New TSU President Finds Passion In His Challenge

In part two of his series profiling new leadership at two universities, Houston Public Radio’s Pat Hernandez examines the mission of Doctor John Rudley, the new president at Texas Southern Univeristy.

Lawmakers Barbabra Jordan and Mickey Leland, Michael Strahan of the Super Bowl Champion New York Giants and Grammy Award winning Gospel singer Yolanda Adams, notable alumni from Texas Southern University. But lately demands for accountability and higher standards have cast a black eye on the proud institution. In comes John Rudley, an expert in finance & college administrator who headed the University of Houston on the interim until regents chose Doctor Renu Khator. Rudley says his first priority is to change the open admissions policy to improve the university’s record of graduating 16-percent of students after 6 years, when the state’s average is about 55-percent.

“We already had standards. Students should take the ACT and SAT test before they’re admitted to Texas Southern. That’s on the books now. On the book it’s recommended that students take that. We want to change it back to what it was before it was required and just that change and that term from recommended to required will signal to students that you must have a mindset that you’re going to graduate from college because if the student takes the ACT or SAT, it means that he or she is thinking about going to college and probably graduate.”

Tightening that policy will help to improve the grade point average.  Dr. Rudley also inherits a situation in which major decisions made were flawed, but has sofar managed to impress the right people.

“Lawmakers have alot of problems on their desk and they don’t need to have Texas Southern there every day, every week, every year, every month. They would like Texas Southern to be improved, they’ve allocated funds for Texas Southern over the years. So, the lawmakers are just like the local citizens here and just like the alumni. They want Texas Southern to be strong. They’ve supported Texas Southern for years, many of them, and they would like to have the problems come to an end.”

Dr. Rudley says its important that students have the right learning environmemt.

“A student in the pharmacy program indicated to me that she did not want to be sitting next to a person who really wasn’t prepared in that class and she felt that, because of that situation she was not going to be as competitive as the people she was going to have to compete for jobs in the medical center. So, you see that plays right into the good students that are here now want a better quality of education and they want every one in the classroom to be up to college level work.”

Students I spoke to say they like what they’re hearing from their new president.

“I think he really just putting forth a lot of effort to make sure we succeed. I hopefully we get more better teachers because some of these teachers are just here getting paid. Hopefully he does something about that too. I’d love to come back as an alumni and be proud of the school. I am proud that he’s our president and I’m sure he’ll get things done and changed and I believe in him.”

Rudley expects his management style to ruffle some feathers but it will also  inspire loyalty to move Texas Southern University to new heights.

Pat Hernandez, Houston Public Radio News

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