Board of Regents call special meeting

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The UT System Board of Regents will hold a special meeting Thursday to discuss several ongoing issues highlighting differences and growing divisions among the board itself.

The board’s agenda includes discussion about releasing information requested by members of the Texas Legislature and a recent vote to continue an external investigation of the relationship between the UT School of Law and the Law School Foundation. It will also address the constitutional and legal rights and responsibilities of the regents.

The meeting was requested by four regents — Steven Hicks, Robert Stillwell, James Dannenbaum and Printice Gary — after it was discovered Friday that board Chairman Gene Powell asked the Texas Attorney General’s office for permission to withhold documents requested by legislators. Generally, meetings can be requested by the board chairman or by three of the other regents.

System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said the Board’s three vice chairmen — Regents Paul Foster, Hicks and Dannenbaum — were informed in advance of Powell’s decision to write to the attorney general.

Powell’s request to withhold information prompted sharp criticism from lawmakers. In a three-page statement, state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, said she heard Powell’s behavior compared to the behavior of former President Richard Nixon during the Watergate scandal and called the chairman’s request an “outrageous” delay tactic.

On his twitter account, state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, said “Declining to provide vital information to [the Legislature] only deepens Higher Education suspicions.”

The agenda for the meeting can be found online.

Jordan Rudner