Lack of African American presence on UT Regents Board
Monday, January 23rd, 2017 @ 5:52PM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 24, 2017
AUSTIN – On Monday, January 23, 2017, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced three appointments to the University of Texas System – Board of Regents replacing the same number of regents whose six-year terms are set to expire next month. The Board of Regents as presently comprised, does not have an African American regent and will not when the new appointments assume their posts on February 1.
“I could not be more proud of my former Senate colleague, Kevin Eltife, being named to the UT Board of Regents and have no qualms with the other selections,” said Senator West. “But I feel that an opportunity was missed to add a perspective that one of Texas’ flagship institutions has been without for nearly four years. It is a void that cannot be addressed for at least another two years.”
Two hundred and forty-two regents have served on the UT System Board during its 100 year history. Three have been African American. Former Dallas State Representative and renowned pastor, Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. was the first African American appointed to serve in 1991. The two other African American regents were Judith Craven, whose term ran from March 2001 through November 2007 and Prentice L. Gary, who served as a regent from 2007 – 2013.
“As Texas continues into the 21st Century economy and demographic trends persist, diversity will become more and more critical as changing populations represent our society and the workforce of the future. There is room at the table for the viewpoints of the many faces and ethnicities that are part of a population that is urban, rural and suburban and reflective of all walks of life,” said Senator West. “How higher education will respond, guide and supplement the Texas workforce is critical and the University of Texas – Board of Regents should be at the helm of these societal advances. The African American perspective is a functional component of Texas’ future that is too important to proceed without. I would hope that the Governor will be more mindful of these considerations at the next and earliest opportunity.
“Although I’ve spoken with the Governor’s office on several occasions asking that he consider diversifying his appointments to UT’s Board of Regents the three Regents that he appointed on yesterday did not reflect my nor the African American community’s request.”
This week, Governor Abbott also announced appointments to the Board of Regents for the Texas A&M University System and the Texas Tech University System. These universities’ Boards of Regents terms expire during odd-years in which the Texas Legislature also convenes. The next sets of regents would be appointed in 2019. Regents’ appointments are confirmed by the Senate.