Monday, July 28, 2014

Lies: and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them (Al Franken Title, 2004): The Basis for Chicago State's Administration

“Be bad, but at least don't be a liar, a deceiver!” Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, 235.

As chronicled on the pages of this blog, the crony-infested administration of Chicago State University has done incalculable damage to the school. The persons responsible for oversight of this wretched gang of incompetents do nothing but mouth platitudes about believing in Wayne Watson’s “vision,” while enrollment plummets and Watson and his gang shred the school’s academic reputation. In Springfield, the governor does nothing at all about the situation at Chicago State, in marked contrast to his past muscular intervention into the affairs of the University of Illinois.

Given the dire condition of the university today, one might wonder how Watson and his minions do it. How do they retain their power? One answer might be simple politics. Over a sycophantic three-plus decade career as a second-rate Chicago political hack, Watson has generated enough political support to enable him to damage not one, but two institutions of higher learning. That kind of political support, evident in March 2013 clearly enabled Watson to avoid a well-earned dismissal.

Just as the March 2013 political circus was more style than substance, the Watson administration’s “brand” is built upon a foundation of distortions, elisions, omissions and downright falsehoods. His supporters and stooges spin a narrative of competence that bears no close inspection. Contributors to this forum have successfully endeavored to expose to the light some of the most egregious practices of the Watson cabal. That these exposures have spurred no one to make the hard decisions about the school’s leadership does not mean that our efforts will cease. In this post, I will discuss the most glaring examples of administrative perfidy.

Beginning with the university’s website, distortions and lies are standard administrative rhetorical fare. Napoleon Moses, gone from the university since May 2013, appeared as the “Chief of Staff” until at least March or April of this year. Renee Mitchell holds no Ph.D. as the website claims. Instead, she received a Doctor of Management from the University of Phoenix. Angela Henderson’s recently abbreviated biographical sketch contains the ridiculous assertion (twice) that “Prior to joining CSU, Dr. Henderson served as Provost, Dean, Department Chair and tenured Professor at various institutions of higher education.” The disinformation on the website gives the impression of a real university administration. Instead, the résumés of key personnel are misrepresented and another administrator whose employment ended fourteen months ago continued to appear as a key administrative employee long after his separation from the university.

The distortions evident on the school’s website are mirrored by the somewhat predictable and repetitive public pronouncements from various university spokespersons. In the 2010 James Crowley lawsuit against Wayne Watson and Chicago State, Patrick Cage called Crowley’s allegations “unfounded,” and the lawsuit “meritless.” Translation: Crowley was lying. In its response to Glenn Meeks 2014 complaint against the university and Wayne Watson, Tom Wogan called the allegations “baseless . . . Mr. Meeks is clearly a disgruntled former employee . . .” Translation: Meeks was lying. Another lawsuit was filed against Wayne Watson and other university officials by Willie Preston and Brittany Bailey in 2014, Wogan called their allegations “categorically untrue.” While the Crowley case resulted in a $3 million judgement against Wayne Watson and Chicago State, the other two suits are currently in litigation. Clearly the Cook County jury that decided the Crowley case found it fairly easy to determine where the truth lay.

Recently, more subtle distortions appeared in a Chicago Sun-Times article on Angela Henderson’s lawsuit against UIC. According to the report, “The lawsuit alleges UIC has for months refused to address findings that iThenticate, the software program UIC officials told media the school used to detect potential plagiarism in Henderson’s case, has shown at least five other UIC nursing dissertations with higher plagiarism index scores than hers, and at least 30 other UIC dissertations with high or problematic plagiarism scores.” So, the lawsuit argues that in nursing everyone cheats, therefore Henderson’s plagiarism is all right? As for the total number of dissertations, the lawsuit neglects to mention how many plagiarism index scores exceeded Henderson’s, a somewhat important omission. Although figures for 2013 seem unavailable, UIC granted a total of 342 research doctorates in 2012 and 326 in 2011. The lawsuit neglected to point out that Henderson’s plagiarism score stood higher than at least 91 percent of the doctoral recipients in 2012 and 2011.

The story’s next paragraph is a masterpiece of deception. I am not sure whether the quoted material comes from the complaint or from the reporter’s own research. Given its position in the article, it seems fair to assume it is from the complaint.

"A blog maintained by iThenticate and Plagiarism Today, analyzing high profile news stories of plagiarism said of Bionaz’ allegations in January: 'CSU is clearly an embattled school ... shows how deep the divide is between some in the faculty and administration ... as serious as it is, the actual question of plagiarism is almost a sideshow. The real issue is the divide that clearly exists.' ” This passage seems designed to create the impression that Henderson’s plagiarism problems stem from my revelations of her dishonesty since the plagiarism is nothing more than a “sideshow.”

A look at the blog post from which this quote emanates reveals that the context for that discussion is quite different. Here is the entire post:

Someone obviously shaped the Sun Times material to suit the needs of Henderson, plaintiff and victim.

The inflated credentials of key administrators and the omissions, elisions and distortions in the Henderson plagiarism case go hand-in-hand with the inflated and dishonest applications/ résumés of particular Watson favorites to create a false picture of the crony-riven administrative personnel at Chicago State. Watson’s endorsement of the lies and misrepresentations of administrative credentials contributes to an atmosphere of basic administrative dishonesty that also manifests itself in the kinds of budget nonsense that enables Watson to hire six-figure administrators without even the pretense of a search, to intrude into personnel and departmental matters for which he possesses no expertise—and as recent discoveries have demonstrated—to place the university’s ability to distribute financial aid in jeopardy.

My distinguished colleague Dr. Beverly is currently in the process of serializing the revelations surrounding Chicago State’s continuing financial aid problems. While he will provide specifics, in general terms, the crisis comes about because of administrative incompetence and inattention. Currently, Chicago State is provisionally able to award financial aid through December 31, 2015. Any subsequent missteps might result in sanctions that would effectively render the university inoperative. This is the price of incompetence and cronyism and we will continue to expose the administration’s various failings as information becomes available. We could use the help of anyone at Chicago State: students, staff, faculty and administrators.

The Sun-Times story and ithenticate blog are available here:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Tale of Two Plagiarizers: Angela Henderson and John Walsh, Both Victims.

For those of you who do not read the New York Times regularly, there are three articles in today’s edition about a John Walsh’s (Democratic Senator from Montana) plagiarism of his final paper for a Master’s Degree from the United States Army War College. Walsh’s cheating bears an eerie similarity to the plagiarism Angela Henderson engaged in: unattributed and inadequate attribution of sources; according to the Times, “[a]bout a third of his paper consists of material either identical to or extremely similar to passages in other sources . . . and is presented without attribution. Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes, but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks.”

Also similar are the clear academic integrity policies of both UIC and the War College which, according the the Times reads: “Copying a segment of another’s work word for word, then conveniently ‘forgetting’ to include quotation marks, but ‘remembering’ to cite the source, is described as academic fraud in the handbook.”

Both works feature numerous examples of academic fraud, and the responses of the two cheaters to the revelations of their dishonesty are also comparable. For example:
Walsh: “In an interview outside his Capitol Hill office on Tuesday, after he was presented with multiple examples of identical passages from his paper and the Carnegie and Harvard essays, Mr. Walsh said he did not believe he had done anything wrong.”

“ ‘I didn’t do anything intentional here,’ he said, adding that he did not recall using the Carnegie and Harvard sources.”

“Asked directly if he had plagiarized, he responded: ‘I don’t believe I did, no.’ ”

Henderson (through her attorney in the Chicago Tribune): “Michael Leonard, Henderson’s attorney, said Monday the plagiarism allegations stem from Henderson improperly using quotation marks to cite other authors’ works.”

“Henderson cited sources properly, but the dissertation’s use of quotation marks ‘wasn’t perfect,’ Leonard said when reached by phone Monday night.”

“ ‘In other words, to the extent there were unintentional errors in Ms. Henderson’s dissertation, including the lack of quotation marks, she was requested to fix them,’ the suit says.”

Both Henderson and Walsh provide examples of what one plagiarism expert calls “incompetent cheating.” David Callahan said “ ‘There is malevolent cheating and incompetent cheating,’ . . . This is a case of the latter. This is college kid stuff.’ ”

“Linda Trevino, a professor at Penn State’s business school who co-wrote a paper on graduate school plagiarism, said that Mr. Walsh’s initial reaction that he ‘didn’t do anything intentional’ was common among those confronted with questions about improperly using the work of others.”

The Angela Henderson defense is as pathetic as Walsh’s. Through her attorney, she asks us to believe that nearly 90 separate passages lifted verbatim from other sources, with neither a quotation mark nor a single page number reference was not “perfect.” Far more than imperfect, her dishonesty cannot be obscured by glib assertions from her attorney. Almost as pitiful, someone at the end of an advanced course of study claims as her defense that she did not know how to cite sources? Along with her fellow plagiarist, Angela Henderson is nothing more than a garden variety academic cheat. An “incompetent” cheat to be sure.

The Times articles are here:®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well;®ion=bottom-well&WT.nav=bottom-well

Teetering On The Edge

So loyal readers, I believe many of you were distressed at discovering the university’s status vis-a-vis the US Department of Education and student financial aid. Being placed on Provisional Status is not necessarily an indicator of an institution's failings. Some institutions end up on provisional status for reasons beyond their control. For example, a state university has no control over its audit process and the release of its annual audit report. Federal regulations require submission of an audit report within a certain time period. The institution doesn’t control when that report is submitted, thus it may find itself in violation while having no problems in the financial aid area.
Chicago State University is another matter however. The Department of Education report cites “...serious, repeated or systemic deficiencies that directly relate to the regulatory elements identified in 34 CFR § 668.16." The Final Audit Determination, received by the administration on April 9th, 2014, informs the university that "Due to the serious nature of one or more of the enclosed findings, this final audit determination has been referred to the Department’s Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group (AAASG) for its consideration of possible adverse action. Such action may include a fine, and/or the limitation, suspension, or termination of the eligibility of the institution."

Fines are fairly common methods of ensuring compliance. The university already has been placed on Provisional Status but it is the last two possibilities that are potentially the most serious. Suspension or termination of eligibility would undoubtedly force the closure of the university. Ninety percent of CSU students receive federal financial aid. Losing the ability to receive federal financial aid would undoubtedly force the closing of the university. Placing the university at risk in this way should warrant serious inquiry by the university’s Board of Trustees. Yet the Board has been remarkably silent on this issue, either because they don’t know anything about it, don’t understand the ramifications or worse, don’t care to know.
One of the findings in the report, #12-7 – Student Financial Aid Awarded to Student at Unreported Locations – Repeat Finding, is of grave concern given this administration’s unwavering compliance with a legislative mandate to expand the university to the West Side of Chicago, even in the face of declining enrollments. The charge ahead without consideration of implications has been a hallmark of this failed administration. The university is at grave risk “suspension or termination” should it decide to press ahead with a West Side Campus without garnering the approval of the Department of Education. Provisional Certification requires department approval whereas Full Certification does not. Especially telling is this statement: “In June 2012, CSU submitted its application for recertification and in the application CSU reported 12 additional locations. The Department requested the accreditation and state approval for all of the additional locations and CSU indicated that they were not aware that accreditation approval and state authorization was required.” 

How could the university not know what the federal regulations are? Where is the institutional memory of CSU? How does a university that has been in existence for nearly 150 years function like this?
More disturbing evidence is revealed in Finding 12-10 – Inadequate Controls Over Submission of Loan Related Documents and Notices. Why the university would need to be reminded of its due diligence responsibilities and its ultimate responsibility for compliance is beyond my understanding.

Equally telling about the failures of the administration is its failure to comply with federal laws, namely the Clery Act. It was your humble narrator who several years ago brought this matter to the attention of the Board of Trustees, reminding all in attendance of the serious implications for not following this law. Lo and behold an audit finding emerges for not complying with the Clery Act. I was asked by one of my colleagues why I would bring such matters to the Board during public and employee comment. I responded that I felt obligated to assist the institution in not getting audit findings and would be professionally negligent by remaining silent about issues I have some knowledge of or expertise about. The report’s language is unambiguous.  “Although the finding is now closed, CSU is reminded that the exceptions identified above constitute very serious violations of the Clery Act that by their nature cannot be cured. There is no way to truly "correct" violations of this type once they occur.

So with the clear presentation of evidence, what assurances do the taxpayers have that this administration has the capacity to correct the numerous systemic defects, especially given the outflow of institutional memory during this administration. Unfortunately, there are no assurances. Failure upon failure leading to where the university is positioned today have led the Board to reassert its confidence in failed leadership. I believe that the taxpayers could be better served if elected officials had the political courage to stop the charade that is Chicago State University and demand that it be what it says it is.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Assistance for the Banned

So loyal readers, many of you know of the plight of Willie Preston, a former CSU student who has filed suit against the university. Much of his situation has been reported here. Litigation in the US is a difficult, time consuming and expensive process. I wish that the court's time could be used for important matters and not frivolous suits. I believe that Willie Preston should have his day in court and should have legal representation commensurate to what Illinois taxpayers provide to this university. With that in mind, I provide the following. Please consider donating to Willie's Legal Defense Fund. Contributions are strictly anonymous.

Hello friends, Brittany and I have gotten off to a good start reaching a little over 10% of our goal, $1,165 in one month! Our goal for this month is to raise 20% $2,000. We are thankful for all that has been given to help us in our legal endeavor both on gofundme and donations that were given to us personally. We want to let you know our fight is not over. In fact, our first court hearing is approaching quickly, August 12, despite CSU asking for an extension that has been denied. Our attorneys have been aggressive and some incredible revelations have already been discovered that we wish we could share, but on advice from our attorneys we won't be going into details, at this time. This fight is crucial for the entire city, not just Brittany and I, because many other students, faculty, and administrators, past and present, are poised to stand up against Watson and Henderson—they just want someone else to go first because of the inevitable fight that will take place as a result. We understand donations are important financial decisions that people make, precisely the reason Brittany and I are asking that if possible you contribute $50 $25 or $10 to our fund and ask a friend to do the same, so our attorneys can continue to subpoena, file motions, retain their private investigators, etc. We believe this will ensure that Watson is unmasked, helping to erase whatever doubt that remains, that CSU has any option other than, retaining new leadership.

The Empire Strikes Back: Angela Henderson Unleashes the Imperial Walkers

Apparently Angela Henderson is fighting back by suing the University of Illinois at Chicago for "illegally disclos[ing] to Tribune reporter Jodi S. Cohen that a third party filed a complaint with UIC regarding her dissertation." Here's the text of the article from the Chicago Tribune:

By Michelle Manchir Tribune reporter

9:33 p.m. CDT, July 21, 2014

A high-ranking administrator at Chicago State University is suing University of Illinois at Chicago officials after a Chicago Tribune story earlier this year about her dissertation, alleging people at the school illegally disclosed private facts about academic matters, among other allegations.

Angela Henderson, the interim provost and senior vice president at Chicago State University, says a vice chancellor and a dean at UIC illegally disclosed to Tribune reporter Jodi S. Cohen that a third party filed a complaint with UIC regarding her dissertation, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County court.

Henderson, who in 2013 was enrolled in the doctoral nursing program at UIC and received her doctoral degree, said she had been unaware UIC had concerns about her dissertation until she read the front-page Jan. 14 Chicago Tribune story that details allegations of plagiarism within it.

Henderson has denied any allegations that she plagiarized her dissertation, which is titled “Predicting Consistent Condom Use Behavior In African-American, Heterosexual Males Aged 18-25 Who Are Enrolled In Community College,” according to the suit.

According to the suit, UIC Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Provost Lon Kaufman and Dean of Graduate College Karen Colley caused a review of Henderson’s dissertation and violated the school’s own rules in terms of failing to notify students of concerns about their work.

“The first thing that defendants Kaufman and Colley should have done was to tell Ms. Henderson that there were concerns about her dissertation,” the lawsuit says.

Michael Leonard, Henderson’s attorney, said Monday the plagiarism allegations stem from Henderson improperly using quotation marks to cite other authors’ works.

Henderson cited sources properly, but the dissertation’s use of quotation marks “wasn’t perfect,” Leonard said when reached by phone Monday night.

According to the suit, a UIC graduate college committee recommended in January 2013 that Henderson revise her dissertation.

“In other words, to the extent there were unintentional errors in Ms. Henderson’s dissertation, including the lack of quotation marks, she was requested to fix them,” the suit says.

The suit also alleges that, between January and July of this year, Henderson contacted several UIC senior officials to address concerns regarding her dissertation but that she was “largely ignored.”

The suit seeks compensation for damages including loss of a good name, loss of reputation, shame, interference with Henderson’s career and emotional distress. The suit seeks a jury trial.

Bill Burton, a spokesman for UIC, said Monday night that the university has a policy to not comment on matters in litigation.

Just as a reminder, here are two passages selected from Henderson's dissertation (pp. 13-14) and presented side-by side with the journal article from which the material is taken. This particular article is not included in Henderson's bibliography.

Compare these passages with the claims detailed in the report.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Fiction--the CSU HLC Monitoring Report; plus some light reading on chokeholds --see what Al Sharpton has to say...

As the long shadows of late afternoons in July begin there is still time to catch up on your summer fiction. One place to start might be CSU's cougar connect page that has a wonderful piece, a collaborative effort, but shaped by the (is she still?) Interim Provost. It's the HLC monitoring report! I guess its final iteration is now in place. Frankly, I've been trying to digest the narrative for a few weeks and have been having a hard time getting it down. It wasn't until I realized it was a work of fiction that I could really settle in and enjoy it. The basic story is that once upon a time, CSU had some problems, but now that its Human Resources Department has imposed certain policies, all is well. That's the basic story (at least the last edition that I read). Highlights include Focus Groups, some as small as 5 female administrators (I wonder who those could be?)--you may be surprised to find that that meeting you attended where someone came in for 10 minutes and asked 4 or 5 questions was actually a focus group. The Monitoring Report is a story that has to have a happy ending so do not expect to find any references to UPI grievances (they aren't even mentioned in the report, nor was UPI even asked about anything), the Faculty Senate's vote of no confidence in the president and interim provost, the presidential interference in SGA elections and governance...let alone attempts to suppress free speech on campus--whether by word or dress... Altogether a remarkable piece of fiction and clearly successful since the prez told the board at the last meeting that HLC told him they bought the story. Next monitoring report throw in some magical realism to punch things up a bit more.  

A much shorter piece of non-fiction that might interest you came out this weekend from New York. Apparently a police officer used a chokehold on an individual and it resulted in that person's death. It's pertinent here for the chokehold episode at our May Board of Trustees meeting--was that the one where they rammed through the cyber-bullying policy?  Although we are concerned about our students being cyber-bullied we are not so concerned about the excessive force of a chokehold used by campus police on a student. Wish I could say that story was fiction. Al Sharpton was not amused, wonder what he'd say about the CSU episode?

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Watson Administration Covers Up Irregular Financial Dealings: Part 3. Let's All Get Together and Conceal our Incompetence

As we have seen on numerous occasions, Wayne Watson and his administrators are always willing to blame others for their administrative incompetence. Instead of the “transparency, responsibility and accountability” Watson continues to bloviate about, we get distortions, dubious explanations and outright lies. The matter of the student money collected on January 26, 2013 offers a look at how this administration works to cover up its ineptitude. Either at the event or within weeks of the improper handling of the student money, Willie Preston made four university officials aware of the problem: Director of Student Affairs Matoya Marsh, Vice President of Enrollment Management Angela Henderson, Chief of Staff Napoleon Moses and Wayne Watson. Apparently, none of these three persons took any steps to correct the potential audit finding. After Preston’s March 4 FOIA request, Renee Mitchell, Matoya Marsh, Angela Henderson, Interim Dean of Students Farah Muscadin and Wayne Watson knew about the memoranda from Peebles and Marsh, as well as the supporting documentation submitted by Marsh to Peebles. In its response to Preston’s FOIA, the university disclosed none of these public documents.

Fortunately, in mid-April 2014, a high-ranking administrative official provided a number of documents to Willie Preston. Among them were the memos from Peebles and Marsh; the March 7, 2014, receipt from the Chicago State Cashier’s Office showing the deposit of $1495.84; the Student Government Treasurer’s Report dated February 8, 2013; a number of receipts and invoices, allegedly detailing the way the Student Government Association spent the money collected at the January 26, 2013 event. Examining all this material leads to the conclusion that there is no way to determine either how much money was actually collected on January 26, 2013, or how the Student Government Association ultimately spent those funds, which were apparently held in cash somewhere in an office.

On February 27, 2013, Preston notified Angela Henderson of the irregularities in Marsh’s handling of SGA money:

On March 19, 2013, dissatisfied with Henderson’s lack of attention to the matter, Preston sent the same material to Chief of Staff Napoleon Moses with a copy to Wayne Watson:

On March 21, 2013, Moses responded and advised Preston to deal with Angela Henderson regarding the problem:

Of course, none of these persons did anything to protect the funds.

Although the university’s FOIA response failed to provide receipts to support Marsh’s contention that she could account for all the funds collected on January 26, the receipts in Preston’s possession reveal that there is no way to determine who authorized the expenditures or from what fund those expenditures came, another violation of Administration and Finance Policy. Here is an example:

The copy of the Treasurer’s report submitted to Peebles by Marsh in early March 2014 lacked two alleged expenditures that appeared on the copy of the report disclosed by the university on July 8: A $36.43 expense on November 2, 2013 and a $111.36 expense on November 1-3, 2013. An examination of the receipts submitted by Marsh exposes the multiple policy violations surrounding the money collection and subsequent disbursement. First, the receipts include both cash register receipts and invoices without receipts indicating that the invoices were ever paid. Second, none of the receipts contain any proper authorization from a university fiscal officer. Third, although the money held in the Student Government office was cash, a number of receipts are credit card transactions. Based on the information provided by Marsh, it appears that the Director of Student Affairs is not officially able to account for a penny of the $1664 that is missing from the original $3159.84 allegedly collected on January 26, 2013. Finally, even accepting the receipts and invoices at face value does not result in the books balancing. The receipts submitted by Marsh include $245.45 in cash, $94.88 in credit card transactions, a $19 voucher, and $1069 for which there is no proof of payment. That totals $1430.33, or $233.51 less than necessary to square the accounting.

Looking at these events in their totality, it seems fair to conclude that university administrators failed to follow policy, failed to correct their mistakes when they were advised of the situation and rather than reveal their incompetence and dereliction of duty, chose to bury the entire matter—first by trying to resist Preston’s FOIA request through legal machinations then by failing to provide documents they knew existed, they knew were public and that they knew should be disclosed.

Will any of this matter? I can already hear the Watson apologists creating their false narrative to mitigate these financial shenanigans. I cannot imagine that the bunch of fools who actually govern this university will care about this. After all, it is only $3000. The real shame here is that the mishandling and possible misappropriation of these funds demonstrates how ill-suited this administration is for university governance. As has been demonstrated on this forum, our upper management can hardly be bothered to learn appropriate policies and procedures, let alone follow them. Phil Beverly’s recent post on our financial aid problems illustrates how the university suffers when incompetence is not only tolerated but rewarded—this is what results from the blatant cronyism on display at Chicago State. Of course, our upper administration has more important things on their minds than efficiently running the university, something they are clearly unable to do.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Watson Administration Covers Up Irregular Financial Dealings: Part 2. Taking a Chapter from the Wayne Watson Playbook. Or How to Violate Policy and Blame it on "Inherited Practices."

Chicago State’s Administration and Finance Policy Manual provides clear direction on handling cash. It requires that “authorized” personnel (fiscal officers for example) handle the cash and that money collected be deposited daily into the applicable university account in order to “be protected from misappropriation.” The relevant policies are here:

In addition, the university has specific policies governing the disbursement of funds which are only “made for approved and for valid transactions.” There are no references in the Administration and Finance Policy Manual to “petty cash” or to discretionary sources of cash. The policy follows:

Based on the documents provided by Chicago State in response to Willie Preston’s FOIA request, it appears that there are no problems with the money collected on January 26, 2013. The records from the university indicate that $3159.84 was collected and that $1655.87 of that money was disbursed between February 28, 2013 and February 20, 2014. On March 7, 2014, the balance of the funds remaining totaled $1495.84, present in the university account.

There are a number of problems with this scenario. First, from an accounting perspective, the figures do not add up. In order to account for the entire deposit of $3159.84, the income and expenses must total that amount. In fact, they total $3151.71. Close, but $8.13 short. More important, there is a paper trail that demonstrates that Director of Student Activities Matoya Marsh, took the $3159.84 and failed to deposit it into a university account. Between late January 2013 and March 7, 2014, this cash apparently lay around somewhere and was occasionally disbursed, ostensibly by Marsh, to cover “authorized” expenses. No appropriate receipts detail the transactions, which were clearly in violation of university policy. After Willie Preston filed his FOIA request on March 4, 2014, Human Resources Director Renee Mitchell inquired about the money collected by Marsh on January 2013. Because of Mitchell’s inquiry, Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management LaShondra Peebles spoke with Marsh on March 4 and discovered that Marsh had improperly handled the cash since it was apparently being kept as “petty cash” in the office of Student Affairs. On March 7, 2014, Peebles and Marsh went to the cashier’s office and deposited $1495.84. Peebles documented all of these events in a memorandum to Renee Mitchell dated March 18, 2014. Copied on the memorandum were Wayne Watson, Angela Henderson and Interim Dean of Students Farah Muscadin.

Following the example of never taking responsibility for anything bad set by Wayne Watson, a March 4, 2014, memorandum from Marsh blamed her failure to follow established university policy on “inherited” practices that “clubs and orgs collected and housed their own funds from fundraisers.” Marsh claimed that as early as October 2012 she asked “about clubs/orgs being able to open agency funds.” Because of “internal issues this was not rectified until November of 2013.” Thanks to Marsh’s efforts “a number of our clubs and orgs have begun the process of opening up Agency funds with the University.” Marsh asserted that of the $3159.84 collected at the event, “$1495.84 of it is in the University’s miscellaneous account and the remainder was spent on expenditures for SGA, which are documented.”
To summarize, in contrast to the university’s implication that everything about the funds collected on January 26, 2013, occurred as should have, in fact, nothing was done that either adhered to established policy or demonstrated simple common sense. The memoranda from Peebles and Marsh reveal a different chain of events from the one suggested by the university. In fact, the money collected that evening was not deposited until March 7, 2014, hardly insuring that the funds were “protected from misappropriation.” Despite simple and clear procedures for handling cash and although Willie Preston protested the handling of the funds to both Marsh and Angela Henderson, the administrators did nothing and the money sat in an office for nearly fourteen months.

While this set of circumstances seems bad enough, the story gets much worse.

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Watson Administration Covers Up Irregular Financial Dealings: Part 1

Because of his time spent in student government, Willie Preston knows a fair amount about the inner workings of the Chicago State administration. For at least the past year-and-a-half, he has been working diligently to expose administrative incompetence and corruption at this school. This marked him as a dangerous man, at least for the most culpable members of the Watson administration. The threat Preston represented made it imperative that the administration find a way to get him off campus and shut him up. However, the administration cannot prevent Willie Preston from requesting public information through the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. Thanks to that effort, Willie Preston has uncovered evidence of financial impropriety and a subsequent cover-up that grew out of the mishandling of student money. This and subsequent posts will detail what he discovered and provide evidence supporting a number of assertions.

A few days ago I received this e-mail from Willie Preston:

Lots of lies, and lots of irregular financial dealings from this administration. My apologies, I almost forgot that people who engage in this type of behavior don’t appreciate being characterized in these terms, so let’s just leave those descriptors for the lower class folks. As a leader in the Student Government Association at CSU I learned rather quickly that some within the Watson Administration, let’s just say, have a very casual relationship with the truth. Once this was established I began to engage in some pretty obnoxious behavior such as asking tough questions like, what is the Student Government Associations budget? From what sources are the budget derived? you know things that didn’t concern me? A specific instance stems from the week of Homecoming, during the CSU January 26, 2013, Homecoming Dance that Matoya Marsh oversaw, I asked Matoya Marsh why a student was allowed to exclusively collect money at the door when earlier Ms. Marsh explained to me that we (students) could not engage in such cash handling activities because it was against university policy? During this conversation, she went on to state if she allowed such activity the university would be at risk for an audit finding. So naturally after she disregarded this policy on Jaunary 26, 2013, I took what I felt was the appropriate and responsible course of action which was to report this behavior to a senior university official: Ms. Angela Henderson then V.P. of Enrollment management. Ms. Henderson verbally assured me that she would look into and take the appropriate action if any wrongdoing or mismanagement was discovered.

The e-mail refers to three specific occurrences: 1) the dance of January 26, 2013, at which a student collected money, the remainder of which was subsequently not deposited into a university account until March 7, 2014; 2) Preston’s notification of the financial irregularities of the January 26 event to then Vice President of Enrollment Management Angela Henderson; 3) Preston’s Freedom of Information Act request, submitted to Chicago State University on March 4, 2014.

Willie Preston’s FOIA request is here:

This seems like a fairly straightforward request. However, the university first exercised their right to extend the time for response from 5 days to 10. Chicago State’s legal team then claimed that the records were exempt from disclosure because the Student Government Association was not a “public body” as defined by FOIA. Preston appealed the denial to the Public Access Counselor who issued a binding opinion on July 1, 2013 (PAC 14-006) ordering Chicago State to release the relevant records.

Here are pertinent sections from the binding opinion:

On July 8, Chicago State sent the following materials:

Given the innocuous nature of the documents provided by the university, the question of why it took so long to release those documents seems pertinent. Why fight the FOIA request at all? According to the material provided by Chicago State, everything looks alright, the dance raised something over $3100 and nearly $1500 remains in the university accounts. The SGA Treasurer’s report details the expenditures and things look neat and clean. However, as is often the case at Chicago State, reality is completely different. In subsequent posts, I will examine the differences between the documents provided by Chicago State which paint a picture of appropriate processes and the reality of additional documents obviously withheld by the university which offer a completely different version of events between January 2013 and March 2014. The real story is one of of incompetence and the lies used by the university to conceal a case of fiscal mismanagement.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Thank You To A Loyal Reader!

So, loyal readers, you may have noticed that the header graphic on our blog has changed. The contributors at CSU Faculty Voice have Mark Seniw to thank for this creative inspiration. Nice job Mark. There is no way we wouldn't give you credit for this work. That would be intellectually dishonest and as we have been adamant about intellectual honesty in this forum, it would be the height of hypocrisy to do anything else.