Former TSU president calls termination a ‘witch hunt’

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, recently ousted Texas Southern University President Dr. Austin Lane fired back at the school’s board. 

Two days after receiving a termination letter, Dr. Lane described the process as a “witch hunt”.

“I read through their document and I thought wow,” said Dr. Lane.  “This really is a witch hunt. I’m here today to make sure my reputation [and] my family’s reputation is not tarnished.”

On Tuesday, TSU’s board held a controversial vote behind closed doors to remove Dr. Lane. After several hours, the members voted 6-1 in favor of Lane’s removal.

“The investigation has been behind closed doors,” said Dr. Lane. “That’s a lack of due process. Whether it’s me, or the next president, or whoever, it’s just unfair.”

Dr. Lane was unexpectedly put on leave in January. On Tuesday, he received a termination letter over many accusations including admissions fraud and contract violations. According to Dr. Lane, the accusations are false.

“Every time I read it, I think the same thing,” said Lane.  “It almost feels like, let’s throw something and there and see what sticks.”

The letter describes an instance in 2017 where Lane “failed to fully inform the entire board of the primary reason for Law School Dean, Dr. James Douglas’s resignation,” calling it “a violation of University policy.”

We asked Lane if he believes Douglas had anything to do with the report.

“I don’t know,” said Dr. Lane. “When they mentioned it, I was shocked the board would even take an allegation like that.”

On Thursday, we met exclusively with Dr. Douglas about Lane’s termination.

“I found they did exactly what they were supposed to do,” said Dr. Douglas.

We asked Dr. Douglas if he was surprised his name appeared in the termination letter.

“I was [surprised],” said Douglas. “I’m not behind it.”

Dr. Lane says he’s unsure if Douglas had anything to do with his firing.

On Thursday afternoon, Lane released an eight-page document that refutes the board’s termination letter. According to Dr. Lane, he still wants to be the TSU president.

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