The Association of American Universities (AAU) elected University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers vice chair at its semiannual meeting this week. Scott S. Cowen, president of Tulane University, was elected association chair.
The vice chair is elected for a three-year term, serving as vice chair for one year and then assuming the positions of chair and past chair in the second and third years.
"AAU is most fortunate that Bill Powers, a strong and effective advocate for public research universities, has agreed to serve as vice chair of the association," said Hunter Rawlings, president of the AAU. "A major focus of our activities this coming year will be making the case for increased public support of these vital institutions, and I look forward to working with Bill in these efforts."
Powers is already recognized as a national leader on issues related to higher education. His goal of making The University of Texas at Austin the best public research university in America has been supported by a sustained emphasis on undergraduate education, including the strengthening of a core curriculum and the inauguration of a School of Undergraduate Studies. In addition to recruiting a diverse student body and faculty, Powers has taken on the challenge of redefining productivity in higher education and has become a national spokesman articulating the value of the public research university to society.
He has served as University of Texas at Austin president since 2006 and before that was dean of the university's School of Law. One of the nation's leading scholars in personal injury and products liability, Powers has taught torts, products liability, jurisprudence, legal process, civil procedure, conflict of laws and contracts. He was named to the university's Academy of Distinguished Teachers, is a University Distinguished Teaching Professor and holds the Hines H. Baker and Thelma Kelley Baker Chair in Law. He received his law degree from Harvard Law School and taught at the University of Washington Law School before joining The University of Texas at Austin in 1977.
The AAU vice chair serves on the AAU Executive Committee, which provides general oversight and policy direction for AAU and conducts the business of the association between the two biannual meetings of the member presidents and chancellors. As vice chair, Powers also will assist Cowen with his duties as chair.
AAU is a nonprofit association of 59 U.S. and two Canadian preeminent public and private research universities. Founded in 1900, AAU focuses on national and institutional issues that are important to research-intensive universities, including funding for research, research and education policy, and graduate and undergraduate education.