How the U. of Texas Flagship’s Chief Built the Power Base That Saved His Neck

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Credits clockwise from top left: Mark Wilson, Getty Images; David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images; Eric Gay, AP Images; Eric Gay, AP Images

Key players in the dramatic saga that swept the U. of Texas at Austin this week were (clockwise from top left) William C. Powers Jr., the flagship campus's president; Gov. Rick Perry of Texas; Wallace L. Hall Jr., a prominent critic of Mr. Powers on the Board of Regents; and Francisco G. Cigarroa, the system's chancellor.

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Credits clockwise from top left: Mark Wilson, Getty Images; David Paul Morris, Bloomberg via Getty Images; Eric Gay, AP Images; Eric Gay, AP Images

Key players in the dramatic saga that swept the U. of Texas at Austin this week were (clockwise from top left) William C. Powers Jr., the flagship campus's president; Gov. Rick Perry of Texas; Wallace L. Hall Jr., a prominent critic of Mr. Powers on the Board of Regents; and Francisco G. Cigarroa, the system's chancellor.

William C. Powers Jr.’s fortunes as president of the University of Texas at Austin seemed to shift quickly this week, when the system’s chancellor announced that the imperiled leader would be granted another 11 months at the helm of the flagship campus. But the Lazarus act, which allows Mr. Powers to leave office on his own terms, was actually years in the making.

The president will resign, effective June 2, 2015. That will allow for the sort of "graceful" exit that he had