July 4 Coup: Rick Perry to Fire UT President

Unive Texas

In case you missed the news about “The July 4th Coup,” on Friday news outlets reported that the outgoing UT System Chancellor, Francisco Cigarroa, apparently gave UT Austin President William C. Powers Jr..  an ultimatum:

quit your job by July 4, or be fired by the Regents this week.

A petition is circulating to oppose the  threat to fire President  Powers.  The threat is apparently being  driven by partisans of Governor Rick Perry who are on the Board of Regents (appointed by Rick Perry).  If Perry succeeds, he will be able to appoint a new President before the Governor’s own term ends. Perry and Powers have clashed about governance of the UT flagship campus, especially about issues of evaluation of faculty by terms the Governors feels would be more like those of a business.

Francisco G. Cigarroa, the Chancellor of the University of Texas, acting under instructions from The Board has told the President  to resign or be fired. Ironically Chancellor Cigarroa, a Pediatrician for UT SanTEXA COUP Antonio, has also announced his decision to resign

The Board of Regents is scheduled to meet Wednesday to vote on Powers’ dismissal. Mr. Powers is currently the chairman of the Association of American Universities, the association representing the top American academic universities.  Faculty, students, employees, and alumni are rallying to support the president.

A  legislative panel pursuing impeachment proceedings against one of the Board members who is a fierce critic of the UT  has issued a warning to the regents not to fire President Powers.

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that  “Speculation has been swirling, however, about whether the attempted ouster may have been orchestrated or at least supported by the governor, a Republican who is leaving office at the end of the year.  An October 31 exit date for Mr. Powers would give Governor Perry, who appointed all of the university’s regents, time to influence the naming of a successor.  Mr. Powers has resisted some initiatives, supported by Mr. Perry, that were aimed at measuring faculty productivity and making universities more responsive to student “consumers…   Others suggest that it has more to do with an investigation into admissions practices at the University of Texas system following reports that some lawmakers, writing on behalf of constituents and relatives, improperly influenced the process.”

Andrea C. Gore, the Faculty Council’s chair-elect, said in a written statement.

“The Faculty Council executive committee has consistently given unanimous support to President Powers, who has served the university, often under adverse political pressure, with enormous distinction,” wrote Ms. Gore, who is also a professor of pharmacology and toxicology. “This coup is not only unmerited, unjustified, and unacceptable,” she wrote. “It sets an extremely dangerous precedent for higher-education institutions around the country.”

The Texas Exes, a prominent group of UT Austin alumni  headed by former US Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison,  sent an email that a forced resignation 0f President Powers “would be a travesty for UT. It would cause further tension with legislators regarding the UT system, would compound unrest among faculty, students, and alumni, and invoke serious harm to the institution’s reputation in the national spotlight.”

  • State Sen. Judith Zaffirini, a longtime chair of the Texas Senate’s Higher Education Committee  issued a statement on Sunday “Despite this stellar record of accomplishment­—or perhaps because of it—persons advancing an ideological, anti-higher-education agenda want nothing more than to see Powers fired,” she wrote.
  • Hunter R. Rawlings III, president of the Association of American Universities, sent the following to The Chronicle of Higher Education, emphasis added:

    “I thought the State of Texas had in the past two years reached the outer limit of political intrusion into academic institutions, 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. … Believe me, faculty members and researchers and graduate students across the country know what is transpiring in Texas: the complete politicization of higher education. This latest fiasco makes a bad situation much worse.”

  • Brian A Bremen As a 24 year member of the faculty, I have nothing but admiration for President Powers. He has been a strong leader who has greatly enhanced the reputation of our University during his tenure.
  • Alfred Stanley faculty The Chancellor and many of the Regents are an embarrassment to Texas. They’re the ones who should be resigning immediately.
  • Molly Postnikoff  faculty The legislature has already said that there is an investigation into regent and nothing should be done until that is complete. Clearly chancellor cigarroa has an ego problem along with trying to keep up with people who are not the most important factor: students and the families working hard to get a good state education at UT. Appears to me Cigarroa needs to go and his regent cronies



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