The William C. Powers, Jr. Student Activity Center, formerly called the Student Activity Center, was officially renamed during a ceremony on Friday after former UT President Bill Powers.
The UT System Board of Regents unanimously voted to rename the SAC during its board meeting on Aug. 14. During Friday’s ceremony, changes to the buildings exterior were unveiled and people close to Powers spoke about the impression he left on them.
“Just like Harry Potter had Dumbledore, we had President Powers,” said Geetika Jerath, former Senate of College Councils president under Powers. “He was a lawyer, a leader, a legend and, most importantly, a Longhorn.”
During his time as president, Powers oversaw the largest public university fundraising campaign in Texas history, the founding of Dell Medical School and the creation of the School of Undergraduate Studies. Powers was also involved with the construction of 13 campus buildings during his tenure, including the SAC, according to the release.
“With this building, present and future generations of UT students will pass through these halls behind me and see Bill’s name every single day,” UT President Gregory Fenves said. “I can’t think of a more fitting tribute for President Bill Powers.”
Dave Farnum, former assistant to Powers and current director of external affairs for the School of Law, said he admired how he could talk to Powers about anything at any time.
“(Powers) was a renaissance man,” Farnum said. “Students were always at the center of his heart. And so knowing that students will be in this building ... his legacy will live on.”
Jerath said the SAC was her second home, and there could not be a building more fitting to be renamed after Powers.
“I told Bill that if UT ever named a building after him, it better be the best one,” Jerath said. “Thankfully, it’s the best one.”
Jerath said Powers’ love for students showed in his day-to-day interactions, and students often reciprocated.
“During my time as the president of the Senate of College Councils, it was difficult to get 50,000 students to agree on anything,” Jerath said. “However, I realized that UT students did agree on one thing — President Powers was really cool.”
Kenneth Jastrow, chairman of the University’s Capital Campaign, said while he worked under Powers, they would frequently be interrupted because he would always stop and talk to students.
“One day, we were walking across campus and because of Bill’s interaction with students, we were late for a meeting,” Jastrow said. “He said to me, ‘I have to speak with each student. I don’t want to let them down.’”
Just before Powers died, Jastrow said authorization was given to inform Powers and his family about the renaming in his name.
“Everyone was humbled, emotional and very thankful for this great honor,” Jastrow said. “Bill was at peace, knowing that forever, he would be linked with the students he loved.”