The saga surrounding the Texas Southern University (TSU) Board of Regents continues to fester, in that for the second straight week, a member of the TSU Board of Regents has resigned from their seat prior to the end of their term.
However, unlike last week’s resignation, this caught many people by surprise.
TSU Board Chair Hasan Mack, who has been at the center of a controversial decision to remove former TSU President Dr. Austin Lane from office, has resigned from the TSU Board of Regents, effective immediately.
The Houston Forward Times confirmed this from several sources at TSU.
As they did with former TSU Regent Derrick Mitchell the week prior, TSU removed Mack’s bio from their website once the word got out that he was resigning from the TSU Board of Regents.
Further confirmation came via a press release from the office of Governor Greg Abbott, where he appointed Mack to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission for a term set to expire on November 15, 2025. The commission oversees the agency that inspects, supervises, and regulates every phase of businesses related to alcoholic beverages, including manufacturing, selling, distributing and more.
In the press release, it highlights Mack’s resume and background, but specifically refers to him as someone who “most recently served as Chairman of the Board of Regents.”
Mack was appointed by Governor Abbott to the TSU Board of Regents in 2018 for a six-year term, where his term was set to expire on February 1, 2023. Mack was a member of the TSU Board when Dr. Lane was given a three-year contract extension and he consistently praised Dr. Lane publicly at board meetings for his work and performance, prior to the blowup that led to Dr. Lane’s departure from the University.
On the day he was appointed to the new board and resigned from the TSU Board of Regents, Mack, along with TSU Board Vice Chair Albert Myres, sent out a media statement regarding the current state of affairs at the University. The statement reads:
Dear Members of the TSU Community,
We are working with Acting President Ken Huewitt and the administration to ensure all members of the TSU family are safe during this time in our nation as we are all impacted by COVID-19 (coronavirus).
As we continue with the business of Texas Southern University, the Board of Regents would like to keep you informed about its plans moving forward. The following components of this letter are meant to give the TSU community an update of the important steps that are underway by the Board of Regents.
The Presidential Transition
The Board will work toward officially naming Ken Huewitt the Interim President of Texas Southern University. President Huewitt has provided focused leadership at a time when TSU has needed a steady hand. Ken Huewitt’s appointment follows the announcement earlier this year that the Board of Regents and Dr. Austin Lane had agreed to accept a mediator’s proposal in connection with the notice of termination the Board of Regents served on Dr. Austin Lane. The acceptance of the mediator’s proposal removed the need to hold a public hearing on the merits of the notice of termination, and more importantly, allowed the Board of Regents to seamlessly continue the operations of the University with an experienced executive at the helm.
Presidential Search Committee
The Board of Regents and the administration’s immediate focus has been completing the University’s important Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) accreditation review for the University. Much time and effort from the Board of Regents and the administration has been spent preparing for the University’s three-day meeting with SACSCOC, which has taken place already. A final determination on the University’s accreditation will be forthcoming toward the end of the year.
It is important that the leadership of the University during this period be led by an individual with an understanding of our great University and its operations.
We will begin the search process for the 13th president of Texas Southern University six to eight months after the completion of the SACSCOC accreditation process.
Prior to the official announcement of the presidential search committee, the Board will seek input from our diverse University community including our alumni. The Board will share more details on the presidential search process in the near future.
External Investigation into Admissions, Enrollment and Scholarships
The Board’s hiring of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, LLP, a leading auditing firm, Berkley Research Group, a national research firm with financial, educational and forensic experience, and O’Hanlon, Demerath & Castillo, a law firm with extensive general counsel experience, was instrumental in helping the Board review, identify and implement certain corrective actions within the University.
The external investigators’ work is ongoing and the Board will wait for their final findings into admissions, enrollment and scholarship practices within the University. Until their work is done, we will continue to support the review.
Creation of the Office of Compliance In the short term, the Board, in conjunction with Acting President Ken Huewitt, have taken on the task of working toward identifying policies and procedures to shore up the inefficiencies in the organizational and financial structure, compliance and other matters pertinent to the overall operational health of the University. As we review deficiencies in the University’s operational structure, it has become apparent that the University needs an Office of Compliance to ensure compliance with outside regulatory, legal requirements and internal policies and bylaws. A department for Contract Management Review will preside under this structure. Acting President Ken Huewitt will be providing more details surrounding the creation of this office.
The Creation of the Chairman’s & President’s Council
The creation of the Chairman’s & President’s Council (CPC) will serve as external advisors to the President and the Chairman of the Board of Regents on matters related to the University’s role in the community, which will include synergies with the business and philanthropic community on advancing the student needs of the University. Work is already underway to identify potential council members.
The Board’s Continued Commitment
As we move forward together, the Board of Regents will continue to require strict adherence to the University’s policies and procedures by its administrators, faculty and staff. It is with the utmost priority that we work as a team across the University to ensure that the credibility and accountability of the University is intact.
It is truly unclear what prompted Mack to bolt from the TSU Board of Regents so abruptly, considering he still had several more years left of his term to serve, but the Houston Forward Times has been reporting on the movement called, #RemoveTheRegents, where many concerned TSU alumni and supporters have been diligently and aggressively calling on members of the TSU Board of Regents to resign, with one exception – former Trustee Mitchell.
Just last week, the Houston Forward Times reported that while Mitchell wasn’t the TSU Regent that members of the #RemoveTheRegents movement were hoping had resigned, they were seemingly hopeful that Mitchell’s decision would prompt the rest of the TSU Regents to follow suit and voluntarily resign. Could this be the beginning of more voluntary resignations? Time will tell, and the Houston Forward Times will continue to follow this ever-brewing story.