Report: Chancellor Cigarroa asked President Powers to resign in summer 2013

Madlin Mekelburg

UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa asked President William Powers Jr. to step down from his position last summer, according to notes taken during an executive session of the UT System Board of Regents originally obtained by The Austin American-Statesman.

Powers refused to resign, and cited support from members of the campus community and UT’s ongoing fundraising efforts as valid reasons for him to remain president, the Statesman reported.

In December, at a meeting some speculated would culminate in Powers’ termination, Cigarroa recommended to the regents that Powers remain president of UT, though he issued a warning to Powers, urging him to improve his relationship with the System and the board.

The board opted to take no action regarding Power’s employment after they spent nearly four-and-a-half hours in executive session discussing the matter.

In February, Cigarroa announced he will be resigning as chancellor in order to return to surgery full time. Cigarroa will become the head of pediatric transplant surgery at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio after a new chancellor is named.

Cigarroa said his decision to resign had nothing to do with the recent tensions between Powers and the board, although an email sent to Cigarroa by board Chairman Paul Foster suggested Regent Wallace Hall accused Cigarroa of not doing his job weeks before Cigarroa announced his resignation.

Hall is currently under investigation by the House Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, which is trying to determine whether Hall overstepped his duties as a regent and whether he should be recommended for impeachment. Hall has been accused by some state legislators of conducting a “witch hunt” to oust Powers.

Tensions between Powers and members of the board have been ongoing since 2011, when Powers asked Larry Sager, former dean of the School of Law, to resign after concerns arose regarding the foundation's forgivable loan program. Powers said he was unaware Sager awarded himself a $500,000 loan through the program, while Hall claimed he had evidence Powers was aware of the forgivable loan but chose not to take action. Powers has denied these claims.