Texas Higher Education Scandal: UT Regent Won't Resign

Texas Higher Education Scandal: UT Regent Won't Resign

There’sno shortage of scandals in Texas education. While in the K-12 world the landscape has been littered with everythingfrom embezzlementto test taking cheating catastrophes and lapdances, the current drama comes from the college front where University ofTexas (UT) Regent Wallace J. Hall, Jr. refuses to step down despite threats of impeachmentand calls for his resignation.

TheDallas Morning News reported that impeachment charges werefiled almost a year ago.  Yet, asrecently as Monday, May 19, the embattled regent made it clear that he won’tquit, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

The articlecontinued to explain that Regents Chairman Paul Foster even urged Hall to stepdown and avoid the state House impeachment proceedings. However, Hall instead issued a statementthrough his lawyer questioning, “Which approach benefits the UT System,asking the Board of Regents to address wrongdoing, or asking regents whouncover the wrongdoing to resign?”

Hall thenquestioned ” Will the public ever know the truth about the problems in ourinstitutions if legislators are allowed to impeach board members who revealthem?”

He wasalluding to his outspoken desire for more transparency in UT leadership in a battle that has been perceived as both a power struggle and a voracious attempt to unseat UTPresident William Powers, Jr

At thetime of the incident, lawmakers accused Hall of conducting “witchhunts ” and micromanaging UT in his alleged efforts to dislodge Powers,which the article also considered to be “to the detriment of the state’sflagship campus.”

This whole saga is rooted in Hall having “proposed and received approval from the otherregents to fund an investigation of forgivable loans given from a privatefoundation to law school faulty, even though the Texas attorney general signedoff on a previous investigation, the results placed no blame on Powers, whoserved as the dean of the law school before becoming UT president,”according to the Texas Tribune.

Hall hadrequested massive amounts of records from the Austin campus, according to the AustinAmerican-Statesman. Lead prominentHouston attorney and former prosecutor Rusty Hardin cited the request for such a large volume of records, Hall’s handlingof confidential student information, his actions towards Powers and otheruniversity officials and Hall’s advocacy before a national standards-setting groupagainst the university’s position in a fundraising dispute as grounds forimpeachment.

Hall wasoriginally appointed to the Board of Regents by Governor Rick Perry in 2011 only toemerge as a “controversial” figure, which he was dubbed in the original Texas Tribune article.

The ironyof the entire fiasco is that Hall himself withheld some of his own criticalinformation.  The Texas Tribune reported in2013 that Hall “failed to disclose his involvement in a at least six previousstate and federal lawsuits during the regent application process.” Nor didHall mention these lawsuits during his nomination process either.  Later, Hall claimed those omissions wereunintentional.

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @outoftheboxmom.