Burnt Orange Nation typically steers clear of political conversation. This particular topic is relevant to the advancement of the University, so BON has made an exception. Go nuts, kids.
UT-system chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has asked UT-Austin president Bill Powers to resign by Thursday's Board of Regents meeting or be fired at it, according to multiple news outlets across the state.
Powers, who has refused to resign, offered a compromise that included a timetable for stepping down by the end of 2015. That would leave him on duty until next May, which would allow him to continue developing blueprints for the new medical school, finish the three-billion dollar "Campaign for Texas" project, and complete his term as the chairman of the Association of American Universities--a top tier organization that includes private schools Stanford, Harvard and Yale and public schools UCLA, Cal-Berkeley and North Carolina.
(Oklahoma is not a member. A&M accepted an invitation in 2001--tarnishing the Association's prestigious reputation.)
Hunter Rawlings, the president of the AAU, shared his thoughts with the Texas Tribune:
"I thought the State of Texas had in the past two years reached the outer limit of political intrusion into academic institutions," Rawlings said, "but apparently not: now a board appointed by a lame duck Governor, and, astonishingly, a lame duck Chancellor, are threatening to oust a highly accomplished and popular president of Texas’ flagship university, and a national leader in higher education."
Chancellor Cigarroa, who announced plans to step down later this year, has had a strained relationship with the school working as a mediator between the BoR and Powers.
The BoR has been on a crusade to oust Powers for almost three years. It's leader is Rick Perry-appointee Wallace Hall, whose efforts to pin Powers down in an admission scandal have resulted in potential illegal activity and are grounds for impeachment.
Perry has publicly praised Hall for his valiant efforts in 'uncovering the truth.'
If there is evidence that Powers was involved in a scandal, it still hasn't been leaked to the media. Admissions director Kedra Ishop stepped down at the end of June, just days before the investigation was launched, to accept a position at Michigan--which she described as a promotion.
Cigarroa doubled-down on his ultimatum to Powers Tuesday--citing "additional breakdowns in communication and trust." He released a statement which can be read here.
Most alumni find the witch-hunt against Powers to be incredibly embarrassing. Legislators have called it "amateurish" and "unprofessional."
Kay Bailey Hutchinson, the former U.S. Senator and newly appointed Texas Exes president, has asked the alumni to support Powers--saying that he is "a great leader; he deserves better than this."
If Powers is fired, a reasonable expectation is for certain members to step down or be removed. If the University is forced to clean the slate, it can't have tumors like Wallace Hall sticking to its side.