Gov. Rick Perry appoints three to serve on the UT System Board of Regents

Jordan Rudner

Following several days of comments from state legislators about the proper role of the UT System Board of Regents, Gov. Rick Perry appointed three members to the board Thursday.

Perry appointed Ernest Aliseda of McAllen and Jeff Hildebrand, a UT alumnus from Houston, and reappointed Paul Foster, who currently serves as vice chairman of the board. The appointments are for six-year terms.

The appointments come just one day after State Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo and Senate Higher Education Committee chairman, filed a bill that would clarify the role of the Board of Regents and reserve all responsibilities not specifically stated in law as the duties of University Systems or Governing Boards for the institutions themselves. 

Nine senators co-authored the bill, including four who sit on the higher education committee.

Before replacing the current regents, the appointees will need to be confirmed by the Senate. Robert Haley, director for the Senate Committee on Nominations, said the process might not begin for several weeks. 

“It won’t be this Monday, I can tell you that,” Haley said. “We’ll also try to find a date when all three nominees can be here.” 

Haley said in the 10 years he has held his position, he does not recall any occasions in which the nominee for a regent position was not confirmed. 

“I don’t think there’s ever been a regent rejected by the committee or the full Senate,” Haley said. “I just couldn’t say when these nominees will appear.”

If confirmed, the appointees will replace regents James Dannenbaum and Printice Gary, whose terms expired earlier this month. Dannenbaum and Gary will continue serving until the new regents are confirmed.

Aliseda is a municipal judge for the city of McAllen and was nominated by Perry for his previous positions as state district judge for the 139th and 398th State District courts. He said at this point he is not ready to definitively say what the role of regent entails.

“Obviously it’s a position I’m going into that I’ll need to learn about if confirmed,” Aliseda said. “I will look for guidance from the current board members, from the administration and the presidents, and I look forward to working with all of them. I would think the primary purpose of a regent is to set policy for the UT System, but there’s going to be a learning curve on my end.”

Aliseda said he does not have specific goals in mind for the University if his nomination is confirmed but that he would value the chance to work on the merger of the UT-Pan American and UT-Brownsville campuses.  

“My goal is to do the best job possible, and if you ask me six months down the road, after I’ve had the opportunity to evaluate the direction the University’s going, I might have a clearer idea,” Aliseda said. “But an obvious goal is to see the merger happen. There are some great changes occurring in my area of the state and some very positive opportunities to increase access for quality higher education.”

Hildebrand, the other new nominee, is chairman and CEO of Hilcorp Energy Company. He is a member of the UT System’s Task Force on Engineering Education for Texas and sits on the UT Engineering Advisory Board. Of the three nominees, he is the only UT alumnus.

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Perry names three to join regents upon Senate vote".