Board to consider appointing Lane as chancellor of Carbondale campus

By Kallie Cox, News Editor

Updated 5/27 11:32 a.m. with additional information about the law school.

The Board of Trustees will meet on Friday to consider appointing former Texas Southern University president Austin Lane as chancellor of SIU Carbondale. The appointment will be effective no later than July 6. pending board approval.

The proposed salary for Lane’s position is $340,000 annually.

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SIU System President Dan Mahony recommended Lane for the position and said Lane’s leadership experience and collaborative approach will be an asset in the role, according to a release by the university.

(See more: here.)

Mahony said Lane is very student focused and was well respected by faculty staff and students at Texas Southern University.

“Dr. Lane is a visionary leader and strategic thinker who knows how to engage people around important issues such as enrollment and budget,” Mahony said. “He is also a strong communicator who will build partnerships that will benefit the university.”

Mahony said the search committee spoke with people Lane had worked with at his previous institutions.

“Based upon our review and the feedback we received from the SIU community, I am confident that he is an individual of strong character who will be an outstanding chancellor,” Mahony said.

Lane said he was impressed by the dedication of SIU’s faculty, staff and students that he observed during his two day virtual interview process that took place amid the pandemic.

“I was immediately convinced that SIU is a stunning first-class institution of higher learning with amazing students and a family of highly regarded faculty, staff, alums and community members who believe in the spirit of Saluki pride,” Lane said.

Lane left his position as President of Texas Southern University in February amid allegations  that he violated his contract by refusing to report or inform the Texas Southern Board of Regents of fraud allegations involving a former law school official, and a “pay-for-play” admissions scheme was discovered in the law school.

(See more: SIUC chancellor finalist addresses controversy, departure from TSU).

The Board of Regents voted to remove Lane from his position in a 6-1 vote, however Lane invoked his right to mediation and entered a settlement agreement with the board, receiving a buyout amounting to approximately $900,000 and departing without admission of wrongdoing.

Lane maintains that he did nothing wrong and that the issue was with the former law school employee and not him. 

Lane said he gave a point-by-point response to the termination notice and it was unfortunate things had to go that far.

“My integrity and my reputation, it speaks for itself and I felt like in this case it was really under attack for something that had nothing to do with me at all,” Lane said. “When you’re president sometimes at that level, you either get celebrated for everything or blamed for everything and that’s just the way it is in these jobs sometimes.”

Lane’s claims of no wrongdoing directly conflict with TSU’s Chief Audit Executive, Charla Parker-Thompson’s investigative report that confirmed his involvement.

(See more: Auditor’s report conflicts with Lane’s claims on TSU investigation).

Lane said no local authorities are working on the case. But according to the auditor’s report the following organizations are investigating, or were notified, about this issue: The FBI, Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Office of the Inspector General, Department of Education, Scholastic Programs Division, Department of Education, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools/Commission on Colleges, The American Bar Association, Texas State Auditor’s Office and The Texas Rangers/Texas Department of Public Safety.

According to a statement the DE received from Parker-Thompson on April 23. the March 10. report is the most recent and there are critical elements of the open investigation that continue to be in progress.

The American Bar Association Council found the Thurgood Marshall School of Law remains out of compliance with admissions standard 501 (a), according to a report by the ABA Journal published May 21.

According to the Journal, In 2017 the law school was found to be out of compliance with Standard 501(b), as well as Standards 301(a) and 309(b). Standard 301(a) requires law schools maintain rigorous education programs that prepare students to pass a bar and practice law, while Standard 309(b) addresses academic support. The council’s February 2020 notice said the law school had come into compliance with Standard 301(a) and 309(b).

The admissions standards the school is currently out of compliance with are some of the same issues that were discovered during the investigation of fraud that took place within the law school when the pay-for-play scheme was uncovered.

Lane said in an interview with the DE yesterday that the law school has taken great strides to become compliant and that its failure to meet standard 501 (a) has nothing to do with admissions fraud found within the law school.

“One has nothing to do with the other, before I arrived at Texas Southern University they were on probation, that was long before I arrived,” Lane said. “When I got there they actually cleared about four standards.”

Lane said the non-compliance with the admissions standard was concerning the fact that the law school needed to admit students who were receiving about a 140 on their LSAT and that the concern was also with keeping class sizes below a certain number. 

One of the problems discovered in an investigation of the law schools improper admissions practices, was that it was admitting students with a lower than 140 LSAT.

Lane said overall the law school has been doing an incredible job clearing their standards and should be applauded for the progress they are making.

“We have taken an aggressive corrective course of action, identifying and removing ineffective admissions policies and procedures and have required our admissions personnel to undergo extensive training to ensure admissions is operating within best practice parameters.” Joan R.M. Bullock, the dean of the law school, wrote in an email to the ABA Journal.

Marc Morris, chair of the SIUC chancellor search committee, said in an email in April that the committee was aware of the controversy at TSU.

“This is not unusual for university leaders given the number of constituencies they serve, the public nature of their work and the difficult decisions they must make,” Morris said

If appointed Lane will replace Interim Chancellor John Dunn who stepped into the position following the death of former Chancellor Carlo Montemagno.

News Editor Kallie Cox can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @KallieECox.

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