Senate Nominations Committee votes in favor of UT regent appointees

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Former Sen. Kevin Eltife, businessman James Conrad Weaver and attorney Janiece Longoria are one step closer to being the newest members of the University of Texas System Board of Regents.

The Senate Nominations Committee voted to approve the nominations of the three UT Board of Regents appointees Thursday morning.  Their confirmations now are contingent on a full Senate vote.

No objections to the regents nominees were made, and the voting results showed six in favor, zero against and Sen. Borris Miles, D-Houston, abstaining. Sen. José Menéndez, D-San Antonio, was not in attendance.

All three regent appointees are UT graduates and have ties to the University. Eltife served as a Republican state senator from Tyler from 2004 to Jan. 9, 2017. Weaver is the CEO of the San Antonio-based McCombs Partners, an investment management company. Longoria is the former vice chairman of the Board of Regents and would turn over her role as president-elect of Texas Exes upon her regent approval.  

During last week’s nomination hearing on Jan. 26, the committee heard testimony from each of the appointees, all of whom stressed the importance of college affordability, access to higher education and increasing four-year graduation rates.

“Nothing is more important than higher education and making it accessible to all Texans,” Eltife said at last Thursday’s hearing.  

Several senators also addressed the need to increase communication between the legislature and the board, citing UT Chancellor William McRaven’s recent $200 million land purchase in Houston, which the legislature claims to have been left in the dark about.

If approved by the Senate, the new regents’ terms begin Feb. 1 and expire Feb. 1, 2023. Each of the three outgoing regents — Wallace Hall, Alex Cranberg and Brenda Pejovich — were appointed by former Gov. Rick Perry and began their term, which expires upon the approval of the incoming regents, in 2011.