Monday, August 11, 2014

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Statement from Chairman Paul Foster regarding today’s meeting of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations

Please see statement below from UT System Board of Regents Chairman Paul Foster:

As Chairman of the UT System Board of Regents, I must respond to the motion adopted today by the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations.

While I respect the weighty responsibility and authority of the Select Committee, I must disagree strongly with certain findings, conclusions and actions found in the committee’s motion.

At no time has there been a loss of institutional control within The University of Texas System, either on the part of the Board collectively or Chancellor Cigarroa. To our knowledge, no action taken by the Board or any individual member or by the Chancellor or System officials over the past few months has violated state law or any internal UT System rule or policy. The Select Committee may disagree with actions taken by the Board, individual regents, the Chancellor or other System officials and may feel that other courses of action might have been more prudent or appropriate, but any allegation or insinuation of a loss of institutional control is completely erroneous. Individual regents have broad authority under the Texas Education Code and UT System rules and policies to inquire about matters at the System and at our institutions, and each has exercised this authority within the established parameters. Furthermore, UT System officers at all times have been fully compliant with the Texas Education Code and Regents’ Rules.

While I and others may not always concur with the style and methods employed by Regent Wallace Hall, I will affirm that he has always diligently worked to further what he sees as the best interests of the UT System.

The UT System has always worked cooperatively and collegially with the Texas Legislature and its committees and members, as we have done over these past several months with the Select Committee. The Board does not believe, however, that the extraordinary and unprecedented degree of legislative oversight set forth in the motion is justified or necessary. Nor do we believe it appropriate or fair that the costs of the work of the Select Committee, authorized by the House of Representatives alone, be imposed on the System.

Notwithstanding the views expressed today by the Select Committee, the UT System Board of Regents has over the last several years continued to advance higher education in Texas and at each of our 15 institutions. Nowhere is this more evident than in our efforts to accelerate The University of Texas at Austin’s ascendancy to become America’s finest public research university, based on Chancellor Cigarroa’s Framework for Advancing Excellence Throughout the UT System. The Regents have unanimously and consistently supported recommendations made by Chancellor Cigarroa to provide UT Austin with resources to do this, including:

• Establishing the first new medical school at an AAU institution in 37 years

• Building a new engineering education and research center to ensure UT Austin’s preeminence as a national leader in a critically important discipline

• Awarding more than $500 million in additional funds beyond UT Austin’s steady stream of funding from the Available University Fund to support recruitment and retention of star faculty, invest in student programs, and much more

I appreciate and concur with the Select Committee’s praise of Chancellor Cigarroa when we testified before the committee last month. We look forward to working with the Texas Legislature in the months and years ahead to promote our mission of teaching, research, patient care and service.

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