(Austin, TX) // Today, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) sent the below letter (also attached) to University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa regarding recent news reports that University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers was asked to resign last week.
July 7, 2014
Dr. Francisco Cigarroa
The University of Texas System
601 Colorado Street
Austin, Texas 78701
Dear Chancellor Cigarroa:
Recent news reports indicate that you have asked University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers to resign, and if he does not do so, he will be fired at the July 10 Board of Regents meeting.
I hope these reports are not true, as President Powers has been a strong leader during his tenure. In the past eight years, UT Austin has experienced a 25 percent increase in the number of top five programs, and the University now has 59 top-ten programs and 111 top-25 programs. UT’s Dell Medical School is under construction on campus, a boon to the central Texas area. UT Austin is nearing the completion of its $3 billion capital campaign, an accomplishment that is made even more significant by the fact that much of it occurred during the country’s recent economic downturn. In 2013 alone, President Powers helped to bring in a record $453 million in gifts and pledges, a 23 percent increase over the previous record. Plus, President Powers currently serves as the chairman of the American Association of Universities, the premier organization of public and private national research universities.
Forcing President Powers out of office immediately prior to your departure does a disservice to both Bill’s record in office and your legacy as Chancellor. Further, the University itself deserves better than this. I am concerned that a forced resignation will further inflame an already stressed relationship between legislators and the Board of Regents. This strain has tarnished the University enough; it shouldn’t also end the career of a popular and successful public servant.
As an alumnus and as a state senator with thousands of current and former students living and working in my senatorial district, I strongly urge you to reconsider.