Vernon N. Reaser III, a nominee to the Texas State University System Board of Regents, said Monday at a Senate Nominations Committee hearing that his job as president of the state's largest alternative teacher certification program would not conflict with his duties as a regent.
"When I take my oath and my pledge to the Texas State system, my job is to advocate for, in all possible ways, to make [the system] the best it can to continue working on what I think are really exciting things," Reaser said Monday.
The committee approved his nomination, which now goes to the full Senate, without any objections.
Reaser's profession has been a point of contention on the Texas State University campus in San Marcos. The student newspaper, The University Star, ran an editorial calling Reaser's position at Texas Teachers Alternative Certification "an inappropriate and serious conflict of interest for the College of Education at Texas State."
Texas Teachers Alternative Certification offers individuals with a bachelor's degree and at least a 2.5 grade-point average the opportunity to become certified as a teacher either through online or blended coursework. College seniors can enroll in their final semester. The program costs about $4,195.
Texas State University's College of Education helps students on the traditional route to teacher certification. The university also has as its own alternative certification offerings, though they are relatively small when compared with Reaser's company.
At Monday's hearing, state Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, invited Reaser to discuss the issue.
Watson said he had no problem approving Reaser, but told the nominee, "I don’t want you to have to start your service with people asking questions about your job vs. your service on the board."
Reaser said that there are significant differences between students who follow the traditional route to teacher certification and those who later pursue the kind of alternative certification that he offers. "There is absolutely no conflict whatsoever between the alternate route and the traditional route," he said. "They are just entirely different things."
He added: "Actually, there's no competition between them, but they work together to create a healthier, more exciting, teaching profession. That only helps everybody."
He also argued that his job provides him with insight that could prove beneficial at a university system. "I know something about those grads, because I get thousands of them and we're trying to train them to get jobs in Texas exclusively," he said. "That goes back to my appreciation and interest in how Texas State focuses on Texas graduates working in Texas. I love that. That's what I do."
Watson said he hoped the discussion would ease Reaser's transition onto the board. "As we're voting to approve folks, I just want to make sure we have the opportunity for explanation so that people won't begin sniping on the side," he said.