TSU internal audit showed money missing and a possible payoff in the admissions office

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The former assistant dean of admissions at Texas Southern University allegedly accepted $14,000 to admit a student to the historically black college’s law school, according to an internal investigative report obtained by The Texas Monitor.

In another case covered by the report, investigators said a different student was admitted after Edward René, assistant dean of admissions, allowed that person to access his student file and remove information regarding “character and fitness” issues  that would have precluded his admission to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law.

Internal investigators also determined that at least about $14,000 and possibly several times that amount in admissions office revenue was missing. They recommended that a more detailed investigation be done of admissions office activities.

TSU Dean Joan Bullock found $13,456, in money orders and cashier’s checks, dating back to June 2019, stashed under a desk calendar on René’s desk. The money was part of a projected $115,700 revenue from the admissions office.

René told Bullock that he would provide a “detailed financial report” on the remainder of the money.  But no account had been given by Oct. 25, 2019, the date of the report.

Two students were also discovered to be attending classes who were not properly enrolled, the investigation also found. The students were allowed to correct omissions in their files to be properly enrolled and continue attending the school.

René was fired in September after the investigation was concluded. He had been employed by the university since 1999. He could not be reached for comment.

TSU President Austin Lane was placed on leave in January under vague terms and left the university last month after negotiating a $879,000 settlement.

In a public statement posted by the university about the termination, officials said the regents’ actions in relation to Lane “relate in part to failure to report to the board information relating to improper payments for admissions to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law and for the improper awarding of scholarships to students, which led in part to the initiation of a comprehensive investigation.” 

Lane insists he did nothing wrong. His name is not mentioned in the investigative report. His assistant, Wendell Williams, was fired in January.

The university was advised by the Texas Attorney General’s office to turn over the six-page investigative report after the Houston Chronicle requested it under the state’s public information act. But the university threatened to sue the AG’s office rather than release the report.

The Texas Monitor obtained the report through other channels.

Steve Miller can be reached at [email protected].

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