UT System Board of Regents to discuss Hall investigation at Thursday’s meeting

Madlin Mekelburg

On Thursday, the UT System Board of Regents will gather for a regularly scheduled meeting where it will discuss legal issues regarding the ongoing investigation of Regent Wallace Hall.

The board meeting will condense what was scheduled as a two-day meeting into one day, with most System committee meetings in the morning and the board meeting in the afternoon.

The board will convene in executive session to discuss the legal issues associated with the ongoing investigation of Hall for allegedly overstepping his duties as a regent and conducting what has been referred to as a “witch hunt” against President William Powers Jr.  

At a specially called board meeting last week, a motion passed that would allow attorney-client privilege to be disregarded in an unspecified “limited manner” as recommended by outside counsel. Questions on the limitations of attorney-client privilege arose when Barry Burgdorf, former UT System vice chancellor and general counsel, declined to disclose certain information in his testimony in front of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations during the investigation of Hall.

In this executive session, the board is also scheduled to discuss personnel issues, relating to the “appointment, employment, evaluation, assignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal” of officers and employees who report directly to the board.

Also on Thursday, the board will discuss a report published by the UT System, which examined the forgivable loan program of the UT Law School Foundation. Earlier this year it was revealed that Larry Sager, law professor and former dean of the UT School of Law, secured a $500,000 forgivable loan for himself. He was subsequently asked to step down as dean by Powers. Hall has claimed that Powers was aware of the loan at the time, which Powers denied.

At a specially called board meeting in October, Chairman Paul Foster indicated that he would introduce a plan for a new screening process for regent information requests at Thursday’s meeting in an effort to increase transparency and reexamine the board’s responsibilities.