Powers Resignation Begins Time of Transition Among University Leadership

March 23, 2015

Recent resignations of UT administrators following President Powers’ announcement to step down is likely caused by recruiter activity and signals a natural time for a shift towards new leadership.

As the search for the next UT president progresses, a number of deans and high-level university administrators have announced their resignation in the past couple of months, including former CFO and vice president Kevin Hegarty. According to Hegarty, who has seen similar situations in his 25 years of prior corporate experience, the notable leaving of university staff is likely caused by increased recruiting efforts targeting UT. Often, when a change of leadership occurs at a large institution, such as the CEO of a business, recruiters look for employees seeking change.

“Recruiters know that that’s a time that people start to rethink where they want to be,” Hegarty said.

UT is known for an excellent administrative team that attracts a lot of recruiter attention, according to Hegarty, and Powers’ resignation is “an opportunity for them to recruit in people that they might want.”

Other universities and institutions that have vacant positions will form search committees to reach out to potential candidates that they want, said Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business who is also planning to leave in August.

“People don’t think about higher education being competitive for talent, but it’s highly, highly competitive,” Hegarty said.

The imminent replacement of a president often prompts faculty and staff to begin thinking about opportunities to further their career.

“There are some great opportunities out there,” Hegarty said. “People are going towards an opportunity, not trying to escape something here that they don’t like or they don’t see.”

As a result, a leadership change at a large institution like UT becomes a natural time for important staff who have been at the university for a while to start to leave.

“So it would only make sense that, when the president is leaving and there’s a transition, it’s a natural period for other people who are in leadership to see what other career options are out there,” said Gary Susswein, Powers’ press representative.

The sudden change in administration brings up the question of how UT might be run differently in the future; however, there is likely to be no negative change, and replacements for these positions could bring in fresh ideas and better practices, according to Gilligan.

“The reason why you have new presidents, new leaders, new deans is to bring in new thoughts and new ideas,” Gilligan said. “So one answer to that question is, I hope so.”

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