Cong. Al Green, TSU President Lesia Crumpton-Young, Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Sylvester Turner and TSU Board Chair Albert H. Myers
Cong. Al Green, TSU President Lesia Crumpton-Young, Cong. Sheila Jackson Lee, Mayor Sylvester Turner and TSU Board Chair Albert H. Myers. Photo courtesy Twitter @SylvesterTurner

During a keynote commencement speech to nearly 700 graduates, and thousands more guests, faculty and members of the Texas Southern University Board of Regents, Houston mayor Sylvester Turner announced two new initiatives that will strengthen the partnership between the City of Houston and Texas Southern University.

The first is a proposed plan to have Texas Southern University as one of the primary educational leaders at the new Houston Spaceport at Ellington Airport. The new facility for Texas Southern University’s Aviation Science Management program at Ellington Airport will include a 30,000 square foot educational building with state-of-the-art classrooms and labs, a new 30,000 square foot hangar that would house 15 new TSU training aircraft, a 10,000 square foot hangar to be used for drone and vertical takeoff and landing education, research, and more.

Mario Diaz, Director of the Houston Airport System and TSU President Lesia Crumpton-Young are working on a proposal that would take the TSU aviation program to new heights. “We all know there’s a shortage of pilots not just in this state, but across the globe,” Mayor Turner said. “The need for qualified pilots and other aviation professionals has reached a critical level. Texas Southern University students majoring in aviation professions are needed now more than ever before. This proposed plan would place TSU on the forefront of aviation facilities not just in the state of Texas but in the entire United States of America. We look forward to partnering with Texas Southern University.”

Mayor Turner also announced that the City of Houston is contributing $1 million in seed money to create the new TSU/Houston Center for Transformative Health

The new TSU/Houston Center for Transformative Health, a collaborative partnership between TSU and the Houston Health Department, will address health disparities and inequities among the city’s underserved population by supporting critical areas through expertise, capacity building, training service, research and more. This initiative also aligns with the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities and complements the City’s efforts through the Health Equity Resource (HER) Task Force to support these targeted neighborhoods.

“I grew up in this city, and I grew up in a time when parents didn’t have any private health insurance,” Mayor Turner said. “There are many neighborhoods in our city where there are huge health disparities. If there’s any institution that should focus on those disparities in our communities of color, it should be Texas Southern.”

Following his inspirational address, TSU awarded Mayor Turner an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters in recognition of the extraordinary contributions he has made in the area of community service.

“Texas Southern University was honored to feature Mayor Sylvester Turner as the Fall 2022 inspirational commencement speaker,” said President Dr. Lesia L. Crumpton-Young. “Just as TSU is committed to transforming the lives of its students, Mayor Turner has demonstrated his commitment to transforming the lives of the citizens of Houston, as well as those in Texas, and throughout the nation. The new ways in which the city is partnering with TSU demonstrate that commitment in a way that we know will benefit our communities for years to come. It was our pleasure to recognize his outstanding achievements during commencement by bestowing upon him the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters Degree.”

The degree was presented by former U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Rod Paige.