One of the most diverse universities in the nation; Texas Southern University is governed by a nine-member Board of Regents. In addition, a student regent is appointed annually to the Board.
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Media Statement - 3-16-2020
Dear Members of the TSU Community,
We are working with Acting President Ken Huewitt and the administration to ensure all members of the TSU family are safe during this time in our nation as we are all impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus).
As we continue with the business of Texas Southern University, the Board of Regents would like to keep you informed about its plans moving forward. The following components of this letter are meant to give the TSU community an update of the important steps that are underway by the Board of Regents.
The Presidential Transition
The Board will work toward officially naming Ken Huewitt the Interim President of Texas Southern University. President Huewitt has provided focused leadership at a time when TSU has needed a steady hand. Ken Huewitt’s appointment follows the announcement earlier this year that the Board of Regents and Dr. Austin Lane had agreed to accept a mediator’s proposal in connection with the notice of termination the Board of Regents served on Dr. Austin Lane. The acceptance of the mediator’s proposal removed the need to hold a public hearing on the merits of the notice of termination, and more importantly, allowed the Board of Regents to seamlessly continue the operations of the University with an experienced executive at the helm.
Presidential Search Committee
The Board of Regents and the administration’s immediate focus has been completing the University’s important Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation review for the University. Much time and effort from the Board of Regents and the administration has been spent preparing for the University’s three-day meeting with SACSCOC, which has taken place already. A final determination on the University’s accreditation will be forthcoming toward the end of the year.
It is important that the leadership of the University during this period be led by an individual with an understanding of our great University and its operations.
We will begin the search process for the 13th president of Texas Southern University six to eight months after the completion of the SACSCOC accreditation process.
Prior to the official announcement of the presidential search committee, the Board will seek input from our diverse University community including our alumni. The Board will share more details on the presidential search process in the near future.
External Investigation into Admissions, Enrollment and Scholarships
The Board’s hiring of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, a leading auditing firm, Berkley Research Group, a national research firm with financial, educational and forensic experience, and O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo, a law firm with extensive general counsel experience, was instrumental in helping the Board review, identify and implement certain corrective actions within the University.
The external investigators’ work is ongoing and the Board will wait for their final findings into admissions, enrollment and scholarship practices within the University. Until their work is done, we will continue to support the review.
Creation of the Office of Compliance In the short term, the Board, in conjunction with Acting President Ken Huewitt, have taken on the task of working toward identifying policies and procedures to shore up the inefficiencies in the organizational and financial structure, compliance and other matters pertinent to the overall operational health of the University. As we review deficiencies in the University’s operational structure, it has become apparent that the University needs an Office of Compliance to ensure compliance with outside regulatory, legal requirements and internal policies and bylaws. A department for Contract Management Review will preside under this structure. Acting President Ken Huewitt will be providing more details surrounding the creation of this office.
The Creation of the Chairman’s & President’s Council
The creation of the Chairman’s & President’s Council (CPC) will serve as external advisors to the President and the Chairman of the Board of Regents on matters related to the University’s role in the community, which will include synergies with the business and philanthropic community on advancing the student needs of the University. Work is already underway to identify potential council members.
The Board’s Continued Commitment
As we move forward together, the Board of Regents will continue to require strict adherence to the University’s policies and procedures by its administrators, faculty and staff. It is with the utmost priority that we work as a team across the University to ensure that the credibility and accountability of the University is intact.
Hasan Mack Chairman,
Albert Myres Sr. Vice-Chairman,
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Media Statement - 3-12-2020
The Chief Auditor’s Office at Texas Southern University submitted to the Texas State Auditor’s Office certain findings made by the CAO and internal investigators regarding the ongoing investigation into matters arising from admissions improprieties.
The genesis of the report is based on a whistleblower complaint sent to the TSU Board of Regents in October 2019, which was subsequently turned over to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office by the Board. The letter and subsequent investigations by TSU’s internal auditor, as well as two external investigators, affirmed — among other issues – allegations of pay-for-play, acceptance of students who did not meet admissions standards and the mishandling or misappropriation of state funds. The whistleblower complaint alleged, and the investigation found that numerous employees had full knowledge of the allegations.
Furthermore, the investigation confirmed that, upon being informed about the improprieties within the admissions process (including pay-for-play activities), the University’s fraud policy was not adhered to by numerous employees. As state officials, the TSU BOR cannot take a blind eye to fraud in the admissions process and/or the misappropriation of state funds. The student body and community at large expect integrity from the TSU BOR.
To date, several regulatory agencies have either undertaken a formal investigation of their own and/or have been briefed about matters contained in the audit. These agencies are the Federal Bureau of Investigation; the Harris County District Attorney’s Office; the Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Education; and the Scholastic Programs Division, Department of Education.
The TSU BOR and other University personnel will continue to cooperate with these external agencies in any ongoing investigations. In the interim, the TSU BOR will allow the facts contained in the auditor’s report to stand and will not have any additional comment until the investigative process is complete.
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Special Announcement – 2/20/2020
The Board of Regents today announced that Dr. Austin Lane has entered into a settlement agreement with the University, officially ending his tenure with TSU.
The agreement was reached after a 13-hour mediation session on Monday in which both sides aired their grievances before a former judge. Dr. Lane accepted the mediator’s settlement agreement, and the full Board was made aware of the details of that agreement at today’s Board meeting and voted unanimously to accept the terms of the settlement.
The Board believes that the settlement agreement is in the best interest of moving forward the academic mission of TSU , and in the best interests of the students, faculty and the community at large.
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Special Announcement – 2/4/2020
The Texas Southern University Board of Regents voted today to propose the termination of Dr. Austin A. Lane. This action is based on an audit committee’s finding that Dr. Lane violated his contract including the termination for cause provision. His actions relate in part to failure to report to the board information relating to improper payments for admissions to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law and for the improper awarding of scholarships to students, which led in part to the initiation of a comprehensive investigation. The improprieties in the law school involved a former official who is no longer employed in the law school.
The 6-1 vote took place during a special meeting of the Board. The Board previously announced that CFO Kenneth Huewitt will serve as the acting president.
Dr. Lane was provided with a “ Notice of Termination for Cause ” letter after the vote Tuesday evening. The major areas outlined in the notice letter were: (1) “failure to advise and fully report” to the board his knowledge of any actions that could cause harm to the University; and (2) engaging in actions that have a “material adverse effect” on the University’s reputation and brand.
An investigation conducted by the University’s internal auditor, third-party investigators and board counsel concluded that Dr. Lane failed to appropriately act on or inform the Board about allegations of fraud committed by the former law school official, including evidence of a student payment for admission to the school. These and other actions had the effect of concealing such fraud. The investigation also found attempts to conceal excessive entertainment expenses through a process inconsistent with Dr. Lane’s contract that would have prevented Board scrutiny of such expenses. It also found that Dr. Lane and his assistant attempted to direct another former law school official to misrepresent a report to a national law school accreditation review board. The Board took additional steps to confirm its findings utilizing three separate law firms to assist with the process.
The Board continues to cooperate with authorities on these matters as an external federal investigation continues. The Board’s ability to comment further is limited to the findings outlined in the “Notice of Termination for Cause” letter so that the Board does not compromise the ongoing investigation.
Dr. Lane has 30 days to dispute any facts in this letter and provide additional evidence to support such a dispute.
Today’s Board action is based on the belief that TSU’s academic integrity and the continued trust of students, faculty, alumni and the public are of utmost importance. In accordance with its oversight responsibilities, the Board will continue to ensure that all activities at the University are conducted in an ethical manner in alignment with TSU’s mission, vision and values.
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Special Announcement – 1/17/20
On behalf of the Texas Southern University Board of Regents, we want to provide our community with an update about our recent decision to place TSU President Dr. Austin A. Lane on paid administrative leave. We are sharing this information while remaining mindful and respectful of the ongoing investigatory process and for all of the parties involved.
On January 10, 2020, the Board of Regents met with the Chief Internal Auditor, independent counsel, and third-party investigators for approximately seven hours. The Audit Committee made a public recommendation to the full Board, and consistent with the Audit Committee’s recommendation, in a seven to one vote (one abstention), the Board of Regents placed Dr. Lane on paid administrative leave.
In October of 2019, members of the Board of Regents informed Dr. Lane that members of the Board, the Chief Internal Auditor and external Board Counsel had been in contact with local law enforcement given the confirmation of the improprieties in the admissions process. One University employee involved in the admissions process had already been terminated.
The Chief Internal Auditor, in collaboration with a third-party investigator, Special Board Employment Counsel, and/or external Board Counsel interviewed the executive management – including Dr. Lane – and others at our University. On two separate, subsequent occasions Dr. Lane was invited to meet with the Board of Regents at two Special Called meetings. Dr. Lane was then interviewed a second time by the Chief Internal Auditor and Special Board Employment Counsel.
On January 10, 2020, the Board placed Dr. Lane on paid administrative leave, and named Kenneth Huewitt acting President. As the investigation continues, we urge everyone in our TSU community to comply with University policies and internal audit and litigation risk management protocols; and we will continue to cooperate with the independent investigations by law enforcement. As we said in November, the University's academic integrity, trust of students, faculty, alumni and the public at large are of utmost importance.
We thank the TSU community for its patience while we balance the competing interests of respect for ongoing internal investigations and external criminal investigations with the desire to provide additional context for our recent Board action. The Board is dedicated to ensuring all activities at the University are conducted in an ethical and balanced manner in accordance with the University's mission, vision, and values.
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Special Announcement – 1/12/20
On January 10th 2020, in a seven to one vote (one abstention), members of the Texas Southern University Board of Regents placed Dr. Austin A. Lane on paid administrative leave.
CFO Kenneth Huewitt was named Acting President. The actions took place during a scheduled, public meeting of the TSU Board of Regents in open session.
LINK TO VOTE VIDEO HERE .
Texas Southern University Board of Regents Special Announcement / 1-10-20
The Texas Southern University Board of Regents today placed TSU President Dr. Austin A. Lane on administrative leave with pay. The Board has appointed CFO Kenneth Huewitt as the Acting President.
The Board is committed to ensuring all activities at the University are conducted in an ethical and transparent manner in accordance with the University’s mission, vision and values. The University will have no further comment at this time.
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