in Harris’s undoubtedly large footsteps. As Neuberger Berman CEO George Walker said after hearing the news, “Britt is an absolute force of nature.”

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