AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Texas Exes, the official alumni group of the University of Texas at Austin, now confirms reports we began hearing Friday that President Bill Powers has been asked to resign or be fired at the Regents meeting this week.
The email to Texas Exes members says that firing Powers or forcing his resignation would be a “travesty” for the university. It was signed by Board President Kay Bailey Hutchison and Chairman of the Board Charles Matthews.
Our media partners at The Texas Tribune report that Powers sent UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa a letter declining the request that he step down and proposing a delay of at least seven months.
“I understand that this response is different from your request I resign this year,” Powers wrote in the letter obtained by the Tribune. “I do think my proposal to resign at the end of the legislative session is a constructive one and in the best long-term interest of UT-Austin.”
Students started a petition Friday in support of Powers.
The Texas Exes letter reads:
Dear Texas Ex,
We apologize for interrupting your Fourth of July weekend, but we have urgent news of the university to share with you.
Multiple news outlets are reporting that UT-Austin President Bill Powers has been given an ultimatum to resign or be fired at this week’s meeting of the Board of Regents. We can confirm for you that this news is accurate, and that President Powers has declined to resign, instead asking to work together on a timeline for change.
A forced resignation or firing would be a travesty for UT. It would cause further tension with legislators regarding UT System, would compound unrest among faculty, students, and alumni, and invoke serious harm to the institution’s reputation in the national spotlight. President Powers has advanced the university through many tremendous accomplishments, and has been a great leader; he deserves better than this. This is about our university; it is a treasure that alumni need to protect and we need to stand up and fight for its stature. The University of Texas at Austin deserves better than this.
This latest news came from an unfortunate leak to the media which has caused a premature impression of an ongoing and unresolved personnel decision, and has inflamed the controversy. If the individual who leaked the details of the conversation between the chancellor and the president of UT-Austin to the media is in a fiduciary role over the university, this person has breached that duty and has not acted honorably nor in the best interests of the university. Despite this, the chancellor and the president should be able to work together on a mutual decision that provides leadership and a succession plan for the university. That is the way this kind of change is responsibly made.
Thank you for your loyalty to our great alma mater.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, President of the Board
Charles Matthews, Chairman of the Board