robert j. Cruikshank

Daily Texan, February 01, 1995

The terms of three UT System regents who have devoted part of their work to the advancement of minorities ends Wednesday. "There has been a heavy emphasis placed on recognizing the need for diversification," said outgoing regent Robert Cruikshank. Cruikshank, Dr. Mario Ramirez and former U. S. Rep. Tom Loeffler will end their six-year terms on the board, where they shared jurisdiction over the system's $4 billion budget with six other regents.

Gov. George W. Bush has not yet appointed replacements for the outgoing regents, but one UT administrator speculated that Loeffler, who worked closely with Bush during his campaign, will be reappointed. The governor's office has been overloaded with new appointments and has not had time to name new regents, said Bush spokesman Ray Sullivan. The outgoing regents will remain on the board until appointments can be made, he added. All three were appointed by former Gov. Bill Clements, a Republican. During the six years Cruikshank spent on the Business Affairs and Audit Committee, the board saw an increase of millions of dollars in purchases from historically underutilized businesses, said Lewis Wright, associate vice chancellor for business affairs. The Historically Underutilized Businesses program is a legislatively required plan to increase the number of state contracts awarded to companies owned by women or minorities. HUB purchases increased by 51 percent from fiscal year 1993 to 1994, to a total of $90.3 million.

Cruikshank said of his time on the board, "It's one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had come my way in my adult years." Ramirez, chairman of the Health Affairs Committee, has been active in minority recruiting and retention, and has met with minority students and faculty groups throughout the system, said Art Dilly, executive secretary of the board. Ramirez said his years on the board have been wonderful and very productive. The board has seen a big effort to place more doctors in rural areas, he said. Ramirez practices family medicine in Rio Grande City. The Health Affairs Committee dispenses about half of the $4 billion budget that the board has jurisdiction over to the six medical schools in the UT System, Dilly said. The regents have restructured many of the system's medical institutions in order to be competitive in the market-driven health business, Cruikshank said.

Cruikshank served four years as chairman of the Asset Management Committee, which is responsible for the system's investments, during the time the committee restructured the investments, he said. Cruikshank, a retired public accountant and Houston resident, said he found the job as chairman challenging. Loeffler, a Republican, has been "the system's eyes and ears and sounding board and door-opener for us in our nation's capital," Dilly said. The former congressman and graduate of the University currently works as a lobbyist at the federal level, Dilly added. Loeffler was in Washington, D.C., Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. He was one of the youngest members of the board and served as chairman of the Business Affairs and Audit Committee. "I don't think any university has been served more capably than by these people," said board Chairman Bernard Rapoport. "Everybody forgets everything about politics. Everyone thinks about what is best for those 150,000 kids at the universities."

The nine regents are appointed by the governor for six-year terms. Terms are staggered, so that every two years, three of the regents can be replaced. The new regents will spend a year or two learning the complexities of the UT System, Dilly said. The board's unspoken policy is that no new members serve as chairs of the board or of committees, he added. Cruikshank said he has seen amazing dedication on the part of the regents. "Being a regent will take as much time as anyone wants to devote to it," Dilly said.