Wednesday, December 18, 2013

UT Chancellor Admits Wallace Hall inquiry Legitimate

[Full Disclosure: Cahnman's Musings assisted Agendawise with their livestream of the Wallace Hall impeachment hearing today; views expressed in this forum are ours and ours alone.]

At 1:38 pm, University of Texas chancellor Francisco Cigarroa admitted that regent Wallace Hall "raised valid concerns" in his inquiry; the Texas House committee on Transparency in state agency operations spent the remaining seven hours and fifty nine minutes of today's eight hour hearing creating a rhetorical haystack under which to bury that needle.

[Author's Note: Trust me, we understand the irony of a 'transparency' committee spending eight hours attempting to obfuscate the truth.]

This exchange happened during questioning from Texas Rep. Charles Perry (R - Lubbock).  Cigarroa admitted that "some good things have come out of" Hall's inquiry.  Cigarroa specifically listed technology transfer, transparency, and questions surrounding admissions/fundraising at the University law school.  Cigarroa further admitted that the University has implemented several of Hall's recommendations.  Representative Perry thanked Cigarroa for his forthrightness.

The hearing began with Chairman Dan Flynn (R - Canton) and co-chair Carol Alvarado (D - Houston) throwing a temper-tantrum.  Hall declined to testify unless the committee subpoenaed him.  Hall's reason for doing so was that, absent a subpoena, he could have opened himself up to a civil lawsuit.  Flynn called Hall's valid concern "a slap in the face of this committee."  Alvarado explained "invited guests don't get to set the terms on which they appear."

Next up, two former regents testified about standard practices for University regents.  Their complaint about Hall stemmed from the fact that he went outside the chain of command.  Going behind the board and the UT President is 'inappropriate.'

After lunch, following the interaction between Chancellor Cigarroa and Rep. Perry detailed above, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer (D - San Antonio) exposed his inner buffoon.  Fischer browbeat Cigarroa for an hour over a variety of petty topics, including details of preferential treatment for retiring Rep. Jim Pitts' son at UT Law School.  Fischer's attempt to set Governor Perry up as the bad guy fell flat.

The other noteworthy clown from today's hearing was (Joe Straus lieutenant) Rep. Lyle Larson (R - San Antonio).  Larson was upset because Hall's inquiry "created a lot of disruption" at UT.  Larson also took multiple cheap shots at Governor Perry.

Bill Powers' testimony was surprisingly anticlimatic.  He wasn't sworn in until after Cigarroa, six hours into the hearing.  Powers detailed his concern that Hall's inquiry has hurt recruiting and retention.  Powers also feels that Hall's inquiry poses "significant harm to our academic reputation."  Powers explained that, in his opinion, the $200 million software donation scandal was a case where reasonable people could disagree.

Wallace Hall is the Ted Cruz of Higher Education in Texas.  Because he's a threat to business as usual, he rubs a lot of people the wrong way.  But the University of Texas Chancellor has admitted his inquiry is legit, and that's the only major takeaway from today's hearing.

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