Declarations of love and conspiracy theories were common at Monday’s Senate Nominations Committee hearing.
Senators grilled UT System regent nominees Ernest Aliseda, Jeffrey Hildebrand and current UT Regent Paul Foster for four hours Monday, which may be the longest time spent interviewing candidates this session.
The hot topic was the board’s relationship with UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. and whether there were any plans to force him out of office. Below are the Texan’s picks for the top five quotes from the hearing.
1. Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, expresses her support for Powers.
“Do you understand that Bill Powers, the president of UT-Austin, is not only respected and admired, but I would dare say loved by members of legislature?” she asked the nominees.
2. Senator Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, does not want to hear about the conflict between the UT System Board of Regents and Powers any longer.
“I’ve heard more about the University of Texas System than I have ever wanted to in my life this legislative session. No, Senator Zaffirini, actually that’s not because I’m an Aggie.”
3. UT Regent Paul Foster on tenure for university professors.
“I think tenure is important but I think it could stand to be reexamined from time to time. I don’t it needs to be a lifelong right. It should be earned. Don’t professors know how to do that?” he said.
4. Senator Zaffirini said the UT System has made open records requests very difficult for her office, citing the system put password locks on records she requested so she could not print them.
“It was such a difficult process, it was like pulling teeth. Typically we get the documents just before 5 o’clock on Friday, typically we’re gone just before 5 o’clock on Friday,” she said. “What are they hiding, Regent Foster?
5. Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, tells the nominees he thinks they and the board are on a mission to fire UT’s President Powers.
“So gentlemen, this morning if I had to vote (on your confirmation) I would vote no, because I don’t want to play any role in the replacing of Bill Powers,” Whitemire said. “First of all, he’s an outstanding human being, he’s recognized in this nation as a leader in the academic field, he has an impeccable integrity.”