UT regents vote unanimously to tighten admissions practices

AUSTIN (KXAN) — At the University of Texas Board of Regents meeting late Thursday afternoon, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa praised President Bill Powers for his “superb tenure, unbelievable accomplishments, and tremendous work.”

The board immediately accepted Powers resignation, effective June 2, 2015.

No fuss, no public vote.

But there was then an immediate, and unanimous board vote to tighten admissions practices at all schools within the UT system. New guideline will eliminate favoritism on behalf of the powerful or well-connected.

“The findings of our inquiry said ‘Yes, if you get letters from influential people there was a bit of advantage,’” Cigarroa said.

He added the inquiry findings did not find any favoritism connected with actions by Powers.

The new regulations call for total transparency in the admissions process, an admissions ombudsman on each campus, no acceptance of off-the-record solicitations from the powerful, and a threat to fire any violators.

Board Chairman Paul Foster agreed regents found favoritism, but none with Powers’ fingerprints on it.

“There are, and we recognize we need to improve our admissions procedures and policies. And we have an investigation underway right now.”

The rules apply to all the UT campuses across Texas, a system that covers more than 215,000 students.

Powers was at the board meeting but left immediately, refusing to talk to the press about his resignation or the new admissions guidelines.

Also refusing comment Thursday was embattled regent Wallace Hall, long considered Powers’ archnemesis.

Hall is being investigated by a legislative committee as to whether he meddled in school business or exposed the confidentiality of student records during his requests for school documents. It is known that Hall prefers the investigation go away and that the legislature keep its queries out of university business.

The select committee investigating Hall meets again July 16 at the state Capitol.

Co-chairman Rep. Dan Flynn, (R) Canton, told KXAN Thursday night he wishes Hall would appear before them but he has not. Flynn also says Chancellor Cigarroa has been invited to appear next week but he doesn’t know if Cigarroa will show up.

Flynn adds the committee is still considering what, if any, articles of impeachment against Hall should be recommended to the full House.

Should that happen, a special legislative session would be needed and that would be in the hands of the speaker and governor.

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