According to reports, the University of Texas System’s Board of Regents has zeroed in on their candidate to replace outgoing chancellor Bill McRaven. Their choice? James B. Milliken, the former chancellor of the City University of New York.
For Milliken, “former” is the operative word.
Milliken stepped down from CUNY in November 2017, claiming health issues. While Milliken was experiencing health issues stemming from a throat cancer diagnosis, he also had state and federal prosecutors looking over his shoulder—charging him and other administrators with “widespread mismanagement and financial waste.”
“CUNY has also been thrust into an unflattering situation under Mr. Milliken’s watch on issues of governance. Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn are looking into several CUNY foundations for their handling of federal research money and personal expenses. Prosecutors are also investigating the former president of City College, Lisa S. Coico, who resigned abruptly in October 2016 after The New York Times uncovered evidence that a memo concerning her expenses had been fabricated.”
After the investigation was made public, Milliken, Coico, and many other members of university brass resigned including Vice Chancellor of Legal Affairs and General Counsel Frederick P. “Rick” Schaffer; Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer Allan H. Dobrin; Vice Chancellor for Research Gillian Small; and Senior Vice Chancellor of University Relations Jay Hershenson.
As Crain’s New York covered the resignations, the publication stated, “the shakeup can be seen as not merely a response to Cuomo’s demand for action but as an effort by CUNY Chancellor James Milliken to ward off calls for his own ouster.”
If Milliken attempted such an effort, it wasn’t successful. As mentioned previously, Milliken couldn’t shake off the scandal and resigned last November.
Now he appears poised to bring that baggage to Austin, being named the sole finalist for the position by the UT Board of Regents.
For most businesses or universities, “widespread mismanagement and financial waste” would be viewed as a demerit in a potential hire, but for the UT Politburo it might be an asset.
For years the university administration has been wracked by scandal. In 2013, former UT Regent Wallace Hall uncovered political influence corrupting the admissions process at UT and UT Law School, allowing the admission of under-qualified applicants with political connections.
In other cases, the university funneled millions of dollars in secret “forgivable loans” to professors and administrators.
While the revelations ultimately forced the resignation of UT President Bill Powers, the majority of the administration was protected by its powerful allies in the Texas Legislature and was never held to account.
Indeed, Powers’ legacy continues, as he was succeeded by his own executive vice president and provost, Greg Fenves, and university regents even voted to continue to allow the university administration to intervene in the admissions process.
As the sole finalist for the position, the hiring of Milliken will proceed to a vote of the full Board of Regents at a later meeting, after a 21-day waiting period. In the meantime, taxpayers have the opportunity to contact their elected officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who appoints Regents, and express their opinions on Milliken.