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President of UT-Austin, Bill Powers, Asks for One More Year

William Powers

Bill Powers has received support from alumni, lawmakers and higher education groups as he asks for one more year as the UT-Austin president, according to The Dallas Morning News.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa requested that Powers voluntarily quit in October, but Powers emphasized in a letter to the chancellor that his work “is not finished.” Powers asked that he complete the 2014-15 academic year prior to stepping down as president of the school.

Powers has said that he wants to finish work on new business models and practices, curriculum reforms, the new Dell Medical School and higher education issues that are going to be tackled by the 2015 legislature. He wrote that such an abrupt resignation would be “enormously disruptive to many stakeholders and would cast the university and our state in a highly unfavorable light.”

Cigarroa and the UT System Board of Regents said in a statement on Monday that they have a ‘fractured’ relationship with the president of the school.

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“Unfortunately, the relationship has continued to be difficult throughout my tenure as chancellor, with significant additional breakdowns in communication and trust in recent months,” Cigarroa said.

On Thursday, Cigarroa and the regents will discuss Powers’ employment. Cigarroa asked that Powers turn in his resignation on Friday.

“I will listen carefully and with an open mind at our upcoming meeting,” UT Regent Alex Cranberg said in an email to The Dallas Morning News on Monday. “The long-term interests of the university and of those that the university serves will be my only agenda.”

The differences between the two sides stems from the regents claiming Powers has a lack of enthusiasm for multiple changes at the school created by the regents and Republican Governor Rick Perry. All nine of the regents have been appointed to the board by Perry.

Powers has served as school president since 2006.

The fight also involves an investigation as to whether students with political connections received favored status for admission to the school and its law school.

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said, “What’s the difference between Oct. 30 and May 30? Let Bill Powers leave when he wants to on May 30 with his head held high. He deserves it. And if the UT regents don’t permit him, they will make it near impossible to replace Powers with a world-class president.”

The Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education released a statement that said, “As evidenced by his offer of a graceful departure at the end of the legislative session and academic year, President Powers has consistently acted in the best interests of the university while others seem more interested in fostering dissent and destruction.”

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