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UT President Bill Powers Facing The Most Serious Threat To His Job From Rick Perry Appointees Yet

by: Katherine Haenschen

Sun Jul 06, 2014 at 11:30 AM CDT

Rick Perry is running out of time to drive off UT President Bill Powers.

With UT System Chairman Francisco Cigarroa leaving in a few months and Perry's reign ending in January, he has dwindling opportunities to get rid of Powers, a distinguished academic and university leader who enjoys broad and deep support from the students, faculty, alumni, and members of both parties in the Legislature.

On the Fourth of July, it was leaked that Chairman Cigarroa told Powers he had until the end of the day -- the holiday celebrating our nation's birth -- to resign, or he would be fired by the UT Regents this week.

Now, Powers' job is facing the greatest threat of the past two years, in which he has survived repeated witch-hunts and battles with UT Regent Wallace Hall, Perry's lapdog on the Board of Regents.

Click here to sign a petition in support of Bill Powers.

If we show strong support for keeping him, it will be more politically difficult for the 9-member Regents to vote him out.

More below the jump about why the timing is so critical.

Powers was most recently locked in a struggle with UT Regent Wallace Hall. Hall, in addition to funding specious higher-ed "reformers" and joining Perry's effort to make our flagship state university into a low-quality degree-granting trade school, launched an unprecedented open records request to try and "prove" wrongdoing by Powers.

UT Regent Wallace Hall, hopefully soon-to-be-impeached

He failed, and now the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations has found grounds to impeach Wallace Hall. Hall had claimed back in 2013 that Powers "wouldn't be at UT" by the end of that year -- bold claims from someone who likely won't be here by the end of this one.

Meanwhile, Powers has support from within the Forty Acres. The Faculty Council Executive Committee released a statement in support of Powers on Friday, and the Texas Exes are sounding the alarm. Former US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, herself a dedicated UT double-graduate, was appointed President of the Exes last week, so she faces the first big showdown of her time at the organization. I can imagine why she might want to get another crack at Perry.

Click here to sign a petition in support of Bill Powers.

While Powers has not been perfect -- we strongly oppose the Shared Services plan he seems stuck implementing due to increasing lack of funds from the Legislature and the inability to raise tuition -- he is committed to higher education and the role of academic research. As the current head of the American Association of University Presidents, he enjoys tremendous esteem of his peers. It would send a disastrous message and have a chilling effect on higher education in Texas if Perry were to finally succeed in ousting Powers.

Don't let Rick Perry's Regents mess with the University of Texas.

Click here to sign a petition in support of Bill Powers.

If Perry can use Cigarroa to force out Powers now, it will be a deep, hard blow to the quality of public higher education in Texas -- and Perry will be able to play a key role in choosing his successor.

This is the biggest threat Powers has faced in his career, and for the good of the University and the state, it is critical that he prevail.

Update 1:57 p.m. An email to the Texas Exes alumni network has gone out from Hutchison opposing the firing and urging alumni to take action. Read it here.

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Texas deserves better than Powers or Hall (0.00 / 0)
When Hall is impeached, UT management will be embarrassed having their dirty shorts aired in public. Being head of the American Association of University Presidents is a dubious distinction! Aren't those presidents responsible for soaring tuition and costs while WalMartizing universities with part-time adjunct professors who don't qualify for health and retirement benefits? At the same time, incompetent coaches like Mack Brown are paid millions. Aren't those presidents in as much denial about sexual assaults on campus as Pentagon generals and admirals are in denial about sexual assault in the military? According to ArrestNation.com, UT had 9 athletes charged with various crimes from 2011 to 2013, which is only a portion of Power's tenure. Powers has presided over numerous NCAA violations by UT's semi-professional athletic teams. I have no doubt that Powers will claim he knew nothing about the admissions scandal in the UT law school where he came from. Powers' vision of UT is a combination of ivory tower that provides sanctuary to the faculty and students and of a sports playpen. Instead Texas deserves a fountain of knowledge that belongs to and serves all Texans.

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