Former Student Leaders Add to Calls for Hall’s Resignation [Updated]

Former Student Leaders Add to Calls for Hall's Resignation

Update: Late Wednesday afternoon, the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education released a statement reiterating the calls for Hall to resign. Formed in 2011, the Coalition is a group of influential higher education advocates, including former regents, chancellors, and university presidents from across the state.

“Across Texas we have heard a steady drumbeat of voices echoing the same message: Regent Wallace L. Hall Jr. must go,” the statement said. “This is not about politics and it is not about one university – this is about good governance for the entire state of Texas.”

You can read the full statement here.

Original Story:

Earlier this week, students leaders from Student Government and the Senate of College Councils sent letters urging embattled UT System regent Wallace Hall to step down. Now, former leaders of both groups are doing the same.

In two separate letters Wednesday, 25 former Senate and student body presidents called on Hall to resign. Eighteen former Student Government presidents dating back to 1962 outlined their concerns in an open letter addressed to friends and fellow alumni. The seven former Senate presidents address theirs to Hall personally. Both Senate and Student Government serve as official student representatives to administrators and public officials, with the Senate and its councils focusing on academic affairs.

Contending that the maelstrom of press around Hall distracted from the recent Civil Rights Summit on campus, the former student body presidents stressed the importance of sound governance.

“UT provided each of us an unparalleled opportunity to learn about leadership and the importance of responsibility in office holding and governing,” the letter states. “While many in the state contemplate the best way forward, we urge and firmly request that Regent Hall recognize and acknowledge the damaging impact of his actions and how those actions are eroding a vital trust built by generations of UT Regents and students before him.”

While Hall’s massive data requests and subsequent use of those records have landed the regent under investigation by a Texas House transparency committee, Annie Holand Miller, BA ’99, JD ’04, Life Member, student body president from 1998-99, says this isn’t about politics.

“We feel very strongly that issue goes way beyond politics. It’s about good governance,” Miller says. As a resident of the South Texas valley, she noted, the investigation into the potential impeachment of Hall distracts from major UT System projects, like the new university and medical school in South Texas, as well as UT-Austin’s new Dell Medical School.

Echoing the sentiment of the current student leaders, the former Senate presidents insist that Hall’s intense focus on UT-Austin, which some have called a “witch-hunt,” is detrimental to students.

“Students need regents who will abide by their oath to ‘preserve institutional independence,’ ‘enhance the public image of each institution,’ and help each institution ‘achieve its full potential,'” they wrote, quoting from the state Education Code. “Sadly, your actions as detailed in the recent report to the House Select Committee on State Agency Operations show that you are not the type of regent that students need and deserve.”

“We want what is best for the university and the University of Texas System,” says Michael Morton, BJ ’13, BS ’13, who served as president of the Senate of College Councils from 2012-13. “We have been deeply troubled by the actions of Regent Hall and thought it was time to share our collective voices.”

The letters come a day after the Austin American-Statesman reported previously unseen emails in which Hall leveled extensive criticism of regents’ chair Paul Foster and claimed that UT-Austin president Bill Powers had made undisclosed threats to System chancellor Francisco Cigarroa.

Hall is being investigated by a select committee of the Texas House, which is charged with ascertaining Hall’s actions and whether those actions could be grounds for impeachment. The committee’s counsel has completed a report that claims four grounds for potential impeachment, that Hall may have violated state and federal privacy statutes, and Hall’s case has been conveyed to the Travis County District Attorney’s office, which houses the state’s Public Integrity Unit.

Also on Tuesday, Gov. Perry appointed a new student regent to the UT System board. UT-Austin government junior Max Richards will join the board in a non-voting role, replacing UT-Austin senior Nash Horne. Richards was not among the four finalists for the position submitted through the student regent nomination process as outlined in UT System policy.

View the letters below. Can’t see them? Click here.

Letter to Regents Wallace Hall from Former SG Presidents

Letter to Regent Wallace Hall from Former Senate Presidents

Photos by Matt Valentine.


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