The Oversight of Higher Ed Governance, Excellence & Transparency is a joint standing committee of the Texas State Legislature. The committee was formed on February 20, 2013.
The following table describes committee membership at the beginning of the 2013 legislative session.
University of Texas investigations
- 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 and admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals. Hall, as an individual citizen, filed FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed. According to his accusers, Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden. However, a letter from University chancellor Francisco Cigarroa in February 2014 said that Hall likely requested fewer than 100,000 pages. 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." Governor Rick Perry and University of Texas President Bill Powers have differed on education issues, specifically tuition, graduation rates, teacher roles and research.
In 2013, the joint committee inquired into the possibility of an impeachment. In an April 2013 interview with Texas Monthly, Hall said that there was little outreach from state officials about the process prior to the impeachment proceedings. "[Committee co-chairman] Dan Branch has been a friend of mine for many years. He’s never asked me a question about this situation, and the next thing I know he’s asking his staff to investigate the rules for impeachment. I’m mystified by that, frankly," Hall said.
An effort was begun in June 2013 to try and impeach Hall from his position as regent. On June 24, 2013, committee-member State House representative Jim Pitts (R) filed a resolution to advance along impeachment proceedings of Hall by the select committee. However, State House Speaker Joe Straus issued a proclamation that expanded the jurisdiction of the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, allowing it to investigate a possible impeachment. 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 Perry's office in April 2013 with the full list. No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office. Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees. He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater." Texas state legislators have never previously tried to remove an appointed official. Only two elected officials in the history of Texas have ever been successfully impeached.
In February 2015, an independent report by Kroll Associates, commissioned by the Regents Board, confirmed a "pattern of special treatment for well-connected applicants to UT." While the report did not show evidence of any quid pro quo, it did show that "extra acceptances were extended every year to accommodate special cases" and that the "President’s Office ordered applicants admitted over the objection of the Admissions Office." It added that "efforts were made to minimize paper trails and written lists" during the process." The Wall Street Journal wrote that the report should "should put an end" to the concerns over Hall's clout investigations.
- ↑ Texas State Legislature, "Committee Membership History," accessed November 20, 2013
- ↑ American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
- ↑ Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
- ↑ Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
- ↑ Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
- ↑ Watchdog, "‘Witch hunt’ fallout: Speaker calls for narrower public records law," February 5, 2014
- ↑ Texas Tribune, "UT System Responds to Transparency Committee Directives," February 3, 2014
- ↑ Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa letter to the Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations," February 1, 2014
- ↑ Austin American Statesman, "Perry pans impeachment proceedings, defends UT Regent Hall," October 30, 2013
- ↑ Texas Monthly, "The Wallace Hall Interview," April 15, 2013
- ↑ Alcalde, "Pitts Files Resolution to Impeach UT Regent Wallace Hall," June 24, 2013
- ↑ Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
- ↑ Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
- ↑ News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
- ↑ Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
- ↑ Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
- ↑ Texas Public Radio, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Will Testify In Impeachment Hearing," November 13, 2013
- ↑ Texas State House Committees, "Transparency in State Agency Operations Committee Members," accessed October 31, 2013
- ↑ Wall Street Journal, "Texas Admissions Rumble," February 12, 2015