Priscilla Slade returns to TSU for first time since scandal

July 12, 2012 4:48:18 PM PDT
She was one of Texas Southern University's most recognizable presidents, and one of only two women. But Dr. Priscilla Slade left that school in disgrace, accused of fraud and theft.

She later pleaded no contest to those charges. Recently, she returned to TSU to talk about her years there.

"I thank God that it's over and I can move on with my life," Slade said.

When we last saw Slade, she'd just signed an agreement with the Harris County district attorney. She pleaded no contest to theft and fraud charges, and she got 10 years probation, community service and had to pay back $127,000 to TSU.

"Both sides walk away; we're both a little bloody," Slade's attorney, Dick Deguerin said.

Slade and several top officials were charged with misappropriating more than $600,000 from TSU -- $40,000 spent on china, more than $200,000 on furniture and landscaping for her Memorial home. Her first trial ended in a hung jury. She told us at the time it was "a bittersweet victory."

Slade was fired by the board of regents, who said she should have gotten their approval. They, in turn, were fired by the governor. Looking back, she says she would have done at least one thing differently.

"I would just make the board aware that those decisions were being made," Slade said.

Slade is still not done with all the terms of her agreement, especially the money she owes TSU.

"The funding, no, I'm still doing that on a monthly basis," she said.

Now, more than four years later...

"I'm in Jackson, Mississippi, I've gone home, and it's so good to be among family and friends," Slade said. "I still have family in Mississippi, and I'm working at Jackson State University, part administrator and part faculty member."

She's been there since shortly after the settlement.

"I needed to go home. I wanted to go home," Slade said. "I needed some healing."

Now, Slade still finds it hard to talk about why she didn't fight harder to stay, even dropping a lawsuit against TSU for wrongful termination.

"I saw the negative impact that all that negative publicity had on the institution, and that hurt, it really hurt," she said.

This is her first trip back to the campus in years. She's here to be interviewed for the university's 85th anniversary, joining all the other living presidents in sharing their memories.

"They can't take away from me the love that I have for Texas Southern University. It is a great institution," Slade said.

Slade says despite everything, there's always a chance she'll move back to Houston, because she says she still has family and friends here and a lot of fond memories.


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