William Powers Jr.
William Powers Jr.
(Photo by Rick Patrick)

William Powers is finalist for UT Austin presidency

By Anthony de Bruyn
Assistant Director of Public Affairs and Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for External Relations, UT System

(Nov. 14, 2005)--The University of Texas System Board of Regents named William Powers Jr. the sole finalist for the presidency of the University of Texas at Austin.

Powers is dean, university distinguished teaching professor, Hines H. Baker and Thelma Kelley Baker Chair in Law, and John Jeffers Research Chair in Law at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law. He has served as dean of the law school at UT Austin since 2000.

Powers joined the law school faculty in 1977 and has held several faculty chairs and other administrative appointments. He served as associate dean for academic affairs from 1984 to 1987 and 1994 to 1995. He received his doctorate of law degree from Harvard University and his bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley.

The board announced the selection after considering recommendations of an advisory committee that reviewed more than 200 nominations and applications for the position. Under state law, university governing boards must name finalists for a presidency at least 21 days before making an appointment.

"On behalf of my colleagues on the board, I would like to thank the advisory committee for its work in screening and interviewing potential candidates for the Board of Regents to consider," said Board of Regents Chairman James Huffines. "We conducted a thorough search from coast to coast for the very best, broadest and most diverse pool of candidates we have ever had for the presidency of a public research university the caliber of UT Austin. Dean Powers has an outstanding record and broad national stature in law, teaching, administration and public service. Selection of a new president for the University of Texas at Austin is an event of national significance. As with all our other searches for institutional presidents within the UT System, we understand the importance of this decision. We believe Bill Powers is the best fit for the campus.

"Dean Powers was selected from an exceptional group of candidates. The advisory committee worked diligently to find candidates with superb academic credentials, leadership and administrative experience," said Mark Yudof, chancellor of the University of Texas System. "Bill Powers has excelled in dealing with the challenges and opportunities of leading one of the country’s outstanding law schools, recruiting a world-class faculty and admitting the most highly diverse and talented students in the history of UT Austin. I was very pleased with the results of the search process, the interviews and am eager for the campus visits and meetings to commence soon."

Campus visits will be scheduled soon and will include meetings with students, faculty, staff, department chairs, deans, alumni and community members. A final decision by the board on Powers' selection as the next president of UT Austin is expected to occur prior to the end of the year.

If named president, Powers will succeed Larry Faulkner, who announced his retirement in June. Faulkner joined UT Austin as president in 1998. The 27th president of UT Austin, he led the most successful fund-raising campaign in the university's history and one of the most successful campaigns in American higher education, raising $1.6 billion.

Faulkner chartered the Commission of 125, a group of alumni and citizens that developed a strategic vision for the university's next quarter century. He created innovative scholarship and admissions programs and brought the university's minority student enrollment to record levels after the controversial Hopwood decision in 1997.

Faulkner enhanced the university's national reputation during a period of difficult financial challenges for public universities and he connected the university to Texas like never before through a broad array of new programs, events and initiatives.

UT Austin is one of nine academic universities and six health institutions that comprise the UT System, the state's largest higher education system with an annual operating budget of $9.6 billion (FY 2006). The UT System confers one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 76,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

UT Austin -- the largest of the academic campuses of the UT System and a major research university -- is home to more than 48,000 students, 2,700 faculty and 17,000 staff members. The campus operating budget for fiscal year 2006 is $1.65 billion.

The faculty at UT Austin is composed of outstanding scholars in a wide range of disciplines including hundreds of members of prestigious academic and scientific organizations. The university has one of the largest graduate schools in the nation. The university has one of the largest single-campus enrollments in the nation including students from all 254 counties within Texas, all 50 states and more than 100 foreign countries.

For more information, contact Anthony de Bruyn at (512) 499-4363.