On March 22, University of Texas president Bill Powers received the University of California Berkeley Alumnus of the Year award, in recognition of his work as a champion for public higher education, legal scholar and university leader.
In winning the award, Powers joins an esteemed list of recipients including writer Joan Didion, U.S. Treasury secretary W. Michael Blumenthal and former U.S. Defense secretary Robert McNamara.
“Cal did for me what I’ve seen UT do for tens of thousands of students while I’ve been here,” Powers told the Alcalde blog in October, when news of the award was first announced. “It exposed me to ideas and experiences that I never dreamed about in high school, and I think that is the foundation for living a useful and meaningful life.”
After graduating from Cal in 1967 with his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Powers went on to a career that included serving in the Navy, editing the Harvard Law Review and working as a legal consultant to the U.S. Congress and the Brazilian legislature.
In 2001, Powers chaired a special committee investigating the financial transactions of Enron Corp. The final document, the eponymous Powers Report, is now considered the definitive study of the fiscal malfeasance that led to the downfall of Enron and foreshadowed the financial crises of the subsequent years.
One of the nation’s foremost scholars in personal injury and product liability, Powers joined the faculty of the UT School of Law in 1977. He later served as dean of the law school and in 2006 was appointed president of the university. He also serves as UT’s Regent’s Chair in Higher Education Leadership. In the fall of 2013 he was selected as chair of the Association of American Universities, a nonprofit association of North America’s preeminent universities.