Texas Southern University and ousted president agree to part ways
Regents had accused President Austin Lane of failing to report allegations of fraud in the university admissions process and other contract violations. Their agreement to end his tenure contains no claims of wrongdoing.
Originally Published; Feb 20, 2020
Texas Southern University has officially parted ways with former President Austin Lane, with regents announcing an agreement Thursday that does not accuse him of wrongdoing.
The agreement, approved by the regents without opposition, comes weeks after the board released a four-page notice of termination for cause that alleged Lane had failed to report allegations of fraud in the university admissions process and committed other contract violations.
Lane was given 30 days to refute the allegations. The notice said he could also resolve the dispute through discussions or nonbinding mediation. Both sides met with a mediator Monday, the board said Thursday.
Board chair Hasan Mack said Thursday’s agreement was in the “best interest of the university.”
“I think this is the time that we all need to come together and hug the university, and use the passion that everyone has, whatever side that you’re on, let’s put that into the bucket of moving the university forward and doing what’s in the best interest for the students and the community,” he said.
Regent Ron Price, who previously criticized how Lane was earlier placed on administrative leave, said he would vote for the motion “out of respect for Dr. Lane’s wishes.”
“Unfortunately, this is a dark cloud time in the history of this great institution, and I have other things to say about this whole scenario and how we got to this point, but out of respect for Dr. Lane and his wishes to move forward with his life, I will be supporting this motion,” he said.
Lane’s lawyer declined to comment. Lane could not immediately be reached.
In 2016, Lane was named president of Texas Southern, one of the largest historically black universities in the country. He was placed on administrative leave in January, but no explanation for the decision was provided at the time.
Lane has denied the allegations in the notice of termination, and he released a lengthy response accusing the board of mismanagement. He said in his response that his contract with the university ran through August 2022. His total compensation was $486,000 last fiscal year, according to the Legislative Budget Board. The details of the mediation agreement — including any financial terms — were not immediately available.
Third TSU board member resigns
April 13, 2020 – Update from Texas Southern University Scandal
A third Texas Southern University board of regents member has resigned, according to a university spokesman.
Jay S. Zeidman, a managing partner at health care venture capital firm Altitude Ventures, has stepped down from his position, following in the footsteps of former board member Derrick Mitchell and former board chair Hasan Mack earlier this year.
Zeidman was appointed by Gov. Greg Abbott’s office in April 2019 and was set to serve through February 2025.
“I know people are going to try to tie this to the other resignations,” Zeidman said. “The truth is … in light of recent economic events and COVID-19, I have two small kids who are not in school … It’s just very hard to commit the time and energy that the school and most importantly, the students, deserve.”
Zeidman said he’s unable to commit to attend board and committee meetings and other school-related events right now, but mentioned that TSU has been a big part of his family.
His father, Fred Zeidman, served as a TSU regent from 1997 to 2003.
Jay Zeidman was noticeably absent from board meetings since December, including meetings where regents voted on the fate and departure of former TSU president Austin Lane.
TSU board says investigation is still ongoing; new initiatives announced
The board announced an investigation into “improprieties” in November, voted to place Lane on leave in January without public explanation, and voted for his termination in February saying Lane had failed to notify them about “fraudulent and dishonest activities” in the law school’s admissions process.
Ultimately, the board found no wrongdoing on Lane’s part, according to a settlement reached weeks later. Under that agreement, Lane stepped down and the board paid him a lump sum of $560,000, plus unpaid benefits, bringing the total buyout to $879,000, Lane said.
A 17-page report obtained by the Houston Chronicle in early March still faulted Lane for not notifying the board, but the board members announced that same month that the investigation is still ongoing.
TSU BOARD OF REGENTS:
Texas Southern board chair resigns, appointed to another state board
Many TSU alumni have called for the resignation of current board members for embarrassing the university, but protests have quieted down with the focus now on the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a biography on the TSU website, Zeidman also serves on other boards, including that of the Houston First Corporation, Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, and the Emancipation Park Conservancy.