Rein in university regents

Texas Senate Higher Education Committee Chairman Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, is a persistent lawmaker.

What got vetoed in 2013 is coming back in 2015 and Seliger’s hope is that a new governor will see fit to sign it into law, rather than veto it, which his predecessor did.

Senate Bill 177 would limit the power of university regents, seeking to keep their noses out of university administrative affairs. It’s the kind of thing that has erupted within the University of Texas System and regents’ ongoing dispute with UT-Austin President Bill Powers.

One of the bill’s provisions is that regents cannot fire a campus president without a recommendation from the system chancellor.

Gov. Rick Perry vetoed the 2013 bill, saying it went in the “wrong direction.” Seliger is optimistic that the new governor, Greg Abbott, will have a different view.

“I can’t answer for Gov. Abbott, but I think his view of legislation is going to be entirely different,” Seliger said. “I think it’s a good piece of legislation based upon the fact that it passed and had a lot of support last time — I’m very optimistic.”

Regents should be left to set policy and allow campus presidents to administer those policies. The campus presidents are the people with eyes and ears inside their institutions, so give them some room to maneuver. That hasn’t been the case at the UT System, as regents have been squabbling among themselves with President Powers over the way he runs the flagship campus at the massive university system.

It’s been a mess. Senate Bill 177 seeks to prevent future higher education messes.



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