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Texas Southern University and ousted president agree to part ways

Regents had accused President Austin Lane of failing to report allegations of fraud in the university admissions process and other contract violations. Their agreement to end his tenure contains no claims of wrongdoing.

Texas Southern University in Houston.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include the terms of the settlement agreement between Texas Southern University and Austin Lane.

Texas Southern University has officially parted ways with former President Austin Lane, with regents announcing an agreement Thursday that does not accuse him of wrongdoing.

The agreement, approved by the regents without opposition, comes weeks after the board released a four-page notice of termination for cause that alleged Lane had failed to report allegations of fraud in the university admissions process and committed other contract violations. Lane was given 30 days to refute the allegations. The notice said he could also resolve the dispute through discussions or nonbinding mediation. Both sides met with a mediator Monday, the board said Thursday, and a confidential settlement agreement shows they "mutually agreed" Lane would step down from his position as president and as a tenured member of the university's faculty.

Lane will be paid a lump sum payment of $560,000 — $100,000 of that compensation for "alleged emotional distress, damage to reputation and mental anguish" — and will receive pay for accrued vacation time, deferred compensation and the cash value of his life insurance policy, according to the agreement. He waived his ability to sue the university, and both he and Texas Southern agreed to not disparage the other.

Board chair Hasan Mack said Thursday's agreement was in the “best interest of the university.”

“I think this is the time that we all need to come together and hug the university, and use the passion that everyone has, whatever side that you're on, let's put that into the bucket of moving the university forward and doing what's in the best interest for the students and the community,” he said.

Regent Ron Price, who previously criticized how Lane was earlier placed on administrative leave, said he would vote for the motion “out of respect for Dr. Lane’s wishes.”

“Unfortunately, this is a dark cloud time in the history of this great institution, and I have other things to say about this whole scenario and how we got to this point, but out of respect for Dr. Lane and his wishes to move forward with his life, I will be supporting this motion,” he said.

Lane’s lawyer declined to comment. Lane could not immediately be reached.

In 2016, Lane was named president of Texas Southern, one of the largest historically black universities in the country. He was placed on administrative leave in January, but no explanation for the decision was provided at the time.

Lane has denied the allegations in the notice of termination, and he released a lengthy response accusing the board of mismanagement. He said in his response that his contract with the university ran through August 2022. His annual salary was $510,000, according to the settlement agreement.

Disclosure: Texas Southern University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune's journalism. Find a complete list of them here.

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