• Time Warner adds Longhorn Network

    Time Warner Cable has agreed to add Longhorn Network to its channel lineup the day before the start of UT’s football season.

    The channel, which offers coverage of UT sports and academics, will now be available to Time Warner Cable subscribers in Texas who are signed up for its “expanded basic cable service,”  according to a statement from ESPN.

    Owned and operated by ESPN, Longhorn Network was formed in 2011 in a partnership with the University. Previously, the channel had only been carried in Austin on AT&T U-verse and Grande Communications.

    Along with Saturday’s football game against New Mexico State, Longhorn Network is also scheduled to broadcast two other UT football games this season: the Ole Miss game on Sept. 14 and the Kansas game on Nov. 2.

    For Time Warner Cable customers in Austin, LHN will be available on channel 444 and in high definition on channel 1593.

  • New chairman of the Board of Regents elected

    Regent Paul Foster will serve as the next chairman of the UT System Board of Regents after being elected to the position Thursday.

    Foster replaces Gene Powell, who served as chairman since February 2011 and will continue to serve on the board. Foster, who was first appointed to board in 2007, said he would serve students as chairman.

    “I look forward to working with the chancellor, the system staff, the presidents and their staffs, but most importantly, I recognize, and I know that most of you recognize, that we’re here for the students and for the future of this great state,” Foster said.

    The regents also elected Powell and Steve Hicks to serve as vice chairmen, after Foster nominated them in his first act as chairman. Both Powell and Hicks’ terms expire in 2015. Foster’s current term expires in 2019 since he was reappointed to his second term as a regent by Gov. Rick Perry earlier this year.

    The change in leadership comes after state lawmakers accused the regents of working to remove UT President William Powers Jr. from his position during the legislative session earlier this year.

    After the meeting, Foster affirmed his support for Powers.

    “I’m very supportive of [Powers],” Foster said. “He’s our president.”

    Foster said he plans on meeting with Powers in the near future.

  • Regent Wallace Hall alleges lawmakers unduly influence admissions

    A University of Texas regent has responded to a House committee considering his impeachment by alleging that lawmakers unduly influenced student admissions in at least two cases and that school officials misrepresented donations, according to an attorney's letter released Friday.

    The formal response from Wallace Hall's attorney said Hall was just doing his job in questioning activities at the University of Texas at Austin and called on lawmakers to conduct a thorough investigation. Hall has made repeated requests for a large number of university records, which some lawmakers have called a witch hunt to justify removing UT Austin President Bill Powers, a political enemy of Gov. Rick Perry. Hall was appointed by Perry.

    Texas House Speaker Joe Straus asked the Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations to look into Hall and what critics call his attempt to micromanage the university.

    "Regent Hall looks forward to the opportunity to tell this committee exactly what he was looking for, what he found and what he believes are the next steps on such topics as have animated members of the Legislature," the letter from attorney Stephen Ryan said. "He will stop only when the University of Texas System ... fully shares this committee's expressed commitment to transparency to all Texans."

    The letter said Hall has found evidence that one House member and one senator improperly influenced university officials to accept two students at the UT system's flagship campus. He said the university also improperly reported non-cash gifts and failed to make information overall available to regents or the public as required by law.

    Additionally, he expressed concern about salary enhancements for law school faculty, an issue that led to the UT law school dean's resignation.

    There was no immediate way to independently verify Hall's allegations.

    Gary Susswein, a spokesman for the University of Texas at Austin, denied any wrongdoing by campus officials.

    "We're proud of our admissions policy and are happy to talk to the legislative committee about applicant recommendations we receive from lawmakers and other state officials, including regents," he said. "There was a disagreement over an accounting procedure and we've complied with the regent's request to count these contributions differently."

    In June, powerful Republican Rep. Jim Pitts, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, asked lawmakers to investigate Hall, complaining that he was acting on behalf of Perry to force Powers out of office in order to radically change how UT operates.

    Perry has called on the university's leadership to adopt wholesale changes proposed by a conservative think-tank, which officials say would cripple the campus and hurt its academic reputation.

    Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, grilled Perry's latest additions to the UT Board of Regents during their confirmation hearings earlier this year about their role as overseers of the system and insisted they not try to directly manage the campuses, where educators enjoy some autonomy.

    Hall also attracted criticism for failing to disclose his involvement in several corporate lawsuits when he filled out a questionnaire prior to his Senate confirmation. Hall has since updated his disclosure forms.

  • UTPD warns of accostings following second incident this week

    UTPD issued a safety alert Friday, urging those on the University to be weary of their surroundings after a University employee was accosted on 21st and University Ave. near campus. 

    Accosting refers to being aggressively approached in an unwarranted manner. UTPD's alert stated a similar incident was reported Thursday on Guadalupe street, adjacent to the University. 

    UTPD's alert described the perpetrator of Friday's incident as white male in his 20s, approximately 5'8", 160 lbs, wearing grey slacks, red bandana, long sleeve shirt and carrying a grey backpack. 

    UTPD did not return requests for comment.

  • UT cancels regent's open records request

    A UT-Austin official informed the UT System that Regent Wallace Hall’s impending open records requests have been canceled, according to the Texas Tribune

    In a letter obtained by the Texas Tribune to UT System Interim Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Dan Sharphorn, UT Chief Financial Officer and Custodian of Records Kevin Hegarty explained that the request had been canceled in cooperation with the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations investigation of Hall. Committee Co-Chairs Dan Flynn, R-Canton, and Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, sent a letter to Gene Powell, chairman of the board of regents, requesting that all documents relating to Hall be preserved for the investigation.

    “All or part of these files could relate to the investigation to be undertaken by the Committee of Regent Hall and therefore it is necessary to preserve all remaining records in their fully intact and unaltered form,” Hegarty wrote in the letter.

    Hegarty said all other open records requests would be carried out by the University.

    As part of its investigation into Hall, the House Transparency Committee could begin hearing witness testimony in August or September. Flynn stated at the committee’s July 29 meeting that Hall would likely be one of the first witnesses called to testify.

    Follow Jacob Kerr on Twitter @jacobrkerr.