News Roundup: Former UT President Bill Powers Dead At 72

Our daily look at headlines from around the state.

By Becky FogelMarch 11, 2019 12:17 pm

Former University of Texas at Austin President Bill Powers has died.

He was 72 years old. The school says his death Sunday was due to complications from a recent fall and a rare muscular disorder.

Powers served as president of the state’s flagship university from 2006 to 2015. That year, he spoke with Texas Standard about the challenges of the job and how he handled them.

“I like to think I have a trait; I go back to the Hobbit,” he said. “Ya know, one of the questions is why would Gandolph chose the Hobbit for an important quest, ya know the elves had magic, and the dwarves could fight, and Aragorn is swashbuckling. But the Hobbit not quite knowing what was around the corner, kept putting one damn foot in front of the other, and so ya know, my view was just keep going – and if it worked it worked, and if it didn’t work it didn’t. So I’d have those moments but I’d try and work through them and say, just keep going.”

Powers first joined UT-Austin as a law professor in 1977.

His achievements as president include launching the Dell Medical School and working to increase the four-year-graduation rate to 70 percent. Current UT-Austin President, Gregory Fenves, described Powers as, “an eloquent and fierce champion for UT students, faculty, and staff.”

Texas Rep. Will Hurd says he would vote for fellow Republican President Trump over Democrat Beto O’Rourke if they went head-to-head in the 2020 presidential election.

That’s despite the collegial history between Hurd and former El Paso Congressman O’Rourke. Hurd and O’Rourke live-streamed a bipartisan road trip in 2017. And a year later, O’Rourke did not endorse Hurd’s Democratic challenger, Gina Ortiz Jones, in the midterms.

Hurd was asked about his possible vote by Jake Tapper, Host of CNN’s “State of the Union.” Hurd said it was “very clear” he would not vote for his congressional colleague, “unless Beto O’Rourke plans to run as a Republican, which I don’t think he’s planning on doing.”

O’Rourke has yet to announce whether he is running for President.

The number of confirmed measles cases in Texas is now up to 11.

Chris Van Deusen, spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, says the state is seeing more measles cases than it has in recent years. “What really would increase our concern is if we get into a situation where we’re seeing multiple cases, multiple generations of cases, sustain themselves,” he says. “[If] somebody catches it from somebody else in Texas, who got it from someday else in Texas – that would really increase our concern that we would start seeing it replicate here within in the state,” he adds, “rather than being connected to international travel, which is usually when we see measles cases.”

There were just nine confirmed measles cases in Texas in 2018 and only one the year before that.

NBC’s Saturday Night Live injected some Texas flavor into its program over the weekend. Host Idris Elba introduced the musical guest who hails from El Paso: Khalid.

Khalid performing his new single “Talk.” He also performed his hit, “Better.” The West Texas artist is slated to release his sophomore album, “Free Spirit” in April.