William Powers, Jr.

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William Charles Powers Jr. (born May 30, 1946) is the 28th president of The University of Texas at Austin, a position he has held since February 1, 2006.[1]

Powers was selected in November 2005 as the sole finalist for the position of president of the University of Texas at Austin.[2] In December 2005, he was officially named president of the University and succeeded Larry Faulkner when he left office in February 2006. Prior to his appointment, he served as Dean of The University of Texas School of Law since 2000, a position that was later filled by Constitutional Law scholar, Lawrence Sager. President Powers also serves as University Distinguished Teaching Professor and holds the Hines H. Baker and Thelma Kelley Baker Chair in Law at the School of Law.[3]

Education

Powers obtained his B.A. in chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley and his juris doctor from Harvard Law School. During his undergraduate years at Berkeley, he became a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity, and at Harvard he was managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.[citation needed]

Employment

Powers has also worked at Southern Methodist University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Washington.[citation needed] Powers is a former member of the Enron Corporation Board of Directors and chaired the Special Investigative Committee to investigate the causes of Enron's bankruptcy. He was also a member of the Board of Trustees of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary from 2004-2010.[4]

Powers has authored several notable law texts, including but not limited to:[citation needed]

In 2008, Powers was appointed to the rank of Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur in France’s orders of chivalry.[5] In 2012, he became Vice Chair of the Association of American Universities [6] and became Chair of the organization on October 22, 2013.[7] He is a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Austin.[citation needed]

Firing of Mack Brown

Sports Illustrated reported on December 24, 2013 that Powers forced Texas Longhorns Head Coach “Mack” Brown to resign.[8] Brown was formerly head football coach at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill during the period covered in part by a recent report on academic cheating by UNC athletes. “The scandal reached back to the final years of legendary men's basketball coach Dean Smith's tenure, as well as Mack Brown's time as football coach before leaving for Texas and John Swofford's stint as athletic director before becoming Atlantic Coast Conference commissioner.” [9] One media report has drawn attention to the similarities of the UNC cheating scandal report and the Kroll investigation into admission irregularities at UT Austin.[10]

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa asked President Bill Powers to resign or face termination at the July 10, 2014 University of Texas Board of Regents meeting. The Board meeting agenda indicated regents would discuss Powers in an executive session. Cigarroa attributed the request to a "breakdown of communication, collegiality, trust and a willingness to work together for the good of the university." Powers at first indicated he would not resign, saying it would "cast the university and our state in a highly unfavorable light." However, on July 9, 2014, Cigarroa released a statement that Powers nevertheless agreed to resign effective June 2015.[11] Some legislators on the transparency committee sent a letter requesting that the Board of Regents delay any personnel decisions regarding Powers or other witnesses from the impeachment hearings. In a July 2014 op-ed, the Wall Street Journal commented that Powers' resignation would bring more attention and scrutiny to the political favoritism scandals at the University of Texas. The editorial board wrote: "The voters seem to understand, even if some legislators don't, that college admissions are supposed to be based on merit, not political connections."[12]

A committee to advise The University of Texas System Board of Regents on the selection of UT Austin president was announced on September 15, 2014 by Regents’ Chairman Paul Foster.

The presidential search advisory committee will make recommendations on possible successors to Powers. The advisory committee will be asked to present candidates to the board, which will make the final decision.

“UT Austin is a gem among the world’s public research institutions and the value it brings to our great state as an educational institution, an economic driver and a haven for research and exploration is immeasurable. Finding a new leader who will continue the work of positioning UT Austin to be America’s top public research university is a priority for the Board of Regents,” Foster said. “The distinguished individuals who will serve on this advisory committee bring a broad perspective, varied experience and sound judgment to this important selection process. The board is grateful for their willingness to serve and looks forward to receiving their recommendations.”[13]

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Academic offices
Preceded by
Larry R. Faulkner
President of University of Texas at Austin
2006-
Succeeded by
Incumbent