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Monday, April 17, 2006

TSU Regents vote to fire Slade

Priscilla Slade's seven-year run as president of the state's largest historically black university headed to an end tonight when Texas Southern University regents voted to fire her on the grounds that she misspent school money.

Slade's contract guarantees her the right to a public hearing before the firing becomes official and her attorney said she plans to request one. The hearing must be scheduled within a month.

The regents' decision comes two months after TSU's governing board began looking into Slade's use of university money to furnish and landscape a $1 million-plus home she built near Memorial Park last year. An internal audit released earlier this month concluded that Slade spent nearly $650,000 over the last seven years on maid services, car repair bills, improvements to her former home and other expenses not allowed under her contract.

Slade, 54, and her attorneys have defended her spending as necessary to promote the university and generate nearly $40 million in donations in recent years.

TSU regents had planned to make their decision on Slade's future on May 5, but moved the meeting to today shortly after Slade began stating her case publicly and courting support from black community and political leaders. Regents had asked her to stay silent until after the private lawfirm they hired to review her expenses had finished its work.

In interviews, Slade has pointed out that TSU was on the verge of losing its independence because of poor management when she took over in 1999. Since then, the school's enrollment has nearly doubled to 11,600 students.

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