Despite senators just last week having expressed serious misgivings about nominees to the University of Texas Board of Regents, the Nominations Committee today forwarded those nominees to the full Senate with just one vote dissenting.
Misgivings were offered by the committee about Steven Hicks, a re-appointment, whose track record has mostly been defined as one of rampant tuition hikes. Most notably, he opposed the investigations by fellow Regent Wallace Hall regarding the UT admissions scandal, among others. Despite the witch-hunt against him, recent reports have revealed Hall was right all along.
Anxieties also arose on other nominations. Sara Martinez Tucker, a previous Undersecretary of Education during the Bush Presidency, faced criticism due to her troubling association with Common Core. On David Beck, eyebrows were raised due to his record as President of the UT Law School Foundation – it was during his tenure that the forgivable loan scandal erupted.
Both Tucker and Beck were questioned by members of the committee extensively last week, but as Tony McDonald articulated in his personal testimony, there was a clear refusal by Beck to accept personal responsibility for the scandal-ridden forgivable loan program.
State Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) asked to divide the vote on recommending the slate of regent nominees to the full Senate for approval. Despite opposition by other senators, the request was entertained and the vote was split. Tucker was approved unanimously, while Hicks and Beck were combined on a separate vote with Burton opposing.
Sen. Burton explained her vote in a statement issued by her office:
“At a time when tuition costs have skyrocketed and confidence in government transparency is at an all time low, Texas must take action on both. The ongoing problems at the University of Texas should concern all Texans. Most of all, it should concern taxpayers and students trying to afford a college education. Mr. Hicks and Mr. Beck are both accomplished men and successful in their professional lives. However, they have presided over a period of secrecy, privilege, and sharp rises in tuition at the University of Texas. For these reasons, I cannot support their nomination to the UT Board of Regents. The University of Texas is in need of a fresh start, with Regents concerned first and foremost with improving the strength of the University, getting tuition under control, and ensuring an admissions process that rewards the brightest students and not those with connections.”
Her comments reveal the truth; that more investigation, scrutiny, and examination should occur on the regents before they are approved.
Conservative members should slow down the rush to confirm these nominees and more thoroughly vet them before they take charge of the University of Texas. As recent events have provided evidence of, serious thought and contemplation is required before placing such individuals in positions where the public will depend on them to defend their tax dollars rather than abuse them.