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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tx Southern picks Boddie as interim leader



The governing board of Texas Southern University, still reeling from a spending scandal and layoffs, appointed a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general as interim president Monday.

James Timothy Boddie Jr., who once led NASA's Aircraft Management Office, will assume the top job at the nation's second-largest historically black university upon finalizing an employment contract, officials said.

The regents turned to Boddie, 75, after firing Priscilla Slade in June on the grounds that she misspent $286,000 of the school's money to furnish and landscape her house. Slade and three former aides now face criminal charges.

"Right now TSU needs someone who is rigid, and he fit the bill," board Chairman J. Paul Johnson said.

Johnson said the board also wanted a strong leader who would represent the university well in Austin when state lawmakers convene in January.

"The legislative session will be extremely important for us," Johnson said.

In August, TSU eliminated 178 jobs, including dozens of faculty positions, in anticipation of a $13.7 million shortfall this year. The regents also raised tuition and fees by 21.5 percent — the first increase in two years.

Enrollment declined about 2 percent this fall, but the drop was not as steep as the 7 percent campus leaders forecasted.

Boddie has not worked in academia but said his skills as an administrator — once leading a 6,000-troop base in Korea, "a city within itself" — translates into leading TSU. He said he sees his role as fixing the university's problems before a permanent president is hired.

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