Powers was the son of William and Rosanna Reeder Powers and grandson of Thomas Powers who left North Carolina to settle in Lauderdale County in 1820. He was educated in the county schools and in 1867 began to study in Florence under S. P. Rice. He transferred to the Florence Wesleyan University until 1871, serving as a tutor during the last year.
Powers then enrolled in the University of Alabama and completed his master of arts in 1873 and was given a professorship in mathematics at the Alabama State Normal College in Florence which was set to open that fall. While there he became editor of the Southern Educator and helped organize the Alabama Education Association. He married the former Loula Reynolds on January 31, 1879.
He rose to president of the college in 1888, and served until 1897 when he was appointed to succeed Richard Jones as president of the University in Tuscaloosa. During his four year term, Powers succeeded in increasing enrollment and faculty appointments to record levels. After he resigned William Wyman was appointed to take his place. During his career Powers also served as president of the Association of Southern Colleges and Preparatory Schools.
After leaving Tuscaloosa, Powers took a position with the B. F. Johnson Publishing Company in Richmond, Virginia. He returned to Florence as president of the Normal College in 1911 and died in 1913. He was survived by his wife and five children.
|President of the University of Alabama
- Dubose, Joel Campbell (1904) Notable men of Alabama: Personal and Genealogical 2 Volumes. Atlanta, Georgia: Southern Historical Association