Texas Regent Wallace Hall Under Pressure to Resign

According to Chairman Paul Foster of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, Regent Wallace Hall has become a “distraction” and has been asked to resign.  Saying he had heard loud and clear from the House committee investigating Hall for possible impeachment, Foster publicly urged Hall to do the magnanimous thing and remove himself from the board. Foster’s agenda seems to focus on repairing relationships between the System, the legislature, and the public, which have been sullied, in his opinion, by the Hall controversy.

Reporting for the university’s official alumni organization news publication, Alcalde, Tim Taliaferro writes that this appeal by Foster comes three days after an almost unanimous vote by the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations that there were grounds to impeach Hall.

On May 11,  Madlin Mekelburg and Jordan Rudner of The Daily Texan reported that Rep. Dan Flynn (R.-Canton) said:

“Hall’s unreasonable and burdensome requests for records and information from UT Austin violated, and continue to violate, the Texas Education Code, the Texas Penal Code, the Board of Regents Rules and Regulations, and the best interests of the [UT System],” the report said. “Hall’s improper use of confidential information violated federal and state privacy statutes … any one of these conclusions would support a decision by the Committee to propose articles of impeachment against [Hall].”

If impeached, Hall would be only the third regent ever impeached, and the first regent appointed by a governor to be so charged.  Hall was appointed by Governor Rick Perry, and the governor, who is not seeking re-election, has said that he continues to stand by Hall.  The Associated Press reported that Hall’s reply to the System was:

“My efforts as a regent are to serve the interests of our great educational institutions, the students, faculty, and staff who make them great, and the taxpayers who fund them, not to appease a privileged class who abuse them.”

Those who have spoken up for Hall have said:

  • All of Hall’s requests for records were approved and were acquired through the proper channels.
  • Hall has not broken any board rules or any laws.
  • Hall is a victim of a “lynch mob mentality”.
  • Hall’s actions have been mischaracterized.
  • The impeachment is highly inappropriate.
  • The damage done to the university could have been prevented by the board of regents.
Those opposed to Hall’s “long-running spectacle” say:
  • It’s time to move on from this controversy.
  • Let’s concentrate on the things the System and our campuses need to do.
  • Take the step that is best for the schools and resign.
  • Hall is using inappropriate means to accomplish his agenda.
  • Could he have abused his power by swamping the university and the System with record requests?
  • Could he have violated student privacy laws or harmed the reputation of the school?
During the board of regents meeting, Hall, as he has in many meetings, suggested that an independent firm should investigate the UT Law School “forgivable loan program”.  This suggestion is part of his  longstanding list of criticisms of UT-Austin and its president, Bill Powers. His other grievances include the accusation that UT-Austin shows partiality in admissions to the “politically connected”; financial misconduct at the Law School; and false reporting of fundraising totals and travel costs.