Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) vetoed a bill Friday that would've limited his power over the University of Texas system by requiring all appointments to its board of regents to be confirmed by the state Senate.
In addition to requiring more Senate oversight, the Daily Texan reports that the bipartisan bill would've limited what the regents can do, such as preventing them from firing a university president without the system chancellor's approval.
"Limiting oversight authority of a board of regents ... is a step in the wrong direction," Perry said in a statement. "History has taught us that the lack of board oversight in both the corporate and university settings diminishes accountability and provides fertile ground for organizational malfeasance."
As the Dallas Morning News reports, the bill came in response to concerns among legislators, UT students and alumni that Perry's appointments to the board were part of an effort to oust UT president Bill Powers. Powers clashed with regents in May 2012 when they blocked a modest tuition hike, but lawmakers have since been on guard against attempts to micromanage the UT system, amid a broader debate about the future of public higher education in the state.
Speculation about Perry's influence with the UT governing board was further fueled by an email the governor apparently sent to regents Alex Cranberg, Wallace Hall, Brenda Pejovich and Paul Foster, the Texas Tribune reports. The email -- sent by "RP" and confirmed by Pejovich to be the governor -- said, "I know you all get tired of being hammered by charlatans and peacocks, but the fight is being won."
Pejovich declined in a hearing to explain who the peacocks are or who they are fighting.
Perry did approve budget amendments to limit the regents' spending and to restrict their control of a dedicated fund for the UT and Texas A&M flagship campuses, the Daily Texan reports.
Perry also signed a separate bill to create a new UT institution in the Rio Grande Valley by merging UT-Pan Am in Edinburg, UT-Brownsville and the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio's regional campus, the San Antonio Express-News reported.