SAC to be renamed after former UT President Bill Powers

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Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

The Student Activity Center, one of the most popular student spots on campus, will be renamed after former UT President Bill Powers. 

The UT System Board of Regents approved renaming the building to the William C. Powers Jr. Student Activity Center during a meeting Aug. 14. The building’s formal dedication ceremony will be held on campus this fall,  according to a press release. 

“There could be no greater tribute than … to have thousands of students pass through the halls of the Powers Student Activity Center,” UT President Gregory Fenves said during the board meeting. “The Powers Student Activity Center will be a daily reminder to our campus that the success of the University of Texas is the success of our students.”

President William J. Powers died in March at the age of 72. He served as UT’s president from 2006-2015 and was a faculty member at the UT School of Law for over 40 years. 

According to a press release, during his time as president, Powers oversaw the largest public university fundraising campaign in Texas history, the founding of Dell Medical School and the creation of the School of Undergraduate Studies. Powers was also involved with the construction of 13 campus buildings during his tenure, including the SAC. 

During Powers’ first year as president, plans were approved for the SAC after decades of students lobbied for another student social site on campus. 

Even during the SAC’s construction, the intent was always to name the building after someone who was a student advocate, said Danielle Rugoff, the 2006-2007 student body president. 

“Since this was a building that was paid for by student fees, we were really hoping that we’d be able to keep the nature of the students, … (and) the focus and attention of the building by having not only the building, but different spaces in the building, named after (their) fierce advocates,” Rugoff said.

Rugoff said Powers made sure student voices were as valued as anyone else’s. 

“Whatever the conversation was, he really respected students’ opinions and put it at the center of every decision he made,” Rugoff said. “I always felt like I was turned to for my perspective.”

Powers taught one undergraduate course a year throughout his presidency. Rachel Jamail, a former student and teaching assistant of Powers, said he always made time for his students.

“He was a deeply intelligent man, deeply caring and compassionate, and putting those qualities together made him an extraordinary teacher,” Jamail said. “He really encouraged us to think deeply and thoughtfully, and he encouraged us through his own perspective.”

Rugoff said Powers is the perfect namesake for the building. 

“It’s just a really beautiful sentiment that when students are sitting … and planning their future, that they’ll be doing so in a building that was named after a man that thought about the future of every student that walked through the Forty Acres,” Rugoff said.