After being denied access to interviews relating to the external investigation of UT’s admissions process, state Rep. Lyle Larson, R-San Antonio, said he is concerned the investigation may focus on President William Powers Jr.

At a special meeting last week, the UT System Board of Regents denied a request from Larson and state Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, to attend or monitor all interviews conducted by Kroll Associates, Inc., the risk mitigation response firm leading the investigation that will look at outside influence over the admissions process. Martinez Fischer and Larson, both members of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, were assigned to monitor the System by the committee’s co-chairs in August, after the committee’s censure of Regent Wallace Hall. 

Larson, who also expressed his concerns to the board in a Sept. 18 letter, said he wanted to sit in on the interviews conducted by Kroll to ensure that System officials and regents were also being investigated. 

“I wanted to make sure that we had a holistic investigation, and it wasn’t targeted specifically at President Powers,” Larson said. “It’s unfortunate that President Powers has been subjected to the pettiness of the regents. I hope that when the new chancellor comes in, we can put this behind us.”

Larson said he has heard of regents asking System staff members to go to the UT admissions office and request that certain students be considered for admission into the University.

“They typically ask a staff member to go over and request a consideration that the student be admitted to UT-Austin,” Larson said. “I’ve been told by System staff that’s how they handle it.”

Records first obtained by The Texas Tribune show Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa — who commissioned the Kroll Associates investigation in June — has forwarded letters of recommendation, including those from state legislators, to Powers since he became chancellor in 2009. Cigarroa said at a board meeting in May that letters not sent through the prescribed process should no longer be considered in admissions decisions, and the regents formally approved the change in July.

The System began conducting its own inquiry into legislative influence over the University’s admissions in July 2013, after Hall brought up issues with two emails he uncovered from one of his requests for University records. In May, the System announced the inquiry found no evidence of a structured system of favoritism or wrongdoing, but it did determine letters of recommendation sent by legislators to Powers or a dean likely influenced the admissions process.

Martinez Fischer said the board’s denial of the request makes it clear there is a level of disconnect between the UT System and the role of the legislative branch.

“I think time will certainly tell whether the UT System is following the laws that every other Texas agency is required to follow,” Martinez Fischer said. 


In this Friday April 29, 2011 file photo Britain’s Prince William and his bride Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, leave Westminster Abbey, London, following their wedding. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are very pleased to announce that the Duchess of Cambridge is expecting a baby, St James’s Palace officially announced Monday Dec. 3, 2012.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

LONDON — Britain doesn’t have to wait any longer: Prince William’s wife, Kate, is pregnant.

St. James’s Palace made the announcement Monday, saying that the Duchess of Cambridge — formerly Kate Middleton — has a severe form of morning sickness and is currently in a London hospital. William was at his wife’s side.

The news drew congratulations from around the world, with the hashtag “royalbaby” trending globally on Twitter.

The couple’s first child will be third in line to the throne — behind William and his father, Prince Charles — leapfrogging the gregarious Prince Harry and possibly setting up the first scenario in which a female heir could benefit from new gender rules about succession.

The palace would not say how far along the 30-year-old duchess is, only that she has not yet reached the 12-week mark.

Palace officials said the duchess was hospitalized with hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe form of morning sickness that affects about 1 in 200 women and can lead to dehydration or worse if left untreated. They said she was expected to remain hospitalized for several days and would require a period of rest afterward.

Until Monday’s announcement, the duchess had shown no signs of being with child. She was photographed just last week bounding across a field clad in black high-heeled boots as she played field hockey with students at her former school.

Still, speculation has swirled about when she and William would start a family from almost the moment they were wed on April 29, 2011, in a lavish ceremony at Westminster Abbey.

The attractive young couple is immensely popular — with William’s easy common touch reminding many of his mother, the late Princess
Diana — and their child is expected to play an important role in British national life for decades to come.

The confirmation of Kate’s pregnancy caps a jam-packed year of highs and lows for the young royals.

They have traveled the world extensively as part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and weathered the embarrassment of a nude photos scandal, after a tabloid published topless images of the duchess.

Joe Little, managing editor of Majesty magazine, said the news ended a year that saw the royal family riding high in popular esteem after celebrations of Queen Elizabeth II’s 60 years on the throne.

“People enjoyed the royal romance last year and now there’s this. It’s just a good news story amid all the doom and gloom,” he said.

The pregnancy comes after a 2011 decision by the leaders of Britain and the 15 Commonwealth nations endorsing new rules that give girls equal status with boys in the order of succession. Those changes make Kate’s pregnancy all the more significant for the royal family, said Ingrid Seward, editor-in-chief of Majesty magazine.

“This is the first child who will be an heir to the throne, whatever sex they are,” she said. “It’s a new beginning.”