UT board to meet Wednesday on new UTA president

Posted Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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AUSTIN -- Less than a week after choosing Vistasp Karbhari as the lone finalist to become the next president of the University of Texas at Arlington, the UT System Board of Regents announced Monday that regents will meet by phone Wednesday to revisit the appointment.

A brief statement released Monday said only that officials will discuss "appropriate action concerning individual personnel matters" relating to Karbhari's candidacy.

Karbhari was selected by the University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday, concluding an eight-month-long search. Although Karbhari was officially designated as the lone finalist, the regents' action positioned him to become outgoing President James Spaniolo's replacement at the end of a 21-day waiting period.

Karbhari, provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Alabama at Huntsville, was named in a 2011 wrongful-death lawsuit filed by the spouses of two people killed at a faculty meeting at the university.

The N ew York Times reported Jan. 18, 2011, that the families said Karbhari violated a safety policy he helped write as university provost and should have done more to protect the faculty before professor, Amy Bishop allegedly shot and killed three colleagues.

The university, in a statement at the time, said it was "saddened by the decision to sue Dr. Vistasp Karbhari and does not agree that Dr. Karbhari, or anyone associated with the university, could have predicted or prevented this random act of violence."

UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo said regents decided to call another meeting on Karbhari's candidacy over the weekend. She said she did not know what prompted the meeting or what specific issues will be discussed. She said that no action would be taken and that Karbhari will participate.

The meeting will be conducted by telephone and apparently will last an hour, according to a UT news release. Board members will convene in open session at 4 p.m. and immediately go into a closed executive session. Regents will adjourn about 5 p.m., according to the release.

The executive session, according to the release, will be held "for discussion and appropriate action concerning individual personnel matters related to the candidacy of the sole finalist for president at UT Arlington."

The nine-member UT governing board announced its choice after interviewing Karbhari and another finalist in a closed executive session. He would become UT Arlington's first new president since Spaniolo became head of the university in 2004.

The other candidate was not identified.

Spaniolo, who announced his retirement plans in June, has been credited with leading UT Arlington through a period of innovation and surging enrollment to move the school within reach of becoming a top-tier research university.

Pedro Reyes, the UT System's executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, said Karbhari was chosen in part because of his "incredible leadership and managerial skills."

Staff writer Bill Miller contributed to this report.

Dave Montgomery is the Star-Telegram's Austin Bureau chief

Twitter: @daveymontgomery

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