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Battle For Texas: #SaveBillPowers Has Strong Record on Race & Gender

Yesterday I blogged “July 4 Coup”: Governor Perry and Lackey Cigarroa Trying to Fire Powers. The debate is much larger than UT-Austin. Inside Higher Education quoted Hunter Rawlings III, president of the AAU.

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.

This lengthy battle has been extremely corrosive, and clearly damages one of the nation’s great research universities. 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.

Today Black faculty have come out in support of President Powers. Here is an open letter to UT-System Chancellor Cigarroa that I just received from the chair of the black studies department.

Dear Chancellor Cigarroa,

As chair of the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin I write to offer strong support for President William Powers and to respectfully request that you support the continuation of his presidency of our university. By any measure President Powers has been an outstanding leader of the University of Texas over the last nine years. The list of his accomplishments is well known including the opening of the new Dell Medical School, the championing and enhancement of undergraduate education, the successful 3 billion dollar campaign, his national leadership position as president of the prestigious AAU, to name only a few.

What is less well known is that President Powers has played an unprecedented role in the diversification of the University of Texas so that it better represents the diverse people of the state. During his time as president of our University, as a direct result of his policies and actions, President Powers has presided over a substantial increase in the representation of every historically underrepresented ethnic group at both the student and faculty levels. Over the course of this period there has been a substantial increase in the percentage of the faculty who are women. President Powers has also provided exceptionally strong support for the Ethnic and Women and Genders Studies Centers and played a pioneering role in Texas in the creation of the first department of Black Studies in the state. Given Texas’ rapidly changing demographics and the imperative that all sectors of its population have access to an education of the first class so as to assure the state’s future economic and social wellbeing, these are signally important achievements.

President Powers has been a president for the entire University and for the entire state. In these times of divisiveness and increasing disparities in our state and country this is indeed a unique and invaluable characteristic. It is one of many which have made William Powers an exceptional leader of this fine university.  My colleagues and I implore you to support him in the continuation of his important work for and leadership of the intellectual community at the University of Texas at Austin.


Edmund T. Gordon

Chair, African and African Diaspora Studies

University of Texas at Austin

Austin, TX 78712


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More on Bill Powers Coup:

Sources: Whistleblower Forcing Out UT President

UT-Austin President Proposed Resignation in 2015

Texas Tribune

UT’s Bill Powers asks chancellor to let him exit gracefully in spring

Austin American-Statesman

Letter from president to chancellor:

Block the July 4 Coup

Inside Higher Ed

By Andrea C. Gore, Hillary Hart and William Beckner, UT Faculty Council

In ‘July 4 Coup’ at U. of Texas, Flagship’s Chief Is Asked to Resign

Chronicle of Higher Education

Inside Higher Ed/Times Higher Education:

Pressed to resign, UT’s Bill Powers backed by faculty, alumni, students

Austin American-Statesman

Dallas Morning News:

Houston Chronicle:

Time Warner Cable News:


Houston Chronicle:

The Horn:

@RalphHaurwitz: Kay Bailey Hutchison firing up Texas Exes to defend UT President Bill Powers

@Jamesrhenson:.@UTAustin Faculty Council mtg to discuss possible Powers firing scheduled for this Wed at 2 pm #highered #Txlege

@TexasCarillion: #IStandWithPowers and I’m the Tower, so… I mean, that’s kind if a big deal. :)

News of Powers ‘ultimatum’ shows disrespect to able president

Daily Texan

UT’s Powers, under pressure to resign, wants to stay on until June

Austin American-Statesman

Time Warner Cable News:



Huffington Post:

Transparency Committee to Remind UT System of Directive

Texas Tribune

UT President Bill Powers Facing The Most Serious Threat To His Job From Rick Perry Appointees Yet

Burnt Orange Report

University of Texas: That’s the odor of favoritism you smell

Source: UT President Powers’ Resignation Demanded

Austin Business Journal:

Texas Tribune:

The Alcalde:

Horns Digest:

SB Nation:

Sports Illustrated:

Associated Press:


Dallas Morning News:

Inside Higher Ed:

Houston Chronicle/San Antonio Express-News:

Chronicle of Higher Education:



About Dr. Julian Vasquez Heilig (486 Articles)
Julian Vasquez Heilig is an award-winning researcher and teacher. He is currently a Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies and the Director of the Doctorate in Educational Leadership at California State Sacramento.

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