If the Powers Rumors Were to Prove True …
Rumors about the job security of UT Austin President Bill Powers started circulating last week. Powers publicly clashed with UT’s Board of Regents after it voted down a proposed tuition increase at the flagship institution.
Despite denials from those involved, the rumors continue. Here’s what it would take for UT to oust its president.
You can find the UT System organizational chart (PDF) pretty easily online. Figuring out how it works is another story.
Let’s give it a shot: UT President Bill Powers reports directly to Pedro Reyes, the interim executive vice chancellor for academic affairs. Reyes reports to the UT chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa. Cigarroa reports to the nine-member UT Board of Regents.
“It’s a bit convoluted,” said Reeve Hamilton, who writes about higher education for KUT’s political reporting partner, the Texas Tribune. “In order for Bill Powers to be fired that would have to go through Chancellor Cigarroa’s office. But if Cigarroa didn’t proceed as the majority of the regents wanted him to, then they can throw him out too, if they wanted.”
Speaking to the Texas Tribune on Wednesday, Cigarroa denied reports that the Board of Regents chairman, Eugene Powell, had directed him to fire Powers after the president wrote about his disappointment with the regents’ tuition vote on his blog.
“I don’t evaluate presidents based on the expression of a viewpoint,” he said. “I evaluate presidents based on qualitative and quantitative measures.”
Nearly all of the major student groups have evaluated Powers’ performance favorably and were quick to come out in support.
The irony in all of this is that the students would be most directly affected if Powers’ recommendation for a tuition increase went through.
Hamilton says it’s also strange that the same officials that support a tuition freeze at the UT System’s flagship university don’t seem to have a problem raising tuition at the system’s eight other schools.
“So it’s not like they want tuition frozen everywhere,” he said. “People seem to specifically want tuition frozen at specific campuses. And UT doesn’t even have the most expensive tuition in the state.”
That distinction goes to UT-Dallas.
According to the UT System, Powers is up for an annual performance review this summer.