Powers Formally Named President of UT-Austin

12-5-05 - William Powers, dean of the University of Texas School of Law, was formally named the new president of the University of Texas at Austin on Monday, one month after UT's board of regents announced he was the sole finalist for the job.

The regents voted 9-0 to name Powers president.

UT System Chancellor Mark Yudof praised Powers' academic skills, military service and business sense and said he's trusted by state leaders, faculty members and students.

"It's a great pleasure to bring someone who brings all these strengths to an admittedly very tough job," Yudof said.

Powers, who began teaching at the university's law school in 1977 and became its dean in 2000, will take the helm on Feb. 1. Regents chairman James Huffines said details about Powers' salary were still being negotiated.

He will replace Larry Faulkner, who announced this summer he would step down as leader of the 50,000-student school after holding the post since 1998.

"I believe the regents have chosen an outstanding new leader for the university," Faulkner said. "Bill Powers is a man of intelligence and courage _ he will need those things as he goes into the years that he will serve as president of the university."

Powers said it is an honor and a privilege to be chosen to lead UT-Austin.

"I will work hard and diligently and tirelessly to justify the confidence that (the regents) have placed in me," he said.

Born in Los Angeles, Powers, 59, studied chemistry at the University of California at Berkeley before joining the Navy. An interest in philosophy prompted him to take the Law School Admissions Test while stationed in Bahrain, and he excelled at Harvard Law School, serving as managing editor of the Harvard Law Review.

He began teaching at the UT law school in 1977 and quickly became a popular instructor. He also has earned a reputation as one of the nation's top scholars in personal injury and products liability law, co-authoring several textbooks and publishing dozens of articles in law journals.

When the Enron corruption scandal broke in 2001, Powers was asked by the company to conduct an internal investigation into questionable business transactions.

Although Enron had just given $250,000 to the law school, Powers' 218-page report criticized the architects of the questionable partnerships and the executives, directors and auditors who should have been watching over them.

By law, the regents were required to wait 21 days after naming Powers as the sole finalist to appoint him to the position.

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