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Texas Southern names a new president

Austin Lane says ‘For me, this is like a homecoming’

At age 45, Austin Lane will finally get his chance to go to Texas Southern University in Houston.

But he won’t be a student.

Lane is starting at the top … as president of the historically black university.

In June, he will assume his new position at Texas Southern after serving a year as executive vice chancellor of the seven-campus Lone Star community college system.

Before that, he spent six years as president of Lone Star College’s Montgomery campus, which is about an hour’s drive from Houston. Though Lane will make the jump from a two-year school system to a four-year institution, he will face similar challenges.

Both colleges have dealt with a high number of first-generation students who are more prone to drop out. But Lane helped spur a 20 percent increase in enrollment at LSC-Montgomery as the number of degrees awarded nearly doubled (538 in 2009 to 1,016 in 2015) during his stint, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Lane, who accepted the new post on his 45th birthday last week, listed recruitment, enrollment, retention and student safety as his key priorities at Texas Southern.

Lane wanted to attend Texas Southern out of high school in the late 1980s, but the out-of-state tuition was too much for the Hackensack, New Jersey, native. So he went to Odessa Junior College in West Texas, on a basketball scholarship, then transferred to Langston University, the only HBCU in Oklahoma.

“For me, this is like a homecoming,” Lane, who earned a doctorate of higher education administration from the University of Alabama, told the Houston Chronicle.

Gregory Clay is an editor, writer and television/podcast commentator focusing on current news events. Based in Washington D.C., he has worked at Newsday and McClatchy and once gave a speech at a convention for the Texas State Bar Association.