Student Leaders: ‘We Refuse To Be Complacent’ About UT

For the past two years, there has been an unfortunate ritual at the end of the spring semester at The University of Texas at Austin. While students are cramming for finals and packing up to leave town for the summer, their elected student leaders must plead with the UT System Board of Regents to avoid unnecessary and unwarranted decisions that would have damaging, long-lasting effects on our institution.

Recently, Texas Monthly reported that Chairman of the Board of Regents Gene Powell instructed Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to fire UT Austin President Bill Powers. While Chancellor Cigarroa has denied this, based on actions and comments over the past year and a half, it is apparent that some members of the Board of Regents would like to see President Powers removed from office.

Last year, students fought against a lack of transparency from the regents and the possible forced implementation of “breakthrough solutions” that would split the university’s teaching and research mission. Now students are responding again, but this time because the threat from our governing board is aimed squarely at our institution’s leadership.

When these latest rumors of Powers’ job security surfaced, students and alumni took to the Internet to show their support for the President and his vision. A Facebook group called “I STAND WITH BILL POWERS” has over 11,000 members, and the Twitter hashtag “#SaveBillPowers” was trending in Austin when news broke. Supporters organized a pledge card drive and created a website, www.standwithpowers.org, where supporters can sign a letter supporting Powers.

UT Austin has become a university of the first class and an example for both the state and the nation on excellence in higher education. Under Powers’ leadership, UT Austin has become a leading force in innovative teaching methods, a national model for core curriculum reform, and has attracted many scholars at the top of their fields.

Despite political repercussions, Bill Powers has fought for the university and continues to push back against unproven methods. He provides the steady and stable leadership that our university needs during a time of instability for higher education in Texas. Our university is headed in the right direction and toward a brighter future.

The threat against Powers is not because he publicly disagreed with the regents’ decision to freeze tuition rates—it is because he refuses to accept harmful reforms that would damage our institution and decrease the value of a UT Austin degree.

We came to UT Austin because we strive to be the best, and we refuse to be complacent. The threat against Powers is real. The threat against the university is real. Students, alumni, faculty, and community members have rallied around the president because we believe in his vision for the university, and we will continue to support him. We will always fight against changes that could damage and threaten the quality of our institution.

The UT Austin community has made it perfectly clear where they stand. We stand with President Powers.

Michael Morton, President, Senate of College Councils 

Thor Lund, President, Student Government 

Michael Redding, President, Graduate Student Assembly 

Photo courtesy Photobucket user Ed Marchedrick

 

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