Black Public Scholars

October 27, 2009

Black News: Texas Southern University Removes Tavis’ Name from Building

tavis_smiley

A long-simmering disagreement between broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Texas Southern University ended Friday when the university’s governing board agreed to strip Smiley’s name from its communication school.

Smiley promised in 2004 to donate $1 million and to raise another $1 million for TSU. The school later created the Tavis Smiley School of Communication in his honor.

In return, Smiley made one $50,000 donation in mid-2005 and raised $250,000 from three corporate donors.

But he said Friday that he had intended to fulfill his personal $1 million pledge.

“Any institution that turns away a $1 million gift in this economy, I think ought to have good reason for doing that,” he said in a telephone interview.

He also said former university President Priscilla Slade offered to name the school for him before he pledged any money.

“I even made a joke, how much is this decision going to cost me?” he said. “She said, ‘This decision has already been made.’”

“It doesn’t feel good,” he said of the board’s decision. “My intentions were to help the students.”

 

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