UT President Resigns Under Pressure
AUSTIN, Texas--After three years of deteriorating relations with his employers on the University of Texas Board of Regents and a growing scandal involving legislators allegedly using their clout to get friends and family admitted without proper qualifications, UT president Bill Powers on Wednesday offered his resignation effective June 2015.
Breitbart Texas was the first news organization to report on an ultimatum given to Powers by the UT System chancellor to either resign or face termination by the regents. While the chancellor wanted Powers gone by the end of October, Powers and his allies negotiated a settlement keeping him in office through June.
In his resignation letter to Cigarroa, Powers acknowledged some of the problems. “I understand that our relationship has been strained," he wrote.
Yet in an e-mail sent from Powers to UT's donors, he spun the resignation as if it was his idea, writing that he and his wife "have spoken for some time about making a transition next year."
Left unknown is the state of a full investigation into legislative clout abuse ordered the chancellor, Francisco Cigarrao, has ordered into legislative clout abuse. A review of admissions practices directed by Cigarrao's office found evidence of improper deference given to applicant with political ties. An independent investigation of admissions to the UT School of Law by Watchdog.org found numerous examples of under-qualified students being admitted who appeared to be related to, or employed by, members of the Texas Legislature.
Sources told Breitbart Texas last week that one or more whistleblowers had come forward to the chancellor with information allegedly more directly tying Powers to the scandal. The fate of those whistleblowers, and the overall investigation, might be delayed with Powers still in charge, one of those sources told Breitbart on Wednesday.
In an editorial published for Thursday's national editions, the Wall Street Journal suggests that Powers' "departure will only increase the scrutiny of the growing evidence of political favoritism in UT admissions."
In his resignation letter, Powers said that he would "retain" a "faculty position in the Law School." Powers previously served as the school's dean.
That law school has been at the epicenter of the controversies.
Most notable was a widely-reported scheme in which favored professors were given forgivable loans and other compensation by a non-profit foundation affiliated with the school. Powers' successor, Larry Sager, took the brunt of blame when the scandal came to light and was forced to resign.
The admissions practices of the UT Law School have come under special scrutiny, with revelations that lawmakers' children and staff were admitted without the same qualifications as other students. Jon Cassidy of Watchdog.org has noted that several legislators children were graduated from the law school, but took multiple times to pass the state bar -- a highly unusual situation for graduates of the prestigious university.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is contributor and original member of the Breitbart Texas team. He is also president of Empower Texans. Follow him on Twitter @MQSullivan.