Gov. Perry Appoints Three UT Regents

Texas Gov. Rick Perry today appointed two new members and one returning member to the University of Texas System Board of Regents. Ernest Aliseda, Jeff Hildebrand, and Paul Foster have been appointed to terms expiring in 2019.

All three appointments will be subject to Senate confirmation, which is typically a formality. This time, though, the appointees may be more closely examined than usual.

The appointments come one day after Senate higher education chair Kel Seliger filed legislation seeking to change the appointment process and limit the regents’ duties. On Monday, the Legislature unanimously passed Senate and House resolutions in support of UT president Bill Powers, and Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst became emotional as he said he believes unnamed UT regents are micromanaging the University and undermining Powers. Yesterday, Dewhurst announced a new legislative panel that will investigate how regents and universities work together.

The timing could mean extra scrutiny during the confirmation process, says UT government lecturer and Texas Politics Project director Jim Henson.

“The terrain certainly looks different right now,” Henson says. “My sense is that the Senate is sending signals that they’re going to look more closely than usual at these appointments. We’re in somewhat uncharted territory.”

Rumors that Hildebrand and Foster would be appointed have been swirling since last week, making Aliseda the only wild card. He is a Texas A&M and University of Houston alumnus who serves as managing attorney of Loya Insurance Group. A McAllen resident, Aliseda is also a municipal judge and Army Reserves major.

Hildebrand, BS ’81, MS ’85, Life Member, is the chairman and CEO of Hilcorp Energy in Houston. He earned degrees in geology and petroleum engineering at UT-Austin, and he is a distinguished alumnus of the Cockrell School of Engineering. Since November, he has served on a UT System task force on engineering education.

Foster is the vice chairman of the Board of Regents, on which he has served since 2007. A Baylor graduate, he lives in El Paso and is the executive chairman of Western Refining. He has also served on the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education released a statement in response to the appointments. “We feel strongly that regents who govern these vital state institutions must be conflict-free, qualified, and have appropriate experience to govern, not micromanage,” the coalition said. “We look forward to the Senate Committee on Nominations hearings to learn how Gov. Perry’s nominees compare to those qualifications.”

The Texas Capitol. Photo by David Bruce on Flickr.


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