Senate legislation changes Board of Regents’ powers

A Texas Senate panel recently passed a bill that would change the powers of university regents.

Senate Bill 177 authored by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, would clarify the duties of the Board of Regents and other administrations of public universities in Texas.

Mike Wintemute, Texas State University System associate vice chancellor of governmental relations, said he believes Seliger wrote this bill to improve university politics in Texas.

“What the author is trying to do is bring to Texas the best practices and university governance that have been recommended by two organizations that are seen as leaders in this issue area,” Wintemute said. “There are a number of provisions that deal with balanced governing structures, avoiding conflicts of interest and transparency and other issues relating to governing boards.”

As a Texas state agency, TSUS is not allowed to have any stance on the issue. Wintemute said the purpose of the Board of Regents is to advise the state legislature on the impact laws have on their universities.

“We are neutral on all legislative matters,” Winemute said. “As a state agency we are not allowed to take a position on bills. We work to inform and educate the legislature on potential impact of legislation and from time to time, we will provide testimony or written reports, written analysis of bills that will hopefully help inform the process.”

There would be no major change to the TSUS boards of regents as the new rules and regulations are already in practice, according to Wintemute.

“As I have read the bill, it would not substantially affect the way our board operates nor would it change the relationship between our governing board and the system office in the leadership of our institutions,” Wintemute said. “Many of the things this bill calls for are already common practice in our system.”

If this bill were to pass, all other public universities’ Board of Regents would operate in the same way.

According to Winemute, the bill was first heard in the Senate Higher Education Committee last weekend but was left undecided. It was heard again yesterday and was voted out of the committee.

Wintemute said this is the beginning processes for the bill and as time moves on the TSUS Board of Regents will be monitoring the bill to see how it will impact them.
The bill’s next step is to the Senate floor and, if it is approved, will then head to the House.


Leave a Reply