Martinez Tucker

Editor’s Note: This story is the first in a two-part series on the two new members of the UT System Board of Regents. The second profile will run Thursday.‚ÄčUT System Regent Sara Martinez Tucker will join the Board of Regents for the first time at a meeting Friday.

The Texas Senate unanimously confirmed Martinez Tucker, a UT alumna, in early March with little contention, and she was sworn into the office of the Board of regents shortly after.

Martinez Tucker is the president emeritus of the National Math + Science Initiative and served previously as CEO of the organization. Tom Luce, chairman of the National Math + Science Initiative board of directors, said Martinez Tucker worked tirelessly for education. 

“She did a wonderful job at the National Math + Science Initiative,” Luce said. “She really did a terrific job of helping to improve operations and efficiency on a nationwide program, and she has a real passion for education for all kids.”

Luce said Martinez Tucker’s wide variety of experience will benefit the Board of Regents.

“She’s got one of the most impressive résumés anybody could have, in that she’s had private sector achievements, nonprofit achievements and public sector achievements,” Luce said. “It’s difficult to find somebody who’s done all three in their career, and she’s done them,”  

In a June 2014 article from “Hispanic Executive”  magazine, Martinez Tucker spoke about her family’s dedication to education and how it influenced her. Growing up in a family of three children, Martinez Tucker said she understood the importance of education after her youngest brother graduated from college. 

“I recognized how lucky I was to have parents that valued education,” Martinez Tucker said in the article. “They sacrificed to send me to Catholic schools, which had better education, and supported my decision to leave Laredo. Too many people don’t have all those things lined up for them.”

Luce said growing up surrounded by a family that supported her education helped Martinez Tucker develop a passion for education.

“I think she’s grounded by her personal story, growing up in [Laredo], and her mother was very passionate about education,” Luce said. “She served on the University of Notre Dame advisory board — I mean, she’s just got a heart
for education.”

Former President Bush nominated Martinez Tucker to be the undersecretary of education from 2006–2008.

“As undersecretary, she [oversaw] all policies, programs and activities related to postsecondary education, vocational and adult education, and federal student aid,” a Department of  Education report said.

Luce said Martinez Tucker will make decisions on the Board to improve educational opportunities.

“She’ll be very thoughtful, and she’ll ask good questions, and she’ll take an analytical look at things but always from a position of heart for education and education for all people,” Luce said.

Luce said Martinez Tucker is excited to take her place on the Board of Regents and to give back to the school that gave her so many opportunities.

“I’ve heard her describe [becoming a regent] as ‘really a dream come true to serve on the Board,’ where she went to school and was educated, and she’s very excited about the opportunity,” Luce said.

According to UT System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo, Martinez Tucker was not available for comment, pending orientation for her role on the Board.

Editor’s Note: This story is the first in a two-part series on the two new members of the UT System Board of Regents. The second profile will run Thursday.

Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed Vice Chairman Steve Hicks. Abbott also appointed UT alumni Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck as new regents, pending Senate approval.

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

The Senate Committee on Nominations approved three candidates for appointment to the UT System Board of Regents on Thursday.

The appointees — David Beck, Steve Hicks and Sara Martinez Tucker — must now go before the Texas Senate for a vote in order to take their positions on the board. Martinez Tucker was approved unanimously, while the committee approved both Steve Hicks and David Beck by 6–1 votes. 

Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) voted against Hicks and Beck. In light of investigations into UT admissions and the UT School of Law’s forgivable loan program, Burton said Hicks, a current regent, and Beck, who was president of the UT Law School Foundation from 2002–2006, have contributed to a lack of transparency. 

“[Hicks and Beck] have presided over a period of secrecy, privilege and sharp rises in tuition at the University of Texas,” Burton said in a statement. “The University of Texas is in need of a fresh start, with Regents concerned first and foremost with improving the strength of the University, getting tuition under control, and ensuring an admissions process that rewards the brightest students and not those with connections.”

Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), who also sits on the nominations committee, had no objections to any of the candidates, according to Fraser spokesman Will McAdams.

 “Senator Fraser listened to the testimony from all three candidates and read the recommendations from the Governor’s Office,” McAdams said. “[He] believed the Governor’s Office had done their due diligence, and that’s why he voted for the nominees.” 

Martinez Tucker is the CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative, a foundation that seeks to improve student performance in science, technology, engineering and math. Beck is a partner at the Beck Redden law firm in Houston. 

If approved by the Senate, Martinez Tucker and Beck will replace current regents Robert L. Stillwell and Vice Chairman William Eugene Powell on the board. Hicks’ term will be extended until 2021. 

Senate committee approves new UT System Board of Regents appointees

Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed Vice Chairman Steve Hicks. Abbott also appointed UT alumni Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck as new regents, pending Senate approval.
Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed Vice Chairman Steve Hicks. Abbott also appointed UT alumni Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck as new regents, pending Senate approval.

The Senate Committe on Nominations approved three appointees to the UT System Board of Regents Thursday.

The appointees – Sara Martinez Tucker, Steve Hicks and David Beck – must now go before the Texas Senate for a vote in order to take their positions on the board. 

Martinez Tucker was approved unanimously, while the committee approved Steve Hicks and David Beck by two 6-1 votes. Sen. Konni Burton (R-Colleyville) voted against Hicks and Beck.

Burton said Hicks and Beck have contributed to a lack transparency within the Board of Regents.

"[Hicks and Beck] have presided over a period of secrecy, privilege, and sharp rises in tuition at the University of Texas," Burton said in a statement. "The University of Texas is in need of a fresh start, with Regents concerned first and foremost with improving the strength of the University, getting tuition under control, and ensuring an admissions process that rewards the brightest students and not those with connections.”

Martinez Tucker, CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative, served as undersecretary of the Department of Education during the Bush administration and as CEO of the California-based Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Beck is a senior partner at the Beck Redden law firm in Houston. Both are UT alumni — Beck graduated from the UT School of Law, and Martinez Tucker received an undergraduate degree in journalism as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University. 

If approved by the Senate, Martinez Tucker and Beck will replace current regents Robert L. Stillwell and Vice Chairman William Eugene Powell on the baord. Hicks’ term will be extended until 2021.

Vice Chairman R. Steven Hicks at a Board of Regents meeting in November 2013.

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

On his second full day in office Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed two new members to the UT System Board of Regents and reappointed Vice Chairman Steve Hicks for another term.

Abbott’s two new appointees, Sara Martinez Tucker and David Beck, will replace current regents Robert L. Stillwell and Vice Chairman William Eugene Powell if approved by the Texas Senate. Stillwell’s and Powell’s terms are set to expire in February, while Hicks’ will be extended until 2021.

“I am appreciative and happy to help Governor Abbott as he seeks to improve higher education in Texas,” Hicks said in an email to the Texan. “I’m especially excited about UT Austin and assisting their aspirations to be the best public university in the world.”

Sara Martinez Tucker, CEO of the National Math + Science Initiative, served as undersecretary of the Department of Education during the Bush administration and as CEO of the California-based Hispanic Scholarship Fund. Beck is a senior partner at the Beck Redden law firm in Houston. They are both UT alumni — Beck graduated from the UT School of Law, and Martinez Tucker received an undergraduate degree in journalism as well as a Master of Business Administration from the University. Martinez Tucker said she and Beck were instructed not to comment on their appointments.

Seemingly across the board, key players in Texas’ higher education community lined up to praise Abbott’s appointments.

UT System Chancellor William McRaven, who took over from former Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa earlier this month, said he felt strongly supportive of Beck and Martinez Tucker and was excited Hicks was up for reappointment.

“I could not be more pleased with Gov. Abbott’s announcement,” McRaven said. “If confirmed by the Texas Senate, I am confident that these three individuals will serve the University of Texas System with fervor and dedication and contribute their immense talents to making all our institutions even better.”

Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), a member of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, said she also felt enthusiastic about Abbott’s selection.

“These three strong, intelligent, dynamic Texas Exes love UT and undoubtedly will be leaders in the quest for excellence at all UT institutions, especially our flagship,” Zaffirini said in an email to the Texan. “Each brings expertise and experience that will be valuable assets in interacting with the legislature and in understanding that students are our top priority.”

Zaffirini said she is confident all three appointees will be confirmed by the Senate.

“Today is a fine day for Texas and, especially, for the Longhorn Nation,” Zaffirini said. 

Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin), vice chair of the Senate Committee on Higher Education, said he would be pleased to see Hicks return to the Board of Regents. 

“Vice Chairman Steve Hicks has been an excellent leader on the board, and I look forward to continuing our close working relationship,” Watson said.

Watson said he thinks Beck and Martinez Tucker are well-qualified candidates.

“The two new additions … will also be great assets,” Watson said. “I’m impressed by Sara’s background and educational expertise. I’ve known David for 25 years and he’s smart, and thoughtful, and loves UT.”