Jacqueline Mermea/The Texas Tribune
UT President Bill Powers speaking at The University of Texas on Tuesday, February 2nd.
The release of the blog post by Texas Monthly sparked a social media outcry in support of Powers late Wednesday evening. Facebook page shows support for Powers and places blame on the Texas Legislature for cutting funds to UT, which is currently only funded 14 percent by the state.
According to the Texas Tribune, University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa said Thursday that he was, “never directed to fire anyone” in response to a blog post by Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka. The report claims that Cigarroa was asked by UT Board of Regents Chairman Gene Powell to fire UT President Bill Powers.
The blog post by Burka sparked a social media outcry in support of Powers late Wednesday evening. A Facebook page called “I stand with Bill Powers” has garnered over 9,600 members by Thursday afternoon. The twitter hashtag #savebillpowers is trending in Austin and the @SaveBillPowers handle has over 250 followers.
UT spokesperson Gary Susswein declined to comment on the situation and said that Powers was traveling yesterday when the Texas Monthly report came out.
Burka claims that a source said Powers may be at risk of losing his job because of his comments about the UT Board of Regents deciding to freeze tuition instead of agreeing to tuition increases suggested by Powers.
In response to the Regents decision, Powers said, “I am disappointed that our very thoughtful proposal, every penny of which would have gone to students’ success which itself will keep the cost of higher education down, was not adopted.”
Powers’ recommendation to the Board of Regents was for a 2.6 percent increase on undergraduate tuition for the next two academic years to make up for cuts in funding from the Texas Legislature. The Regents denied his request and decided instead to freeze tuition on undergraduates at the current rate.
Even though Powers supports tuition increases, many comments on the “I stand with Bill Powers” Facebook page shows support for Powers and places blame on the Texas Legislature for cutting funds to UT, which is currently only funded 14 percent by the state.
“We should not have to worry that every time there is a disagreement, the quality of our education will come under fire,” said Leslie Tisdale, President of UDems.
Student Government representatives plan to meet on Friday to draft a resolution with a statement in support of Powers. The resolution will also include a letter to the Board of Regents showing their support, according to Robert Milligan, a Student Government representative.
The outrage created by one unnamed source may be hasty, though, considering that Cigarroa has denied claims that he was asked to fire Powers and the report from Texas Monthly is still not confirmed.
Keep with The Horn for further updates as the situation unfolds.