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May 9, 2011


C. Vote of Confidence in the President and his Administrative Team (D 8663).

Chair Elect Friedman said he had been a faculty member at UT Austin for a very long time and had never been inclined to offer a vote of confidence for an administration or individual administrator. However, given the present crisis facing UT Austin and the tireless manner in which President Powers has worked “to sustain the quality, mission, and reputation of UT, even at the risk of both his health and his job,” Chair Elect Friedman said the FCEC had unanimously endorsed a motion of confidence and support in President Powers and his administrative team. Chair Elect Friedman then read the following motion, as presented in D 8663, for Council consideration.

The University of Texas at Austin Faculty Council:

  • states its commitment to upholding the constitutional mandate that The University of Texas at Austin be an institution of “the first class”;
  • is concerned that the University's mission, core purpose, and core values are currently in jeopardy;
  • believes that President Powers and his administrative team have tirelessly and effectively advocated for the University while valuing academic research and excellent teaching and adhering to the highest standards of professionalism and ethical conduct; and
  • has complete confidence in the leadership of President Powers and his administrative team in promoting, preserving, and upholding “a University of the First Class,” as mandated by the Constitution of the State of Texas

Chair Neikirk thanked Chair Elect Friedman for presenting the resolution and opened the floor for discussion. Professor Elmira Popova (mechanical engineering and chair of the Graduate Assembly) said the Graduate Assembly had reviewed, at its last meeting of the academic year on April 27, the prepared draft of the motion just presented by Chair Elect Friedman to the Faculty Council. She reported that the Graduate Assembly unanimously voted its support of the resolution. Dean Randy Diehl (liberal arts) reported that he and Dean Manuel Justiz (education) had agreed to distribute the resolution to all of the other deans for discussion at their next meeting in two weeks. He said he was planning to recommend that the deans endorse the resolution as an expression of solidarity.

Chair Neikirk said he thought President Powers had “put himself on the line” in support of UT Austin and its faculty. He said he and the FCEC members were disappointed that the vote of support could not have occurred sooner on the Council’s calendar for the year. However, he said this meeting was the first chance the Faculty Council had to join in supporting the president’s efforts that have already been publically acknowledged by the alumni, donors, and other groups. Professor Edmund T. Gordon (anthropology and African and African diaspora studies) noted the situation at Texas A&M where there have been what he described as “changes of president and other high officials under political pressure and duress.” He said President Powers had done a yeoman’s job in his efforts to protect what faculty believe are important here at UT Austin, and he recommended endorsement by the Council of the resolution. Chair Neikirk asked if there were any further discussion, and there was none. He called for the vote, and the resolution was unanimously approved by voice vote.

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