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Cigarroa Tells Powers to Resign or Be Fired

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has asked UT-Austin President Bill Powers to resign ahead of the Board of Regents’ July 10 meeting. Powers has said he is willing to discuss a timeline for his exit.

UT-Austin President Bill Powers is shown at a hearing of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations on Dec. 18, 2013.

University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa has asked University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers to resign ahead of the Board of Regents’ July 10 meeting or be fired at it, multiple sources confirmed to The Texas Tribune on Friday. The sources said Powers informed Cigarroa in writing that he will not resign, but is willing to discuss a timeline for his exit. 

UT-Austin officials said they could not comment on any private conversations between Cigarroa and Powers. Neither Powers nor Cigarroa could immediately be reached for comment. 

Powers, the chairman of the Association of American Universities, an elite organization of research universities, has broad support from students, faculty and alumni — but his relations with the Board of Regents and with Cigarroa have been strained.

The latest tension between Cigarroa and Powers comes as UT-Austin’s admissions practices — and lawmakers’ potential sway over them — are under the microscope. 

A legislative committee is drafting articles of impeachment against UT System Regent Wallace Hall over Hall’s personal investigation into admissions practices and other issues at the flagship university, which opponents have called a witch hunt.  

After a previous internal review of legislative influence on UT-Austin admissions, Cigarroa initially launched a broad systemwide review but declined to press the matter further. He abruptly reversed course last month, saying he planned to launch a full external investigation after receiving what he called "new input," the details of which he has not revealed.

One source familiar with both the investigation and the latest conversation between Cigarroa and Powers said: “It’s not an investigation. It’s an inquisition designed to get rid of Bill Powers.” 

Disclosure: The University of Texas at Austin is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Texas Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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