TXEXplainer: How Are UT Regents Selected?

On Friday, February 1, three UT System Regents’ terms will expire, prompting the appointment (or re-appointment) of three members of the Board that oversees the UT System. So how does that work?

Who can be a regent? Just about any adult Texan.

The Texas Education Code has very few restrictions on who qualifies for a seat on the board. For the most part, you just have to vote in Texas. Most of the appointments require the appointee to be a qualified voter. A “qualified voter” is defined as a person who:

1. Is 18 years of age or older
2. Is a United States citizen
3. Has not been adjudged mentally incompetent by a court
4. Has not been convicted of a felony (fulfillment of sentence and pardon exceptions available)
5. Is a resident of Texas
6. Is a registered voter

Only one of the nine spots on the board plays by different rules: the student regent. In 2005, the Legislature created a position on the Board for a student. The student—who only serves for one year—must be recommended by their institution’s chancellor through their student government and, after all that, cannot vote or be counted toward quorum.

Like most things, you have to fill out an application.

Yes, the Governor—who on average appoints 3,000 positions a year—requires all appointees to fill out an application, which includes the basics like education, employment history, and a space to write in where you’d like to be appointed. There’s even a spot to attach a nice picture of yourself.

Of course, the form also includes some financial questions, like whether you’ve paid federal taxes or defaulted on loans. The Governor encourages all interested (and qualified) parties to apply. So what are you waiting for?

The Governor nominates regents, who are then approved by the State Senate.

The Education Code lays out the process very simply:

The government of the university system is vested in a board of nine regents appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The board may provide for the administration, organization, and names of the institutions and entities in The University of Texas System in such a way as will achieve the maximum operating efficiency of such institutions and entities …

Naturally, the Texas Constitution has its own rules regarding appointments. The nomination must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate, unless the Legislature isn’t in session. If the Governor makes a recess appointment, it must be approved by the Senate in their next session, or it’s considered rejected.

Regents Serve Staggered Terms

Members of the Board serve six-year staggered terms, so that three regents’ terms end every odd-numbered year—the same year the Legislature meets. Presumably this was designed so that one Governor and one iteration of the Senate couldn’t appoint an entire Board at once. Since 2001, Gov. Perry has appointed every UT System Regent, through six different versions of the State Senate.


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