Problem Solvers: Committee Listens at TSU Town Hall Meeting.

With less than three weeks until a set of recommendations is due on Governor Rick Perry's desk, a Texas Southern University blue ribbon advisory committe is wading through input on how to fix the troubled school. As Houston Public Radio's Jack Williams reports, a passionate town hall meeting last night at TSU was a positive step toward a solution.

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"Good evening. I want to thank you all for coming and welcome you to this town hall meeting."

It didn't take long for committee chairman Glenn Lewis and ten others on the advisory panel to get an earful.

"I'm angry, I'm disappointed and I'm upset at the situation here at Texas Southern."

Gloria Chandler graduated from TSU in 1958 and has been around the independent university for most of her life. She says she wants it to stay that way.

"I do not want this school taken under the wing of anybody. I want it to remain free and independent of any other university."

A 1972 graduate of TSU's School of Pharmacy, Clarence Floyd is one of seven brothers who attended the university.

"I am the last Floyd of the brothers to come here but I've got seven nieces and nephews that have finished here, so here's a check for $500. I have on here for TSU bills."

TSU's problems have been amplified over the past year, with high profile school president Pricilla Slade fired in 2006 and charged with using school funds to decorate her home. A state audit revealed serious financial troubles and a lack of proper record keeping. State Senator Rodney Ellis, himself a TSU graduate, says it's a fixable situation.

"I don't think in any way the problem here is something systemic. It's nothing endemic about Texas Southern University that creates fiscal challenges. The real issue is governance and given enough money to make sure the fiscal house is in shape and then having the checks and balances there. Hey, the state ought the bear some responsibility. At least once a year somebody comes in to take a look. I mean, how did these things happen?"

The historically black university is a proud one, responsible for educating many of the state's African-American leaders. Committee Chairman Lewis says public input is crucial.

"We don't think that we have all of the insight in this room. We have taken a lot of information in. We have talked about ideas and so I think we're getting close. We're going to have to meet our deadline."

That deadline is March 15th. Although it has no authority to make changes, the committee is expected to provide Governor Perry with a list of recommendations on how the get TSU back on track.

Bio photo of Jack Williams

Jack Williams

Director of News Programming

News Director Jack Williams has been with Houston Public Radio since August of 2000. He's also a reporter and anchor for Houston Public Radio's local All Things Considered segments...