News to look for in the coming months: New president, campus carry

Julia Brouillette

Jefferson Davis Statue

In their first month leading the student body, Student Government president Xavier Rotnofsky and vice president Rohit Mandalapu pushed for the removal of UT’s controversial Jefferson Davis statue. Over the course of the semester, the statue has been defaced twice — first with chalk and then again with spray paint. In late March, SG voted almost unanimously in support of the statue’s removal. As with all SG proposals, the Jefferson Davis legislation will be sent to the president’s office for review. 

Fenves to take office

Following a six-month national search, the UT System Board of Regents named executive vice president and provost Greg Fenves to replace current President William Powers Jr. Fenves, who takes the position on June 2, will lead the University in a period of significant high-level administrative turnover. Fenves will oversee a search for three new deans, and will also need to replace Kevin Hegarty, UT’s former vice president and chief financial officer, who announced his plans to leave the University in February.

Dean searches

Tom Gilligan, McCombs School of Business dean, Robert Hutchings, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs dean, and Roderick Hart, Moody College of Communication dean, all announced their resignations this year. Hart will step down in May, and Jay Bernhardt, the Everett D. Collier Centennial chair in communication, will serve as the interim dean.

Regent controversy

Just months into his role as UT System chancellor, William McRaven is already butting heads with Regent Wallace Hall, who appealed to the attorney general in April to review student information despite McRaven’s admonition that Hall’s requests go “well beyond any reasonable desire to be better informed as a regent.” 

Hall is attempting to access the thousands of documents Kroll Associates Inc. used in an independent investigation into UT admissions policies earlier this year. 

Campus Carry bills

Several bills pertaining to the concealed carry of handguns on college campuses have made their way through the Texas Legislature this year. Under current state laws, licensed students, faculty and staff are allowed to keep handguns in their cars on campus. If SB 11 is signed into law, licensed students, faculty and staff will be allowed to carry concealed handguns on campus, over the objections of UT administrators.

Powers, McRaven and other SG representatives have expressed strong opposition to the bill, which may gain a fast track to passage under a plan to attach it as an amendment to another gun bill. Lawmakers plan to attach campus carry legislation as an amendment to House Bill 910, passed in mid-April, as it leaves the Senate.