Texas Southern University's 14th President James W. Crawford III

On April 25, 2024, the Texas Southern University Board of Regents approved Vice Admiral James W. Crawford III, former President of Felician University and retired Judge Advocate General (JAG) of the United States Navy, as the sole finalist for the institution’s presidential search. On May 16, 2024, the Board of Regents approved Crawford as the University’s fourteenth President. Crawford will begin his service as President on June 1, 2024.

I am humbled to be chosen as Texas Southern University’s fourteenth president. It is the honor of my career to join this esteemed institution with such a rich history, especially as we embark upon the celebration of the institution’s 100-year anniversary. I look forward to working collaboratively with our world-class 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 meeting the needs of our students in the 21st century as they navigate an ever-evolving economic landscape. It is with great excitement that I step into service to this dedicated and learning-centered community as President.

The Search

Vice Admiral James W. Crawford III was recommended to TSU Board of Regents by a Presidential Search Committee in collaboration with the executive search firm WittKieffer, renowned for its work in higher education. The search committee, led by TSU Regent and 1st Vice Chair, James Benham, and Dr. Edieth Wu, alongside notable members such as Michael Strahan, Vicki Hollub, Mathew Knowles, and Andrew Card, ensured the creation of a diverse and highly qualified candidate pool. The process included input from various stakeholders through listening sessions, with the aim of selecting the best candidate to lead TSU forward.

More about the search

Transition Plan

As Texas Southern University transitions into a new era of leadership, we will embark on a journey of strategic change. As we welcome our incoming President, we assure our community that this transition will be thoughtful, inclusive, and transparent. Over the next 30 days, President Crawford will lay the foundation for collaboration through, listening, assessing, and engaging with internal and external stakeholders to collaboratively shape the future of our TSU, honoring our traditions while embracing innovation.


Host open dialogues with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community stakeholders to understand their perspectives and expectations for the university's future.


Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the university's strengths, opportunities, aspirations, and results, utilizing data-driven frameworks, benchmarking, objectives, and key performance indicators to inform strategic decision-making and align accountability.


Foster continued collaboration and synergistic partnerships with key stakeholders, including alumni, donors, local businesses, and government entities, to build a shared vision and commitment to the university's success.

Schedule of Events

Date(s) Event
June 10-12 Presidential Roundtables
June 11 Internal Campus Community Meet and Greet
June 13 Board of Regents Meeting
June 17-18 Presidential Roundtables
June 19 Juneteenth Holiday
June 24-26 Presidential Roundtables
August 15 Board of Regents Meeting

Strategic Planner and Decision-Maker

Appointed by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 43rd Judge Advocate General of the Navy, Crawford served as the principal uniformed legal counsel to the Secretary of the Navy and Chief of Naval Operations. He led over 2,300 attorneys, enlisted paralegals, and civilian employees of the worldwide Navy JAG Corps community, retiring as a Vice Admiral. In 2020, he was selected as the first male President of Felician University, a Franciscan Catholic institution, with two campuses in Lodi and Rutherford, New Jersey. He is recognized for steering the University through the Covid-19 global pandemic, as well as securing $17 million in grants for capital improvements, including expansion of the University’s technology architecture and STEM infrastructure and programming, while focusing on delivering a premium educational experience to the underserved and first-generation student population of New Jersey. Crawford presently serves on a priority American Bar Association working group for increased civil participation.

Academic Achievements and Education Leadership

Crawford has a robust academic background , with degrees from some of the top institutions in higher education, including the University of North Carolina School of Law, the University of Miami School of Law, and the Naval War College. Crawford was also a Massachusetts Institution of Technology (MIT) Geopolitics & Diplomacy Seminar XXI Fellow. As the Deputy Judge Advocate General, he was responsible for the Naval Justice School (the Department of the Navy’s 3 campus institution for legal training and education). In this capacity, he was charged with ensuring the administration of legal instruction for all Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard officers and enlisted personnel in military justice, civil and administrative law and procedure, and paralegal support. Under his leadership, the Naval Justice School dramatically improved its technical infrastructure, physical facilities, and educational methods to create a modernized and highly efficient educational institution. As President of Felician University, he oversaw the formation of the University’s strategic plan and set an implementation plan in motion to address long-term capital improvements, diverse student recruitment, and invested in intercollegiate athletics programs.

Collaborator and Problem Solver

Crawford prioritizes collaboration, innovation, and communication. As a collaborator and strategic problem-solver, he has been relied upon for calm, steady, and thoughtful leadership, especially in difficult situations and large-scale crises. As the Legal Counsel to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Crawford was authorized by the Obama Administration as one of only four Executive Branch lawyers—and the only uniformed counsel—to participate in the planning and execution of the 2011 raid on Osama bin Laden’s Pakistan compound. He has demonstrated collaborative leadership as a commander in the Afghanistan zone of armed conflict to the Pentagon as a 3-star flag officer to the university campus where he enhanced administration-faculty-staff collaboration. A recognized expert in the application of international humanitarian law during armed conflict and military operations, Crawford recently served as a consultant for Palantir Technologies, advising the project leadership team and technical experts on software product development focused on lethal targeting precision, protecting civilians, and preservation of civilian infrastructure during armed conflict. Equipping the company’s product development team with expert advice on content, product strategy, and risk assessment to advance the goal of increasing protection for civilian populations and the civilian environment during armed conflict.

For inquiries regarding the presidential transition, please email us at transition@tsu.edu.