The New Urban Research and Resource Center at Texas Southern University

Texas Southern University, the historically Black educational institution in Houston has announced the establishment of the Urban Research and Resource Center. The center will combine scholarly endeavors with community outreach to develop and expand research programs.

Austin Lane, President of Texas Southern University, said that “we must remain connected to our community at all times. This research center will provide our students and faculty with the necessary resources to study and address the most pressing issues that urban communities face.”

The new center is under the direction of Marcia Johnson a professor at the university’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Professor Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a law degree from the University of Florida. She joined the faculty at the university in 1998.

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  1. Apparently, it is not known by those who are involved in this latest effort that this is not a new endeavor. Texas Southern University established an Urban Resources Center soon after the landmark legislation was passed by the Texas Legislature in 1972. The legislation re-designated TSU as an urban university. Needless to say, that was a forerunner of efforts to designate other higher education institutions as such in the years ahead. Many outstanding programs evolved in the 70s. The most notable one was the Weekend College program. The first Director was Dr. Thomas Freeman , the legendary founder of the world famous TSU Debate Team (1940) and recently celebrated his 98th birthday. Because that innovation endeavor, TSU’s enrollment doubled over the next few years to more than 8,000 students by 1980. More community outreach activities were undertaken. The named “Urban Resources Center was coined by retired Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate School – Dr. Joseph Jones. Today’s outstanding degree programs in Transportation Management and Airway Science growth out of the efforts of Dr. Naomi Lede who the first Research Director of the Urban Resources Center. The late Dr. Hortense Williams – Dixon was the first executive Director of the Urban Resources Center. The whole urban trust effort that TSU launched in the early 70s was the BRAINCHILD of the late legendary TSU President Dr. Granville M. Sawyer, Sr. The original Urban Resources Center was disbanded by an “TSU’s infamous President” in the 80s whose name I will omit here. Most of the surviving programs were dispersed to other units in the university. However, many of the original principals are still very much with us. So, do not take my word for what I am writing here. Contact them and read the numerous documents that still exists documenting the major impact of that original center and the pioneering work that occurred. It is unfortunate, that today’s players on the HBCU scene have no sense of history or institutional memory even when much of it still exists. I call it LAZY SCHOLARSHIP. Too many newcomers feel like NOTHING SIGNIFICANT has happen until they arrived on the scene. That is a very critical act. No wonder many alumni simply have little regard or support fro their efforts. Alumni support? There you have it.

  2. Thank you Dr. Aubrey for reminding everyone that there was an Urban Resources Center at Texas Southern University in the past. I worked there for 2 years as a graduate student intern. It was there that I realized my love for research and the critical role it plays in making an informed difference in how to help our communities. I can only hope that Prof. Johnson will use that history as a foothold to “stand” and deliver what’s needed now to make a difference.

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