TSU series: President Austin Lane talks about community building plan (video)

Defender: With the University of Houston focusing on building community capacity in Third Ward, what community building projects is Texas Southern focused on?

WATCH VIDEO: PRESIDENT AUSTIN LANE talks about community building plan.

Lane: Philosophically, we’ve got to get back to our special purpose designation. We are the only institution that got a designation in ’73 as a special purpose institution for urban programming. That’s huge. That means from our Pharmacy, Law, Communications, Education, Business – from all of our schools there was to be a tie-in to the community – a philosophical tie-in, an educational tie-in.

So if you think for example with the College of Education, if we are to train the next workforce of teachers that are going to be working in urban environments what better laboratory to have than right here in the community at TSU. It’s different teaching here than teaching in a rural environment so we have that expertise. The idea is philosophically we get back to every school having this capstone experience that connects what they’re doing inside of the community.

It’s not enough to just get a degree from a college of ed, but you get a degree with that capstone experience that says it’s more than a degree it was a service learning piece or civic engagement piece that ties you in to our community. Our graduates, the administration, the faculty – everyone is connected.

Defender: What kind of projects demonstrates that?

Lane: We have several that are already underway in our Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs, our law school with our Innocence Project, those are just some of the ones a lot of people hear about. I’ve charged the deans with coming up with their capstone special purpose project that is going to link them in.

So how does our College of Education link in with the lowest-performing elementary schools. Go over and help that school develop and train those teachers on the latest research whether it is on ‘how do students learn or how do students engage.’ Those are very big projects. Dr. Marcia Johnson is working with me and a few other faculty members to get that special purpose piece clearly defined. Getting into more community type things. The revitalization of Third Ward and coming from the standpoint of what is coming to Third Ward and most importantly what is already here and how do we build on that?

The University of Houston is a Tier One university with research dollars that are given to them by the state, three or four or five times more than TSU. So how do we partner and tap into some of those research dollars when in fact the faculty there needs what we have here?

If you look at the populations they are going to try and study, they typically will be African-American. We have to do a better job in finding ways to partner and get this discussion off of whether they’re going to take us over, and again we serve totally different niches so there’s no takeover but how do we collaborate when it comes to money on research. How do we partner on grants coming out of Washington that are going to help revitalize areas like we have right here at home or that require partnerships between universities.

DEFENDER NEWSPAPER CENTERFOLD: June 15, 2017 [See e-edition]

Dr. Lane discusses TSU’s competitiveness, enrollment and 5 percent graduation rate.

Video Interview Schedule on www.DefenderNetwork.com

Mon., June 12:  Will TSU merge with a system?

Tues., June 13:  Board of Regents challenges

Wed., June 14:  Plans for budget/personnel cuts & finance 

Thurs., June 15:  Community Building Plan

Fri., June 16:  TSU 5% graduation rate

Sat., June 17:  Five-year vision for TSU

Find out some things you don’t know about Austin Lane.

Photo Credits: Earlie Hudnall and Andrew McCray