Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Texas Southern University is a HBCU located in Houston that is going through a crisis of sorts. The President was fired for misappropriating funds and is awaiting trial. In the meantime, the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry, has announced a plan to place a Conservator in charge of the University, bypassing its Board of Regents, whom he has asked to all resign. His stated goal is to get the university back on track, something that he feels can't be done through the current board structure.
Sounds reasonable until you discover that TSU can lose its accreditation if there is not a board in place. With a powerful alumni base that includes politicians, athletes, business leaders, and activists, you can imagine the governors plan is not exactly going over that well. For example, U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee said that
...she wants the U.S. Department of Education to intervene, alleging that conservatorship would be a strict violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, imposing "undue burdens on black students." read more...
Rep. Jackson Lee's opinion is echoed in an Op/Ed from this Sunday's Houston Chronicle cowritten by former TSU President James Douglas, that states:
...conservatorship would result in the destruction of the university. According to the school's accrediting agency, conservatorship would destroy the university's accreditation and eliminate all federal financial aid programs. These programs provide necessary funding that more than 70 percent of the TSU student body relies on to fund their education. read more...
Douglas and company then hit the nail squarely on the head with this point:
First, it is not the governance structure at TSU that is broken; it is the system of selecting the board of regents. For the past 60 years, it has been the governor, with the advice and consent of the Texas Senate, that has appointed the regents who hire the president. Thus, the problem of university governance lies on the doorsteps of the Texas governor and Senate. If they are dissatisfied with the caliber of their appointments, then perhaps it is time that they establish better criteria for filling these positions. read more...
Hmmm, I smell politics with a little bit of race thrown in for good measure. I didn't attend TSU, but I appreciate the value of this great HBCU in the heart of the city. It's historical role and the fact that its an open enrollment school means that if it were to lose its accreditation as a university, for many area students there would be no place else to go. That alone seems to be worth fighting for, and props to those leaders who are doing so.