Regents to discuss House transparency committee involvement in UT admissions investigation

Alex Wilts

The UT System Board of Regents will discuss issues relating to the external investigation of UT’s admissions process by Kroll Associates, Inc., a risk mitigation response firm, at a meeting over telephone conference call Monday. 

The board will discuss a Sept. 8 letter from state Reps. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, and Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, announcing their intention to attend or monitor all interviews conducted by Kroll. Following the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations’ censure of Regent Wallace Hall on Aug. 11, the committee announced Martinez Fischer and Larson would continue to monitor the System. 

“While we know that there have been allegations of legislative influence on admissions, we believe that every member of the Legislature is responsible for his or her own actions, and our requests are made solely as part of our official duty as monitors of The UT Board of Regents, The UT System, and UT component institutions,” Martinez Fischer and Larson said in the letter. 

The System conducted its own inquiry into legislative influence over the University’s admissions in July 2013, after Hall brought up issues with two emails he uncovered from one of his record requests to the University. Releasing its report in May, the inquiry found no evidence of a structured system of favoritism or wrongdoing, but determined letters of recommendation sent by legislators to President William Powers Jr. or a dean likely influence the admissions process. 

In June, Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa announced the System would launch a full external investigation of University admissions because of remaining concerns about the process. 

According to the contract between Kroll and the UT System, the firm will complete the investigation by Oct. 15. 

The letter from Martinez Fischer and Larson comes months after board Chairman Paul Foster asked the Texas Legislature in July not to attempt influencing board

“The point is the board has a role,” Foster said after the board’s July meeting. “It’s not political. We’re not politicians. I believe we should be left alone to do our business.”