The new president of the University of Texas says he will appoint a panel to decide what to do with four bronze statues on the Austin campus that honor confederate leaders and have drawn complaints for several years.

William Powers Jr., who took over as president this month, said the advisory committee would look into concerns about the statues, which include likenesses of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States, and Gen. Robert E. Lee.

"A lot of students, and especially minority students, have raised concerns. And those are understandable and legitimate concerns. On the other hand, the statues have been here for a long time, and that's something we have to take into account as well," Powers said in Wednesday's Austin American-Statesman.

The university's previous president, Larry Faulkner, wrote an open letter to the campus more than two years ago saying the statues convey "institutional nostalgia" for the Confederacy and its values.

"Most who receive that message are repelled," Faulkner wrote.

Statuary on the Austin campus has grown more diverse over the years, partly as a result of student-led efforts.

A student fee raised funds to install a statue of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in 1999. Also in the works are statues of Hispanic labor leader Cesar Chavez and Barbara Jordan, the first black woman from the South elected to Congress.