|University of Texas Board of Regents|
|Years in position||7|
|Chairman, Texas Board of Regents|
|Vice Chairman, Texas Board of Regents|
|Elections and appointments|
|Appointed by||Rick Perry|
Foster was elected Chairman of the Board of Regents in August 2013, amidst considerable controversy surrounding the University of Texas system. 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."
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."
After working a series of finance jobs in the oil refining industry, Foster founded Western Refining in 1997. By 2006, the company was the fourth-largest publicly traded independent oil refinery in the nation. 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.
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. As of September 2013, he was chairman of the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation. He has also served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
In June 2013, Foster donated $35 million to Baylor University. Previously Foster gave $50 million to Texas Tech University for a medical school. 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.
University of Texas investigations
Wallace Hall impeachment trial
- 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. 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. Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some university administrators called an unnecessary burden.
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. No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office. Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees. 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."
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. 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.
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. 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.
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. Hall was present at the meeting but did not comment to media.
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. 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. Cigarroa's new position will be as head of pediatric surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.
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. 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.
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. In the email, Hall makes an array of accusations regarding the impeachment trial and events within the university system.
- 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 has not allowed this 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." A spokesman for Powers did not comment on the email.
As chairman, Foster serves ex officio on all Board standing committees.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "Paul + Foster + Texas"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- University of Texas System, "Paul Foster Biography," accessed October 31, 2013
- ABC 7 - KVIA.com, "El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster elected chairman of UT System Board of Regents," August 22, 2013
- El Paso Times, "El Pasoan Paul Foster named chairman of UT Regents," August 23, 2013
- The Dallas Morning News, "UT regents retain Powers as president," December 12, 2013
- The Huffington Post, "Bill Powers Will Keep His Job As UT-Austin President Despite 'Problems'," December 12, 2013
- The Texas Tribune, "Tribpedia: Paul Foster," accessed December 11, 2013
- Baylor Magazine, "2012-13 Baylor University Meritorious Achievement Awards / Baylor Legacy Award - Paul, BBA '79, and Alejandra Foster," accessed December 11, 2013
- Forbes, "The World's Billionaires," accessed December 11, 2013
- The El Paso Times, "Foster known for humble demeanor, generosity," August 25, 2007
- WacoTrib.com, "Baylor University regent Foster steps down to chair UT System board," August 30, 2013
- Baylor Media Communications, "Foster Elected Chair of UT System Board, Defers Service as Baylor Regent," August 29, 2013
- KVIA "El Paso businessman Paul L. Foster gives $35 million to Baylor University," June 4, 2013
- Dallas Morning News, "Gov. Perry appoints three members to UT Board of Regents," February 21, 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
- 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
- Houston Chronicle, "UT regents seek AG opinion on legislative info requests," November 11, 2013
- Dallas Morning News, "UT wants attorney general’s opinion: Can House committee punish for contempt?," November 14, 2013
- Austin American-Statesman, "Chairman of UT board of regents calls for resignation of Wallace Hall," May 15, 2014
- Houston Chronicle, "Board chairman asks embattled UT regent to resign," May 15, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "UT Board Chairman Calls for Regent Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
- The Alcalde, "Regents Chairman Calls on Wallace Hall to Resign," May 15, 2014
- KXAN, "Texas Regent Hall defies call for him to resign," May 19, 2014
- Houston Chronicle, "Wallace Hall to UT Chairman Foster: I won’t resign," May 19, 2014
- KXAN, "UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa resigning," February 10, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "Cigarroa: Political Upheaval Did Not Prompt Resignation," February 10, 2014
- Idaho Statesman, "UT chancellor Cigarroa says he'll resign" February 10, 2014
- Dallas Morning News, "UT chancellor Cigarroa to resign, return to medical practice," February 10, 2014
- Dallas Morning News, "UT regent’s email hints chancellor was under attack before resignation," March 13, 2014
- Texas Tribune, "Two Lawmakers Renew Calls for Action Against Hall," March 14, 2014
- Austin American-Statesman, "UT regent’s email points to deepening rancor on board," April 22, 2014
- Empower Texans, "Email from Wallace Hall to Paul Foster," March 19, 2014
- Empower Texans, "UT Cover-Up?" April 23, 2014
- University of Texas System, "Board Committees," accessed October 31, 2013