After seven years as president of the University of Texas at Austin, Bill Powers says his vision for the school is coming to fruition
"We have cast off mere regional aspirations. Indeed, we look beyond even national greatness and aspire to leadership in a rapidly integrating world,” Powers said during his state of the university address Wednesday. “U.T. Austin is now a world university."
U.T. has new facilities for schools of communications and liberal arts, and a new teaching hospital in the works.
The school has seen academic successes, too. Freshman dropout rates have fallen by half, and more students are graduating in only four years.
"They are the result of the fact that we are actually getting better at what we do. We are teaching better," Powers said.
But Powers says the challenges ahead are still significant.
"We can't continue to decrease public funding across the nation and then express shock when the price to students goes up or when we fall behind our competitors around the world," he said.
Powers said a world class school needs the best people, from professors to maintenance workers.
"Let me put it bluntly: We need raises, even if we have to stop doing some other important things to get them," Powers said.
The message pleased U.T. supporters.
"I love this place and it's on a roll. And this university is capable of attaining these goals and I believe it will," U.T. fan Kenny Jastrow said.
The University of Texas is coming off its best fundraising year ever, collecting more than $450 million in gifts and pledges.
It's the final year of an effort to raise $3 billion, and the school has so far tallied more than $2 billion in donations.