University governance is usually a snooze because the trustees or regents who are supposed to oversee school operations mostly act like potted plants. Regents are expected to support the administration and enjoy the perks. But sometimes they don’t and that leads to trouble, as has been the case at the University of Texas.
Wallace Hall was appointed to serve on the nine-member UT Board of Regents back in 2011. He started to look into problems he saw and turned up some disturbing things, such as a hidden slush fund that was being used to hand out “forgivable loans” to chosen faculty members in the law school. Exposing that led to the resignation of the law school’s dean.
The issue that has escalated into war between Hall and the UT brass (along with many politicians and other influential people in the state) was the way the university’s president was intervening in the admissions process to make sure that kids of those politicians and influential people got into the flagship school (Austin) even though their grades and scores would have led to their rejection. Hall was not satisfied with the administration’s efforts at sweeping this matter under the rug with first a feeble investigation by an in-house lawyer and later a report from an independent firm (Kroll, Inc.) that softened the impact. Hall demanded the admissions data that Kroll had used, but was stonewalled by the chancellor on legally weak grounds.
My latest Pope Center article covers the ongoing battle between Regent Hall and the anti-transparency liberals who run UT.
What I find most revealing about all of this is that the same administrators who overtly defend their use of affirmative action (i.e., racial preferences) to make UT “more diverse” were quietly running an affirmative-action program for rich kids who couldn’t get in on their own. Does either favoritism to make the school more “diverse” or favoritism to make the wealthy and powerful happy really do anything to improve the university and give the taxpayers the best return on their money?