Assessing priorities at TSU

rudley 090208This Jeannie Kever/Chronicle article follows up on new Texas Southern University President John Rudley’s efforts to find a place for the institution within Houston’s changing marketplace for university education (prior posts on TSU are here).

Beyond academic programs that remain on probation and terrible financial problems, TSU’s core problem is that its former role as Houston’s open admissions university has been superseded by the University of Houston-Downtown, which is a far superior to TSU at this point in time. Rudley has brought over a team of administrators from the University of Houston to straighten out TSU’s thorny administrative and financial issues. But the even greater problem is that Houston may simply not need two open admissions universities, particularly in light of the growth of Houston Community College and various suburban community college systems over the past decade or so.

Although Rudley appears to be the type of administrator that TSU needs if it is going to survive, the following portion of this Ronnie Turner Chronicle blog interview with new TSU Athletic Director Charles McClelland reflects the entrenched mindset that Rudley will have to overcome if he is going to redefine TSU’s place in the local education marketplace:

RT: At what stage are you in negotiations with the Dynamo on a partnership for a football stadium?

CM: Well, we’re still in the same stage with the Dynamo. We have all of our talking points. We’ve brought in a consultant to help us close the deal with the Dynamo to ensure that we have all of our t’s crossed and i’s dotted. Once that’s done, we’ll have to get it to our board for approval. My understanding is that the Dynamo have moved forward on their end to help get the funding that’s needed, and we’re still extremely optimistic that the stadium will generate the type of notoriety, revenue and resources (needed) for us to take our football program to the next level. We’re extremely excited about the opportunity with the Dynamo.

As noted earlier here, unless the terms of TSU’s proposed deal for use of the soccer stadium are changed radically in TSU’s favor, no responsible TSU administrator or trustee would ever approve the deal. However, rather than pursuing such a dubious deal, shouldn’t TSU administrators and trustees really be asking themselves why a financially-strapped institution such as TSU is continuing to support notoriously unprofitable intercollegiate athletic programs at all?

Good luck, President Rudley. You’re going to need it.

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