Kevin Eltife joined the UT System as an outspoken critic. Now he might reshape it
When former state senator Kevin Eltife was appointed last year to the University of Texas System Board of Regents, he arrived with an attitude shared by many of his old colleagues: skepticism.
Lawmakers had said they were fed up with spending in UT System offices, concentrating their ire on a $215 million land purchase in Houston and a ballooning administrative headcount. Like them, Eltife came in casting a critical eye on system growth and on the ambitious but expensive proposals championed by its leadership.
When the system decided to vie for a contract to manage the Los Alamos National Laboratory – an opportunity supporters said was lucrative and prestigious, but was said to cost over $4 million to bid for – Eltife echoed Longoria, another regent, when she said the project was “outside our mission." Even bidding, opponents suggested, would divert resources away from students – especially against the backdrop of declining state funding for higher education and mounting concern about rising tuition costs.
Eltife told the Tribune this month, weeks after the bid was submitted, that his “ultimate concern with pursuing” the contract was that “it was a system-down initiative.”
“Our flagship, UT-Austin, wasn’t really excited about pursuing it,” he said. “Do we want initiatives that are started at the system level and pushed down to institutions, or do we want our institutions to bring us the initiatives they want us to help them with?”
It’s an “area to look at” in the task force’s review, he said. “It’s really a philosophy of what direction you want to go.”
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