NOVEMBER 18, 2013


A. Comments by the President.

President Powers reported on an event scheduled for Wednesday, November 22 by the Young Conservatives of Texas’ “Catch an Illegal Immigrant” day.1 After stressing that this kind of event was offensive to him and to the University, he explained that it could not be banned as it was considered symbolic speech. However, he did say that if there were any violations of University rules, that University laws and other laws would be enforced rigorously. President Powers then read the following prepared statement that was to be disseminated to the public later that afternoon
The proposed Young Conservatives of Texas event is completely out of line with the values we espouse at The University of Texas at Austin. Our students, faculty and the entire university work hard both to promote diversity and engage in a respectful exchange of ideas. The Wednesday event does not reflect that approach or commitment.

As Americans, we should always visualize our Statue of Liberty and remember that our country was built on the strength of immigration. Our nation continues to grapple with difficult questions surrounding immigration. I ask YCT to be part of that discussion but to find more productive and respectful ways to do so that do not demean their fellow students.
President Powers encouraged faculty members to speak out on the issue. Dr. Regina Hughes (distinguished senior lecturer, finance) asked if it would be appropriate for her to tell her class of the planned event and give them the president’s statement. President Powers responded saying “I do not think we should use the classroom to speak out on political issues. Having said that, I do think it is appropriate for, in a short period of time, for people to speak out in support of our students.”

Professor Paul Shapiro (astronomy) asked whether it would be a good idea for the Faculty Council to pass a resolution condemning “the activity as intimidating legitimate members of the University community who have a right to conduct their lives and work without intimidation.” Professor Bill Beckner (chair elect, mathematics) suggested instead that the Council endorse President Powers’ statement by putting the Faculty Council on record as supporting it. The Faculty Council agreed and unanimously endorsed the president’s statement. President Powers’ thanked the Council for their support.

Noel B. Busch-Armendariz (associate professor, social work) said that she felt that the event was a human rights violation and had asked the faculty in her school to “join in a proclamation around human rights and socially conscious dialogue language.” In addition, she asked the Faculty Council members to encourage their students to join the social work students in protesting the event and participate in a better dialogue around the issue.” Professor Busch finished by thanking President Powers for his strong statement.

President Powers then provided some information on the newly hired athletic director, Steve Patterson, who was recruited from Arizona State University and will be replacing DeLoss Dodds. President Powers said what made Mr. Patterson standout from the other candidates included some things that he had implemented at Arizona State that bolstered academics on their campus and that he was fully committed to working with the Faculty Council. President Powers added that Mr. Patterson agreed that “the student athlete and academics come first.”

Finally, the president gave an update on the Medical School saying that it is moving on pace and that Provost Gregory Fenves, Steven Leslie (special assistant to the president for medical education), Sue Cox (employee of UT affiliated organization, UT Dell Medical School), Bob Messing (vice provost for biomedical sciences), and others, have been continuing to put in place curriculum, accreditation, and memoranda of understanding with Seton and the hospital district. President Powers said that several extremely strong candidates had been interviewed for the dean of the Medical School. He said that he felt good progress was being made and that he believes this venture is “very, very important to the long-range welfare of the University and the community.” He ended his comments on the Medical School by thanking the provost, Dr. Leslie, Dr. Messing, Dr. Cox, and many of the deans in related areas for the work they have done.

1On November 19, 2013, the YTC canceled the event.
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