Hall says admissions process, University involvement needs to be more transparent

Lauren Florence

UT System Regent Wallace Hall said Saturday at a Texas Tribune Festival panel that the biggest issue the Board of Regents faces is not being able to properly govern. "all about transparency"

Hall was appointed to a six-year term on the Board of Regents in 2011 and has since requested hundreds of thousands of pages of information in attempt to investigate administrative practices at the University.

A report conducted by Kroll Associates Inc., a corporate investigations and risk consulting firm, was released in February and found former UT President William Powers Jr. had a hand in admitting students who didn’t meet academic standards. 

At the panel, Hall said he blamed the Kroll investigation for problems that occurred on the Board of Regents. In response, State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, who was a member of the panel that investigated and censured Hall, said the investigation actually helped improve the board.

In June, Hall filed suit against UT Chancellor William McRaven over access to admissions records.

Hall said thousands of students who otherwise wouldn’t have been admitted have gotten into the University because University officials helped push them through. Hall said hundreds of other students have been cheated by this process.

Fischer said according to the Kroll report 73 students, not hundreds, had received help from a University official or regent in the admissions process. 

People believe they are entering a fair process when they apply to public universities, Hall said, and regents should not be able to have a hand in the admissions process if the University is not going to be transparent about it. Hall said the job of regent is to share a duty and obligation to lead, manage and govern the UT System.

“The reality of it is you have this political fight over governance, which has kept us busy, but the big issues are accessibility, costs, debt loads, quality—these are the things that really matter, and that’s very intense management,” Hall said.

Fischer said the Kroll report makes it very clear regents have had a hand in the admissions process, whether by holding certain applications aside or writing recommendation letters. Hall, however, said he has never written a recommendation letter for any prospective student and has never exercised any influence over University admissions.

Hall said he was never invited to speak in front of the transparency and investigative committee which Fischer was a part of, but he said he would gladly have been subpoenaed for questioning.

Fischer asked Hall why he requested and wanted to look at Power’s travel logs if Hall is all about the admissions process. Hall said he violated no policy through the request and had followed legal advice from UT System Regents’ lawyers.