Alex Cranberg

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Alex Cranberg
Alex Cranberg.jpg
University of Texas Board of Regents
Incumbent
In office
February 2009-Present
Term ends
February 2017
Years in position 3
PartyNon-partisan
Elections and appointments
AppointedFebruary 2011
Appointed byRick Perry
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas-Austin
Master'sStanford University
Websites
Office website
Alex Cranberg is a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Cranberg was re-appointed to a six-year term in February 2011 by Rick Perry (R).[1]

Biography

The son of research physicist and inventor Lawrence Cranberg, Alex graduated summa cum laude from the University of Texas at Austin in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Stanford University in 1981.[1][2]

He led oil and gas investment activities for General Atlantic Partners from 1981 to 1992, after which point he founded Aspect Energy.[1][3]

He founded the Alliance for Choice in Education, a non-profit organization based in Denver, Colorado that provides scholarships to low-income students and supports school choice programs, and currently serves as the Chairman of the group's Board of Directors.[4][5]

Cranberg was appointed Regent approximately two weeks after registering to vote in Texas following a move from Colorado, a point of some controversy. Likewise, Cranberg faced criticism early on for his associations with Jeff Sandefer and Rick O'Donnell, two prominent advocates of contentious higher education reforms in Texas.[6][7]

Wallace Hall impeachment


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University of Texas Investigations

Background
Wallace Hall impeachment trialPolitical favoritism in admissions to the University of TexasForgivable loans program at the University of Texas Law School House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations (TSAO)Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Ed Governance, Excellence & Transparency

UT Regents
Wallace HallPaul FosterEugene PowellSteven HicksErnest AlisedaJeffery HildebrandBrenda PejovichAlex CranbergRobert Stillwell

Elected Officials
Rick PerryJoe StrausCharles PerryTrey FischerDan FlynnNaomi GonzalezEric JohnsonLyle LarsonCarol AlvaradoFour PriceJim PittsDan Branch

UT Individuals
Bill PowersLarry SagerBarry BurgdorfKevin HegartyFrancisco CigarroaCarol Longoria
See also: Wallace Hall impeachment trial

After he was appointed in 2011, University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall began looking into what he believed to be clout scandals within the University of Texas system. Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program, admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals.[8] Hall, as an individual citizen, filed a large number of FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed.[9] According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[10][11] However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages.[12][13] In addition, Cigarroa wrote: "During testimony before the Select Committee, some early witnesses implied that the U.T. System has not protected the privacy rights of students, staff, and patients. This is simply not true."[14]

An effort was begun in June 2013 to try and impeach Hall from his position as Regent. Some legislators are justifying the impeachment on the grounds that Hall did not disclose several lawsuits that he was involved in when he originally completed his Regent background check. Hall updated Governor Rick Perry's office in April 2013 with the full list.[15][16] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[17] Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[18] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[19]

In July 2013, University of Texas Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and Regent Eugene Powell responded to the ongoing investigation and negative remarks against Hall from some elected officials and University of Texas staff. Cigarroa said Hall was not allowed to access anything that was not reviewed by University lawyers to ensure they met federal privacy standards. In a July 15, 2013 letter to state representative Jim Pitts, Powell wrote: "Regent Hall's efforts extend to bringing the U.T. System into a competitive position nationally; especially related to offering blended and online learning opportunities to U.T. students. I would point out Regent Hall's excellent service to the Board in terms of time and energy. I appreciate his Board service and his dedication and hard work designed to fulfill his fiduciary obligations.[20][21] He added: "I am aware of no instance of Regent Hall inappropriately sharing information that is confidential by law with others outside U.T. System and encourage you to identify any specific concerns you have in this area."[22]

Hardin's report

On April 7, 2014, the San Antonio Express-News and Houston Chronicle viewed an advance copy of Hardin's 176-page report. The newspapers reported that the document was previously made available to committee members on April 4, 2014. The report alleges that Hall broke state and federal law. As of April 8, 2014, the report was not yet made public. Hall's lawyers said he would not comment on the report until he had seen it. According to the newspaper summary, the report alleges that Hall attempted to coerce UT administrators prior to their testimony.[23][24] The report refers to Hall's "burdensome" requests for records as one of the critiques laid out against the regent.[25]

The Texas Tribune, which also received a copy of the report, wrote that "ironically a substantial number of the actions that the Hardin report highlights as potentially triggering impeachment occurred in part or entirely because of the committee’s investigation." The report listed four items as a sufficient basis for articles of impeachment. The report does not make any explicit recommendation to the committee.[26]

The draft report recommended to the committee that impeachment could be pursued for at least four bases.[27]

Hall's lawyers' response to the report

On May 6, 2014, Hall's attorney Allan Van Fleet sent a letter to the Transparency Committee in response to the report issued by Rusty Hardin. Van Fleet accused the committee of withholding information that would "exonerate Regent Hall from all of the committee's charges." The letter alleged that the committee "manipulated the process to prevent public exposure to the truth."[28]

Van Fleet's May 6 letter made reference to a previously sent letter on April 25, 2014, that requested the release of an audio recording from an August 22, 2013 University of Texas System Board of Regents board meeting. According to the letter, a recording made by Cranberg at the meeting pinpoints the exact position of the Regent members regarding President Bill Powers' employment situation. The letter maintained it is a key piece of evidence that has not been released to the public. Hall's lawyers requested that the recording be released and sent to the Travis County District Attorney. The Texas Tribune also requested the recording. University of Texas System officials then asked the Attorney General for permission to withhold the recording.[29][30]

The letter from Van Fleet lists seven facts that he alleges refutes the committee's assertions. Those facts listed were as follows:[31]

  1. "Regent Hall fully disclosed information on his nomination application"[31]
  2. "Regent Hall did not violate FERPA protections"[31]
  3. "Regent Hall did not “leak” or otherwise disclose student information"[31]
  4. "Regent Hall properly represented the UT System in discussions about charitable donations"[31]
  5. "Regent Hall’s information requests were reasonable and necessary"[31]
  6. "Regent Hall did not tamper with or coerce testimony"[31]

Call for Hall to resign

At a May 15, 2014 Board of Regents meeting, Board Chair Paul Foster said he believed Hall should resign from his position as Regent. "I implore you to deal with the results of the actions that now have the potential for significant consequence for the UT system," Foster said.[32] Regents Alex Cranberg and Eugene Powell defended Hall's actions while Jeffery Hildebrand, Robert Stillwell and Steven Hicks supported Foster in his call for resignation. No formal vote on Hall was taken by the board.[33]

Foster implied that Hall's resignation would be the best course of action in order to end the distraction that was caused by the impeachment trial.[34] Hall was present at the meeting but did not comment to media.[35]

Hall's attorney Allan Van Fleet sent a letter to Foster indicating that Hall would not resign.[36][37]

Regents committees

Cranberg serves on the following Board standing committees:[38]

  • Academic Affairs
  • Facilities Planning and Construction
  • Finance and Planning
  • Technology Transfer and Research

Personal

Cranberg has three daughters.[1]

See also

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External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 University of Texas System, "Alex Cranberg Biography," accessed October 31, 2013
  2. Alex Cranberg: Education philanthropy, governance and policy advocacy" "My Father," March 15, 2011
  3. Aspect Holdings, LLC "Management - Alex Cranberg," accessed December 11, 2013
  4. ACE Scholarships, "About ACE," accessed December 11, 2013
  5. ACE Scholarships, "Board of Directors," accessed December 11, 2013
  6. The Texas Tribune, "Controversial UT Regent Hopes to "Push a Reset Button," June 12, 2011
  7. The Texas Tribune, "Who's Behind Proposed Reforms to Texas Higher Ed?" accessed December 11, 2013
  8. American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  9. Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  10. Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  11. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  12. Watchdog, "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
  13. Texas Tribune, "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
  14. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
  15. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  16. Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  17. News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  18. Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  19. Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  20. Texas Tribune, "UT System Pushes Back Against Criticism of Regent Hall," July 16, 2013
  21. University of Texas System, "Letter from Eugene Powell to Jim Pitts," July 15, 2013
  22. American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  23. Houston Chronicle, "Report: UT regent abused office, may have violated law," April 7, 2014
  24. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent Wallace Hall possibly committed impeachable offenses, investigation report show," April 7, 2014
  25. Austin American Statesman, "Report for House panel finds grounds to impeach UT Regent Wallace L. Hall Jr.," April 7, 2014
  26. Texas Tribune, "Report Cites Possible Grounds for Hall's Impeachment," April 8, 2014
  27. Rusty Hardin & Associates, LLP, "Investigative Report to the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations regarding Conduct by University of Texas Regent Wallace Hall and Impeachment Under the June 25, 2013 Proclamation," March 2014
  28. Austin American-Statesman, "UT regent’s lawyer accuses panel of withholding information," May 6, 2014
  29. Texas Tribune, "Hall's Lawyer Accuses Committee of Withholding Information," May 6, 2014
  30. Watchdog, "Attorney: Secret tape covered up by lawmakers proves regent’s innocence," May 7, 2014
  31. 31.0 31.1 31.2 31.3 31.4 31.5 31.6 Texas Tribune, "Letter from Van Fleet to the Committee on May 6, 2014
  32. Austin American-Statesman, "Chairman of UT board of regents calls for resignation of Wallace Hall," May 15, 2014
  33. Houston Chronicle, "Board chairman asks embattled UT regent to resign," May 15, 2014
  34. Texas Tribune, "UT Board Chairman Calls for Regent Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
  35. The Alcalde, "Regents Chairman Calls on Wallace Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
  36. KXAN, "Texas Regent Hall defies call for him to resign," May 19, 2014
  37. Houston Chronicle, "Wallace Hall to UT Chairman Foster: I won’t resign," May 19, 2014
  38. University of Texas System, "Board Committees," accessed October 31, 2013