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Texas Southern University Names Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III President

Texas Southern University Names Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III President

Texas Southern University (TSU) has appointed U.S. Navy Vice Adm. James W. Crawford III as its 14th president, effective June 1. The decision, made on May 16, brings Crawford’s extensive leadership experience to a university striving for stability following a period of scrutiny and controversy.

Crawford, who previously served as president of Felician University and currently sits on the board of trustees at Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, boasts a distinguished 30-year career in the Navy, culminating in his role as the judge advocate general, the Navy’s top attorney.

Despite ending his military career amid allegations of tampering with the prosecution of a Navy SEAL accused of rape, TSU officials have expressed confidence in Crawford’s leadership abilities.

The Houston Chronicle reports that Crawford was the sole finalist for the position, a role temporarily filled by board member Mary Sias during the search process. Sias had come out of retirement to assist the university.

In April, Crawford conveyed his excitement to the Chronicle, stating, “I was taught that the most significant gift one can ever receive or give is the gift of service. To be selected to be the finalist for the presidency of Texas Southern University, a proud and accomplished HBCU, is an honor beyond measure.”

TSU’s previous president, Lesia Crumpton-Young, retired in May 2023 amidst multiple lawsuits, including one alleging that the university’s former police chief, Mary Young, was dismissed for intervening in an alleged inappropriate relationship between Crumpton-Young and a security officer.

As with many Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), TSU has been advocating for equitable state funding. Although Texas has established the Texas University Fund to aid universities outside the UT and Texas A&M Systems’ Permanent University Fund, stringent entry requirements exclude TSU.

Unlike Prairie View A&M, which is integrated into the Texas A&M System, TSU seeks to maintain its independence.

TSU aims to be the first HBCU to achieve “Research 1” status from the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. This designation would increase TSU’s share of federal grants, mitigating the impact of insufficient state funding.

In a press release, TSU Board of Regents Chairman Brandon L. Simmons expressed his confidence in Crawford’s appointment: “James Crawford comes to Texas Southern University with a breadth of leadership experience not often seen in a university president.

He has served students as both a university president and trustee. He has served in global leadership roles under six U.S. presidents in peacetime and wartime.

He is a husband, a father of twin sons, and a former college basketball player who was drawn to Texas Southern by our students because they remind him of a younger version of himself. Our board concludes the presidential search as we began it: united in serving our extraordinary Texas Southern students.”

With Crawford at the helm, TSU looks forward to a new era of leadership and growth, building on its proud history and continuing to serve its student body effectively.


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