Bill Powers, Former President of UT and Jackson Walker of counsel, Speaks About Fisher Decision
“This is very good news for UT and for higher education,“ Bill said. “It affirms UT’s narrowly tailored use of ethnicity as one factor among many in an holistic review for admissions. It will help diversify higher education in Texas and throughout the country. I applaud and appreciate the efforts, leadership, and support of President Larry Faulkner before me and President Greg Fenves after me during this lengthy series of cases.”
At issue in this case was whether the use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions by the University of Texas violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The 4-3 opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, notes that race is “but a factor of a factor of a factor” in the university’s holistic-review program. Also noted is the impact of the state-imposed “Top Ten Percent Plan,” which fills as many as three-fourths of the freshman slots each year with Texas students who finish at the top of their high school classes. The dissent was written by Justice Alito and joined by Justices Roberts and Thomas. Justice Thomas also filed a separate dissent. Justice Kagan recused herself.
Prior to joining Jackson Walker, Bill was the 28th president of The University of Texas at Austin from 2006 to 2015, serving as chief executive officer of an institution that teaches some 50,000 students, employs more than 24,000 faculty and staff members, and manages an annual budget of more than $2.6 billion. As president, Bill oversaw an ambitious project to reform the undergraduate curriculum, the creation of the Dell Medical School and the School of Undergraduate Studies, an expansion of blended and online learning and an historic $3.1 billion capital campaign. In 2013, he was elected chairman of the prestigious Association of American Universities, an organization of the 62 leading public and private universities in the United States and Canada. Prior to assuming the role of UT president, Bill served for five years as Dean of The University of Texas School of Law, where he continues to teach both undergraduate and law school courses.
One of the country’s most respected legal scholars, Bill is the author of dozens of articles on tort law and legal philosophy and of several books. He is a member of the American Law Institute, where he was co-reporter for the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Apportionment of Liability and the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Liability for Physical Harm.
Bill is a member of Jackson Walker’s Litigation, Appellate, Special Investigations and Corporate & Securities practice groups.