The University of Texas President Bill Powers was honored by friends and colleagues May 27 before his nine-year tenure as the head of the Austin campus comes to a close.
Many of the speakers who recognized Powers during the event, which was hosted by Austin Chamber of Commerce, went down the long list of the outgoing president's career achievements, such as the pending creation of Dell Medical School, a capital funding campaign that has raised more than $3 billion and his mission to ensure UT is a top-tier school nationally with thriving research programs.
Many also credited Powers' courage when making tough decisions, including the many battles he fought with the Board of Regents that ultimately led to his departure.
"As I begin being president a week from today, people have asked what I learned from Bill," Fenves said. "I learned ... the courage to make decisions that are right for the university, that are best for the university and especially the courage to say 'no' when there are things not good for the university ... and Bill has been courageous in the face on those decisions."
Powers' courage, leadership and ability to be a "cool guy" were the qualities Fenves said he admired most about his soon-to-be former boss.
Outgoing Student Government President Kori Rady said he admired the love for students that Powers displayed—and how much the students loved him. Rady recounted recent events during which UT students came together to hold an unofficial commencement ceremony after the official event was cancelled because of poor weather conditions. Not only did Powers come to the ceremony on a holiday, Rady said, but he stayed until midnight taking photos with thousands of students.
Sen. Kirk Watson, D-Austin, worked closely with Powers to help establish the creation of the Dell Medical School. Watson said Austin and the university have been fortunate to have Powers leading UT's main campus.
Powers' last day in office is June 5, at which point Provost Gregory Fenves officially becomes the university's new president.