The Texas Legislature is working to redefine the student regent application process, requiring student regents to apply through student government before applying to the governor’s office.
If passed, the bills, SB 42 and HB 1256, will prevent students who apply for the student regent position from applying directly to the governor’s office at their respective institution without input from student government.
In 2014, System student regent Max Richards was appointed to his position by the governor’s office. Richards did not apply through UT’s student government. Richards’ predecessor, Nash Horne, also applied directly to the governor’s office.
After multiple attempts, Richards could not be reached for comment on the bills.
The legislature passed a bill creating the student regent position in 2005. The bill states student governments within the system should nominate students each year for a one-year term at the student regent position. These nominees are then pooled with others across the system and submitted to the governor’s office for consideration.
According to Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), who filed SB 42 in November, The University of Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech systems have all had student regents appointed who applied directly to the governor.
“Despite the clarity of the existing statutory language, there have been reports of student regents being appointed after applying not to their student governments, as required by statute, but directly to the governor,” Zaffirini said in an email.
Rep. J.D. Sheffield (R-Gatesville), author of HB 1256, said the 2005 version of the bill intended students to apply through student government.
Sheffield said he filed the bill last week because he thinks student regents who apply through student government will be more beneficial to their university system.
“The contribution is dependent upon the regent themselves,” Sheffield said in an email. “Thus, when students are well-qualified and have followed the intended process at the university level, it seems to me that they would be more likely to positively contribute to the mission of their respective university.”
Cameron Crane, biology senior and 2014 finalist for the student regent position, said he thinks the SG phasing process limits the student regent application pool.
Crane did not make it through the first round of the University search, but was a finalist when he applied directly to the governor’s office. Crane said that if an applicant does not know the SG members on the selection committee, they might be at a disadvantage against those who do.
“They didn’t know me, so I think that’s why I wasn’t selected, not so much based on my resume and credentials,” said Crane, who is now a natural science representative for SG. “I feel like it’s important to open it up to people and allow everyone who wants to apply directly to [do so].”
SG President Kori Rady said it is important for student regent applicants to gain SG approval because he thinks it adds student input to the student regent selection process.
“I think it’s definitely a good thing to go through the student government process and that it furthers your understanding of what students are interested in,” Rady said.