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Bill Powers, University Of Texas President, Clashes With Rick Perry Over Tuition Hikes

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Students are rallying to make sure University of Texas President Bill Powers doesn't lose his job over a clash with Gov. Rick Perry and his appointees on the Board of Regents.

Last week, the Regents denied Powers' request for a 2.6 percent tuition hike for UT undergrads. Instead they directed UT to use $6.6 million from the system's higher education endowment, which Powers criticized as a temporary fix.

"There is a tremendous difference between one-time allocations and solid, recurring allocations," Powers said.

On Wednesday, Texas Monthly reported Regents chairman Gene Powell had asked UT Chancellor Francisco Cigarroa to fire Powers, in part due to his criticism of the decision by the Regents against tuition increases.

Cigarroa denied the rumors that Powers might lose his job, saying in a statement ”The chairman of the board of regents has never directed me to fire anyone," but declined to comment further. Despite students pointing the blame at Perry, Catherine Frazier, a spokeswoman for the governor, told the Daily Texan "the governor has had no involvement" in any potential plans to remove Powers from his position.

Yet, that hasn't done much to stop people from speaking out in support of Powers and in opposition of Perry and the Regents, just in case the rumors are true. Students, faculty and alumni have all quickly come to Powers' defense.

The UT faculty council, plans to draft a resolution in support of Powers, regardless of whether the UT president's job is in jeopardy. The UT alumni association, commonly called the Texas Exes, began speaking out as well.

"Regardless of where you stand on the issue of tuition, the President needs to be able to make his careful recommendation about what’s best for the University," a letter sent out to Texas Exes members read, "and to make that case as strongly and articulately as he can, even if he and the Regents disagree."

At least 11,000 people joined a group on Facebook called "I Stand With Bill Powers" and many students changed their profile photos to read "Stand With Bill Powers." At the same time, some UT students dissented, such as Phillip Graham, who wrote on Facebook "I will not stand with someone who fights to raise my tuition."

So what does Powers have to say about all the hysteria circulating online?

"I am deeply grateful for the support of our students, faculty, staff and the thousands of members of the UT family," Powers said in a statement. "I will continue to work with the entire UT community to move the university forward."

View some of the tweets with the hashtag #SaveBillPowers

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