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Retired Navy Vice Admiral to Lead Texas Southern

James Crawford IIIJames Crawford IIIJames W. Crawford III was selected as the sole finalist for president of Texas Southern University.

“Throughout this process, I have learned so much about Texas Southern University, and I am honored to join this esteemed institution with such a rich history,” said Crawford. “I look forward to working collaboratively with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and the community to uphold and elevate our commitment to academic excellence, innovation, and economic empowerment as we advance our mission of transforming lives and creating leaders.”

Moving the university forward through challenges and opportunities in present-day higher education requires a leadership with specific credentials, said James Benham, vice chair of Texas Southern’s Board of Regents and chair of the presidential search committee.

“If you look at James Crawford’s accomplishments, leadership, and track record for success both from serving his country and in higher education, we are confident he embodies the ideal set of qualities we all strived to fulfill with this search,” said Benham. “James’ illustrious career as one of the highest-ranking attorneys in the country, while overseeing a substantial team of professionals will serve our university and law school well into the future.”

Crawford served nearly two years as president Felician University, where he oversaw the completion of the Wellness and Recreation Center and other large capital projects, as well as the creation of the STEM Center in Kirby Hall on the Lodi campus. His higher education experience also includes service on the Board of Trustees of his alma mater, Belmont Abbey College, and on the Boards of Directors for the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, Lucy’s Hearth, and the Church of the Nativity.

Crawford retired after 30 years with the U.S. Navy as a vice admiral and its 43rd Judge Advocate General (JAG), who led 2,400 judge advocates, enlisted employees, and civilian employees of the Navy’s global legal organization. He was the head of the Naval Legal Service Command, legal counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and commander of NATO Rule of Law Field Support, Afghanistan. He served under six U.S. Presidents and was Lead Counsel for the principal military advisor to Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama — a trusted voice for the National Security Council, the Homeland Security Council, and Secretaries of Defense Robert M. Gates and Leon Panetta. He is the recipient of numerous military awards, including two Distinguished Service Medals.

“Jim Crawford is an extraordinary leader and person who cares deeply about young people and their education,” said Admiral Michael Glenn Mullen, former chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “I have worked with him on some of the most complex issues in the world. He is a man of superb character and a leader of matchless capability. The sky is the limit.”

Crawford holds a juris doctorate from the University of North Carolina, a Master of Laws degree in ocean and coastal law from the University of Miami, and a master’s in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College. He is expected to begin his new duties as Texas Southern president in late May.

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