Former Gov. Mark White testified on behalf of Texas Southern University’s ousted president on Tuesday afternoon during her financial mismanagement trial.
White’s testimony was part of the defense’s argument that the money Priscilla Slade spent was for the benefit for the financially strapped university, the Houston Chronicle reported in its online editions.
Slade is accused of misspending school funds to lavishly decorate her home, charged with misapplication of fiduciary duty, a first-degree felony punishable by life in prison.
During her trial, Slade’s defense attorney Mike DeGeurin called White to testify about state funds and donations to the university.
“Texas Southern University has always been underfunded,” said White, who was governor from 1983 to 1987. “That hasn’t changed since my day.”
Earlier in the day, state Rep. Sylvester Turner testified about how much money Texas provided to the university during Slade’s tenure. The Houston Democrat also testified for Slade’s defense.
“I want to make a distinction between a person’s actions and the health of the institution,” Turner said after testifying. “Texas Southern has gotten a bum rap.”
Slade was president of TSU, the state’s largest historically black university, from 1999 to 2006.
The spending scandal cost Slade her job. She and three other TSU workers were later indicted. TSU’s former chief financial officer, Quintin Wiggins, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in May.
The allegations coincided with reports that revealed a pattern of financial mismanagement at TSU and prompted Gov. Rick Perry to call for a state takeover of the university that was later put on hold. The entire nine-member board of regents resigned at Perry’s request.
Enrollment at TSU this fall, 9,544 students, is at its lowest point in five years. School officials acknowledge enrollment has been affected by the various scandals at TSU.
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