University’s $10M deal with prof ranking website raises eyebrows

MyEdu was launched in 2009.

The president of the University of Texas System’s flagship campus in Austin says he didn’t seek a $10 million dollar deal that was reached between UT System regents and a politically connected online company.

Regents voted in August to invest $10 million for a 22.5-percent stake in Austin-based MyEdu Corp., which runs a website where students can rate their courses and professors online. The company has close ties to the system’s former chancellor, his son, and associates of Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

“That was a decision of the board. That was not a decision of the campus. We didn’t choose to bring this to the campus; it was brought to us,” UT-Austin President William Powers Jr. told the UT Faculty Council on Oct. 31. “Would I have had different priorities for that $10 million? Yes.”

Powers did not specify what those priorities would be, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Senior UT System staff members and the regents did not publicly disclose—and apparently some did not know—that former Chancellor William Cunningham is a MyEdu investor and that his son, John, is a co-founder of the company and a senior vice president.

The company’s chairman and CEO is Michael Crosno, who served on Gov. Perry’s re-election finance committee last year.

Regents Chairman Gene Powell and system Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said they were unaware of Cunningham’s involvement in the company, but that they were not obligated to disclose it.

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