University of Texas System Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa told University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers that he must resign or he will be fired, a person with direct knowledge of the conversation told The Associated Press on Friday.
The person who confirmed the ultimatum spoke on the condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.
Cigarroa told Powers he must either resign ahead of the board of regents’ meeting Thursday or he will be fired at it, the person said. The person said Powers told Cigarroa that he would not resign but is willing to discuss a timeline for leaving.
A message left with the University of Texas Systems spokeswoman requesting an interview with Cigarroa was not immediately returned. Powers could not be reached for comment Friday.
Powers has led UT since 2006 and is popular among faculty and students. But his vision for higher education has clashed with some regents — sometimes dramatically — whose ideas are supported by Republican Gov. Rick Perry.
Cigarroa has acknowledged a “strained” relationship with Powers, whose job has been rumored to be in jeopardy since 2011. At a December regents meeting, Cigarroa gave Powers a cautious endorsement.
“There are problems. I’ve addressed these problems. And it is my full expectation that President Powers and I will work toward resolving them and moving ahead,” Cigarroa said at the time.
It’s been a bruising two years for Powers in leading the 50,000-student campus. The tension began in 2011 when Perry began pushing a series of higher education reforms that called for more accountability on state campuses and lower costs. Academics on the state’s largest campuses bristled at the proposals.
The Texas Tribune reported that state Rep. Carol Alvarado, D-Houston, one of the co-chairs of the House Select Committee on Transparency in State Agency Operations, said Friday that she was “disappointed” by the reports of Powers’ resignation being sought.
She said she intends to remind UT System leaders that lawmakers instructed them not to oust the president, because legislators are in the process of investigating one of the regents, the Tribune reported.
The committee is drafting articles of impeachment against UT System Regent Wallace Hall, who has been accused of abusing his authority in his pursuit of information about the UT Austin administration. Hall has denied any wrongdoing. The committee has been officially conducting its investigation for more than a year.