AUSTIN, Texas–A Friday, July 4, deadline passed for the University of Texas president to resign his post over a growing admissions scandal, with sources telling the Austin American Statesman that Bill Powers is now trying to negotiate for a longer stay at UT. Breitbart Texas was the first to report on Friday that UT System Chancellor told Powers to resign his post or face termination at the Board of Regents meeting on July 10.
Last summer Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa asked for Powers’ resignation but did not threaten termination. The AAS reports that Cigarroa at the time asked Powers to develop a plan to leave his post, which Powers has allegedly not done. Instead, Powers has tightened his network of supporters — high-dollar donors and legislators who allegedly used their relationship with Powers to get otherwise under-qualified students admitted to the state’s flagship institution.
Meanwhile, the Texas Tribune — a non-profit that lists the University of Texas as a corporate sponsor — reports that a legislative committee headed by close allies of House Speaker Joe Straus is telling UT they cannot fire Powers. The committee has no known constitutional or statutory authority to issue, in the words of the Texas Tribune, a “directive” regarding employment at a state university.
The committee in question, the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, was impanelled by House Speaker Joe Straus and then asked by the Speaker to consider impeachment of UT Regent Wallace Hall.
Hall, an appointee of Gov. Rick Perry, has been under attack by allies of Powers and Straus for his investigations into financial malfeasance and legislative clout-abuse at the institution he oversees as a regent. Perhaps the loudest supporter of Powers, and critics of Hall, has been the Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education, organized by Straus advisor Karen Hughes.
The Straus-appointed committee, co-chaired by Republican Dan Flynn of Van and Democrat Carol Alverado of Houston, has spent a year attacking Hall. Flynn and Alverado recently voted, with the committee, to proceed with impeachment charges against Hall but have not noted any reasons why except their disapproval of his investigation. Only one committee member, State Rep. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), voted against the impeachment proceedings.
The most explosive charges uncovered by Hall’s investigation has been that of unqualified and under-qualified students being admitted into UT programs because of their political ties. While Halls’ work has been kept under wraps due to student confidentiality, the UT System ordered a review that found trends of inappropriate interference in the admissions process. A more comprehensive review has been ordered by Cigarroa.
Sources told Breitbart Texas that a whistleblower has come forward with fresh information, allegedly tying Powers more directly to the admissions scandal.
Jon Cassidy, a reporter for watchdog.org, has conducted independent investigations into politically-driven admissions to the UT Law School. He found that students with close ties to legislators were admitted but took multiple attempts to pass the state bar exam, which is unusual for UT graduates. Similarly, he found that students were admitted with LSAT scores far below the standards UT requires.
A report in the Austin American Statesman on Saturday claimed that Powers wants to remain the president of UT until next June. Powers also serves as the president of the Association of American Universities, with his term slated to end this October.
Michael Quinn Sullivan is a contributor and founding member of the Breitbart Texas team, and is the president of Empower Texans.