After two years of drama that once looked as if it was headed for impeachment proceedings in the Texas House, could the saga of University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall get any more bizarre?
It could. To recap:
Hall, a Dallas businessman, is pursuing a personal investigation of admissions policies at the University of Texas at Austin. He’s been accused of abuse of office by swamping UT with records requests and of violations of privacy laws regarding student records.
His effort caused conflict with former UT Austin President William Powers Jr. Some even call it a personal vendetta against Powers, who left office earlier this month.
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Last August, the bizarreness meter had been climbing for months when the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, voted to censure Hall rather than impeach him.
In February, a Kroll Associates study commissioned by the UT Board of Regents said 73 students over 10 years were admitted to UT Austin as favors to important people.
In April, a Travis County grand jury decided not to indict Hall. But the bizarreness meter spun almost out of control when the grand jury stepped outside of its role in the justice system and said Halls should be removed from office.
Hall wants access to the confidential student information that led to the conclusions expressed in the Kroll Associates study.
System Chancellor William McRaven declined, saying it was confidential, that Hall didn’t have an “educational purpose” in requesting it and that the investigation into admissions had been closed.
Now the bizarreness meter is spinning again. Attorney General Ken Paxton said this week Hall should get the information he wants, and if he has to sue to get it, the UT System should pay his lawyer.
That’s not going to happen, the system’s lawyers say.
Will Hall sue the system he helps lead? Will Paxton as the state’s top attorney defend UT on an issue he says the system got wrong?
Surely these people have better things to do.