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Volume 71, Issue 137, Friday, April 28, 2006

Opinion

Tuition feathers bed of TSU president

Robyn Morrow 
Opinion Columnist

Priscilla Slade, Texas Southern University's president, was fired last week and faces a criminal investigation for allegedly using state money to make improvements on her home, an article on CNN's Web site reports. I'm sure TSU students are hoping to pay for Slade's remodeling project. Slade is accused of using $87,000 on furniture purchases, $138, 000 on landscaping and $56,000 on security-related equipment and labor, the article reports. 

In her defense, Slade says that her home is an °°extension of the university°± and appears to believe that her outrageous purchases were justified. 

One such purchase was Slade°Øs decision to buy a $10,000 sleigh bed for her home. I wasn°Øt aware that a bed, was needed to entertain the university°Øs guests.

While Slade has made many positive contributions to TSU in her seven-year reign tenure, she was brought to the university to alleviate its previous financial blunders. With a doctorate in accounting from the University of Texas, one would think that she was overtly aware of the misdeeds she was committing.

Slade receives a $4,000 per month allowance, which is allotted for mortgage payments and property taxes, the Houston Chronicle said. She said that the $138,000 in landscaping fees was recorded because of a paperwork error and has since paid back that money. 

Slade was not alone in her efforts and finds herself in hot water with former chief financial officer Quintin Wiggins, who is recorded as having nine misdemeanor charges for writing bad checks, the Houston Chronicle said. 

While Slade and Wiggins clearly violated university policy and state law, TSU regents should have been more aware of the spending habits, and Wiggins°Ø apparent money-handling problems.

Slade earns a base salary of $250,000, the Chronicle said, on top of a $14,000 car allowance and up to $50,000 for travel, conference, meetings and entertainment related to university business, but with such a large allowance, Slade and Wiggins have no reason to rob students to thicken their wallets.

It°Øs unfortunate that the regents sat unaware for so long of Slade°Øs outrageous spending. The internal audit the regents ordered, the first one called by the regents in Slade°Øs seven years at TSU, uncovered nearly $650,000 in spending. It should not have taken seven years for the regents to discover Slade°Øs transgressions. 

These wrongdoings are tarnishing the already less-than-stellar reputation of TSU. Once again, lawmakers are considering merging TSU with another university system. The most logical choice for a merger would be UH. Slade°Øs apparent disregard for the law not only affects her institution but may affect ours. 

Morrow, an opinion columnist for The Daily Cougar, can be reached at ramorrow@uh.edu.
 

Send comments to dccampus@mail.uh.edu

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