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Bill Powers on Regents Drama, Civil Rights Summit & Those Mysterious Maroon Bluebonnets

Rodolfo Gonzalez, American-Statesman
UT-Austin President Bill Powers welcomes guests to a panel at the LBJ School & Museum's Civil Rights Summit, on Wednesday, April 9, 2014.

Reports over the past week suggest that the screws are tightening on one of the biggest critics of William Powers, Jr., President of the University of Texas at Austin.

University Regent Wallace Hall likely committed impeachable offenses, according to a 176-page report prepared for legislators looking into Hall's campaign to oust Powers. Among the charges: that Hall leaked confidential student information in apparent violation of state and federal law, that he attempted to coerce UT administrators to alter testimony to investigators, and that he abused his position as regent.

So far, Hall has declined direct comment on the report. But the outcome of the investigation is likely to have an impact – one way or another – on both the University of Texas and on the long-strained relationship between President Powers and the Board of Regents. 

Powers recently sat down with Texas Standard's David Brown to discuss the report, and other UT news.  Listen to the extended interview via Soundcloud. Here's some highlights:

On the LBJ Civil Rights Summit:

"It was terrific to be able to commemorate 50 years of the Civil Rights Act, one of the most meaning events in my lifetime. It was also really interesting to see the icons of the Civil Rights movement – Andrew Young, many, many others, Vernon Jordon – at one point they were sitting on a couch together. I just looked over and thought, 'Those are people I've seen all my life.' And to have them come back and be part of this celebration was really meaningful, and it was terrific for our students."

On the legislative report on Regent Hall:

"I've seen the report, but have not read the entire report. It's a legislative report from the council, to the transparency committee … It's really their decision to what to do with this … It's been very disruptive on the campus, it's taken a lot of time and effort for our staff … It would be good to get back to the business of the university, and the business of the system, and where we're as a collection of universities, but I'll leave the characterizations to others."

On the mysterious appearance of Aggie-colored maroon bluebonnets on campus:

"We don't know for sure where they came from; if it’s the work of some Aggies, hats off to them, it's kind of clever. You know anyone wearing maroon would love to wake up and be in a better place."

David entered radio journalism thanks to a love of storytelling, an obsession with news, and a desire to keep his hair long and play in rock bands. An inveterate political junkie with a passion for pop culture and the romance of radio, David has reported from bases in Washington, London, Los Angeles, and Boston for Monitor Radio and for NPR, and has anchored in-depth public radio documentaries from India, Brazil, and points across the United States and Europe. He is, perhaps, known most widely for his work as host of public radio's Marketplace. Fulfilling a lifelong dream of moving to Texas full-time in 2005, Brown joined the staff of KUT, launching the award-winning cultural journalism unit "Texas Music Matters."
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