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TSU President: Brighter Days Ahead

This morning at Texas Southern University, more than 3-thousand freshman will attend classes for the first time at the historically black college in Houston’s third ward. Thanks to TSU’s bold new leader, Dr. John Rudley, it’s a new reality for them, but also for the school, which has emerged from a cloud of recent financial and academic trouble. Jack Williams reports.

“We’ve had tremendous change on this campus, I believe, and I’m not saying that because it’s been on my watch. I’m saying it because it’s a fact.”

Dr. John RudleyDr. John Rudley is a busy man these days, but he’s taken a few moments to chat in a quiet corner of TSU’s library.
This will be his second full school year since he took over as president in early 2008. When Rudley arrived, he found a broken-down computer system that had left the accounting books in shambles. Earlier this year, Rudley was able to produce clean audits for the past two years.

“We basically had to clean-out the computer records, over five years worth of bad records, so we were able to accomplish that and that was a lot of hard work. But you know how important that is because the Houston Endowment and people who would normally give you money or give you grants weren’t going to do that if they couldn’t rely on your financial statements.” 
 
Rudley says part of the turn-around at Texas Southern has been built around improving academic programs and demanding more from the school’s students. New admission standards have made it harder to get into TSU.

“We really culled-out 2000 students that really were really not prepared for college. We are attracting students
now who are prepared. The average GPA for our freshman class is 2.71. We’re going back to the days when we
attracted quality students to our campus.” 

At TSU’s bustling student center, senior Joseph Bryant say they’ve seen a distinct change under Rudley.

“When there’s no consistency you see it but when there’s consistency, you really can’t see it. That’s just the way it is in the world. They don’t notice consistency until it’s not there. If he just keeps going in this pattern, I think everything will be good.”
 
Texas Southern is located in Houston State Representative Garnet Coleman’s district. He’s gone to bat for the school many times over the years in Austin. He says this turnaround may be the one that sticks.

“I think that the future is bright and I think Dr. Rudley has his hand on the wheel and understands the direction that the campus ought to go.” 

Part of TSU’s recent turnaround has been about money. The state lawmakers gave the school more than 13-million dollars for operating expenses and to fix-up the campus. Rudley says now it’s up to him and his staff to keep the school on track.

“I think it’s had too many starts and stops. Five years of progress and then four years of taking steps backwards. Our goal now is to make sure now that we’ve gotten the playing field leveled, now we’re going to see what Texas Southern really can do.”   

Nearly 9-thousand students are expected to start classes today at TSU, a new beginning for them and the school. 

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