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Crowd outraged after TSU Board of Regents votes 6-1 to fire President Austin Lane

HOUSTON – There were angry outbursts from the crowd late Tuesday night as the Texas Southern University Board of Regents announced that they voted 6-1 to fire President Austin Lane.

Alumni, students and other community members at the meeting were visibly frustrated and in disbelief when the decision was read following the four-hour executive session.

“This is not your university,” one man shouted, “The university belongs to the students...stand up and do what’s right.”

Houston City Council member, Carolyn Evans-Shabazz said the problem is that the facts have not been made clear.

“They need to be very candid in what’s going on so that people will know exactly what’s happening here,” Evans-Shabazz said. “As far as we know, (Lane) has done a great job.”

Lane said he plans to fight every allegation against him. He has 30 days to do so.

“I’m not going to do anything that’s going to embarrass myself, my family, my supporters that are here today, my students, my faculty or my staff," Lane said following the meeting. “You won’t find anything they said today that links anything to me.”

TSU released an announcement that said the Board of Regents voted to fire Lane after an investigation conducted by TSU’s internal auditor, board counsel and third party investigators found admissions inconsistencies and other breaches of contract.

The announcement said in part:

“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 of Regents abruptly put Lane on administrative leave during a meeting last month with little explanation. Lane told KPRC 2 he was “caught off guard,” by the decision and hadn’t heard from anyone on the board at the time.

After coming under fire from alumni and students, the Board revealed after a meeting with the Chief Internal Auditor, an independent counsel and a third-party investigator on Jan. 10, the Audit Committee recommended to place President Austin Lane on paid administrative leave as the investigation continues after finding “improprieties related to the admissions process.”

In November 2019, a TSU employee was fired over admissions issues. The board did not state whether Lane was involved.

While officials did not comment on the specific nature of the irregularities in November, they said the findings of the internal audit were turned over to local authorities and that the school is cooperating with investigators.


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