Gov. Perry appoints two Tarrant leaders as UNT System regents

Posted Wednesday, Jul. 31, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley and Fort Worth businessman Rusty Reid were appointed Wednesday to serve on the University of North Texas System board of regents, signaling a greater opportunity for Tarrant County input on university matters.

Whitley and Reid, a Fort Worth business insurance executive and a UNT alumnus, were appointed by Gov. Rick Perry to terms that expire May 22, 2009.

Their selection follows last year’s turbulent firing of Scott Ransom, the former president of the UNT Health Science Center at Fort Worth.

After Ransom’s dismissal, local leaders expressed concern about the lack of community input into the decision.

“I’m very grateful to the governor for this appointment,” Whitley said, adding that the community had hoped to get someone from the Fort Worth area. “I’m excited to be one of the ones selected.”

Whitley noted that his wife and daughter are UNT alumni. Additionally, Whitley has worked with UNT System Chancellor Lee Jackson in the past. Ransom clashed with regents and Jackson, who has also served as the Dallas County judge.

“I always had a great deal of respect for him [Jackson] and look forward to working with him,” Whitley said.

Reid could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Jackson and other UNT System leaders promised to encourage the selection of a Fort Worth-area regent after the December 2012 firing of Ransom. Earlier this summer, regents appointed Dr. Michael Williams as president of the Health Science Center.

“Judge Whitley has been supportive of the UNT Health Science Center and has been very welcoming to me,” Williams said. “Rusty Reid is a highly respected community leader whose business background and experience will be a terrific asset to the health science center and the UNT System.”

Perry also reappointed Gwyn Shea of Irving to the board. Shea is a former Texas secretary of state, a former state representative for District 98, and a former Dallas County constable.

“Gywn and I served on the board of regents together and I have the utmost respect and affection for her,” Williams said.

Williams also has Fort Worth roots and has been working to soothe hurt feelings in Tarrant County caused by Ransom’s firing. Members of the Health Science Center Foundation Board said they worried that a key voice for Fort Worth was lost and that the upheaval could damage Fort Worth’s chances of landing an M.D. program.

Several area advocates of the Health Science Center said they would like university leaders to include a greater Fort Worth voice. The appointments were all from North Texas with two from Tarrant County.

“That pleases me a great deal,” Whitley said.

Allan Howeth, chairman of the foundation board, said the selections are excellent.

“I am very well-acquainted with all of them and have confidence in them as regents to do a great job,” Howeth said. “They have extensive knowledge of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, and this will help in relationships with UNT Health Science Center and its fine graduate schools and programs.”

Reid is president, CEO and board chairman of Higginbotham. He is also a board and executive committee member of the Davey O’Brien Foundation and All Saints’ Episcopal School. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of North Texas.

Whitley, of Hurst, has been a member of the Tarrant County Commissioners Court for 16 years and is a co-founder of the Whitley Penn Accounting Firm. He served in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He received a bachelor's degree from the University of Texas at Arlington.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Diane Smith, 817-390-7675 Twitter: @dianeasmith1

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