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Texplainer: Who Can Fire a UT System President?

A Texas Monthly blog post last week ignited controversy over University of Texas President Bill Powers' future at the university — and raised questions about who decides whether he stays or goes. The answer? It's not one person's decision.

University of Texas at Austin President, William Powers - Dec. 14, 2011


Welcome to The Texas Tribune's "Texplainer" series, where we answer questions from readers like you. 

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Hey Texplainer: Who has the authority to remove a sitting university president — and what's the process for doing it?

A Texas Monthly blog post last week cited an unnamed source saying that University of Texas Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell had asked Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to recommend the firing of President Bill Powers. Both Powell and Cigarroa have denied the conversation ever happened — but the story has raised questions about who, exactly, is authorized to terminate a university president. 

Here's how the termination process works, according to the rules that govern the board:

The vice chancellor — to whom the university president reports — can recommend firing the president to the chancellor. The chancellor can then ask the board to remove the president. Once that happens, the board would have to affirm the chancellor's recommendation and take a vote.

"Nothing is done in isolation," Cigarroa said during an interview with the Tribune this week. "We all serve at the pleasure of. Everything is done through a holistic review. I believe it’s the reason why we’ve been able to recruit great presidents."

When asked about his assessment of Powers' presidency earlier this week, Powell said the two had a "cordial relationship," but that it was not his job to evaluate the president. According to the rules, the chairman, along with the board of regents, does have a say in a president's removal — just not before the chancellor does.

Bottom line: It's not one person's decision.


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