• Baseball manager of operations files memorandum notifying supervisors of relationship with UT student

    Drew Bishop, manager of baseball operations and a former Longhorns pitcher, filed a memorandum Feb. 6 alerting Texas head coach Augie Garrido that he was dating a student employee in Intercollegiate Athletics.

    "I do not have evaluative or supervisory oversight of her," Bishop, a 2008 graduate of UT, wrote to Garrido in a document obtained by The Daily Texan.

    Bishop told Garrido he had reviewed the situation with Rich Burns, Athletics' assistant director for human resources, and it was determined there was no conflict of interest or any "other areas of concern under HOP 3-3050, Consensual Relationships."

    Bishop's letter to Garrido came six days after The Daily Texan obtained correspondence between athletics director DeLoss Dodds and assistant football coach Major Applewhite regarding "inappropriate, consensual" relations with a student trainer during the week of the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. 

    Also, three days prior to Bishop's letter, the UT System Board of Regents announced a task force to review policies regarding student-employee relationships.

    In October, women's track and field coach Bev Kearney admitted to an "intimate consensual relationship" with a student-athlete that occurred 10 years ago. Kearney resigned in January after learning the University was ready to begin the termination process. 

    According to a policy in the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, instituted by UT in 2001, all relationships must be disclosed to appropriate members of the University. 

    “The University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisers and students,” the policy states. A failure to report the relationship will result in “disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

  • State Sen. Kel Seliger files bill to limit power of Board of Regents

    State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, filed a bill that would limit the power of regents over individual universities within the system.
    The bill, co-authored by nine other senators, would amend state law to say that all duties and responsibilities not specifically granted to university systems or governing boards of those university systems fall under the authority of the individual institutions of that system.

    The bill comes on the same day Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced a joint committee to investigate the governance role of boards of regents over their respective university systems.

    Seliger, who chairs the Senate Higher Education Committee, said in a statement that the bill aims to preserve institutional autonomy in the same way the 10th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects state sovereignty from overreach by the federal government.

    "It was made clear on Monday that university governance and allegations of micromanagement by regents is an issue the Senate takes very seriously," Seliger said.

    On Monday, the Texas Legislature passed three resolutions defending and honoring UT President William Powers Jr. after some members of the UT System Board of Regents intensely questioned Powers on a number of topics at their Feb. 13 meeting. Speaking on the Senate floor Monday, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said he received numerous complaints that the regents were subverting Powers' authority and disrupting the System's governance structure.

  • Lt. Gov. Dewhurst announces joint committee to examine Board of Regents

    After allegations arose earlier this week that the UT System Board of Regents is micromanaging President William Powers Jr., Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst announced Wednesday that he and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus will relaunch a joint committee composed of higher education leaders from both houses to examine regents' proper governance role in an institution.

    Dewhurst said he believes the job of regents is to advise institutions on policy matters and provide consent to those institutions to move forward with policy, not to manage individual institutions.

    "I don't pretend to be an authority on the governance of higher education, but that's the way that our universities, over decades and decades, have been run very effectively," Dewhurst said.

    Speaking to reporters on the Senate floor, Dewhurst said he signed a proclamation that will create the Joint Oversight Committee on Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, which will be co-chaired by state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas, and state Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who chair the higher education committees in their respective houses. The proclamation still requires Straus' signature.

    The committee will have subpoena power, or the ability to summon witnesses to testify and to procure evidence related to the subject of investigation. Dewhurst said complaints he has received have revolved around three regents, not the majority of the board or board chairman Gene Powell.

    During the Feb. 13 regents meeting, three regents – Alex Cranberg, Wallace Hall and Brenda Pejovich, each appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2011 – intensely questioned Powers on a number of topics.

    In response, the Legislature passed three resolutions Monday honoring Powers. During a ceremony on the Senate floor, Dewhurst offered an emotional defense of Powers. Multiple senators also defended Powers’ record and decried his detractors.

    On Wednesday, Dewhurst did not directly comment on whether the committee was being formed prior to Monday's events.

    The Feb. 13 meeting was not the first time Powers and the regents found themselves opposing one another. Last year, the regents rejected Powers’ request for a 2.6 percent in-state undergraduate tuition increase and chose to freeze tuition. Afterward, Powers sent an email to faculty, staff and students expressing disappointment with the regents’ decision.

    Shortly after, rumors originating from a blog post by Paul Burka, senior executive editor for Texas Monthly, stated that Powell directed UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to fire Powers. Cigarroa denied the allegations.

    State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo and former chairwoman of the Higher Education Committee, said the committee will allow members of both houses to share differing perspectives on how regents should govern university systems.

    Zaffirini said she did not know if the committee was being formed prior to complaints surrounding the regents.

    "You would have to ask the lieutenant governor," Zaffirini said.