UT regents call special meeting on Hall’s new information requests

By Matthew Watkins
The Texas Tribune
Originally published April 6, 2015

Inquiries by a grand jury and an outside consultant have wrapped up. Calls for resignation have been ignored, and impeachment efforts have stalled. But the controversy over requests for information from University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall continues to boil.

The system’s board of regents on Monday called a special meeting for this week to discuss a new request from Hall. The outspoken regent is seeking information about a March investigative report by Kroll Associates that was critical of UT-Austin President Bill Powers and other top university officials.

According to a memo attached to the meeting’s agenda, Hall asked to visit one of Kroll’s employees after the report found that Powers helped get some students into UT-Austin over the objections of the admissions office.

Hall also asked to see “any and all information, confidential or otherwise, that is related to the Kroll investigation,” according to the memo.

Under a board policy approved last year, that kind of request is supposed to be sent to the chancellor, who then reviews it with the board chairman. If they have concerns, the request goes to the full board for a vote.

In this case, Chancellor William McRaven received the requests on March 6 and March 9, according to the memo. He and board Chairman Paul Foster spoke with Hall the next day and decided that they had “concerns,” the memo says.

This week’s meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, will allow the full board to talk by phone about the issue. Hall’s request is the only item scheduled to be discussed during the open portion. Regents may also discuss “personnel matters” in private.

Hall declined to comment Monday. His requests for information have been a source of controversy at the UT System for years. UT-Austin employees have generated hundreds of thousands of pages of documents to comply. Some of those pages included confidential student information.

Supporters of Powers have called Hall’s inquiries a “witch hunt.” Foster, the board chairman, has called for Hall’s resignation. And a Travis County grand jury investigated whether he broke the law by giving some of those documents to his lawyer and the state attorney general’s office.

But Hall persists, saying his actions have been for the good of the system. He wasn’t impeached by the House or indicted. And he has called for further investigation into the issues that his requests have brought to light.