AUSTIN, Texas - Former UT President Bill Powers has died. Powers passed away on Sunday in Austin from complications from a fall several months earlier and from oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, a rare adult-onset muscle disorder.
As UT Austin's 28th president, Powers was described as an eloquent and fierce champion for UT students, faculty and staff. In addition to serving as president from 2006 to 2015, he had been a member of the School of Law faculty for more than 40 years, including six as dean.
According to Presidnt Gregory L. Fenves, Bill put every ounce of himself into defending the soul of our university. He bravely stood up for what was right, and he fought against a view of higher education that would have compromised UT’s constitutional charge to be a “university of the first class,” while setting a dangerous precedent for public research universities across the nation.
Bill Powers is also credited as the driving force behind the transformation of UT’s undergraduate curriculum and set us on a path to increase our four-year graduation rate to 70 percent. He launched the Dell Medical School and led UT to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the university prevailed in defending the educational benefits of diversity.
In a speech 10 years ago, Bill quoted Margaret Mead:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”
"n many ways, that sentence defines Bill Powers. He was one of those thoughtful, committed citizens," according to President Fenves. "He changed UT. He changed Texas. He changed the world."
Powers is remembered by his wife Kim, their children and grandchildren.