University of Houston Board of Regents Chairwoman Beth Morian adjourned the board meeting at 9:20 a.m. Thursday at the University Hilton. The meeting, which lasted an hour and ten minutes, was of unprecedented brevity.
With only four regents present at the meeting and regent Elyse Lanier on a conference line the board barely met standards of quorum, which state that at least five board members must be present at a meeting for business to be conducted.
Rushing through the meeting to keep Lanier on the phone before she had to catch a 9:30 a.m. flight out of Houston, the board approved 28 movements, including the phasing out of 26 degree programs, referred to as a "housekeeping and clean-up" measure by Provost Jack Ivancevich, as well as the approval of the UH System Operating Budget.
After the meeting, Professor of Technology Sharon O'Neil said that each college strives to keep its available programs consistent with the needs of the job market. "Times change, and programs must change," O'Neil said.
When Vice Chairperson of the Finance and Audit Committee Charles McMahen requested that Chancellor Bill Hobby present a summary of his committee's seven-hour meeting last month, Morian asked, "Can we approve it now and hear the information later? We're going to lose our quorum," referring to Lanier's imminent departure.
Regent Gary Rosenthal apologized for the pace of the meeting to the attendants, who may have thought the board wasn't giving the issues sufficient thought or attention, and explained that each committee had already met and had extensively reviewed and discussed each item.
Students' Association Speaker Jon Erickson said that the meeting "had a rushed theme to it, but at the same time, if you do your work in the committees, there's no reason it should be a long, drawn-out process."
Erickson added that SA uses a similar format of committee meetings and general meetings.
According to Erickson, each student is put in a specific committee because he or she is qualified for the position. He said that he is sure the same attention goes into the selection of board of regents committee members.
Most regents said they feel that the new system of holding individual committee meetings to present information before it goes to the larger Board of Regents meeting saves them a lot of time and gives them less headaches.
"If we did everything at the general Board of Regents meetings, it would take 36 hours," said Morian.
Morian said she doesn't feel that other regents are deprived from information that may be vital in making a decision because they don't attend a committee meeting. "There are a lot of other ways for regents to be informed and find out what was discussed at a meeting."
The smaller committee meetings are also open to the public. The committee meetings are held at the UH System office, where visitors must obtain a parking ticket that can be validated by secretary.