The Big Conversation
A new revelation in a high-profile power struggle has sent a jolt through the discord unfolding within the state's largest university system.
The Houston Chronicle's Patricia Kilday Hart reported on Sunday that amid long-simmering tension between University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers and the UT System Board of Regents, Gov. Rick Perry had "communicated through emissaries that Powers should resign to avoid an embarrassing regents vote to fire him."
The strained relationship dates back two years, when Powers began clashing with regents — who are appointed by Perry — over several higher education policies backed by the governor and conservative groups.
But several recent controversies have brought the controversy into public view. As the Chronicle reports, two recent Longhorn coaches' admissions of indiscretions with students inflamed tensions between Powers and the regents, who reportedly hoped to avoid "another Penn State situation."
More recently, the regents voted on Wednesday to commission an external review of the relationship between UT-Austin and the UT Law School Foundation, a fundraising organization. Regent Steve Hicks, who voted against the review, accused fellow regents of seeking to undermine Powers.
In February, a week after a tense meeting with regents, Powers received a dramatic show of support from the Legislature, which passed resolutions honoring him.
The turmoil at UT, meanwhile, as the Tribune's Reeve Hamilton reports, stands in sharp contrast to the relative ease with which Chancellor John Sharp has guided the Texas A&M University System through the legislative session.
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