Senate Confirms Abbott’s Nominees to UT Board

Senate Confirms Abbott's Nominees to UT Board

Shortly after taking office in January, Gov. Greg Abbott, BBA ’81, Life Member, named three nominees for the UT System Board of Regents. The Texas Senate confirmed those nominees today, naming Sara Martinez Tucker, David Beck, and returning Regent Steve Hicks to the governing board of the nine universities and six health institutions of the UT System.

Tucker, BJ ’76, MBA ’79, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, is the CEO of the National Math and Science Initiative and oversaw higher education as Under Secretary of Education during the George W. Bush administration. Beck, LLB ’65, Life Member, Distinguished Alumnus, is a trial lawyer with Houston-based Beck Redden and the namesake of the David J. Beck Center for Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy. Hicks, BA ’72, Life Member, a private investment executive who made his name in the radio industry, was first appointed to the board in 2009, and has been vice chair since 2011.

Texas Exes president Kay Bailey Hutchison, LLB ’67, BA ’92, Life Member, Distinguished Alumna, praised Abbott for his choices and the legislature for approving them. “We congratulate the new University of Texas regents, and we thank Gov. Abbott for his far-sighted selections,” Hutchison said. “The three confirmed today are well qualified and all have shown a love and support for the University of Texas. We look forward to working with each of them to make the University of Texas at Austin the best public teaching and research university in the country.”

Tucker’s nomination was approved by the Senate unanimously. Hicks received two no votes from the bodies’ 30 members, and Beck received three. That’s not to say the process was completely smooth. Voting against a regent appointee who has been approved by the nominations committee is somewhat unusual, and the five-hour plus nominations committee hearing on the candidates two weeks ago was described as a “grilling” by the Texas Tribune.

Senators at the hearing pointedly questioned Tucker, Beck, and Hicks on admissions and records requests, issues that were previously at the center of recent tensions between some members of the board and administrators at the System’s flagship campus.

The nine-member volunteer board oversees the UT System and hires the presidents of each campus. The board is currently considering possible successors to current UT-Austin president Bill Powers, who will step down in June.

Above: Steve Hicks in 2013

Photo by Matt Valentine. 


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