Former TSU Pres. Dr. Austin Lane releases 8-page response to termination letter

In this Jan. 22, 2018, photo, Texas Southern University President Austin Lane, president of Texas Southern University, speaks about a $2.7 million gift from the Center for Advancing Opportunity to Texas Southern University to start the Center for Justice Research, during a press conference at the university in Houston. Texas Southern University has ousted its president for failing to report fraud allegations in the admissions process and directing a former official to violate university policy. The decision to fire Lane on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, came after the university’s board of regents deliberated for five hours. (Jon Shapley/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Former Texas Southern University President, Dr. Austin Lane had 30 days to reply to the accusations behind the Board of Regent’s decision to terminate him (6-1) on Feb. 4.  He replied in two. 

“Being able to speak now is healthy and therapeutic. And when you haven’t done anything wrong, it’s easy to talk…..This really is a witch hunt. I have never been involved in my 25-plus years of working in Higher Ed with a calculated witch hunt. I got my notice on Tuesday. I think it was four pages. I knocked out about eight pages to counter every point that they were trying to make where they had no evidence at all,” Dr. Lane said at an afternoon press conference at the Ensemble Theater. 

Read his response to the allegations in his own words: 

Breakdown of Termination Letter:

  1. First Paragraph-

Response:

The board clearly violated 551.074-Personnel Matters; Closed Meeting on February 4, 2020.

  • “Subsection (a) does not apply if the officer or employee who is the subject of the deliberation or hearing requests a public hearing. 
  • Evidence-January 11 & 13-Attorney Carter
  • Attorney Darryl Carter also objected during the Special Called Board meeting on February 4, 2020 when announcement was made by Chairman Mack to dismiss for closed session.
  • It was clear they deliberated about me in closed session as evidenced by Chairman Mack’s comments made in open session when they returned.
  • Second Paragraph-

“The Board’s determination to propose the termination for cause was made after conducting a detailed and ongoing investigation concerning troubling issues which have arisen during your term of employment.”

Response: 

  • I have been employed as president at TSU since June 2016
  • Received exemplary performance reviews and bonuses for reaching institutional targets each year of employment
  • Increased enrollment
  • Stabilized and created healthy budget reserve with hold the line budgeting approach tied to our institutional effectiveness goals
  • Increased our rating from a negative, stable to positive outlook in three years
  • Secured millions from the legislature last session
  • Increased persistence, progression and graduation rates over last three years
  • Launched the inaugural Maroon and Gray Affair that has raised millions for scholarships

The board never told me or the public that they were conducting a detailed and ongoing investigation concerning troubling issues which have arisen during my term of employment. In fact, why would this board with five new members that have all been here less than a year be investigating my “term of employment” when my performance has already been evaluated by the regents that served between June 2016 up until the time the new members were appointed.

Also, they indicated to the public, not me, that they were doing an investigation on “Admissions Improprieties” in a vague press release they sent to the public in November 2019, noting “troubling issues which have arisen during my term of employment.” How did we go from an investigation on admissions improprieties to an investigation on my term of employment for the previous three years? In fact, SACS just cited the Board of Regents in the following areas for non-compliance: 

4.2. C-The governing board selects and regularly evaluates the institution’s chief executive officer.

To date, this newly elected board (less than a year) has never evaluated me per the SACS rule. The departing board was compliant and did in fact evaluate me and each time I received stellar evaluations and bonuses for reaching agreed upon targets.

4.2g-Board Evaluations-The governing board defines and regularly evaluates its responsibilities and expectations 

To date, the board is out of compliance per SACS during their compliance certification visit in September because they have not done a board evaluation on themselves per the SACS rule. I, along with the SACS liaison have urged them to do so for months but they have not complied.

4.2b-The governing board ensures a clear and appropriate distinction between the policy-making function of the board and the responsibility of the administration and faculty to administer and implement policy.

To date, the board is out of compliance per SACS during their most recent by-law change that allows them to hire and fire all employees. This is a direct violation of the standard and one that typically causes a university to lose accreditation. The SACS liaison, general counsel and myself sent letters to  Chairman Mack warning him that this would present a problem for the university and recommend he change the by-law but we received no response and the policy is still in place today with Regent Terrell (appointed by chairman Mack) approving and denying all personnel decisions in his role as personnel committee chair. Again, this is a clear violation of the SACS standard and places the board members at risk. In a recent article entitled, “This University Board Now Has The Power to Fire Anyone-Even Down to The Janitor” in the Chronicle of Higher Education, author Lindsey Ellis quotes the president of SACS, Dr. Belle Wheelan as saying, “At first blush, this is unusual and looks like overreach into administrative roles.” Ellen Chaffee, a college-governance consultant stated in the article that, “the board’s policy deviates sharply from best practices and raises numerous concerns. I’ve read dozens of board by-laws, and I’ve never seen anything like this.

Finally, this past September, I also received a new contract that runs through August 31, 2022. I received this contract extension because of my performance during my first three years at TSU. I have never received a negative evaluation or discussed anything the new board is citing as their cause for termination. ”

  1. Third Paragraph-

Section VII(F) defines, in part, “cause” for termination of the contract as: (6) failure to promptly advise and fully report to the board any matter known by Dr. Lane that tends to bring public disrespect, contempt or ridicule upon the University, or (7) any act that creates a material adverse effect on the reputation and/or brand of the University.”

Response:

In August 2016 (first two months on the job), I, along with the Chief Audit Executive (internal auditor) and Associate VP of Human Resources submitted the proposed Fraud Policy as an update to the Texas Southern University (MAPPS) Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures (Policy 02.05.06) to the board of regents for approval. It was approved August 2016 during a regularly scheduled board meeting. 

Section III (a) of the policy defines management as vice presidents, directors, managers and supervisors. It goes on to state that (b) management (not board of regents) is responsible for detecting fraudulent, dishonest or improper activities in their area of responsibility. 

The assistant dean of admissions reports and falls under the responsibility of the dean of the law school, not president or provost. Section III. (g) goes onto state, “When fraud or a dishonest or improper activity is detected or suspected, management should immediately contact the university department of public safety if the situation warrants such action, for example, if obvious theft has taken place, security is at risk, or immediate recovery is possible. In addition, management should immediately contact the University’s Office of Internal Audit and Fraud. Since this employee reported to the dean of the law school and was in her area of responsibility, she sought approval from myself and provost to notify and engage the internal auditor regarding allegations relating to admissions practices in the law school. 

Section III (I). states, “Managements responsibilities in handling fraud or dishonest or improper activities include the following:

III. Do not discuss the case, facts, suspicions or allegations with anyone outside the university unless specifically directed to do so by internal audit and fraud or general counsel. 

This case had already been sent to the internal auditor by the dean of law school for investigation via policy. Board had no reason to get involved or discuss the case until the internal auditor completed her investigation per policy and reported her findings to the president and board if she “Uncovered” or had evidence to suggest there was fraud. The board of regents is not an investigative board and in cases of fraud all should be handled by the internal auditor according to the policy. 

 (IV). Do not discuss the case with anyone INSIDE the University other than employees who have a need to know.

We also received an anonymous allegation that two of our board members who attended the law school were admitted under this person and may have received scholarships. Like all allegations, this was shared with the internal auditor during my interview with her and further explains why the dean of the law school did the right thing by alerting the office of internal audit to investigate and not the board of regents.

(IV). Section IV (D) of the policy states that “care should be taken in dealing with suspected dishonest or fraudulent activities to avoid the following:

*Incorrect accusations

*Alerting suspected individuals that an investigation is under way

*Violating the employee’s right to due process

*Making statements that could lead to claims of false accusations or other offenses

*Discussing the case with anyone inside or outside the University.

With the board approving this policy in August 2016, why would they interrupt an active investigation that was being conducted by internal affairs? Why would they contact local law enforcement when the policy clearly states that the internal auditor, department of public safety and general counsel are required to do so, not board of regents? Why would the board of regents hire two independent law firms to interrogate the president, provost, general counsel and special assistant (Wendell Williams) when we were the ones who supported turning this allegation into the internal auditor? Why didn’t the board ever allow the internal auditor the opportunity to complete her investigation and bring her findings to closed session like we have done many times before? Why would they release a vague press release citing admissions improprieties when the investigation was not complete or discussed with the president and board as stated in policy if something was UNCOVERED?

It’s clear that the board of regents did not follow the fraud policy and hi-jacked the internal auditors job of doing the investigation for her along with a hired law firm that represented the board’s interest. It is also clear that the dean terminated the assistant dean of law school per MAPP policy 02.05.03-Discipline and Termination. When the dean recommended termination to the provost, no fraud had been suspected or UNCOVERED with the terminated employee. Such terminations under this policy do not rise to the level of a reportable action as identified in my contract. They clearly fit under my responsibility identified by SACS standard 4.2 (b) which spells out board and administration distinction. The only person the board can hire or fire is the president. There is no policy that requires the president or administration to notify the board when terminating a staff or non-cabinet level member. 

Section V. Investigations (D)-

D. Internal audit and fraud will proceed as follows if evidence is UNCOVERED showing possible fraudulent, dishonest or improper activity. Internal audit and fraud will notify the Board of Regents, President, the associate vice president and general counsel, as appropriate. 

I have been here almost four years and we have always followed the process and policy as stated above and the board has never got involved or taken over the investigation. Never. If the allegation is “UNCOVERED”, the internal auditor brings her findings to closed session and updates the president and board of regents. Also, what local law enforcement agency is investigating? Since the investigation is over, can they divulge? We have talked to local law enforcement and there is no pending investigation as mentioned by Regent Carter and the press releases that the board has sent out.

  • Fourth Paragraph-

Response:

The board has also accused me of being presented with evidence of fraud committed by the former assistant dean and student one. First and foremost, I was just informed for the first time on February 4 during the special called meeting about the allegations they were making against me. Until then, I have never been given an opportunity to know what I was being accused of. Secondly, I have not been presented with any alleged evidence of fraud that was supposedly committed from the board regarding the investigation they took over from the internal auditor. They have accused me of knowing about the evidence and that is false and has never been shared with me by anyone to date. I also don’t know who they are referring to when they mention “student one” in their claim against me. They alleged that my subordinate and I “allowed this student to be admitted into the university into another graduate program for which he was not qualified without having filed an application for admissions.” I have absolutely nothing to do with graduate admissions and have never talked to “student one” nor did I authorize my provost to grant any admissions into graduate school for this person. The provost and dean of the graduate school can and will dispel this erroneous claim against me. How many presidents of universities across this country serve as admissions directors? None. We have processes in place and personnel responsible for following admissions processes. 

Since my arrival in 2016, we have never had an issue with undergraduate or graduate admissions. Periodically, we have also launched our own audits. This is done to check our areas to make sure they are functioning properly. If we find that they are not, we have the auditor write up the findings and make sure management has plans to correct. We don’t call the media, put out vague and premature press releases, or start accusing staff or wrongdoing until we have UNCOVERED evidence that confirms our suspicions. The board has no evidence that demonstrates I knew “student one” or that I directed my provost to admit this person to another program. The provost and dean of the graduate school are responsible for this function and can prove that the student was admitted appropriately and that I had nothing to do with his admissions nor did I ever talk to him about entering TSU in any program.

The board also indicated that “after being made aware of the above, they sought the assistance of the university’s internal auditor, third party investigators and hired special employment law counsel to investigate these matters.” This is false. The allegation was already being handled by the internal auditor. Instead, they took over the investigation from the internal auditor, hired expensive third party investigators and special employment law counsel (employed by O’Hanlon) that harassed myself, provost, special assistant and general counsel through a number of rushed interviews in November. Each of us complied with the interviews even though we were not clear on why we were being interviewed. 

My first interview was with the internal auditor. She called me and we talked for about 10 minutes. I told her that I had no knowledge of any fraud and asked her if she had completed her investigation that was sent to her by the dean of the law school. After a series of accusatory interviews conducted by the board hired firms, their board counsel sent all regents a letter on December 12, 2019 stating that she could not get all technology staff to cooperate on getting information from the information technology system and that the foundation wasn’t being cooperative. Board counsel also indicated that the board should solicit the help of the Texas Rangers. Never once was I or any member of my staff cited in this letter as doing something wrong, violating any policy, or failing to alert the board.

During my second interview that lasted almost four hours, I was again questioned about things that had absolutely nothing to do with any alleged admissions improprieties. I again inquired about the status of the investigation and specifically asked the auditor and board appointed attorney if they had uncovered any fraud from the allegation that was sent by the dean of the law school. They both said they were still investigating and had not uncovered anything. I questioned them about why this wasn’t being handled by the internal auditor via policy and they gave me no response other than the board hired firms to assist the internal auditor. It was obvious that the board and the firms had taken over the process and turned their attention on myself and my staff instead of the assistant dean that was terminated. Again, no evidence of wrongdoing linked to me and I believe the interview took four hours because she was off topic and talking about other things besides admissions. I answered all her questions truthfully and indicated to her that if she wanted another interview I would have to consult with my attorney. I did so because it was obvious she was looking for anything to accuse me of with her line of questioning. 

  • Paragraph 5-

Response:

During the October 25th Board meeting (see the video of meeting on the Board website), the regents approved a change in the by-laws. Regent Carter is over the by-laws committee and the board voted to have the authority to hire and fire all staff, down to the janitor as Regent Terrell put it in his comments during this meeting. After the meeting, I was requested to come into closed session with all my staff and we were admonished and basically threatened to stop what we are doing when board members call. We were also told by Chairman Mack that Regent Terrell would be over all hiring and firing and that we must send all decisions related to employment to him as of October 25, 2019. He never mentioned sending any employees prior to October 25 that had already been hired, fired or demoted to him. However, a few days after this meeting, he requested to see employees that were hired, fired or demoted from a year ago. When we sent the list to him, we were surprised to see that he asked two employees that had ongoing personnel issues and recommended by their supervisor for termination or  scheduled to resign to have their letters rescinded and placed back in their positions.

He also instructed HR to remove a personnel document for an employee that was scheduled to be terminated in December. This employee was given notice by me in August/September (before October 25 mandate) that he would be demoted and have until December to find other employment. I received notice from Regent Terrell that this employee, despite having performance issues, would not be terminated in December. He never asked me or the other supervisors about any of their performance issues. To date, Regent Terrell has approved more than 80 personnel decisions. He has also been heavily involved in leading my investigation with the firms employed by the board. 

Because of his role and the by-law change, the university must now respond to SACS about this change and why it is not a recommended practice. A recent article in the chronicle of higher education has the SACS president quoted as saying she has never seen anything like this. The TSU SACS liaison also expressed his concerns along with me and our general counsel to rethink the by-law change. We submitted a joint letter to board but never received a response. The board also had to respond to SACS about the vague press release they sent in November about “admissions improprieties” and local law enforcement by January 30. They submitted their response on January 20 to SACS stating that there were no admissions issues at TSU and that they were compliant with SACS 10.5-Admissions Policies and Procedures. 

  • Paragraph 6-

Response:

The board also told us they would be conducting an investigation that none of us knew anything about. We had absolutely no knowledge of a whistleblower complaint or even cared to know who it was. That information was never revealed to me so there was no way we could have knowingly violated any discipline and termination polices despite their claims that my staff and I interfered with their investigation. There is no proof to substantiate their claim against me.

  • Paragraph 7-

Response:

The board has accused me of excessive entertainment expenses to be paid through the foundation; however, the foundation has not accused me of that and they are a 501C3 entity separate from the University and have its own board. In fact, the foundation board chair is in full disagreement with the Board of Regent’s claim against me and complied with all their request during the investigation. I had nothing to do with the audit and each time my VP for Advancement told me about their request, I would always tell her to comply and that she doesn’t have anything to hide. 

All administrators at TSU, including myself, know that you can’t be reimbursed for entertainment expenses with state dollars so not sure why the board’s claim against me is actually saying that is where my reimbursement should occur and connecting it to my contract. I didn’t need any reimbursement because I rarely spend foundation funds. When funds were spent, they were all approved by foundation board and went to support the Maroon and Gray Gala. To date, the foundation has a clean audit and has been during my time and Chairman Gerald Smith. Their claim is completely false.

Paragraph 8-

Response:

The board has accused me of creating a material adverse effect on the reputation and/or brand of the university stating that I failed to fully inform the entire board of the primary reason for Law School dean, James Douglass’ resignation. I thought this investigation was about admissions improprieties, not James Douglass. When James Douglass resigned almost three years ago, none of the five new board members (Medina, Carter, Zeidman, Myers and Price) had been appointed. They just arrived less than a year ago. The entire board that was in place at the time was fully aware of why he resigned. James Douglass resigned because he did not want to report to the provost at the time and I would not allow him to separate the law school from the university and violate university policy as it related to Title IX. My chairman at the time was well informed as were other board members. 

Also, the board claims that I improperly directed Mr. Williams to engage in acts that violate university policy but they never cited the policy I/we violated. The board also claims that myself and Mr. Williams improperly instructed James Douglass to misrepresent the authorship of a report to be submitted to ABA. I have earned, wrote and defended two doctoral dissertations unlike James Douglass and am fully aware of the importance of academic integrity. I take great offense to the board’s claim about me being a bad role model while granting degrees and shaking the hands of our graduates during commencement. 

The ABA includes two names on their request for information, the president and dean of law school. This means that the reports we submit for compliance must have my final approval and James Douglass didn’t want that to happen. I had a feeling that James Douglass would be upset with this directive and I wrote notes on his letter he submitted to me back in September 2017.  1. My notes indicate that I never informed the consultant to draft our ABA plan 2. I asked James Douglass to submit what he has already done and send to consultant and myself so we could include items we wanted to add to the plan that related to Title IX. James wanted Title IX to be a law school only function and I disagreed. ABA agreed with me. They (ABA) wanted all Title IX to be handled as a university function, not embedded in the law school due to the complaints we were receiving from law school faculty and their claims going unanswered. 3. Never asked consultant to produce the plan as if it was his work, that would be academic dishonesty. Made it clear to him that this plan would be collaboration of faculty, staff and administrators and the consultant would only be reviewing to make sure we were on the right page. As a result, the ABA plan was approved in 2017 and we have cleared key standards each year. I have all the reports from ABA that have been approved. Also, it turns out Mr. Williams never talked to Douglass because he refused to talk to him via a letter back to me. Their claim regarding James Douglass is false and really a stretch.

All claims against me are false and unsubstantiated. They offer no proof, just accusations that are designed to tarnish my reputation and career. I also find it strange that Mr. Wendell Williams was the only employee accused and mentioned by name in my termination letter. He filed two grievances against Regent Terrell (Chair of personnel committee and lead investigator) before his wrongful termination.

.

Violation of 551.074 of the Texas 

 cle is at first blush, and I can’t pull all the way through, but she thought this was just totally ridiculous. There are also experts who have never seen anything like this where the board wants to control and work through the day to day operations of the university. There’s no way that they’re able to do that or can evaluate employees. The board has too much the risk when they’re trying to do the things that I have to do every day to make sure that we’re complying with our policies and our procedures. So I want you to remember that sax violation of 4.2 the last piece, and this is a policy actually that I wrote two months after I got here, that was our fraud policy 2.0 5.06 it’s our prop house. It’s in our manual of operating procedures, but that’s a manual that tells us how we operate, especially when you have allegations. 

Speaker 1: (03:54)
Key word to remember, allegations of fraud. If allegations on cover, then they’re known. You don’t know about anything until they’re uncovered in investigated. That’s a key point. You keep trying to make it. They’re going to lose on. When you have an allegation across the university, the board of refunds is not an investigative board. They’re not supposed to be because they can be involved in the fraud. We had two board members that currently sit with us on the board that went to our law school where we had allegations that came in about them. So why would you turn an investigation over to a board? Right? You give it to the internal auditors with the Charlotte park of Thompson who doesn’t, I think a really good job. Every time she gave she’s allowed to do it. The board hijacked her internal investigation. So those are my three points. I don’t want us to miss this point. I have a lungs are in the audience. If you’d give yourself around the falls, any tigers 


t’s a little trouble. Also, I was troubled in reading that because I thought this was investigation over admissions and proprieties. We kept hearing that, right? Admissions and proprieties. But yeah, I’m getting a letter that tells me about things that have happened in 2017 2018 that have nothing to do with me. So I find that to be a little strange. As I mentioned earlier, it feels like a witch hunt when you start to get into those kinds of things. Uh, I had Gerald Smith and I have to give him a plug. Drill Smith is over our foundation board. Gerald Smith is an amazing TSU alum and I’m almost embarrassed that he has to, along with other foundation board members, some are in this room have to be put on a seat as if they don’t know what they’re doing. Everybody in their right mind in this city, if you’re working at a university, knows that you better not do anything and spending state funds. 

Speaker 1: (09:44)
And if you’re going to do anything to cultivate donors and have folks come to maroon and grey, which most of you in this room have attended, then that’s how you cultivate donors with private dollars, unrestricted private dollars. If you look at the article that Brittany wrote yesterday, she’s got a quote from Gerald Smith speaking to that effect said nothing was excessive. I, these are things we do to cultivate. Don’t with private money, not state. Nice try, but you’re not going to put me in that bag. It’s not that easy. Uh, I have, uh, a number of counterpoints and a document that we will share with. We are fully open, book, transparent. I, I, I really want you to read that because you’ll get the context of everything. You actually start to figure out what they were actually trying to do to be able to come up with something because they didn’t have anything. And you’ll be able to see that. So we will send that out. Uh, we will make sure that you have it. Uh, and, and uh, and that will be a good Andrew motion when you’re trying to chat. 

Speaker 1: (10:51)
She’s trying to, okay, that’s us. So w glad to answer questions. Uh, Gammy we’ll get that document out and um, hopefully you get a chance to, do you know what I uh, I’ll give you a couple of reasons. When I started here at Texas Southern, I had a staff that I inherited that was about 11 or 12 administrators on my cabinet. None of them are here today. So when I came in I, I didn’t make a lot of friends when I came in. I had to make some tough decisions and clean up some areas that were just functional. And you all know, you have the history of Texas Southern when you have bad actors that had been employed and they are retired on the job. Right. And my, I didn’t come to Texas Southern for that and I came to Texas Southern and had the kind of success that we’ve had. 

Speaker 1: (11:52)
So I’ve had remove some people. Matter of fact, I just read something earlier today. Some guy was bragging saying, we’re going to go after him because he was here in 2015 before I got here. Uh, I don’t know him from Adam, but, uh, he lost his job because he didn’t do what he was supposed to be doing. And, uh, I’ve always been that way. It’s not about me. It’s about the university and the progress we’re trying to achieve. And if you’re in a way in the way of that, then we’re going to move you out of the institution. And we’ve done a lot of that over the last three and a half years. Matter of fact, after this meeting, you’ll probably have a lot of people come out of the woodworks and say, yeah, I was fired too, but we’ve done it all the right way. 

Speaker 1: (12:30)
Don’t have lawsuits from that. If you check that too, you say, this is the, which is a Republican, which I don’t, you know, I don’t, I, I don’t know. Uh, I do know that our board is, uh, is appointed by the governor. Um, I’ve never had a negative interaction with our governor. Uh, matter of fact, um, I would hope that our governor would intervene and make sure that the violations stop. Yeah. That’d have to be about me, but make sure the violations and make sure that this board [inaudible] that are in here that want answers and, and that they realize that they are appointed board members. And so I, I don’t know which one, but I’ve had to do some things even with members of our board interacting them with Sachs 4.2 B. I’ve had to tell some board members that, no, we can’t hire your sister. No, we can’t hire your brother. Uh, and they haven’t been real happy with them and, uh, but I’m not going to jail for them. Right. I came here to do a job with an induced within tech. 

Speaker 3: (13:40)
Yeah. Do you want your job back and if so, how would you work with the board 

Speaker 1: (13:45)
in the future? Yeah. You know, what’s, what’s such great question. I have always been able to effectively work with anybody. Hopefully you can tell. I, I mean, it’s not hard working with me. Um, and I had a great relationship in my three years of being here with the first board I came in with. I mean, that’s, I guess that’s why they extended me and we’ve had a lot of great success. Uh, and so I understand the difference that it takes to, to work with a board and I totally understand that and I submit that. That’s fine. Um, I think in order for me to stay and do what I love and all honesty, we’ve got to correct the 4.2 and you got to do it before March or else the university’s wanting to be on probation. Absolutely. So the board is one that, to that policy, if you go back to the October 25th board meeting, that’s for everybody in the room. 

Speaker 1: (14:35)
October 25th of that board meeting, if you’re watching online, they made, in my opinion, a very catastrophic mistake in saying that they can hire and fire anybody and totally goes against 4.2 B. You can’t do that. So for me to come back, in all honesty, that would have to change. Do you notice? I didn’t mention the person who have to leave or I can work and get along with anyone as long as they’re not accused. But you know, I love being a Texas person, but I’m here today to make sure my reputation, my family’s reputation of that park and that’s what I’m here today. You sound frustrated with the investigation itself on a first level look, you know, just the lack of transparency. I think like everybody else, we’re all looking for transparency. And when we finally got something the other night, it’s like you took the air out, right? 

Speaker 1: (15:30)
And I think they really believed that I was, was going to try and beg them not to come out and say something. Why I had been requesting a public hearing, any man, I shoot your shot, whatever you had, let’s throw it out there. So I didn’t have any worries with that. But the investigation has been behind closed doors. That’s a lack of due process, whether it’s me or the next president or whoever, it’s just unfair. And so I’ve been real disappointed even though they’ve had three attorneys, which I’m sure they spend a lot of state, taxpayer dollars, but these folks are somehow investigating and again, they came up with a product that I thought at this bottle was in fact when I’m grading it, I wouldn’t even give it a grade. I’d give it a read. 

Speaker 4: (16:16)
You had mentioned that mortgage claim admission, what do you, what do you do? 

Speaker 1: (16:26)
Yeah. You know when you haven’t done anything you respond pretty quick. So I mentioned that I got my notice on Tuesday and I’d already knocked out yesterday. They gave me four pages. I knocked out a page and you’re going to be able to see it. That’s my response. So I’m already done with my response and again, when you haven’t done anything it’s easy to do. So you’ll see in there point for point, um, me basically refuting everything that they’re saying. There’s nothing in there with substance in my opinion. And in my attorney opinion, he went through it as well. So my, my document is already done. The ball will be in there. Dr. Lane. The question is the relationship like before all this came out and you feel like you were blindsided with all this, you know, dude, that’s a great question John. See I do my relationship with the board. Um, I thought it was fine. A matter of fact, in that October meeting you’ll hear the chairman, you can say our blames doing a great job in the quiet, quiet, quiet, quiet place. 

Speaker 1: (17:30)
That’s right. Yeah. That’s a good point. That’s my guy. [inaudible] shut him up. Maybe let him talk. But that’s exactly. Yeah. And so you’ve had folks who uh, they said it, they’re in public. It was pretty clear and, and they really, um, I think threatened all of us. You didn’t get to see this. But after that meeting we went in closed session and I went in, but all of my staff, because we were calling me and we realized and they said, look, when we call you, you better get a response. We can fire you. Right. And we’re taking over personnel. We’re giving it to reason to rep till never heard of original Tarell, a board member that does all the hiring. In fact, I’ve never seen that in my life and still doing it today. So it is also, it’s got two allegations that have been lodged against him for my special assistant Linda Williams. That was fine. Right? And so go figure he was fired because he had two claims, the on the guy who does all the hiring and firing. So problem with them. And so that, that’s a [inaudible] relationship. I could work with pretty much anybody. My record speaks for itself, but I can’t work for folks who don’t have integrity. And for folks who are violating codes that I know is president, we have to. 

Speaker 5: (18:51)
So, um, the university’s reputation is very important. And so the accreditation issue is very conservative concerning to everyone who has a degree from Texas Southern university of work for Texas Southern university, how concerned should the university be about accreditation? 

Speaker 1: (19:07)
Yeah. A lot of boards make the mistake and they think when president submits to them as we did, as I did a document that just simply says, be aware of the decision you just made in October, you could impact accreditation. Okay. Forgive me because remember I’ve got the lungs and this is your degree. If you sat like DePaul, I, if you’ve gone to a school that lost its accreditation, that’s embarrassed. And we know where those schools are, particularly the HBC use, right? Whether it’s Atlanta and some others who have lost rank, those students have a worthless degree. And so when you talk about 4.2, it’s very, you don’t want to violate that. All the things in the SAC standards to violate, that’s not the one because that is about 90% of what schools get excited for when they are not doing what they’re supposed to be doing. So that’s true. 

Speaker 1: (20:03)
Yeah. You mentioned you have two questions. You mentioned that there is a ongoing investigation. Are you aware of any of these particular investigations? No. Uh, that’s been the, the million dollar question. Uh, we hear all this stuff about local law enforcement and all these kinds of things. What local law enforcement are we talking about? They mentioned when they came out of closed session that they’ve concluded their investigation and now they’re giving me my notice of termination. Um, I don’t know if that document is public. I think a few reporters here have been asking to see the document to see what law enforcement agencies you’re really working with. Uh, no agencies be working with me. They will probably want to following whoever it is that were looking for. But I couldn’t tell you. You remember I went into a closed session back in October and I didn’t hear anything. 

Speaker 1: (20:58)
I didn’t meet with them at all again until that night of the board meeting on Tuesday. So I’ve not been privy to it. I was interviewed twice by our internal auditor and by one of their firm folks that were there. One meeting was about four hours of nothing, you know, nothing to do with me. And the other one was about 10 minutes. Right. And so I have no idea of what the investigation, yeah. Want. Second question. Second question I had was, you mentioned the bylaws changes that took place at uh, the year prior other than October. Other than window wounds, are you aware of any other personnel decisions that region two rail that made a trouble? Oh yes. That’s a great question. Uh, three in particular, um, two employees that were here that were that performance cause personnel issues. One that was in his first window of, uh, you know, that that year window of being a new employee for two of those employees had actually submitted resignation letters region. 

Speaker 1: (22:05)
Tarell had them rescind their resignation letters and didn’t inquire with the appropriate VP about why they were pretty much being put out of the institution. Another person, uh, actually was demoted because of a performance issue because he was trying to help some of our local state representatives, their tuition. We’ll talk about that a little bit later if we need to. When we stopped that, and you all know who this will be. If I tell you when we stopped and said, look, we’re not going to help any state reps or senators or anything like that, go to school at Texas Southern for free. That person was demoted and scheduled to be terminated in December. They’re now back in the job or, and I can list goes on and he’s done about 80, some about 80 decisions to date. Yes. Last question. Okay. Yeah. If you notice in their speech at the end, they said, yeah, you have 30 days, but you also can invoke your mediation clause in there. So then that contract is a mediation call. Uh, my attorney and I talked, my wife and I will talk and we will decide what our best option is in terms of evoking the mediation, uh, or coming back in 30 days, but we’ll find out what the ball in their court at that time. Thank y’all very much.