UT’s Powers refusing ultimatum to resign

By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz - American-Statesman Staff

University of Texas President Bill Powers has refused an ultimatum to resign but is open to discussing a timetable for leaving office, a well-placed source told the American-Statesman on Friday.

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa gave the president of the Austin flagship the ultimatum late Wednesday in a meeting at the system’s offices in downtown Austin. Simply put, Powers must resign by sometime today, effective in the fall, or be fired next week, two sources told the Statesman.

“There wasn’t a clear reason given,” said a well-placed source who was not authorized to speak publicly. “As far as we know, it was a quick conversation but there was no specific reason given.”

The ultimatum was apparently first reported on the website

The UT System Board of Regents is scheduled to meet Thursday, and the board’s agenda typically allows for personnel actions. Thursday’s agenda has not yet been posted.

System officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

It’s doubtful that Cigarroa would deliver such an ultimatum to Powers without confidence that he had a majority of the nine-member board to back it up. Up to now, Powers has enjoyed the support of at least five members of the board. But a recommendation from the chancellor to dismiss Powers could alter that balance.

Cigarroa and Powers have had a contentious relationship at times. The Statesman, citing notes taken during closed-door meetings of the regents, reported in April that the chancellor had asked Powers last summer to step down but Powers refused to do so. In December, Cigarroa said publicly that he wanted Powers to remain as president, citing improved relations with system officials and regents.

Powers, 68, has been president of the Austin campus since February 1, 2006, having previously served as dean of UT’s School of Law.

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