Firing Line: Scrutiny of Powers undeserved

The Daily Texan’s editorial on Tuesday, “UT administrator compensation deserves scrutiny,” which was in light of an article by the Austin American-Statesman, deserves the scrutiny that the Editorial Board called for, rather than President Powers’ compensation. The Statesman article, and the editorial by extension, completely misconstrue the nature of the situation in May 2001. The University followed all of the proper steps in the compensation approval process, and it is the UT System’s fault for failing to accurately keep its own records in order. There is documented evidence in the public record, which has been available for over two years, that the UT System was informed about the compensation arrangement.

Yet both articles seem to question the actions of President Powers while failing to accurately portray the burden of responsibility. The Statesman article states that then-Chancellor Dan Burck was not being able to remember whether or not he approved the arrangement. I don’t think that it is surprising that he would not remember a routine procedural action that occurred nearly 13 years ago that is supposed to be kept in UT System’s records. Reeve Hamilton of the Texas Tribune has quoted Chancellor Burck as saying that the idea that President Powers is trying to hide something is “ludicrous” and that he likely would have approved such an arrangement.

The suggestion that students should reflect on efforts that support President Powers and stand against Regent Wallace Hall is misguided and prompted by a non-issue. The idea that a minor administrative mix-up, which was out of Powers’ hands and occurred 13 years ago, should cause students to question a movement that opposed Regent Hall, who is the subject of a Transparency Committee investigation for impeachment and an inquiry to a criminal investigation by the state’s Public Integrity Unit, is unwise at best and absurd at worst. Rather, students should reflect on President Powers’ accomplishments in raising the profile of UT globally and examine more carefully the actions of Regent Hall. I highly recommend reading the Transparency Committee’s report, which provides significant insight into Regent’s Hall’s protracted campaign against President Powers and UT in general. While the actions of public officials deserve examination, Regent Hall’s actions certainly demand the real scrutiny.

— Submitted by  finance, business honors and government senior Robert Belanger