The contentious tenor of UT Regent Wallace Hall is about to come to an end. But he might get in one more shot before it is over.
Governor Greg Abbott has chosen three new members to the UT Board of Regents. They are former Republican State Senator Kevin Etlife, Rad Weaver, CEO of McCombs Partners in San Antonio, and Janiece Longoria, a former vice chair of the UT system board.
Abbott’s appointments takes Hall and his two closest allies off the UT Board of Regents. Also moving off the UT board are regents Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich, all appointees of former Governor Rick Perry.
Abbott announced 3 appointments each to the UT, Texas A&M and Texas Tech Board of Regents on Monday. The UT board is the only one where Abbott did not reappoint at least one regent member.
Hall’s six-year stay on the board has been marked by clashes with UT-Austin administrators and fellow board members.
Hall accused former UT President Bill Powers of favoritism with the admission of students with powerful connections. He filed information requests for thousands of documents, which UT denied based on it being a violation of student privacy as well as a massive burden on the UT-Austin Staff.
Hall’s bulldog approach to his investigation finally led to a clash with state legislators who even looked into impeachment proceedings.
The House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations voted 6-1 to censure Hall for misconduct and incompetence and left it at that.
Hall didn’t stop. In 2015, he filed a lawsuit against UT Chancellor William McRaven's office claiming they wrongfully withheld information from an independent investigation that looked into claims that some prospective students received preferential treatment when applying to the Austin campus during the tenure of former UT President Powers.
A district judge rejected the case, and an appeals court denied an appeal made by Hall in August 2016. Hall then appealed to the Texas Supreme Court, who less than two weeks ago heard oral arguments in the case.
According to reporters at the hearing, some of the justices wondered why Hall didn’t sue UT instead of McRaven since he was following UT Guidelines. Others seemed to side will Hall that regents do have the right to personal information if students were being admitted for reasons having to do with their powerful connections.
But Hall’s claim to those records ends with his tenure of the BOR, which has just 11 days to go.