Occasionally, when the University’s leader comes to speak to the faculty about decisions they dislike, Faculty Council meetings get tense.
But on Monday, as President Powers took the podium, the crowded Main Building room erupted into incessant applause and a standing ovation for UT-Austin’s leader.
At the meeting, the Faculty Council honored Powers’ continued commitment to UT-Austin with a resolution stating that the group stands firmly with him amid rumors that his job as UT president is in jeopardy.
Faculty Council chair Alan Friedman read the resolution, which called Powers’ suggested tuition hike “crucial,” aloud to a room filled to the brim with students, faculty, and staff who have elected to stand by UT’s president.
“I think the fact that there are so many of you here today,” Friedman said, “means that you recognize what is at stake—what’s going on this campus, in the UT System, and higher education in the state and in this country as a whole.”
The resolution passed almost unanimously, with the exception of one Faculty Council member who found fault in the resolution’s wording and declined to vote. He said: “It is unfortunate that our support of President Powers is being tied to the question of tuition increases.”
He was the lone dissenter. Many took to the mic to express their support, including College of Education dean Manuel Justiz, who announced that all of UT’s academic deans unanimously approved the resolution. Campus organizations that publicly endorsed the council’s actions include the Hispanic Faculty Staff Association and the Graduate Student Assembly.
When she had the floor, outgoing student body president Natalie Butler pointed out that opposing tuition increases and supporting Powers are not mutually exclusive, to which many students lining the walls of the room nodded in agreement. Another student called for an end to political games.
Looking out at the crowd, many of who were holding “I Stand With Bill Powers” postcards, Powers took a moment to show his appreciation.
“Let me just say thank you,” Powers said. “Those words seem inadequate, they really do. I cannot tell you how much this means to me, and to Kim, and my family.”