William Powers

Powers' ideas on tenure evince a misunderstanding of who, what tenure is for

UT President William Powers Jr. gives his last State of the University address on Monday afternoon. Powers discussed the successes the University has had during his nine years as president, and what he sees as the future goals of the University.
UT President William Powers Jr. gives his last State of the University address on Monday afternoon. Powers discussed the successes the University has had during his nine years as president, and what he sees as the future goals of the University.

Editor's Note: This is a guest blog post from English professor Douglas Bruster.

In a sentence of two dozen words during his final State of the University Address last Monday, President William Powers Jr. floated an ominous trial balloon. "We need to use tenure," he said, "when it is most needed: where competition is the keenest and where research is more central to the enterprise."

This is a troubling statement for several reasons. At base is the idea of tenure as something like a corporate retention tool — a gift to be reserved, perhaps, for professors in such fields as law, engineering, business and the sciences. More worrying are a possible misunderstanding of what tenure is and the corresponding redefinition of the University itself.

If tenure is a gift, it's not the kind of golden handshake that faculty in well-compensated fields need as incentive. Instead, tenure is a gift of time and security to established scholars. Importantly, it is also a gift to students, alumni and citizens generally.

How does tenure benefit those inside and outside the University? It does so in part by buying time for committed researchers to imagine, design, and conduct their inquiries, to publish them, and to engage with other scholars over their ideas. As crucially, tenure promotes the integrity of this process. It helps guarantee that scholars, and their research and teaching, remain free from external influences.

In a perfect world, there would be no need for such protections. Men with money and power would leave the University alone, not seeking to influence scholarship or teaching. We don't live in that world. We live in Texas, where interfering in the business of others is bad form for the great majority of us but a lifetime hobby for the very wealthy.

Skeptical of the dangers to free inquiry? Consider a handful of topics: Economic Theories and Practice, Education, Elections, Electronic Surveillance, the Emancipation Proclamation, Eminent Domain, Employment Discrimination, Energy Production, the Environment, Equal Rights, Ethics, Evolution.

You'll note that these all begin with the letter "E." As such, they are only a small selection of the areas where an untenured faculty member could expect to be fired for producing the "wrong" answers or accounts. Imagine a donor making a large gift contingent upon a department hiring or firing faculty members of a particular ideology or political affiliation. Or imagine our legislature doing the same. It hasn't been so long, historically, since faculty, staff and students were required to sign a loyalty oath in order to be associated with the University of Texas.

But the security to learn the truth, and to teach it, is only part of tenure's gift. Tenure allows scholars to think about things without immediate monetary or political value. So when Powers suggests that the University give tenure only in areas "where research is more central to the enterprise," we can rightly wonder, "Which enterprise is that?" and "When?"

I don't know what Powers was doing Sept. 10, 2001. But it's a safe bet that, like me, he wasn't thinking about the Center for Afghanistan Studies at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Or about the prudence of that University, and Nebraska's taxpayers, in having funded, three decades prior, a center for studying such a far-away place. What sense did it make for this Great Plains state to tenure speakers of Dari, Pashto, Urdu, Persian and Hindi? That next morning in September, the wisdom of supporting such scholars became as clear as the blue skies above.

To imagine that we know the future is to go against everything we have learned from the past. As the receding months and decades have taught us, no one knows what subject or discipline will become essential, or even useful. Universities exist to advance universal knowledge. A university of the first class cannot afford to restrict its enterprise by redefining tenure as suitable for only a select few fields. To do so is to misunderstand our mission and charge.

Powers' notion to give tenure in competitive fields gets things exactly wrong. When professors in law, science, business and engineering justify their high salaries by pointing to what they could earn in private industry, they are revealing a safety net that protects them from reprisals over their scholarship and teaching. It is scholars without this safety net that tenure is for — those, for example, in the languages, history, social science and the fine arts. Tenure in these fields is a valuable investment by the University, a way to nurture research that has no immediate monetary value but may prove priceless in advancing knowledge of our shared human condition.

I have served under a number of excellent university presidents, none finer than Powers. It is difficult to put into words how hard, and faithfully, he has worked for our University. As phrased in his recent State of the University Address, however, his ideas about tenure seem a distinct misstep and a departure from the sensitive understanding of higher education for which faculty, staff and students have more than once expressed their gratitude.

Amid further controversy regarding the politicization of Texas public school textbooks, it is time not only for the Powers administration but also UT faculty and students to evaluate the true significance of the statues of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee, among others, which stand in the heart of our campus. 

A report released this month from the nonpartisan Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, debated in a point/counterpoint in this paper last week, found numerous instances of politically fueled bias in government, Texas, U.S. and world history textbooks. These included comic strips trivializing affirmative action as well as the statement that, during segregation, “Sometimes … the buildings, buses, and teachers for the all-black schools were lower in quality,” which is a significant understatement. Not only do these textbooks effectively whitewash the history of the Jim Crow South, but they are, according to a report, a statement that “understates the tremendous and widespread disadvantages of African-American schools compared to white schools.”

There was so much bias, in fact, that the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute wrote, “The complicated but undeniable history of separation of church and state is dismissed” as well as textbooks undermining the fact that slavery was “the actual trigger for the sectional crisis.”

In the year 2014, this kind of revisionist history ought to be seriously reassessed. However, young students are not the only ones who will feel the consequences of agenda-fueled education.

“My heart is out as well to the students who come to my classrooms at SMU from the study of history in the Texas public schools,” wrote Edward Countryman, a history professor at Southern Methodist University, in his opening statement in his report on proposed Texas, U.S. and world history textbooks. “[I]f they have not taken Advanced Placement history, they are woefully underprepared for the college-level study of history.” 

Just as the Texas State Board of Education’s primary goal is likely not to directly misinform young students, the statues of Jefferson Davis, Albert S. Johnston and Robert E. Lee are not intended by the university to directly represent exclusion and the institution (and perpetuation) of slavery. Rather, these statues are presumably meant to reveal the pride Southerners feel regarding their legacy of rebellion and independence. Though this rationale is good enough for many, it is not good enough for a collegiate community concerned that certain statues represent blatant racism. 

In 2006, President William Powers, Jr. reacted to student-fueled sentiment regarding the removal of certain statues on campus. “[T]he statues have been here for a long time, and that’s something we have to take into account as well,” said Powers after forming an advisory committee, which to this day has no written proof of action. His argument based on tradition is not wholly dissimilar to arguments made in favor of the continuance of slavery in the 19th century, as well as many other contemporary polarizing social issues, including the fight for workplace equality and same-sex marriage. So why is it an argument that is considered valid in 2014?

We need look no further than into our own University’s history to find a complicated and nuanced relationship with race. We are a university that did not racially integrate until mandated to do so by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1950 Sweatt v. Painter case. We are a university that recently has been an epicenter in the debate over affirmative action, from a Supreme Court case to a controversial on-campus bake sale. Race has been and will continue to be an incredibly sensitive issue, and to deny this would imply revisionist history. 

Anyone who has followed the recent controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins football team’s name can attest to the fact that symbolic imagery is important. Images that were considered benign 50, 20, 10 and perhaps even five years ago have taken on an entirely new meaning in our world of heightened sensitivity, especially with regards to race. All aspects of our proud and often ugly history ought to be taught and learned objectively. But by erecting statues in the names of Jefferson Davis, et al., we are also choosing which figures of our history we prioritize and stand behind. Do we choose to represent the ideals of equality, democracy and the acquisition of power through struggle, or do we choose to represent exclusion and the fight to maintain slavery at the cost of hundreds of thousands of American lives?

Sundin is an English and radio-television-film senior from San Antonio.

Photo Credit: Shelby Tauber | Daily Texan Staff

After a nine-month search by a committee including educators, health professionals and students, the University introduced Clay Johnston as the inaugural dean of the Dell Medical School on Tuesday morning.

Johnston, who studied at Amherst University, Harvard University and the University of California–Berkeley, is currently the associate vice chancellor of research and director of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of California–San Francisco School of Medicine. He will begin serving as dean March 1. 

The Dell Medical School, which went into planning in 2012 and was named last year, is in the final states of design and is expected to receive its first class of students in 2016. President William Powers, Jr. said Johnston was selected in part because of his forward-thinking vision for the school.

“We had a dozen fantastic people from around the country,” Powers said. “This really garnered a great deal of interest from some very high level people. [Johnston] is innovative and open and wants to help design a medical school in a new way. He is very interested in new forms of health care delivery, and he has worked and proven himself in the institute that he heads up — in his ability to work with many stakeholders in a complex situation.”

Johnston said he will try to use his role as dean to advance the way medical schools approach health care, which he believes should be more patient-centric.

“I think medical health care is really at an important juncture right now,” Johnston said. “My vision is to create a medical school that really represents where health care should be going, not where it’s been. That’s the beauty of starting from the ground up and then being able to take a look at how health care is working, how medical centers are working and design them for the next century.”

Unlike the six existing medical institutions within the UT System, which each have their own president, Powers said Dell Medical School will be a unit of the University.

Johnston, who plans to continue treating patients as dean, said all individuals involved in the Dell Medical School project have different expectations for his performance. He said he will be expected to deliver excellent care to patients, create multidisciplinary programs intended to advocate research and turn the school and research hospital into modes for economic development in the community. Johnston said one of the first challenges he faces will be prioritizing these objectives.

“The school is going to do all of those things, but when?” Johnston said. “You can’t do all of those things from day one or year one or even year five. So the biggest challenge is prioritizing amongst these critical goals and making excellent progress in all of these areas but managing the expectations so that people understand that it is impossible to grow this thing, even in five years, to the vision that all of us have for it.”

Robert Messing, vice provost for biomedical sciences and chairman of the search committee, once worked alongside Johnston in the neurology department at UC–San Francisco. Messing said he recommended Johnston and one other individual early in the search process for the dean.

“We were faculty members in the same department, which had more than 120 faculty members and spanned four affiliated hospitals,” Messing said. “Our relationship has always been more professional than personal, and those professional interactions definitely helped me recognize him as a strong candidate. I’ve always been incredibly impressed by him whenever our paths have crossed.”

According to Messing, the search committee unanimously recommended Johnston for the dean position because of his work at UC–San Francisco.

“At UCSF, he’s been the leader of one of the largest Clinical Translation Science Institutes funded by National Institutes of Health, which takes research innovations and translates them to patient care,” Messing said. “And he directs the UCSF Center for Healthcare Value which leverages research and clinical practice to reduce costs, increase value and enable innovation.”

Seton Healthcare Family, which runs several hospitals in Austin, committed $295 million to build a teaching hospital for students enrolled at Dell Medical School last year. UT also has a partnership with Travis County Central Health, a county organization which works to give health care access to Austin’s poor. Last year, Travis County voters approved a property tax increase to support the new medical school and teaching hospital.

President William Powers Jr. was named the University of California at Berkeley’s Alumnus of the year for 2014.

Powers received his undergraduate chemistry degree at UC-Berkeley in 1967. 

According to UC-Berkeley’s website, Powers was honored with the position for his experience in the U.S. Navy, managing editor of the Harvard Law Review, legal consultant to the U.S. Congress and the Brazilian legislature, as well has his role as UT president. 

“As president, Powers has made great progress in transforming UT into one of the finest public research universities in the nation,” the statement said. “He has strengthened the undergraduate core curriculum, inaugurated the School of Undergraduate Studies and aggressively recruited a diverse student body and faculty.” 

Powers joins various UC-Berkeley professors holding the Alumnus of the Year title.

Fall graduation lacks the pomp and circumstance occasioned by spring commencement, but for students graduating in December, the event is no less monumental. With or without fireworks, graduates will leave the familiarity of campus to confront the challenges and opportunities waiting for them beyond it. That they’re doing so in December rather than May might not make much of a difference for students, but it does make a difference for the University’s much-hyped four-year graduation rate. However, the four-year designation itself is somewhat arbitrary.

The administration’s goal is to have 70 percent of students graduate within four years of their enrollment at UT. Currently, around 70 percent of students graduate within five years, but four-year rates hover around 50 percent. To graduate more students more quickly, the Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates, which was established in 2011 by UT President William Powers, Jr., suggested in its Feb. 15, 2012 report that it may be most effective to focus on students who miss graduating within four years by only one semester — many of whom may be walking across the stage this Saturday. According to the report, “For UT Austin to hit a graduation rate of 70 percent in four years, it would need to lower the time-to-degree [by] a single semester for about 800 students and two semesters for another 400. From that perspective, the task of achieving a 70 percent four-year graduation rate is much less daunting.”

The most recent data cited in the report, which focuses on students who entered college in fall 2006, shows that 50.6 percent of students graduated within four years. A semester later, more than 60 percent had graduated, thanks to the 750 or so who participated in fall commencement. According to the report’s logic, if those 750 students could have graduated a semester earlier, the University would be 10 percent closer to reaching its graduation rate goal.

This change would save students the $5,000 or so they spent on their extra semester and could potentially make available classroom seats for more incoming students. But the report fails to acknowledge that the same argument could be made for increasing 3½-year graduation rates. With increasing opportunities for high school students to earn transferable college credit prior to enrolling at a university, three year or 3½-year college careers are a viable option for many students. If the University enhances summer classes, as the report recommends, this option could become even more accessible to students looking to save time and money on their undergraduate education.

The Task Force’s report also neglects to explain why four years represent the perfect amount of time to spend in college. While in the past it may have taken four years to fit in all the coursework required for degree completion, changes in higher education that allow students to transfer credit from community colleges and online classes — changes the University is helping catalyze, thanks to its recent investment in EdX — are challenging the idea that there is a “correct” number of years in which to graduate.

In an editorial published in the Texan on June 10, President Powers was quoted saying, “We fully recognize that there are things that happen during four years. People change their minds, they want to pursue something else. It is not our philosophy that there is only one way through this university.” Our conclusion: Students graduating this weekend, whether they are doing so early or late, will still be receiving the same degrees as their friends who graduated this past May or will walk the stage next spring — give or take several thousand dollars and a few months. Ultimately, the choice is theirs.

Printed on Friday, December 6, 2012 as: Four isn't necessarily a magic number

Everyone knows the Top 10 Percent law gives Texas public high school students in that tier automatic admission to UT. But how does the remaining portion of the class — 25 percent as mandated by law — get admitted? What do university admissions officers look for in what’s known as the holistic review process?

The answer is not what you’d expect. In recent years, underrepresented minority students have made up a larger percentage of the automatic admits than those admitted under holistic review. According to data provided by the Office of Admissions, from 2007 through 2011, UT admitted lower percentages of African American and Latino students through holistic review than through automatic admission. For example, in 2010 and 2011, 6 percent of automatic admissions were granted to black students, while only 5 percent of holistic review admissions were granted to black students. The same trend stands for 2008 and 2009, but it is even more dramatic for Latinos. In 2010, 28 percent of automatically admitted students were Latino, while only 12 percent of holistic review admits were Latinos. In 2011, 29 percent of automatic admits were Latino and 14 percent of holistic review admissions went to Latino students.

Abigail Fisher, a white woman who was denied admission in 2008, sued the University, alleging that it discriminated against her on the basis of race. Her case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 10.

According to Fisher and her supporters, white applicants are disadvantaged by holistic review. But the numbers show that white applicants benefited considerably from holistic review. In 2011, 41 percent of automatic and 58 percent of holistic review admissions went to white students. The same trend was seen each year from 2007 to 2010.

In other words, UT did not use its holistic review process to admit higher percentages of underrepresented minorities than earned automatic admission. Instead, the university granted drastically higher percentages of holistic review admissions to white students.

The Supreme Court established in its 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, the most recent affirmative action case about higher education to reach the high court, that race may be considered as a factor in admissions as long as schools do not use a quota system. In a recent interview with The Daily Texan, UT President William Powers, Jr. responded to Fisher’s supporters’ allegations that UT violates the Grutter precedent by using a de facto quota system to match the racial composition of its student body with that of the state of Texas. “That’s incorrect,” Powers said. “It is true that African Americans and Latinos are underrepresented. When we say underrepresented, we mean there’s not sufficient diversity in the classrooms and on the campus.”

The recently released numbers seem to prove Powers’ underlying point. For the past five incoming classes, UT has not used its holistic review process to let in higher percentages of minority students; it has done just the opposite by admitting vastly higher percentages of white students and considerably lower percentages of minority students than were granted automatic admission.

Fisher’s lawyer, Burt Rein, agrees that UT’s holistic admissions don’t achieve diversity. He also notes that Fisher’s brief makes the point that not all holistic admissions are about race. He told the Texan in an interview, “It’s very difficult to say if you look at the statistics how much of a contribution to their goal of diversity UT achieves through this use of race. We looked at it [racial composition data] prior to the use of race, and subsequently, and there’s a very small difference in the percentage of minorities admitted … The number of people who could actually attribute their entry to the use of race was very small. Is this policy just a way to label everyone by race? There’s an irony in the case. Texas law has been changed to cap Top 10 Percent admissions at 75 percent [of an incoming class], but if the case is not successful for UT the cap is removed. The effect is letting the top ten percent expand, therefore increasing the number of minorities admitted.”

Kedra Ishop, vice provost and director of admissions for UT- Austin, affirms the necessity of holistic review for a wide range of reasons, including diversity. In an email, Ishop wrote, “The Top Ten Percent rule has helped with diversity, that is not a matter for debate.

However it is also important that the university assemble its class along a broad range of individual characteristics, not just class rank. Employers don’t hire based on GPA; neither should a university accept 100 percent of its students on a single criteria [sic]. The holistic review process for those not automatically admissible is a complement to the Top Ten Percent plan, enabling the university to assemble a class that is broadly diverse and academically excellent.”

About the recent trends shown in holistic review admissions data, Ishop writes: “The statistics to which you refer highlight the fact that the use of race as a part of holistic review may benefit any student — black, Hispanic, white or Asian. This is not a quota system.”

Confusing, yes, but by our reckoning the numbers challenge the arguments made by both UT and Fisher. Both of them hinge on the constitutionality of favoring minority students in the holistic review process. UT argues that the use of race ranks as one of many factors, considered by its admissions officials when holistically reviewing applicants with the interest of increasing campus diversity. Fisher argues that UT’s admissions policy constitutes racial discrimination against white applicants. But if UT officials really are trying to give minority students a leg up through holistic review, they’re not doing a very effective job. UT’s murky explanation of how it admits students conflicts with the straightforward proposition that the Top Ten Percent rule has made to high school students all over the state: Get good grades and you can go to UT-Austin.

This is not a private school, and while other public schools maintain more selective holistic review, the Top Ten Percent rule is fair. Fisher challenges that UT’s holistic review results in a racist policy. But, based on the numbers, we conclude that UT doesn’t just want to admit more racially diverse students; it wants control over who to admit.

Pharmacy school students cheer during Gone to Texas Tuesday. Each college held separate gatherings before all congregating at the Tower.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

I expected attending Gone to Texas in the middle of my college career would feel different from attending it as a freshman. After all, the past two years of college have changed my view of this massive and wonderful place. Watching the UT System Board of Regents and the UT-Austin administration fight out their ideological differences by way of newspaper editorials, ominously named committees and rumors of President William Powers’ termination has made me both more cynical about and more attuned to the political motivations that affect our university. I predicted that this year’s Gone to Texas would hint at the importance of graduating in four years, at the crucial role of research at the University, and that it would walk a fine line between mouthing off at the regents and telling them what they want to hear. It was wonderfully refreshing, then, that last night’s festivities steered clear of obvious references to the battles being fought on the 40 Acres and focused instead on the University’s many victories.

The ceremony began at 8:30 p.m. when a commercial featuring Powers lit up the tower, leading the students to look up as his distinctive voice fell over the audience. In the video, Powers vowed to make this the “best public university in the nation,” a phrase I find admirably absent of bravado — he didn’t say we are the best — and yet full of enthusiasm for the University.

At the video’s end, a performance by the Innervisions Gospel Choir begins. Soon, the choir launches into a gorgeous breakdown of the “Eyes of Texas,” and the audience began to hoot, holler and applaud. As the song ended, Thor Lund and Wills Brown, the student body president and vice president, filed on stage for a scripted speech. Their most charming moments occurred when they forgot to read off their papers and broke into unplanned moments of Brown pointing into the audience and waving around his horns. Of course, at least one of them, Brown, made mention in his speech of the Texas Constitution of 1876’s mandate that UT be “a university of the first class.” Though people on both sides of UT’s ideological battles often use this quotation in their arguments, Brown’s use of it appeared to carry no between-the-lines implication of what “first-class university” should mean.

Throughout the night, however, the programming offered some hints at what a “first-class university” should be. The event included over 20 minutes’ worth of programming devoted to praising research and the opportunities it gives students. Alexa Van Brummen, a senior involved in research, shared the story of how she found her way into a competitive research lab as a mere freshman. She then encouraged students to follow a similar path. Another video showcased how research by mechanical engineering professor Rick Neptune has made better-fitting prostheses available to amputees. While the regents’ disagreements with UT administrators over the role of research in higher education were never directly referenced, the amount of time spent on the subject serves as a reminder that the conflict continues.

Finally, Powers took the stage. Every time I hear Powers’ voice, I can’t help but feel like I am standing in a smokehouse in Luling, Texas, and he is about to emerge from the back with a giant slab of brisket, although the mass of freshmen sitting in front of me last night almost certainly didn’t make the same connection. They too seemed intimidated by the gravelly-voiced Powers, who has a calm confidence about him that I must subconsciously associate with Texas barbecue. “All too soon I’ll see you at graduation,” he said to the freshmen, reminding them of the “bookend” nature of Gone to Texas and their graduation: one you attend as an incoming freshman, the other as an exiting senior. A video of previous commencement speakers followed, and the nod toward the end goal of “going to Texas” — making it to graduation — had sufficient gravitas to quiet the now antsy crowd. As the video ended, a spotlight landed on the academic seal. “You are now and forever identified with Texas,” Powers said. A cheer went up, and I felt my cynicism flare — what exactly does “identifying with Texas” mean when so many people are fighting over the University’s purpose?

But alas, Gone to Texas rightfully left no place for a grim upperclassman like me. Before I can turn to a friend and make a move, the band swept in and the celebration started.

Printed on Thursday, August 30, 2012 as: Issues lurk amid celebration

Travis County court rules in favor of Texas over ESPN

A Travis county judge ruled today in favor of the University of Texas in a lawsuit against ESPN involving the privacy of the school's conference realignment documents from 2010.

The lawsuit stemmed from a June 22, 2010, public records request ESPN sent to the university. After Colorado and Nebraska elected to leave the Big 12 in 2010, ESPN requested records from Texas that disclosed the workings of the conference realignment process. Big 12 chairman at the time, and university president William Powers denied parts of the network's request, which ultimately led to the lawsuit about whether the records were public.

Texas argued that it was within reason to withhold some information because Powers was wearing two hats at the time as the conference chairman and school president. As president his emails could have been subject to closer scrutiny, but Texas argued that much of the conference realignment correspondence that took place between Texas and other member schools at the time were under the guise of his Big 12 chairmanship position.

"...While Powers wears two hats, UT System gets to decide which hat he has on, depending on which documents are at issue. ESPN's position is that it is not the hat, it is the man," said one of ESPN's attorney.

Shortly after, ESPN and the university agreed to a 20-year, $300 million dollar television deal called the Longhorn Network.  

UT System Board of Regents member Alex M. Cranberg and Executive Vice Chancellor for Business Affairs Scott C. Kelley applaud during the meeting.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Howeth | Daily Texan Staff

In an unprecedented decision, the UT System Board of Regents declined part of the University’s recommendation to increase tuition at a meeting Thursday, but did not do so for any other UT System institution. The regents froze tuition for in-state undergraduates for the next two academic years and raised tuition for all other students.

This concluded the second day of one of the six regular meetings that occur each year and is the latest the regents have set tuition since 2004. The regents approved a 2.1 percent increase for out-of-state undergraduates, instead of the proposed 2.6 percent increase, for the next two academic years. The regents approved a 3.6 percent increase for graduate students that followed President William Powers’ recommendation, but only for one year. In the plan, the University will still receive funds that the proposed 2.6 percent increase for in-state undergraduates would have generated. Regents Chairman Eugene Powell said the gap will be made up with funds from the Available University Fund, the investment income from West Texas oil lands that are managed by the UT System.

The University is the only UT institution that can use the AUF funds in this way, according to UT System Board of Regents press release. The endowment will provide an additional $6.6 million for each of the next two academic years. Powell said the University should not count on the funds for more than two years because they may not be available at that point.

The regents did not follow Powers’ recommendation to increase in-state undergraduate tuition by 2.6 percent each year for the next two academic years, and both out-of-state students and graduate students would have faced a 3.6 percent tuition increase each year for the next two academic years. The email Powers sent out yesterday inaccurately referenced the recommendations Powers proposed for out-of-state undergraduates in December.

Powers said the AUF funds will help to some degree, but it is not a recurring source of revenue like the revenue generated by tuition. He said recurring revenue is necessary to establish and maintain programs that the UT System desires.

“Every penny of it is needed and would be put towards student success,” Powers said. “I am disappointed that our very thoughtful proposal was not adopted. It was very carefully worked out in consultation with students.”

Powell commended programs aligned with UT System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa’s Framework for Excellence Action Plan that debuted Aug. 25, 2011, which aims to increase productivity and efficiency. However, he said the tuition rates that were approved will provide a bridge between implementing the programs and the cost savings that the programs will eventually produce.

“This has not been an easy process, but we want to continue our responsibility to have the finest institutions in America,” Powell said.

Powell said setting tuition rates is a delicate balancing act and a tremendous number of compromises were weighed and balanced in order to maintain tier-one research status and control affordability.

Printed on Friday, May 4, 2012 as: Regents decline tuition proposal

The presidents of UT’s three student governance organizations selected U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison as the commencement speaker for the May 21 event on the Main Mall. The senator will speak at a UT graduation ceremony for the second time. Hutchison also addressed the graduating class of 1998. As an alumna of the class of 1962, law school graduate and former cheerleader, Hutchison agreed to speak to the University at no charge. “It is particularly gratifying to be able to speak to the graduates of my alma mater,” Hutchison said, in a statement. “Like so many generations of UT graduates, life’s challenges and potential awaits them.” Student Government President Scott Parks, Graduate Student Assembly President Manny Gonzalez and Senate of College Councils President Chelsea Adler decided that Hutchison should speak at the ceremony because of her UT background and her career. Adler said the trio attended meetings in President William Powers’s office starting last summer to come to a decision. “It was an informal consensus,” Adler said. “Hutchison was on the list from the beginning.” While Parks, Adler and Gonzalez had the final say, Adler said the bodies of students that each president led suggested other potential commencement speakers. Powers also had oversight of the decision. Adler said Powers met Hutchison and said he was sure that there was no chance of the senator turning the opportunity into a political situation. “We see her as a Longhorn first and a Republican second,” Adler said. “She’s not quite as polarizing as other politicians.” Notable speakers from past commencements include President Lyndon B. Johnson and computer pioneer Michael Dell. Actress Marcia Gay Harden spoke last year. College Republicans President Justin May said he thinks Hutchison is the best choice for speaker in his four years at UT. May said he thinks Hutchison is one of the more bipartisan politicians. University Democrats President Billy Calve said he looks forward to hearing Hutchison’s remarks. “Commencement is a time to celebrate the achievements of UT graduates and put partisan politics aside,” Calve said.