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Court Denies Regent of U. of Texas Full Access to Admissions Records

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday ruled against Wallace L. Hall Jr., a University of Texas regent, in his attempt to force the system’s chancellor to turn over records containing admissions information.

Because the university system’s governance structure gives the chancellor, William H. McRaven, ultimate “discretionary legal determination,” he did not exceed his authority in denying Mr. Hall complete access to records, the court ruled in Mr. Hall’s lawsuit.

“In this suit we are simply tasked with assessing whether Chancellor McRaven exceeded his authority,” the court said. “On this record, we conclude that he did not.”

Mr. Hall filed his lawsuit, which was dismissed by a state judge in 2015, after an admissions investigation found that William C. Powers Jr., a former president of the University of Texas at Austin, occasionally intervened on behalf of applicants who had political connections. Sometimes Mr. Powers even overruled admissions-staff members.

Given his role as a university regent, Mr. Hall, an activist member of the board, had argued that he had a “legitimate educational interest” in the admissions records and could not be denied access under Ferpa, the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

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