Less than 24 hours after rumors started swirling about his future at UT-Austin, President Bill Powers is speaking out.
Last night a blog post reported that UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa had been asked by the board of regents to fire Powers. Cigarroa today denied that the regents’ chairman had ever asked him to fire anyone.
In a late-afternoon statement, Powers expressed his love of UT, thanked the Longhorn family for its support, and called it “an honor” to serve as UT’s president.
He added: “I will continue to work with the entire UT community to move the university forward. At this moment, I am focused on the more than 7,000 students who will graduate next week and make immeasurable contributions to society—extending the university’s legacy of excellence and our positive impact on Texas.”
Meanwhile, the writer who started it all—senior political sage Paul Burka of Texas Monthly—stood by his story and by the integrity of his unnamed source. “My source is highly credible and, subsequent to the chancellor’s statement, continued to stand behind the information,” he wrote in an update to his original post.
Powers assumed leadership of UT-Austin in February 2006.
Students started a virtual rally around Powers via social media overnight, with the “I Stand With Bill Powers” Facebook page verging near 10,000 members at last count.
Today the Faculty Council called a special meeting for Monday to consider a resolution supporting Powers and his administrative team. Council chairman Alan Friedman said the tuition increase Powers had called for was “modest.”
“Yet he was pressured to withdraw the proposal, and when, unlike the president at Texas A&M, he refused because he thought it was crucial to the life of the institution to maintain educational quality to the extent he could, the proposal was nonetheless rejected,” Friedman wrote. “…The fact that the regents ultimately rejected the proposal diminishes neither the campus’s need for such financial support nor the efforts made to attain it.”
Photo by Spencer Selvidge.