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UT Officials Barred From Deleting Emails – Lawmaker Calls it a 'Witch Hunt' (Update)

Todd Wiseman, Texas Tribune

Update: A leading state lawmaker blasted the University of Texas System Regents yesterday over the group's treatment of University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers.

State House Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) spoke Tuesday during the first meeting of a special panel on higher education governance.

“I think there’s witch hunt after witch hunt after witch hunt to try to remove one of our best presidents in the state of Texas of our universities. And I hope that we’ll be able to end these witch hunts," Pitts said.

The UT System Board of Regents has been investigating the relationship between the UT School of Law and the UT Law School Foundation. Regents meet today at 9 a.m. with that issue on their agenda.

Original Story (March 19, 10:20 a.m.): University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers and other campus officials have been told to avoid deleting emails on their computers and other electronic devices.

According to the Austin American-Statesman, the order came from Regent Brenda Pejovich, chair of the UT System Board of Regents’ audit committee. Pejovich is currently in charge of the investigation regarding the relationship between the UT School of Law and the UT Law School Foundation

The uproar surrounding a $500,000 “forgivable loan” the foundation made in 2009 to law dean Lawrence Sager resulted in Sager’s ouster.

The directive asks Powers and other campus officials to “make sure no emails of any type” are deleted by his office, legal affairs, provost or business offices. “This directive is unusual,” UT-Austin spokesperson Gary Susswein told the Statesman.

The directive follows Texas House and Senate leaders’ show of support for Powers, and move to create a special committee to investigate the regents’ scope of powers.

The Board of Regents has a meeting scheduled for Wednesday.

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