Bill Powers doing hookem handsign.

The UT Tower will shine with burnt orange lights and the letters “BP” on its sides on Friday, April 12 in honor of William C. Powers Jr., the university’s 28thpresident.

Powers was an esteemed teacher, nationally recognized legal scholar, and staunch believer in the value of the public research university who defended UT against challenges to its mission.

Powers passed away on March 10 in Austin from complications from a fall several months earlier and from oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy, a rare adult-onset muscle disorder.

In addition to serving as president from 2006 to 2015, he had been a member of the School of Law faculty for more than 40 years, including six as dean. He taught courses in torts and a freshman philosophy seminar, connecting with thousands of students in his career.

“Bill was an eloquent and fierce champion for UT students, faculty and staff. Never was this more evident than in the early and mid-2010s, when Bill put every ounce of himself into defending the soul of our university,” said President Gregory L. Fenves, who was recruited by Powers to return to UT as engineering dean in 2008. “For 40 years on these Forty Acres, Bill Powers embodied the UT motto, ‘What starts here changes the world.’ He lived those words. But even more importantly, he made sure legions of other Longhorns did too. We’ll miss him dearly.”

He is survived by his wife of 36 years, Kim Heilbrun of Austin, five children and their spouses and partners: Matt Powers and Jeny Wegbreit of San Francisco;Kate Powers and Scott Puryear of New York City; Allison Powers and Oscar Useche of Lubbock; Annie Powers and George Franklin of New York City; and Reid Powers and Kelsey McManus of Austin; six grandchildren; and his sister SusanPowers.

Friends who wish to make a donation in memory of President Powers may contribute to the William C. Powers and Kim Heilbrun Endowed Scholarship Fund in the UT Law SchoolFoundation or Foster Angels of Central Texas,where he was a member of the Board of Directors.

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