New Regent Nelda Blair Has Lofty Goals for UH

February 19, 2008

This is the second in a series of Q&A interviews with the four new UH System Regents. The other interviews featured Carrol Robertson Ray, Jacob Monty and Mica Mosbacher.

UHS REgent Nelda Luce BlairNelda Luce Blair was appointed to the University of Houston System Board of Regents by Gov. Rick Perry and will serve through August 31, 2013. She is the president and owner of the Blair Law Firm, PC. She serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of The Woodlands Township and The Woodlands Convention & Visitors Bureau as well as past chairman of the board and current board member of South Montgomery County/Woodlands Chamber of Commerce. She is President of the Conroe ISD Education Foundation, Inc. and a member of the Board of Directors for Associated Republicans of Texas and the Center for Houston’s Future. She serves on the Advisory Board for Entergy Texas and the George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University.

Blair served as chairman of the State Bar District 3B Grievance Committee, and is a past member of the Board of Trustees for the Center for the Performing Arts at The Woodlands. She also frequently appears as a legal commentator for CNN, CBS News, MSNBC, Court TV, and FOXNews.

She has been honored by the South Montgomery County/Woodlands Chamber of Commerce with the 2007 Chairman’s Award, was named a “Hometown Hero” of The Woodlands in 2005 and one of five “People of the Year 2004” by People Scene magazine.

Blair received a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and a law degree from the UH Law Center.

Q What’s working, what’s not in higher education in America today?

A America’s higher education system has some great attributes. We still consistently turn out more of the world’s top leaders and scholars than any other country. But, the world is developing faster than ever, and we have to work harder to keep our status at the top.

Q For the uninformed, how would you describe what it is a UH System Regent does?

A The Board of Regents is much like a corporate board of directors of a large company. The Board sets the corporate policy, hires the top person to be in charge of running the organization, and oversees the general conduct of the company from a “big picture” view. A Regent’s responsibility is to be a visionary for, a sponsor to, and an advocate of, the entire UH System.

Q Why did you choose Baylor for your undergraduate study? When you decided to go to law school, why did you choose the UH Law Center?

A As a committed Christian, I was drawn to Baylor for its spiritual component. Being from Conroe, I also liked the small town feel of the campus and student body. When I was accepted to law school a year early, I chose to attend UH Law Center (then called Bates College of Law) for its reputation of providing a great overall legal education, with a variety of classes and flexible schedules.

Q What’s your favorite place (or two) on campus?

A It has to be the fountains. Any and all of them.

Q Do you know the words to the UH “Fight Song”?

A I know lots of UH songs and cheers now!

Q Little known fact -- the regent you’ve replaced (Michael Cemo) played drums in a popular rock band in the 1960s. Is there anything that surprising in your background?

A I was the 1976 Tiger at Conroe High School. I mean THE Tiger. Ears, tail and furry striped skin for every football game!

Q You’ve appeared as a legal analyst on CNN, MSNBC, FoxNews and CBS commenting on high-profile cases that involve Martha Stewart, Michael Jackson, etc. How did that come about?

A Actually, the legal commentator gig is an offshoot of a FOX national television show I appeared on called “Power of Attorney”. In 2000-01, I litigated real cases in front of a Judge and a TV camera, taping several shows a day in Hollywood against celebrity attorneys. It was the most fun I have had in my 25-year law practice. Former Harris County Attorney Michael Fleming was the one who signed me up for the auditions, without my knowledge!

Q If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing about UH (or the UH System) tomorrow, what would it be?

A To make UH the top known and respected institution of higher education in the world.

Q What’s the biggest misperception the public has about UH?

A That it is NOT the top institution of higher learning in the world.

Q Your term lasts six years. What would you like to have accomplished by then?

A UH has incredible attributes in its people, tremendous opportunities for all students, remarkable accomplishments and programs, and deserves to be a seen as a top tier university worldwide. I would like to be a part of making that happen.