William McRaven

As a part of his plan to increase the UT System’s influence and excellence in higher education, System Chancellor William McRaven hired two leaders from within the System to join his staff.

David Daniel, the current president of UT-Dallas and previous candidate for president of UT-Austin, will start in the newly created roles of deputy chancellor and chief operating officer.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology,” McRaven said in a statement. “He is a respected voice on the needs and benefits of higher education to the state of Texas, and he has demonstrated that he knows how to propel an institution forward on a magnificent trajectory. Everything he has done as president of UT Dallas prepares him for this new role, and now the entire UT System will be a beneficiary of his leadership.”

Steven Leslie, who held the positions of provost and executive vice president from 2007–2013, will become the System’s executive vice chancellor of academic affairs.

Leslie, also a current pharmacy professor and researcher at UT-Austin, started his time at the University as an assistant professor in 1974. During his six years as executive vice president and provost, Leslie helped to lay the foundation for the Dell Medical School and oversee the financial aid and registrar offices, both while working with the deans of all 20 colleges.

“My top priorities are to work with and support and facilitate the priorities of the University of Texas at Austin … to work with and support the programmatic needs of all of the University of Texas System academic institutions and to build a strong partnership and working relationship between academic affairs and health affairs to have a strong structure for medical schools reporting through academic campuses,” Leslie said.

Leslie said he believes his experience as provost will be helpful while he works to support the initiatives of all the different campuses. Additionally, Leslie said he wants to further explore the possibilities of adding more health programs to other campuses.

“The University of Texas at Rio Grande Valley is establishing a medical school, and it has that same structure [as UT-Austin],” Leslie said. “That makes it important to work on establishing new relationships and processes and procedures to support these two medical schools that report through the academic campuses and perhaps think about if there are other campuses that could benefit from the same time.”

McRaven appoints UT System deputy, vice chancellor

Former UT vice president and provost Steven Leslie and UT Dallas president David Daniel will join the UT System as administrators, Chancellor William McRaven announced Wednesday.

Beginning May 11, Leslie will serve as executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, and Daniel will join the System July 1 as deputy chancellor and chief operating officer, according to a statement released Wednesday.

Leslie, currently a professor and researcher in UT Austin’s College of Pharmacy, served as provost and executive vice president from 2007 until 2013.

“There are many ambitious initiatives already underway that are bound to have national and even international impact, and I am thrilled to join Chancellor McRaven as we work to position The University of Texas System as the undisputed finest public university system in the world,” Leslie said in the statement.

Leslie will succeed executive vice chancellor Pedro Reyes, who announced in April that he planned to leave the System and return to teaching.

Daniel, a UT alumnus, has served as president of UT Dallas since 2005. During his presidency, UT Dallas has seen increased enrollment and graduation rates, according to the statement.

“David Daniel possesses skills that are transferable across the system in managing and leading people, operations, new construction and technology,” McRaven said in the statement. “Everything he has done as president of UT Dallas prepares him for this new role, and now the entire UT System will be a beneficiary of his leadership.”

The System will immidiately begin a national search for the next UT Dallas president, according to the statement.

UT System chancellor William McRaven, center, and Daniel Sharphorn, general counsel and vice chancellor for the UT System, right, met with the Board of Regents on Monday.
Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor William McRaven sent a letter Monday to Attorney General Ken Paxton arguing that individual regents’ access to records can be subject to limitations in certain situations.

At a specially called meeting Monday morning, eight members of the board voted unanimously to file a brief with the AG’s office outlining the System’s official stance on regent information requests. The ninth regent, Wallace Hall, abstained from the vote.

System counsels filed the brief in response to an appeal Hall’s private attorney filed with Paxton on April 20. Hall’s attorney, Bill Aleshire, asked Paxton to formally provide advice on Hall’s request to review thousands of documents related to UT-Austin admissions and asked whether the Board or the Chancellor had the authority to prohibit Hall from obtaining copies of those records.

Hall is attempting to review the thousands of documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used in an independent investigation earlier this year. The Kroll report found President William Powers Jr. intervened in a handful of admissions cases, but concluded Powers did not violate any policies.

When Hall asked to review the Kroll documents, three regents, including Hall himself, voted to grant him access. Under Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” UT System employees must respond to information requests “without undue delay” if two or more regents vote in support of the request. 

However, McRaven told Hall that Hall’s requests ventured into independent “inquiry and investigation” and therefore would require a majority board vote for approval. In a terse email exchange, McRaven told Hall his requests for information go beyond “any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.”

“This current request for information … is detrimental to the overall well-being of the system,” McRaven wrote in an email to Hall. 

The brief filed Monday, which represented McRaven and the Board of Regents’ official position on Hall’s appeal, argued that Hall’s attorney did not have standing to seek formal advice from Paxton in the first place.

“An individual Regent is not authorized to seek an opinion of the Attorney General in his official capacity without the consent of the Board, nor may an individual Regent be represented in his official capacity by private counsel,” System lawyers wrote. “In addition, the Attorney General generally declines fact-finding and answering hypothetical questions, both of which would be required in answering the questions presented.”

Even if Paxton did agree to provide Hall advice, Hall’s requests for the documents should still be denied, according to the brief. System counsel said Regents’ Rules and federal laws exist to regulate individual regents’ access to records, especially when student privacy is a consideration.

“A Regent’s access to information is not ‘unfettered,’” the System counsel wrote. “Given the potential volume of a request for information by an individual member of the Board and the impact on workload priorities, it is inherently reasonable that the Regents’ Rules provide checks and balances.”

In his letter to Paxton, Hall’s attorney argued that Regents do have an unfettered right to agency records. 

“A regent is not a mere figurehead, passive servant of corporate management,” Aleshire wrote. “Other opinions of the Attorney General also demonstrate that a regent’s inherent right of access to the agency records is not subject to judgement of the other board members (or of the Chancellor).” 

After the meeting Monday, Regent Alex Cranberg, who originally voted to grant Hall access to the Kroll records, explained his vote in support of the brief to the AG.

“I certainly feel it’s very important to express the need for individual regents to have [the] capacity to ask hard questions, even as the majority of the board might feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think this response suggests that the regents don’t have that capacity,” Cranberg said. “[I believe the response suggests] merely that there might be some limits placed on what a regent might reasonably ask for.”

UT System Chancellor William McRaven, center, and Daniel Sharphorn, General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for the UT System, right, met with the Board of Regents on Monday morning to discuss Regent Wallace Hall's document request. The board voted to file a brief with the Texas Attorney General's Office regarding the request.

Photo Credit: Zoe Fu | Daily Texan Staff

Updated (3:34 p.m.): In a brief submitted on behalf of Chancellor William McRaven and the UT System Board of Regents, lawyers for the System asked the Attorney General to dismiss Regent Wallace Hall’s request for advice on Hall's disputed right to request thousands of admissions-related documents.

The nine-page brief comes after a two-hour meeting this morning when the Regents met with the Chancellor and the System’s legal advisers to determine their position on Hall’s request.

In the brief, Daniel Sharphorn, vice chancellor and general counsel for the UT System, and Francie Frederick, general counsel to the Board, argue that Hall did not have standing to seek formal advice from AG Ken Paxton in the first place.

“We respectfully suggest that the Attorney General consider the following...the request is not properly presented for formal advice from the Attorney General,” they wrote. “An individual Regent is not authorized to seek an opinion of the Attorney General in his official capacity without the consent of the Board, nor may an individual Regent be represented in his official capacity by private counsel. In addition, the Attorney General generally declines fact-finding and answering hypothetical questions, both of which would be required in answering the questions presented.”

Even if Paxton did agree to provide Hall advice, Hall’s requests for thousands of documents used in the admissions investigation should still be denied, they wrote.

“A Regent’s access to information is not ‘unfettered,’” Sharphorn and Frederick wrote. “Given the potential volume of a request for information by an individual member of the Board and the impact on workload priorities, it is inherently reasonable that the Regents’ Rules provide checks and balances.”

To read the full brief from Sharphorn and Frederick, scroll to the bottom of the story.

Original story: After more than two hours in executive session, the UT System Board of Regents voted to file a brief with the Texas Attorney General’s Office relating to Regent Wallace Hall's search for documents about UT-Austin admissions. UT System Chancellor William McRaven said the brief will be filed later today but declined to elaborate on its contents. 

Although the brief will address Hall’s appeal to Attorney General Ken Paxton for assistance in obtaining access to thousands of documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used in its independent investigation of UT-Austin admissions practices, board members also declined to address what the brief’s specific focus will be. The board voted to file the brief by a unanimous vote of eight, with Hall abstaining.

After the board reconvened in open session, Regent Alex Cranberg indicated the System brief will likely outline reasons Hall should not be granted the documents.

“I certainly feel it’s very important to express the need for individual regents to have [the] capacity to ask hard questions, even as the majority of the board might feel uncomfortable, but I don’t think this response suggests that the regents don’t have that capacity,” Cranberg said. “[I believe the response suggests] merely that there might be some limits placed on what a regent might reasonably ask for.”

Cranberg also alluded to concerns that some of the documents Hall is requesting might contain personal student information, protected under federal privacy laws.

“If anyone is asking, in effect, for the System to violate federal law, that should not be allowed to occur,” Cranberg said.

Hall began asking for this round of documents in early March, after the Kroll investigation concluded that President William Powers Jr. had exerted influence in the admissions of a handful of students but had not technically broken any rules. The investigation found that administrators at the University and within the UT System held “wildly divergent” attitudes about whether considering relationships between the University and high-ranking officials is an appropriate factor in the holistic review process.

After the results of the investigation were released, McRaven declined to take punitive action, although he said he would like to see admissions policies clarified going forward.

“There are a lot of thing we could do better, but, at the end of the day, no willful misconduct [occurred], and I found no criminal activity, and, therefore, I intend to take no disciplinary action,” McRaven said in February.

When Hall asked for the documents Kroll had used in the investigation, three regents, including Hall himself, voted to allow him access. Under Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” UT System employees must respond to information requests “without undue delay” if two or more regents vote in support of the request.

However, McRaven said Hall’s request fell under the category of “inquiry and investigation,” invoking another policy that would require a majority board vote for approval.

“I have no concerns about giving you information that is consistent with your regental needs to be better informed, i.e. how the admissions process works … that is what the board approved,” McRaven told Hall in a terse email exchange in April. “However, your twelve requests for information lead any reader to believe that you are further investigating the Kroll report, the Fisher litigation, Legislative compliance, all of which are perfectly acceptable for a board, if procedurally the majority of the board wants to undertake these new inquiries...If it is [a new inquiry], I have no problem with that, as long as the majority of the board approves.”

Hall responded by having his lawyer, Bill Aleshire, ask Paxton to address whether the board or the chancellor have the legal authority to prohibit regents from having access to copies of records they believes are necessary to fulfill regential duties.

“Regent Wallace Hall has concerns about corrupted processes at the University of Texas at Austin, most recently regarding student admissions practices,” Aleshire wrote to Paxton. “Other opinions of the Attorney General also demonstrate that a regent’s inherent right of access to [records] is not subject to the judgement of other board members (or of the Chancellor) as to whether they think the regent ‘needs’ that information.”

Read the brief the UT System counsel filed with the Attorney General's office here: 

Brief to Attorney General Ken Paxton on behalf of UT System Board of Regents and Chancellor William McRaven...

Chancellor William McRaven discusses national defense and security Monday night at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. McRaven served as a four-star general in the U.S. Military.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Chancellor William McRaven gave a lecture on national defense and security Monday for the Glickman Centennial Lecture at the Etter-Harbin Alumni Center. 

McRaven, a retired four-star admiral in the United States Military, spoke about the greatest changes in the field during his time. 

“9/11 has fundamentally changed everything about how we do business,” McRaven said. “Fortunately, the government was good to us. They recognized the value of special operations, and they funded it, and they grew the force appropriately.” 

Plan II senior Mark Jbeily said he agreed with McRaven that terrorism is the greatest threat to society. Jbeily, a Marshall Scholar, said Americans are reminded of the threat of terrorism because of recent successful terrorist attacks. 

“I agree with what [McRaven] said about the greatest threat to our security,” Jbeily said. “The terrorist threat that we saw after 9/11 has evolved, but it’s an ongoing threat, and when you don’t have — thank goodness — attacks on the homeland and attacks on high-visibility targets, I think people start to forget. But the reason we don’t have those attacks is because there [are] a lot of people working hard to make sure those attacks don’t happen.” 

McRaven said the first thing he did when he took his job at U.S. Special Operations was to call on FedEx to share how they do business. 

“[FedEx] is a global enterprise, just like we were, and I wanted to know how they were able to act locally but function globally,” McRaven said. 

The connections between illegal and malicious entities throughout the world continue to be areas of great concern for national defense, McRaven said. 

“Everything is connected — it is a network out there, and this was the thing that we found very early on in our fight, and it surprised us,” McRaven said. “We in special operations had to build a network to defeat a network.”

Having dealt with international struggles in special operations, McRaven said the notion that global struggles should not concern the United States worries him. 

“There is no such thing as a local problem,” McRaven said. “Today, in the environment we’re in, part of my concern is sometimes we sit between the Pacific and the Atlantic, and we say, ‘You know what happens in Algeria. That’s a long ways away. I don’t really think we have to worry about it.’” 

Suzan Glickman, the wife of the lecture’s namesake, Julius Glickman, said the lecture was a good opportunity for the community to interact with McRaven. 

“I think it’s great the people get to know [McRaven] and see what his vision is, partly for the University of Texas but also the special ops and what’s going on in the world,” Glickman said. “He’s very bright, has been in all kinds of positions of authority, and when you see his personality, you can know what he’s going to be and how far-thinking he is for the University
of Texas.”

UT System Regent Wallace Hall is continuing his investigation into the University’s admission practices.
Photo Credit: Xintong Guo | Daily Texan Staff

UT System Regent Wallace Hall is appealing to the attorney general to review student information, despite UT System Chancellor William McRaven’s admonition that Hall’s requests go “well beyond any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.”

In a letter to Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office earlier this week, Hall’s attorney asked Paxton to intervene after McRaven denied Hall access to requested material. Hall is seeking files used in an independent investigation into admission practices at the University.

In early March, Hall asked to be provided with the documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used to review admissions. The results of the investigation, released in February, found that UT President William Powers Jr. had exerted influence in the admission of a handful of students but concluded that no formal rules were broken. 

Three regents voted to support Hall’s requests, but the Chancellor said Hall would not be given the records unless the Board authorized such access by majority vote, according to the letter Hall’s lawyer sent Paxton, first obtained by the Texas Tribune.

“The Chancellor asserted that giving Regent Hall access to the Kroll records constituted reopening the investigation of student admissions practices or involved FERPA-protected records,” the email said. “The Chancellor decided that Regent Hall did not have an ‘educational purpose’ for reviewing the Kroll records that was sufficient in the Chancellor’s opinion.”

In the email, Hall’s lawyer, Bill Aleshire, asked the attorney general to consider two questions: whether the Board of Regents can prohibit a regent from obtaining access to records the regent believes are “necessary to review to fulfill his duties as a regent,” and whether the chancellor can do to the same.

Aleshire invoked Regent Rule 19801, “Policy on Transparency, Accountability, and Access to Information,” which says that UT System employees must respond to requests for information “without undue delay.” 

“For the purpose of a Board vote on this issue, the vote of any two or more Regents in support of the request is sufficient to direct that the request will be filled without delay,” the policy says.

Barbara Holthaus, UT System assistant general counsel, said there is an exception to FERPA rules called the university official exception. Under this exception, anyone employed by the University who needs access to the confidential information to perform a job may have access. 

Holthaus said any University official seeking access must have an educational purpose, and a person’s position or title does not immediately justify a request for confidential student information. 

“In the case of a regent or a chancellor or president, as long as the access they are requiring is pursuant to a legitimate educational purpose and it’s part of their duties, then they can have access to information that is subject to FERPA,” Holthaus said. “What we know under FERPA, though, is the mere fact that you have a position such as a chancellor or a president doesn’t mean that you get access to any information that you need.” 

In another email to Hall, McRaven further attempted to explain why he did not feel Hall’s requests met those criteria.

“I have no concerns about giving you information that is consistent with your regental needs to be better informed, i.e. how the admissions process works … that is what the board approved,” McRaven wrote. “However, your twelve requests for information lead any reader to believe that you are further investigating the Kroll report, the Fisher litigation, Legislative compliance, all of which are perfectly acceptable for a board, if procedurally the majority of the board wants to undertake these new inquiries. I remain willing to meet with you and provide you information as long as that information isn’t part of an additional inquiry. If it is, I have no problem with that, as long as the majority of the board approves.”

One of President William Powers Jr.’s central goals for his presidency was to achieve a 70 percent four-year graduation rate. While the goal has not yet been reached, Powers said the University has made “tremendous progress.”
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The University’s four-year graduation rate has shown improvements over the last several years — but when President William Powers Jr. leaves office at the end of the school year, fewer than 70 percent of the students who started as freshmen in fall 2011 will be leaving with him. 

In an interview with The Daily Texan, Powers acknowledged that he will leave office without watching a class achieve one of the central goals of his presidency — a 70 percent four-year graduation rate. Still, Powers said, the University is on its way to meeting such a goal.

“We’re not quite there yet, but we’re making tremendous progress,” Powers said. 

The four-year graduation rate was 54.5 percent in fiscal year 2014, up from 40 percent in fiscal year 2000, according to a University accountability report.

Watch an interview with Powers as he discusses his tenure as president:

David Laude, senior vice provost for enrollment and graduation management, said when he was brought into the provost’s office, he was charged with improving the four-year graduation rate quickly. 

“The class that was supposed to have this done by was the class of 2017,” Laude said. “That means the class that is currently finishing its sophomore year — two years from now — they need to be graduating not with a 50 percent graduation rate, but with a 70 percent [rate].” 

Over the course of the last two years, the University introduced a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the four-year graduation rate. Laude gave a $3 million-grant to the Office of the Vice President of Student Affairs to hire mental health counselors in the University’s largest colleges, to reduce student stress, and launched a four-year graduation “help desk,” among other initiatives.

Last month, UT System Chancellor William McRaven said he was not satisfied with current four-year graduation rates at any of the UT System institutions. 

“We have got to get our four-year graduation rates and our six-year graduation rates — we have got to improve those across all of our institutions,” McRaven said. “I’m not happy with where they are in a number of areas.” 

Postponed graduation causes a negative ripple effect impacting student debt, among other factors, McRaven said. 

“We are doing a disservice to the students, to the family of those students and, frankly, to the institution by not having better graduation rates,” McRaven said. 

Powers said the root of the argument for increasing four-year graduation rates is that UT should do all it can to reduce the financial impact of higher education on students and families. 

“There’s a lot of discussion and, rightly so, about affordability and the resources that a family has to devote to public higher education,” Powers said. “We’re sensitive to that.” 

Powers said the dialogue on campus between students and the administration has changed in his years as president. 

“I’m very proud of the fact that the initial response was, ‘Well, they’re telling us we’re not graduating on time,’ and now the attitude is, ‘We’re working together, helping each other toward a common goal,’” Powers said.

The class of 2017 is exhibiting the right signs for meeting the 70 percent graduation rate, Laude said. 

“The class of 2017’s persistence rate at the end of their first year was 95 percent,” Laude said. “In other words, all but 5 percent came back and started their sophomore year, and that is the largest rate in the university’s history.” 

The improvements stem in part from a changing campus mindset, according to Laude. 

“A lot of the reason for this improvement has to do with things like really getting everybody to buy into the idea of trying to make it possible to graduate in four years,” Laude said. “There’s lots of community building.”

A Travis County grand jury declined to indict UT System Regent Wallace Hall on Tuesday on charges of abuse of office, misuse of information and official oppression. However, it took the unusual step of issuing a report condemning Hall and calling for his removal.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents voted at a meeting Wednessday to allow Regent Wallace Hall to review information collected during an investigation into UT admission practices.

The Board released the results of the investigation in question, conducted by Kroll Associates, an external investigation firm, in early February. In early March, Hall requested to see “any and all information” gathered in the investigation before it was to be destroyed.

The external investigation found that a small number of unqualified students were admitted to UT at the direction of President Williams Powers Jr. UT System Chancellor William McRaven said no disciplinary action was needed because no rules or laws were broken.

Hall defended his request of the information on the grounds that he would use the information for admission policy decisions in the future, according to the Texas Tribune.

While the regents voted to allow Hall to look into the information, they warned him about overstepping the rules and conducting investigations on his own, according to the Tribune.

Earlier this week, UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said the meeting was called as a result of new rules regarding information requests. The rule, adopted in February 2014, specifies that all information requests must go through the chairman and chancellor. If either person finds concern, the request is discussed in a meeting with the other regents.

In March, a grand jury chose not to indict Hall on violation of student privacy laws but called for his impeachment from office. The grand jury issued a report condemning his actions.

“Hall never divulged what purpose or goal he had padlocked in his mind before launching this immense barrage of records requests, rapid firing them in a fashion seemingly intended to deteriorate the systems in place,” the report said.

Hall’s initial requests led to an internal investigation that was completed by the UT System prior to the external investigation by Kroll. 

A Travis County grand jury declined to indict UT System Regent Wallace Hall on Tuesday on charges of abuse of office, misuse of information and official oppression. However, it took the unusual step of issuing a report condemning Hall and calling for his removal.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

The UT System Board of Regents will meet Wednesday to consider facilitating requests from Regent Wallace Hall Jr. to look into information gathered about controversial UT admission practices. 

In early March, Hall asked to meet with Bill Nugent, senior managing director for Kroll, an investigation company, regarding a report released in February. The report, which the UT System commissioned, came in response to an investigation into admission policies at UT-Austin.

The investigation undertaken by Kroll found that UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. had pressured admission officials to admit a “select handful” of applicants each year. McRaven defended the admission process because no laws or rules were broken, but McRaven said he would attempt to institute changes in the future. 

The UT System commissioned Kroll to conduct an external investigation of the admissions process after Hall alleged that UT-Austin administrators were admitting under-qualified applicants with connections to prominent legislators.

A few days after his request to meet with Nugent, Hall requested an opportunity to read through “any and all information, confidential and otherwise, that is related to the Kroll investigation that was originally slated for destruction,” according to a statement released by the UT System.  

No one from Kroll will be in attendance at the meeting Wednesday, according to UT System spokeswoman Jenny Caputo. 

The board now operates under a new rule, which was adopted in February 2014, that  specifies all information requests must go through the chairman and chancellor, Caputo said. If either person has concerns, then the request is discussed at a meeting with all regents present. 

In accordance with the rule, Chairman Paul Foster and Chancellor William McRaven decided to call a meeting with the other regents to decide whether Hall’s request would be granted. If two or more regents agree that Hall’s requests should be allowed, then the requests, “will be filled without delay,” according to the statement.

“The purpose of the rule is to demonstrate the board’s commitment to providing transparency to the public to the fullest extent allowed by law, while ensuring protection of confidential information and personal privacy,” Caputo said. 

Kroll could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

The Senate is set to hear a bill that would provide UT-Austin with $67,500,000 for renovations at Welch Hall as well as construction on other facilities within the UT System and across the state.

On Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee approved SB 150, a bill that grants state universities more than $2 billion in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs). The complete Senate has not set a date to hear the bill.

TRBs are bonds funded by the state for specific facilities-related projects at universities. According to the bill’s author, Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), institutions statewide submitted proposals for their projects to the legislature. In total, 64 projects were proposed, Seliger said.

“We’ve worked extensively for months with institutions and system administration to ensure that only the most important projects are included.“

UT System Chancellor William McRaven testified on the bill at the hearing. He said UT system enrollment and research has increased since the last issuance of revenue bonds in 2006.

“While enrollment has grown and our research has increased, our facilities, kind of, continue to age,” McRaven said.

Most of UT’s requested TRB funding would go to STEM-related facilities, according to McRaven. He said out-of-date buildings and laboratories are not conducive to research.

“Our facilities are anywhere from 25 to 45 years old,” McRaven said. “And we really do have to keep up with the competitive nature of the infrastructure for having 21st-century educational research.” 

In the bill’s current form, UT-Austin is slated to receive $67,500,000 to renovate Welch Hall.  

There are several other bills that would offer state universities revenue bonds, including one, which Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) proposed, that would give UT-Austin $100 million for Welch Hall and $105 million for renovations to the McCombs School of Business.

Kelsey Evans, College of Natural Sciences chief external relations officer, said the University requested $100 million for Welch Hall, and she is “cautiously optimistic” they will receive between $67.5 and $100 million from the state.

University spokesman Gary Susswein said Welch Hall was chosen to receive funding because it would have a high impact on the student body.

“The renovations at Welch Hall would make significant positive impact on our research, on our students and in maintaining our excellence in the sciences,” Susswein said.

Welch’s oldest wing, built in the late 1920s, is undergoing a $30 million renovation project in June, funded from the University’s and the College of Natural Sciences’ budgets, Evans said. The TRBs would go toward renovating the rest of the building.

The money will go to adding and updating classrooms with office renovations, the creation of collaborative space, increased security measures and updating labs, many of which Evans said are not suitable for lab experiments.

“It’s still going to be Welch, but it’s going to be a modern, sophisticated version of Welch Hall,” Evans said.

Cameron Crane, Student Government natural sciences representative and college ambassador, said most classrooms and offices in the building do not warrant much renovation, but the lab facilities do.

Biology junior Josh Shandera, who has taken many courses in Welch, said the building, as a whole, needs renovation. He said he thinks the projects should be funded by the state.

“The labs are older,” Shandera said. “They’re smaller. They’re cramped. The building itself — you can definitely tell they’re not new. For conducting research, you want to have the best facilities possible.”