Paul Foster

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Paul Foster
Paul Foster.jpg
University of Texas Board of Regents
In office
February 2007-Present
Term ends
February 2019
Years in position 7
Chairman, Texas Board of Regents
August 2013-Present
Vice Chairman, Texas Board of Regents
Elections and appointments
AppointedFebruary 2009
Appointed byRick Perry
Term limitsN/A
Bachelor'sBaylor University
Office website
Paul Foster is a member of the University of Texas System Board of Regents. First appointed to the board in 2007, Foster was re-appointed to a second six-year term in February 2013 by Rick Perry (R).[1][2]

Foster was elected Chairman of the Board of Regents in August 2013, amidst considerable controversy surrounding the University of Texas system.[3] This resulted in large part from the Wallace Hall impeachment effort and attendant revelations. Even prior to this, however, a years-long power struggle stemming from near-constant policy disagreements between the Board of Regents and university president Bill Powers had marred the university's operations. System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa conceded that relations between Powers and the regents had been "strained."[4][5]

Alluding to these issues, Foster said at the time his election, "I'm committed to trying to move this system forward and past the distractions of the past."[3]


Foster was raised in Lovington, New Mexico.[6] He earned his Bachelor's degree in accounting from Baylor University in 1979.[1][7]

After working a series of finance jobs in the oil refining industry, Foster founded Western Refining in 1997.[7][6][8] By 2006, the company was the fourth-largest publicly traded independent oil refinery in the nation.[7][6][9] Owing to the success of his company, in 2007 Foster was ranked number 261 on the Forbes 400 list of wealthy individuals. At the time, his reported net worth was $1.9 billion. Foster's net worth as of September 2013 stood at $1.1 billion.[8]

Foster has served on the El Paso Chamber of Commerce, the Texas Economic Development Corporation, the Hanmaker School of Business at Baylor Advisor Board and the Executive Committee of the Paso del Norte organization.[1] As of September 2013, he was chairman of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation.[1] He has also served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.[1]

Foster began serving on the Baylor University Board of Regents in July 2013. He resigned his seat on the Baylor board after he was appointed Chairman of the U.T. board.[10][11]


In June 2013, Foster donated $35 million to Baylor University. Previously, Foster gave $50 million to Texas Tech University for a medical school.[12] Foster also donated $3 million to the University of Texas at El Paso for a basketball facility. The facility bears his name, as well as those of two fellow donors.[2]

Since 2000, Foster has donated more than $417,000 to Rick Perry in campaign and in-kind contributions.[13]

University of Texas investigations

Wallace Hall impeachment trial

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University of Texas Investigations

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

In 2011, Regent Wallace Hall began investigating what he perceived to be clout issues within the University of Texas System. Hall investigated the university's forgivable-loans program, admissions policies and preferential treatment to politically-connected individuals.[14] 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.[15] Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some university administrators called an unnecessary burden.[16][17]

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.[18][19] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[20] Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[21] Governor of Texas Rick Perry called the investigation "extraordinary political theater." He added: "I think it is sending a horrible message to the public." Perry offered his support for Hall's investigation and records requests, stating, "I just think that at the end, the public’s need to know and the public’s right to know, questions that Mr. Hall is asking, is totally and absolutely correct."[22]

In October 2013, Foster announced that he would recommend policy changes related to the results of Hall's investigation. In a November 11, 2013 meeting, the Board of Regents voted to ask the Attorney General of Texas for an opinion regarding the release of confidential information for the investigation. The Board waived confidentiality for some records to be turned over to the committee, while seeking input about other pieces of information.[23] Foster asked Attorney General of Texas Greg Abbott whether a House committee can hold University of Texas officials in contempt to the same extent as a district court.[24]

Call for Hall to resign

At a May 15, 2014 Board of Regents meeting, 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.[25] 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.[26]

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.[27] Hall was present at the meeting but did not comment to media.[28]

Hall's attorney Allan Van Fleet sent a letter to Foster indicating that Hall would not resign.[29][30]

Francisco Cigarroa resignation

On February 10, 2014, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced he would resign from his position as Chancellor. He said he felt he had accomplished the goals he set out to do five years earlier, and was prepared to return to medical practice full-time. "Education saves lives on many levels and I thought I could bring value to the UT system with that perspective in mind. Now it’s time to return to saving one life at a time," he said.[31] Cigarroa said his resignation had nothing to do with the turmoil and investigations within the University of Texas System. Cigarroa will continue to serve as chancellor until a replacement is found.[32][33] Cigarroa's new position will be as head of pediatric surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.[34]

Relationship between Cigarroa and Powers

The Dallas Morning News obtained an email in March 2013 related to Cigarroa's resignation. According to the newspaper, Wallace Hall sent a number of emails to Cigarroa in the weeks before his resignation. The email the newspaper obtained via open records request was sent from Regent chair Foster to Cigarroa. In the email, Foster defended Cigarroa for his work while also praising Hall for his "tenacity as a regent and recommendations to better the university." Foster then implied that Hall had pressured Cigarroa to act, which Foster said he did not agree with.[35] State representative Lyle Larson (R) renewed his call for Hall to resign and Trey Martinez Fischer (D) requested that the committee re-open investigations. Committee co-chair Dan Flynn (R) said no further hearings were planned at the time.[36]

An April 22, 2014 article in the Austin American-Statesman detailed an email exchange between Hall and Foster, in which Hall alleged that University of Texas President Bill Powers threatened Cigarroa prior to his resignation. The three-page email was written on March 19, 2014 as a response to the prior email that Foster sent.[37] In the email, Hall makes an array of accusations regarding the impeachment trial and events within the university system.[38]

  • Cigarroa first expressed concern to the Board of Regents about an "inability to work with President Powers" in 2010, which was one year prior to Hall's appointment.
  • According to Hall, Cigarroa asked President Powers to resign in Fall 2013. Powers then reportedly offered a range of requirements to retire, which Hall said were "understandably" refused by Chairman Foster.
  • Hall alleged that Powers "leveled a threat against the Chancellor," which compromised his ability to work. This threat was reportedly made in front of Pedro Reyes, Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at The University of Texas System.
  • Regent Steven Hicks reportedly requested an "up or down vote" on Powers. Hall wrote that Foster had not allowed a vote to occur.

Empower Texans CEO Michael Quinn Sullivan pointed to the email as indication of a cover-up at the university, intended to deter an investigation into alleged clout scandals within the higher education system. Quinn Sullivan wrote: "It appears some legislators have been conspiring with UT Austin officials to get unqualified students admission to the state’s flagship university."[39] A spokesman for Powers did not comment on the email.

Powers resignation

In July 2014, Cigarroa asked University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers to resign or face termination at the July 10 University of Texas Board of Regents meeting. Cigarroa attributed the request to a "breakdown of communication, collegiality, trust and a willingness to work together for the good of the university." Powers at first indicated he would not resign, saying it would "cast the university and our state in a highly unfavorable light."[40][41] However, on July 9, 2014, Cigarroa released a statement that Powers agreed to resign effective June 2015.[42] The Board meeting agenda indicated regents would discuss Powers in an executive session.[43][44] Some legislators on the transparency committee sent a letter requesting that the Board of Regents delay any personnel decisions regarding Powers or other witnesses from the impeachment hearings.[45]

Testimony to transparency committee

At the July 16 hearing, committee members took testimony from additional stakeholders. The hearing took place days after Bill Powers was asked to resign and ultimately agreed to leave the University Presidency effective 2015. Committee members mentioned other options to be explored besides impeachment of Hall. Legislators also indicated they were close to reaching a consensus decision regarding the investigation. While testifying, University of Texas System Board of Regents chair Paul Foster was asked about what he can do to control regent actions. "The state Legislature is not appropriate to intervene in personnel decisions at UT," Foster said.[46][47][48]


As chairman, Foster serves ex officio on all Board standing committees.[49]


Foster is married to Alejandra De La Vega Foster. He has two children from a previous marriage.[8][11]

See also

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  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 University of Texas System, "Paul Foster Biography," accessed October 31, 2013
  2. 2.0 2.1 ABC 7 -, "El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster elected chairman of UT System Board of Regents," August 22, 2013
  3. 3.0 3.1 El Paso Times, "El Pasoan Paul Foster named chairman of UT Regents," August 23, 2013
  4. The Dallas Morning News, "UT regents retain Powers as president," December 12, 2013
  5. The Huffington Post, "Bill Powers Will Keep His Job As UT-Austin President Despite 'Problems'," December 12, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 The Texas Tribune, "Tribpedia: Paul Foster," accessed December 11, 2013
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Baylor Magazine, "2012-13 Baylor University Meritorious Achievement Awards / Baylor Legacy Award - Paul, BBA '79, and Alejandra Foster," accessed December 11, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Forbes, "The World's Billionaires," accessed December 11, 2013
  9. The El Paso Times, "Foster known for humble demeanor, generosity," August 25, 2007
  10., "Baylor University regent Foster steps down to chair UT System board," August 30, 2013
  11. 11.0 11.1 Baylor Media Communications, "Foster Elected Chair of UT System Board, Defers Service as Baylor Regent," August 29, 2013
  12. KVIA "El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster gives $35 million to Baylor University," June 4, 2013
  13. Dallas Morning News, "Gov. Perry appoints three members to UT Board of Regents," February 21, 2013
  14. American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  15. Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  16. Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  17. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  18. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  19. Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  20. News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  21. Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  22. Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  23. Houston Chronicle, "UT regents seek AG opinion on legislative info requests," November 11, 2013
  24. Dallas Morning News, "UT wants attorney general’s opinion: Can House committee punish for contempt?," November 14, 2013
  25. Austin American-Statesman, "Chairman of UT board of regents calls for resignation of Wallace Hall," May 15, 2014
  26. Houston Chronicle, "Board chairman asks embattled UT regent to resign," May 15, 2014
  27. Texas Tribune, "UT Board Chairman Calls for Regent Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
  28. The Alcalde, "Regents Chairman Calls on Wallace Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
  29. KXAN, "Texas Regent Hall defies call for him to resign," May 19, 2014
  30. Houston Chronicle, "Wallace Hall to UT Chairman Foster: I won’t resign," May 19, 2014
  31. KXAN, "UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa resigning," February 10, 2014
  32. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa: Political Upheaval Did Not Prompt Resignation," February 10, 2014
  33. Idaho Statesman, "UT chancellor Cigarroa says he'll resign" February 10, 2014
  34. Dallas Morning News, "UT chancellor Cigarroa to resign, return to medical practice," February 10, 2014
  35. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent’s email hints chancellor was under attack before resignation," March 13, 2014
  36. Texas Tribune, "Two Lawmakers Renew Calls for Action Against Hall," March 14, 2014
  37. Austin American-Statesman, "UT regent’s email points to deepening rancor on board," April 22, 2014
  38. Empower Texans, "Email from Wallace Hall to Paul Foster," March 19, 2014
  39. Empower Texans, "UT Cover-Up?" April 23, 2014
  40. Wall Street Journal, " University of Texas Board Asks President to Resign," July 8, 2014
  41. Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa Tells Powers to Resign or Be Fired," July 4, 2014
  42. Watchdog, "UT President Bill Powers to resign -- in 2015," July 9, 2014
  43. University of Texas System, "Schedule of Events for Board of Regents' Meeting on July 10, 2014"
  44. Watchdog, "Board to decide UT president’s fate Thursday," July 7, 2014
  45. Texas Public Radio, "House Committee Wants UT Regents To Hold Off On Any Action Against Pres. Bill Powers," July 8, 2014
  46. Watchdog, "Hall impeachment crew is winding down," July 17, 2014
  47. Texas Tribune, "Committee "Very Close" to Consensus on Wallace Hall," July 16, 2014
  48. The Alcalde, "What You Missed at Today's Transparency Committee Meeting," July 16, 2014
  49. University of Texas System, "Board Committees," accessed October 31, 2013