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Eugene Powell

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Eugene Powell
Eugene Powell.jpg
University of Texas Board of Regents
Incumbent
In office
February 2009-Present
Term ends
February 2015
Years in position 5
PartyNon-partisan
Leadership
Chairman, Texas Board of Regents
February 2011-August 22, 2013
Elections and appointments
AppointedFebruary 2009
Appointed byRick Perry
Term limitsN/A
Education
Bachelor'sUniversity of Texas-Austin
Master'sUniversity of Texas-Austin
Personal
BirthdayFebruary 18, 1946
ProfessionReal estate
Websites
Office website
Eugene Powell is a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Powell was appointed to a six-year term in February 2009 by Rick Perry (R).[1]

Biography

Powell was born on February 18, 1946 and grew up in Weslaco, Texas.[2][3] He attended the University of Texas at Austin on a full athletic scholarship, earning a Bachelor's degree in Finance. He later earned a Master's degree in Finance, also from the University of Texas at Austin.[3]

In 1983, Powell became president of The Quincy Lee Company, a large commercial real estate development firm located in San Antonio. Beginning in the late 1980s, he went on to found several companies. In 1987, he formed real estate brokerage firm The Powell Companies and Bitterblue, Inc., a real estate development firm. In 2004, he partnered with his son, Cameron Powell, to found AirStrip Technologies, a medical software company.[3][4] He has served as the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of this company and, as of December 2013, continues to serve in an advisory capacity.[5]

Powell has been a prominent supporter of Governor Rick Perry. In 2010, Powell helped lead Perry's campaign finance team. Between 2001 and 2010, Powell donated a total of $56,150 to Perry's gubernatorial campaigns.[2]

Higher education reform

Powell joined the Board of Regents in 2009 and became chair in 2011. Powell was at the center of the higher education debate in Texas, along with Governor Rick Perry. Two of the primary issues in the conversation were the cost of tuition and the ratio of teaching versus research for faculty members. Powell said that "his guiding principle is to promote an affordable college education for Texas’ growing and diverse student population." Powell supported Perry's ambition for a $10,000 bachelor's degree. In May 2012, the regents voted to freeze undergraduate tuition for the University of Texas, Austin. School President Bill Powers supported a tuition increase.[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 for 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] Hall filed requests for more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden.[10][11]

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.[12][13] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[14] Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[15] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[16]

In July 2013, University of Texas Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa and 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.[17][18] 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," Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program, admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals.[19]

Release of email documents

Over 2,000 pages of email documents were released by the University of Texas to news outlets in late March 2014. Some of these documents detailed inquiries by Wallace Hall into President Bill Powers' travel practices. Some of Powers' travels were paid for in part or in full by donors. In January 2014, Hall challenged the "institutional purpose" of some of these travels in a message to Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Pedro Reyes. A system spokesperson said that the travel in question had been reviewed and deemed appropriate.[20]

In addition, the released correspondence suggests dissatisfaction on the part of the Board of Regents with the administration's handling of the admissions favoritism investigation. Regents Hall and Gene Powell said they were skeptical that Powers would cooperate with the Board's inquiry into the matter. "I have no confidence that we will get full cooperation from Bill Powers now or in the future as his assurances are unsupported by the facts," Hall wrote in a message to Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

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.[23] Hall was present at the meeting but did not comment to media.[24]

Hall's attorney Allan Van Fleet sent a letter to Foster indicating that Hall would not resign.[25][26]

Regents committees

Powell serves on the following Board standing committees:[27]

  • Facilities Planning and Construction
  • Finance and Planning
  • Health Affairs

Personal

Powell is married to his wife, Dana. They have two sons Cameron and Hunter. Eugene and Dana have six grandsons and one granddaughter.[1]

See also

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External links

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 University of Texas System, "Eugene Powell Biography," accessed October 31, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 Austin American-Statesman, "New UT regents' chairman setting glass-is-half-full tone," March 3, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 The University of Texas System, "Vice Chairman Wm. Eugene Powell," accessed December 11, 2013
  4. San Antonio Business Journal, "Real estate veteran Gene Powell elected chairman of University of Texas System," February 9, 2011
  5. AirStrip Technologies, "Board of Directors," accessed December 11, 2013
  6. Texas Tribune, "UT's Reform-Minded Chairman at Center of Controversy," May 18, 2012
  7. Texas Tribune, "UT Regents Back Some Tuition Hikes, New Med Schools," May 3, 2012
  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. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  13. Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  14. News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  15. Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  16. Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  17. Texas Tribune, "UT System Pushes Back Against Criticism of Regent Hall," July 16, 2013
  18. University of Texas System, "Letter from Eugene Powell to Jim Pitts," July 15, 2013
  19. American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  20. 20.0 20.1 The Texas Tribune, "As UT Inquiries Mount, So Have Frustrations," March 26, 2014
  21. Austin American-Statesman, "Chairman of UT board of regents calls for resignation of Wallace Hall," May 15, 2014
  22. Houston Chronicle, "Board chairman asks embattled UT regent to resign," May 15, 2014
  23. Texas Tribune, "UT Board Chairman Calls for Regent Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
  24. The Alcalde, "Regents Chairman Calls on Wallace Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
  25. KXAN, "Texas Regent Hall defies call for him to resign," May 19, 2014
  26. Houston Chronicle, "Wallace Hall to UT Chairman Foster: I won’t resign," May 19, 2014
  27. University of Texas System, "Board Committees," accessed October 31, 2013