On Wednesday, the full body of Texas Senate moved to approve Gov. Abbott’s recent nominations to the University of Texas Board of Regents in the face of resistance from some of its conservative members. After an unprecedented five hour-long vetting process in the Nominations Committee, the testimonies given by the nominees only revealed a need for further inspection into the veracity of their remarks and review of their record.
Unfortunately, that did not occur.
As reported earlier, the regent nominees were hastily pushed from the Senate Nominations Committee on to the floor last week despite opposition from freshman State Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville). Sen. Burton stood opposed to the re-nomination of Steven Hicks, who in his last term as a regent sought to silence admissions scandal whistleblower Wallace Hall, and the nomination of David Beck, who previously served as president of the UT Law Foundation and managed a secret loan program.
“Mr. Hicks and Mr. Beck are both accomplished men and successful in their professional lives,” said Burton. “However, they have presided over a period of secrecy, privilege, and sharp rises in tuition at the University of Texas. For these reasons, I cannot support their nomination to the UT Board of Regents.”
An editorial in the Dallas Morning News joined in the criticism:
“Serious questions remain about these nominees and their commitment to ensuring that UT’s admissions and remuneration practices are fair and transparent. It is also critical that they understand a regent’s role is to support the university’s integrity, not a particular administration’s practices.”
On the floor, Sen. Burton requested that the motion to confirm the nominations be severed, resulting in a separate vote for both Beck and Hicks.
Beck was approved 27-3, with Burton joined in opposition by Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) and Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown). Hicks was then approved 28-2, with Burton and Hall voting in opposition. State Sen. Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler) was absent for the votes.
The approval of these regents without further scrutiny signals further danger for the University of Texas. Rather than promoting a badly needed review and redress of the institution, the Senate has condoned the status quo and continuation of the corruption that has plagued the 40 Acres. Those Senators who voted to approve the Beck and Hicks nominations will own whatever misbehavior they engage in as regents.