UT System regent shares his experiences before the end of his term

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Photo Credit: Courtesy of Alex Cranberg | Daily Texan Staff

With days left as a UT System regent, Alex Cranberg said his term was characterized by an effort to provide equal opportunities to all students.

Cranberg was appointed as a regent for the UT System by former Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 and has served for six years, during the time when former UT President William Powers resigned in 2015 because of questionable admission practices. 

“I hoped to promote innovation, fresh thinking and critical thinking through asking hard and relevant questions,” Cranberg said in an email. “I hoped to see a major improvement in the leadership of our institutions, and all toward the larger purpose of more and a broader range of students getting a more excellent preparation for their life and careers, and at a lower cost to the student.”

As one of the regents, Cranberg oversaw the University’s administration along with its 14 other institutions, set tuition for students, promoted academic research and more. 

During his time as regent, Cranberg was considered a leader in the move to implement new leadership at the University after unfair admission practices were discovered. This lead to the resignation of Powers because of under-qualified students with influential connections being admitted to the University. 

“(The new leadership at UT) restored its integrity by putting an end to the corrupt linkage of admissions, privilege and political power,” Cranberg said. “I believe that new leadership has even finally found the right football coach.”

More recently, Cranberg has shown his support in obtaining full access to student records in order to check the practices of the admissions office, an effort led primarily by UT System Regent Wallace Hall.

The search for information prompted by Hall’s lawsuit against UT System Chancellor William McRaven, whom Hall requested the student records from, ended this past Friday with the Texas Supreme Court ruling in favor of McRaven. Cranberg said the ruling will one day be regretted.

“To protect the integrity of the University, individual regents access to all information must never be compromised,” Cranberg said. “Without personalized information one cannot know the relationships that may suggest corruption. I believe we have an honest Board. We cannot always count on that. Our protection is then up to the truth-seeking drive of individual regents.”

Cranberg is also the chairman and founder of Aspect Holdings, LLC, an oil and gas company based in Houston and Denver. 

“As the CEO he is the day-to-day leader, our strategist and our visionary all at once,” said Lora Mays, the general counsel for Aspect Holdings. “He’s very involved in the business, every part of it really.”

Cranberg said he plans to promote educational opportunities for lower-class students in K–12 and higher education after his term ends. 

“Hidebound and self-serving attitudes … pervade too many of our learning enterprises,” Cranberg said. “This is a national disgrace; if we don’t fix it fast and urgently the collision in America that we are witnessing between our educational classes is just beginning.”

With three regents’ terms ending next month, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed three new regents whose Senate hearings will take place this Thursday. 

“I am very pleased with Gov. Abbott’s selections and I look forward to working with these three stellar individuals,” McRaven said in a statement. “I have no doubt UT institutions will benefit immensely from their leadership.”