The UT System Board of Regents has generated its share of headlines in recent years. On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott added another. Abbott, BBA ’81, Life Member, nominated three individuals to the UT System’s governing board, including two new appointees. Two other regents whose terms have ended, Gene Powell and Bobby Stillwell, will leave the board.
Steve Hicks, who currently serves as vice chair, was originally appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2009 and reappointed in 2011. His career began in the radio industry before Hicks, BA ’72, Life Member, became the chairman of Capstar Partners, an investment firm.
Abbott’s new appointees are both recipients of the Texas Exes Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Sara Martinez Tucker is the CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative, a STEM-focused nonprofit. Named one of the 25 most influential Hispanics in the U.S. by TIME magazine, Tucker, BJ ’76, MBA ’79, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, also oversaw higher education as Under Secretary of Education during the George W. Bush Administration.
David Beck is a trial lawyer with Houston-based Beck Redden. Beck, LLB ’65, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, is a well-respected attorney who has been named to the Best Lawyers in America list every year since 1985. He is the namesake of the David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy, which among other things supports UT’s moot court team.
The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a bipartisan advocacy group for which Beck is a founding member, praised the announcement in a press release. “We commend the reappointment of Regent Hicks, who has been a strong and positive leader on the board, and look forward to the new ideas, insights, and experiences that Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck will bring to the Board of Regents,” they wrote. “Coupled with the new leadership provided by Chancellor McRaven, these appointments signal a new era of collaboration, cooperation, and excellence for the System.”
Abbott also appointed or re-appointed three members each to the boards of Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University.
The appointment of new regents comes as the System searches for a new president of UT-Austin following the announcement that President Bill Powers will step down in June, and the hiring of retired Admiral Bill McRaven, BJ ’77, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, as chancellor.
Tensions have at times been high at the UT System since 2011 over a number of issues, including tuition and admissions. After a string of investigations led by Regent Wallace Hall, which focused sharply on UT-Austin, the Texas Legislature reviewed Hall’s own behavior. Last year, the panel charged with looking into Hall found potential grounds for impeachment, but did not act on them. Hall is currently under another round of investigation by prosecutors seeking to determine whether Hall violated privacy statutes, though he maintains that he has only ever acted to fulfill his regental duties and to pursue evidence, he says, of financial malfeasance.
“Gov. Abbott’s three regental appointees are proven supporters of the University of Texas,” said former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, president of the Texas Exes (which publishes the Alcalde). “Importantly, each is a champion of the role research plays in our flagship. Texas Exes everywhere commend the governor and call on the Senate to consider their nominations as expeditiously as is reasonable. With these regent nominees, our new chancellor, Bill McRaven, and a new UT-Austin president to follow, we stand at the dawn of a bright new day.”
Photo by Matt Valentine.
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