Anxious students, dressed in their most professional attire, filled Tuesday’s student government meeting in hopes to get a new Facebook profile picture with University of Texas President Bill Powers.
President Powers takes the podium, in front of the student government who supported Powers, after a strenuous relationship with UT System regents, over disagreements on research and micromanagement at UT put his job on the line.
Student Government President Horacio Villarreal said Powers was only expected to talk for 15 minutes about leadership roles on campus, but he answered questions ranging from student housing, tuition fees and higher education policy for another half hour.
Powers also spoke about incorporating internships and undergraduate research into degree requirements to ensure students get hands-on experience.
“Why did a lot of people my age get interested in engineering, astronomy or chemistry? They worked on a car as teenager, they had a telescope or a chemistry set.” Powers said, “There is something about learning things by doing that excites people.”
The student leadership has had practical experience these past few months, with two joint resolutions in “Support of President Powers Vision for the University.”
The pieces of legislation, which passed in late October by student government and the University of Texas Senate of College Councils, laid out many of Powers’ accomplishments over the years. The resolution was sent to the board of regents and was recognized by the Texas Senate.
Villarreal said since the discussion of Powers future has such a great effect on students, him and other student government leaders collaborated with the Senate of College Council to write the first-ever joint resolutions.
“We felt it was necessary to make a statement from the entire student body to show that he [Powers] had incredible support.” Villarreal said.
On the other end, Regent Wallace Hall, who led what was called a “witch hunt” for Powers’ job, is being investigated by Texas House Select Committee on Transparency in State Operations. He is accused of abusing open records laws and releasing confidential UT student and employee information in the process.
The discussion on Powers position as president has ended, and his job is secure but a formal vote was not made.
Powers said he is here for the students who make this historic campus “come alive.”
“Every day I get up and come to work to get things done regardless of the politics and anything else like that going on,” said Powers.
After his speech, Powers commended Student Government on the things it has accomplished and said he is proud of the effect Longhorns are making in Austin and around the world.