Chairman of UT Regents Responds to Senators' Letter

UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell asks the Board to support Chancellor Dr. Franciso Cigarroa at their Austin meeting on May 12, 2011.
UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell asks the Board to support Chancellor Dr. Franciso Cigarroa at their Austin meeting on May 12, 2011.

University of Texas System regents chairman Gene Powell has responded to a strongly worded letter from Texas senators, saying that a decision on how to proceed with an external review of UT's School of Law would be made in the "next few weeks."

A majority of members of the Senate the signed a letter Tuesday calling the review of a now-defunct forgivable loan program at the law school "unnecessary" in light of a previous internal internal investigation, which was in turn reviewed by the attorney general's office, and an ongoing audit of the arrangement. "This duplicative review, which targets the University of Texas at Austin for the obvious purpose of attempting to discredit its president, will be the fourth review of this matter," they wrote.

The regents voted 4-3 to set aside a previous report on the matter and begin anew with outside investigators at a tense meeting on March 20.

In their letter, the senators advised Powell that, if the regents must "needlessly engage" in further review of the matter, they should save money by having the attorney general's office conduct it. In his response, Powell — who was absent for the vote but has indicated support for its outcome — said that he does "appreciate and understand" their concerns. He indicated that the board's general counsel, Francie Frederick, had been in touch with the attorney general's office prior to the board's vote and that she planned to brief them on the latest developments in the coming weeks.

"That briefing will be arranged in the next few weeks after the full scope of the investigation is determined," Powell wrote. "Please be assured that no decisions will be made on proceeding with this issue until this previously planned briefing of and discussion with the Attorney General occurs."

Here is Powell's letter:

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