Bill Powers, former University of Texas at Austin president, who served in the position at the school from 2006 until 2015, passed away on March 10th at the age of 72 due to a rare muscle disorder, as well as complications from a fall he had suffered several months prior, according to word from a spokesman at the school.
Powers first joined UT-Austin as a law professor back in 1977, gradually rising through the ranks of the leadership of the university itself. During his tenure, he oversaw the launch of the Dell Medical School, cable TV’s Longhorn Network, and the overall effort to increase the school’s four-year graduation rate to 70%, which was met just last year.
Powers’ tenure at UT-Austin will most likely be remembered as his fight to preserve what’s many people believe is “the soul of the university.” Almost ten years ago, many conservative regents and statewide leaders began pushing for many changes to be made in order for the school to function like a business. Power fought against these ideas, which many faculty members also viewed as being unpopular. Powers’ vision of UT-Austin was an elite public university that valued faculty research and growing enrollment.
Many faculty, students, donors, and alumni were rallied by Powers to join his side, with his advocacy making him a popular figure on campus.
Powers would eventually step down in 2015, but would return to the law school as a faculty member to continue to push his overall vision for the university. He was honored the following year by the Texas Exes alumni group for his distinguished service, stating that it was a blessing to spend his career with the faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and that he knew what they all had done for the school, as well as what they all had done for him.