UT regents force Powers to step down

University of Texas at Austin Present Bill Powers has agreed to step down next year, ending a years-long struggle between him and the UT-system’s governor-appointed Board of Regents.

Powers offered to resign next June 2 after UT system’s Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa threatened to force him out during a July 4 meeting of the Board of Regents.

The dispute stems from over ongoing struggles about the direction of UT-Austin in particular and public universities in Texas in general.

Since his hiring in 2006, Powers has strongly resisted moves by Texas Governor Rick Perry and the Board of Regents to tie faculty salaries to teaching evaluations, the number of students they teach and research funding.

Many of those proposals were pushed by Perry donor Jeff Sanderfer or his allies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a highly influential state conservative think tank.

Through these disputes, Powers has maintained the strong support of faculty and students at the Austin campus.

Some observers have noted the similarity to Powers’ situation to that of Theresa Sullivan, president of the University of Virginia, who was voted out by her Board of Regents in 2013 before faculty and student outrage forced her reinstatement within a week.

Cigarroa’s statement upon accepting Powers’ resignation can be found here. He has said the regents will pick a new president based on the recommendation of a committee formed of regents, faculty members and students.

The Austin American-Statesman has a timeline highlighting some of the struggles around Powers tenure here.

For more analysis about the differences in struggles between Powers and the Board of Regents see the Houston Chronicle’s take here.

Powers will continue on as a professor at UT-Austin’s school of law.

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