The Big Conversation:
An unconfirmed report has set off a round of intense speculation about the fate of University of Texas President Bill Powers.
Texas Monthly's Paul Burka, citing an unnamed source, reported Wednesday evening that Powers, who has presided over the state's largest and most prestigious public university since 2006, could be at risk of losing his job because of his opposition to a tuition freeze backed by Gov. Rick Perry and the UT System Board of Regents.
“I’m disappointed that our proposal was not adopted,” Powers said last week after the regents approved the freeze, which board chairman Gene Powell said at the time would reduce the financial burden on students and families.
“It was very carefully worked out," Powers added. "It was worked out in consultation with students. It takes into account a very strong concern with costs of higher education for students and their families.”
As Burka reports, citing "a source with knowledge of the proceedings," Powell recommended to Francisco Cigarroa, the chancellor of the UT System, that Powers be fired, and Cigarroa refused. The board of regents may hold a special meeting to take action.
UT-Austin spokesman Gary Susswein told The Daily Texan on Wednesday night that he had no comment and that Powers is currently out of town.
As Burka writes: "I do not have an official confirmation, but I was told that the situation is fluid and may be happening as I write. … I will continue to make attempts to confirm this report. If it is accurate, the impact on the university’s reputation could be devastating. UT will have to undertake the search for a new president at a time when top-grade candidates will be unlikely to be attracted to a position that is subject to political pressure."
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