UT Regents Chairman Walks Back Comments That Black Perspective on Board Not ‘critical'

AUSTIN - Paul Foster, chairman of the University of Texas System Board of Regents, said this week he doesn't think it's necessary to have an African American's perspective on the board, remarks he quickly walked back when asked by the media.Speaking to the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday, Foster said it is "valuable" but not "critical" to have a black regent on the board that oversees the university system. He made the remarks after Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, said he was concerned the board doesn't have an African-American member."Do you think that perspective is necessary, in this day and age, to make certain that the decisions that you are entrusted to make are made with the best information available in order to render a decision based on what the facts are?" West, who is black, asked Foster."I think that perspective is valuable, yes," Foster answered. "Do you think it's necessary, though?" West replied, to which Foster said, "I don't think it's critical — I mean — but it's very, very helpful."Asked for the chancellor's perspective, UT system staff instead sent the following statement clarifying Foster's remarks on Friday."I want to clarify my comments yesterday to Sen. Royce West regarding the importance of diversity on The University of Texas System Board of Regents. My initial response didn't clearly articulate my beliefs in the importance of diverse representation."I unequivocally believe that a board that represents the people of Texas — a truly diverse body that brings multiple perspectives to every issue — is absolutely critical to the success of the UT System. While we, as regents, do not have the power to choose our own members and would greatly benefit from increased racial, ethnic and gender diversity on the board, we do ensure that our faculty and staff councils, advisory committees and working groups include diverse voices from varied backgrounds and we listen carefully to all of those perspectives."We have also supported and applauded a new policy implemented by Chancellor [Bill] McRaven to increase diversity among our executive leaders at both the campus and system level — an issue we feel very strongly about. I can say with utmost confidence that all of members of the UT System Board of Regents carry out their duties with the best interests of our students, faculty and all Texans foremost in their minds."McRaven is traveling but "concurs and is in full support" of Foster's statement, the UT system said.  Continue reading...

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