AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 15: University of Texas at Austin President William Powers Jr. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
Update: For what it's worth, I just spoke to someone with knowledge of the situation and can say pretty confidently that there's no real consideration to push out Powers or Cigarroa. This is a budget battle, pure and simple, and both sides are using the media to help their cause. Politics as usual, I suppose. Back to sports. --PB--
Burnt Orange Nation has, for sound reasons, a pretty strict "no politics" rule. We've decided, however, to make an exception today, in order to express our viewpoint on some potentially troubling developments involving the University of Texas and its administrators.
Both the Houston Chronicle and the Dallas Morning News (subscription required) are reporting that Gov. Rick Perry may be maneuvering to oust UT President William Powers (as well as UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa) as retaliation for their resistance to higher education reforms backed by Perry and advocated for by some of his biggest donors.
The point of writing this is not to discuss the merits of the particular reform proposals. Those who contribute regularly to this website have some very strong and occasionally divergent views on the proposals, but what any one of us thinks of them is beside the point. No, this is bigger than that, and it is an issue on which we would hope all who are interested in the University of Texas be united, regardless of ideological orientation. The issue is that our university's president might be shoved out for expressing, in good faith, concerns with adopting the hugely impactful higher education reforms espoused by Perry and his big-dollar donors, one of whom might be motivated by exacting revenge against UT.
The media reports could merely represent public posturing by UT, and Powers' job might be safer than is suggested. However, the fact that both the Chronicle and Morning News are reporting this leads us to believe that there might be some fire behind this smoke. Powers is a very well-regarded president who by all accounts has served the University well. It would be a travesty of the first order if Perry sought Powers' ouster of his reluctance to turn the Forty Acres into the experimental playground of his big-donor buddies.
This is much more important than athletics, but given that this is a website devoted to such, given the conference realignment drama from last summer and the important role that Texas politicians play in such matters, is not hard to see how this kind of maneuvering could be used for purposes affecting athletics, as well. In short, as supporters of the University of Texas, we strongly oppose any pressure by Perry and his donors to push out representatives of the University who speak out in good faith against policies that they believe will harm the school and its capacity to serve the state as a premier institute of higher education. This cannot stand.
In what we hope will be the only bit of political activism we ever hope to encourage on BON, we encourage those of you who are in Texas to contact your state representative and state senator to let them know of your concerns about this potentially devastating meddling by Gov. Perry into the affairs of UT. We further encourage you to spread the word to fellow alums and friends of the University to make them aware of the potential danger facing the University.
Note: Although we are using our forum to express our viewpoint on this matter, we are closing comments to the post. While these issues are important and worthy of discussion, the comments of this website are not that place.