UT Board of Regents In-Fighting Picks Up Again

Erich Schlegel

After making nice during the regular legislative session, lines are being drawn within the UT Board of Regents over what some see as a "Witch Hunt" after UT President William Powers.

Well, that didn't take long.

After members of the legislature and the UT System Board of Regents engaged in a war of words, events seemed to have calmed down as the legislative session wound to a close.

However, a member of the UT System Board of Regents is once again digging into the past of UT President Williams Powers. Regent Wallace Hall has filed an open records act asking for any and all relevant documents all the way down to post-it notes.

Hall wants to continue his investigation into Powers time as Law Dean and how he worked with the University of Texas Law School Foundation on its "forgivable" loan system.

During the legislative session, lawmakers and members of the Board clashed over this and other items, and it was thought that an agreement was reached in April that the Board of Regents would ask the State Attorney General's Office to handle an investigation into the law school's foundation.

Hall has other ideas.

His information request covers all current members of the Texas House, Texas Senate, any current or former member of Congress, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, all founding members of the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, or law school foundation board members.

Two regents, Robert Stillwell and Steven Hicks, have publicly blasted Hall's request. Hicks called Hall's request an "abuse of power.

Stillwell, in an email to UT System Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell, agreed and added:

"One aspect of the matter that has concerned me is our continued public reliance on "fiduciary duty " as an excuse for most anything and everything. I have practiced corporate law 50 years and have dealt with fiduciary duty cases and issues many, many times in advising corporate boards and directors. There is nothing in the fiduciary duty law or lore that trumps abuse of power or authority or excuses poor governance practices. Common sense, good judgment, discretion, fairness and a level playing field will ALWAYS prevail. There is similarly no excuse or cover provided for personal agendas or vindictive actions. "

Stillwell then finished with this:

"I think we all deserve better than what is happening. For better or worse, we are all affected as Regents and as a Board by official ( or even unofficial ) actions by each one of us. Often that can be reflected glory. But not always.

We can and should do better. It is really not that hard."

While Hall filed this request as a public citizen, he still wants to have any financial costs that come with the request to be waived.

"Because this request is made on behalf of a member of the UT System Board of Regents, we ask that you waive the assessment and collection of fees, if any, associated with responding to the request."

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