Gov. Rick Perry announced the appointment of Jeff Hildebrand and Ernest Aliseda, along with the re-appointment of Paul Foster of El Paso, to the University of Texas System Board of Regents on Thursday.
Hildebrand, of Houston, is chairman and CEO of Hilcorp Energy Company. Aliseda is the managing attorney of Loya Insurance group and a municipal judge for the city of McAllen. Foster, of El Paso, is the executive chairman of Western Refining Company.
Because they were appointed during the session, they must be confirmed by the Senate.
The UT System appointees are the latest in a series of nominations Perry has made to university system boards in recent weeks. New appointees for the Texas State University System, Texas Tech University System and Stephen F. Austin State University were named earlier this month.
Some Texas A&M University regents have passed the end of their terms, but no new appointments have been named to that board.
Unlike the other releases heralding his selections, Perry included a quote in the announcement of the UT System appointees expressing his appreciation for the members of the board.
"These volunteers sacrifice time away from their families and their careers on behalf of past, current and future students, enhancing the mission of the system and ensuring academic excellence and accountability to taxpayers," he said in a statement. "The efficiencies and reforms taking place at The University of Texas System and on each individual campus, such as offering a four-year tuition freeze as an option to students, are a testament to regents' commitment to the students and taxpayers of our state."
This contrasts somewhat with what Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said of the UT System regents on Monday in reference to their treatment of Bill Powers, the president of the University of Texas at Austin.
“I believe in reform, and I know Bill Powers believes in reform,” Dewhurst said. “That’s why I’m particularly troubled when I see UT regents go around this man. I see them trying to micromanage the system.”
Dewhurst's concerns prompted him to sign on to a plan Wednesday to renew the Joint Committee on Oversight of Higher Education Governance, Excellence and Transparency, which originally formed in 2011 amid previous concerns about the intention of the UT System regents. The proclamation creating the committee had been signed by House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, during the previous week.
Similar concerns also led Senate Higher Education Chairman Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, to file a bill that would curb what he also referred to as "micromanagement" by regents. The bill would prevent regents who had not gone through the Senate confirmation process from being able to vote on budgetary and personnel matters, require more robust regent training and say that powers not designated to a university system or its board are under the purview of individual institutions.
The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, a group of higher ed boosters and observers who also banded together in 2011, responded to Thursday's announcement with a statement saying: "We feel strongly that regents who govern these vital state institutions must be conflict-free, qualified and have appropriate experience to govern, not micromanage – we look forward to the Senate Committee on Nominations hearings to learn how Governor Perry’s nominees compare to those qualifications. Given recent concerns about micromanagement, we trust the Committee will carefully question these nominees about the appropriate role and responsibility of governing boards.”
Here is a list of the appointments to university system boards that Perry has made so far this month:
The University of Texas System
- Jeff Hildebrand of Houston
- Ernest Aliseda of McAllen
- Paul Foster of El Paso
Texas Tech University System
- John Esparza of Austin
- L. Frederick "Rick" Francis of El Paso
- Tim Lancaster of Abilene
Texas State University System
- Charlie Amato of San Antonio
- Vernon Reaser III of Bellaire
- William "Bill" Scott of Nederland
Stephen F. Austin State University
- David Alders of Nacogdoches
- John R. "Bob" Garrett of Tyler
- Barry Nelson of Dallas