Texas Coalition for Higher Education Excellence

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Texas Coalition for Higher Education Excellence
Texas
Texas Coalition for Higher Education Excellence logo.jpg
Organization Profile
Year founded:2011
Website:Official website
The Texas Coalition for Higher Education Excellence is a coalition of citizens who "believe strongly in the power of higher education to transform lives, build the economy and shape Texas’ future." The group was founded in June 2011.[1]

The founding members of the coalition included former regents, university system chancellors and presidents.[2] The group describes itself as nonpartisan. Its initial press release indicated opposition to Governor of Texas Rick Perry and the "Seven Breakthrough Solutions" education reform policy from Jeff Sandefer.[3]

Mission

The organization describes itself as follows:

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education exists to promote excellence, accountability and progress in all of our state’s institutions of higher learning. We believe the diversity of the state of Texas requires a wide range of diverse higher educational options, from low-cost, broad access institutions to more competitive Tier One research universities with the very highest standards of quality and excellence.[4]

University of Texas investigations

Wallace Hall impeachment


Seal of Texas.svg.png

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.[5] Hall, as an individual citizen, filed FOIA requests with the University system after his inquiries via his role as a Regent were rebuffed.[6] Hall filed requests of more than 800,000 pages, which some Texas administrators called an unnecessary burden. Some have called the investigation a "witch hunt" against Powers.[7][8]

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.[9][10] No unelected official in Texas has ever been successfully impeached or removed from office.[11] Governor of Texas Rick Perry's spokesperson said the investigations send a "chilling message" to gubernatorial appointees.[12] He added that the investigation was "extraordinary political theater."[13]

In July 2013, 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.[14][15]

At a November 12, 2013 meeting the committee issued subpoenas for Dan Sharphorn, University of Texas Vice Chancellor and General Counsel; Francie Frederick, General Counsel to the University of Texas System Board of Regents; Barbara Holthaus, System Senior Attorney; and Hall, who was expected to testify at the December 10, 2013 meeting.[16][17] However, only minutes after initially filing the subpoena for Hall, committee members suddenly recalled it. Carol Alvarado said the members acted too quickly without checking their schedule. The subpoena was issued for December 10, but no meeting was scheduled until December 18.[18]

During testimony, Frederick said Hall may have been in possession of protected student information. "We failed by allowing this to happen," she said. During the meeting, committee member Trey Fischer asked whether possession of the document was a criminal violation. Sharphorn also testified at the meeting. Legislators also voted to issue subpoenas to Francisco Cigarroa and Powers to appear at the December 18, 2013 meeting.[19][20][21]

Jennifer Sarver, spokeswoman for the Texas Coalition for Higher Education Excellence, said that the ongoing battles for power are demoralizing to the University system. She called the higher education issues "ironic at best."[22]

Hall criticized the coalition in an April 2013 interview with Texas Monthly. "When I came on the board in 2011 there was an immediate activity by a small group of people—maybe ten or so—who formed a group called the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education. The idea is to support higher education, and who doesn’t want to support higher education? But the reality of it is, this group has damaged the university and this board’s effort," he said.[23] The coalition issued a response, alleging that Hall characterized the coalition.[24]

Recent news

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See also

External links

References

  1. Lubbock Online, "Coalition urges thoughtful consideration in selecting university regents (Higher Education blog)," August 28, 2012
  2. Texas Tribune, "Higher Ed "Coalition for Excellence" Formed in Texas," June 15, 2011
  3. Houston Chronicle, "Higher Education Debate Intensifies," June 15, 2011
  4. Texas Coalition for Higher Education Excellence, "About Us"
  5. American Spectator, "Transparency for Thee," October 25, 2013
  6. Daily Texas Online, "Facing impeachment, Regent Wallace Hall defends actions in debate with Sen. Kirk Watson," September 28, 2013
  7. Daily Texas Online, "Former UT System vice chancellor alleges Regent Wallace Hall’s ‘clear intent to get rid of Bill Powers’," October 24, 2013
  8. Dallas Morning News, "UT regent sought 800,000 documents, official says in impeachment hearing," October 22, 2013
  9. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Wallace Hall Updates Lawsuit Disclosures," April 30, 2013
  10. Real Clear Policy, "The Campaign Against Wallace Hall," August 15, 2013
  11. News-Journal, "University of Texas regent not worried by impeachment inquiry," September 9, 2013
  12. Texas Tribune, "Transparency Committee to Mull Impeachment of UT Regent," June 25, 2013
  13. Texas Tribune, "Perry Blasts Impeachment Probe of Wallace Hall," October 30, 2013
  14. Texas Tribune, "UT System Pushes Back Against Criticism of Regent Hall," July 16, 2013
  15. University of Texas System, "Letter from Eugene Powell to Jim Pitts," July 15, 2013
  16. Texas Tribune, "UT Regent Hall Subpoenaed to Testify Before Committee," November 12, 2013
  17. Albany Times Union, "Texas House committee subpoenas Hall for Dec. 10," November 12, 2013
  18. Texas Tribune, "Committee Recalls Subpoena for UT Regent Hall," November 12, 2013
  19. San Francisco Chronicle, "Texas House subpoenas Hall, but then recalls it," November 12, 2013
  20. Texas Tribune, "UT System Lawyer: Hall May Have Shared Private Info," November 12, 2013
  21. Austin American Statesman, "UT Regent Wallace Hall might have broken privacy laws, panel members suggest," November 12, 2013
  22. Texas Tribune, "Testimony Begins in UT Regent Impeachment Investigation," October 22, 2013
  23. Texas Monthly, "The Wallace Hall Interview," April 15, 2013
  24. Texas Monthly, "Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education's Response to Regent Wallace Hall," April 16, 2013