An executive’s appointment to the Texas State University System Board of Regents has some faculty members concerned about a potential conflict of interest.
Gov. Rick Perry appointed Vernon Reaser III to the Board of Regents on Feb. 15, which is awaiting approval by the Texas Senate. Reaser, a Texas State alumnus, is president of Texas Teachers Alternative Certification. The business provides teaching certification training for a $4,195 fee. Its program includes a class with online and in-person training, along with an Internet-exclusive course. Gwynne Ash, associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction, said she is concerned Reaser will not advocate for college-education certification programs the way a regent should.
Alternative certification programs produced 56 percent of new teachers during the 2009-2010 academic year. College programs produced the remaining 44 percent, according to the Texas Education Agency.
“When someone has a vested financial interest in the failure of one of the colleges, it seems like a clear conflict,” Ash said.
Appointed regent board members “may not have a direct or indirect interest, including financial” in a company “that is in substantial conflict” of the entity they are representing, according to Chapter 572 of the Texas Government Code.
Brian McCall, the university system’s chancellor, declined to comment.
The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education consists of former regents, university system chancellors and institution presidents.
The coalition released a statement calling Perry to appoint “qualified, independent regents” who “are committed to maintaining excellence at our institutions and diligently avoid all conflicts of interest.”
“It is critical that the Senate Committee on Nominations carefully investigates each regent and their relevant relationships in order to ensure our university governing boards are experienced, equipped and conflict-free,” said Jenifer Sarver, spokeswoman for The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education.
Josh Havens, deputy press secretary for the governor’s office, said in an email “each and every applicant that is considered for appointment is thoroughly reviewed for any potential conflicts before the governor makes his decision.” He said the governor’s office sees “no concern with this appointment.”
Lisa Lloyd, associate dean of the College of Education, said it could directly affect the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, along with the office of educator preparation, if there is a conflict of interest concerning Reaser’s profession.
Jarod Love, a public policy consultant for Reaser, said the newly appointed regent will support the faculty and staff of his alma mater.
“Reaser will always conduct himself to the highest ethical standard,” Love said.
Reaser is a Bellaire native and the president of Texas Educators Association, Inc., a group that provides legal help and advocacy for its members. He has made five contributions totaling $92,500 to Perry’s gubernatorial campaign, Texans for Rick Perry, since 2009, according to campaign finance data from the Texas Tribune.
Reaser’s term will end Feb. 1, 2019 as university system regent.