Witch hunt or a new effort for transparency? That question was raised Wednesday after the UT Board of Regents authorized an investigation into something they've already spent half a million dollars looking into. The job of UT President Bill Powers appears to be at the center of it all.
Looking like a student called to the principal's office UT President Bill Powers sat and waited to be called into a closed door executive session of the board of regents.
Except for an occasional greeting it was an uncomfortable morning as the regents discussed another review into the supplemental pay program at the UT law school.
Two years ago the dean was forced out after faculty complaints revealed he was given a $500,000 forgivable loan. The money came from a foundation created to increase staff pay and to provide special loans.
Wednesday, board members on a 4 to 3 vote ordered a new outside investigation into the case. The deciding vote made by Vice Chair Paul Foster.
"In my opinion this effort is not a criticism or an indictment of any individual of institution, but it's a look into the propriety and the governance of the Foundation and its relationship with the University," said Foster.
It will also be the second formal inquiry authorized by the regents into the program which is funded through private donations.
Regent Steve Hicks reminded the group of their half million dollar investigation. It was released this past November and along with a review by the Attorney General found no criminal wrong doing.
"There have been times the last two years where that not only I've not been proud, I've been somewhat ashamed of being a UT Regent and that's a real travesty in my mind," Hicks said.
Hicks also noted how some state lawmakers have recently voiced concern that President Powers is the target of a witch hunt.
"I just don't trust the attention of where this process is going, it would be simpler to me instead of spending the money if that's the real goal and put it on the table and deal with it, vote for it or don't vote for it," Hicks said.
The push for the new investigation was led by Regents Brenda Pejovich and Wallace Hall. Both were critical of how the administration has released documents to them but claim they are only working to improve transparency on campus.
"And um to suggest otherwise or to insinuate that there is something else is going on is misplaced," Hall said.
Powers declined to comment about his job status but did address the question of transparency.
"Any impression of the facts, that we were not forth coming with, is simply not true," Powers said.
Before the new investigation can begin the board will have to meet again to select the independent investigator. They must also set a price for how much they will pay for the review.