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. 

Free Speech at CSU: Fire lawsuit; Chicago Tribune Op Ed--July 7th

In case you missed the Op Ed in the Tribune on July 7th about the lawsuit filed by FIRE on behalf of our faculty members, Drs. Robert Bionaz and Phillip Beverly, there is a link below as well as an update on that on the Fire webpage. CSU’s recent cyber-bullying and computer usage policies instituted by the Watson regime have been questioned and discussed here on this blog and on campus by students, faculty, and administrators. Fire is including CSU in its “roll of honor” so to speak, of universities that are creating policies considered unconstitutional in their restriction of free speech. Azhur Majeed, a director at Fire, explained in an Op Ed in the Tribune why Chicago State was included and what the point of the lawsuit is. I’ve posted that here below with some links if you are interested.

Frankly, I hope Fire and other such organizations, look more closely at some of the shenanigans our administration is doing. Thank God someone is overseeing what is going on here since the Board of Trustees refuses to do so, nor will the IBHE, HLC, or state legislators; the phony “reformer” Governor Quinn long ago ceded his responsibility. The Watson administration has been running Chicago State like a political ward—rewarding loyal followers, placing people in lucrative jobs and destroying careers and lives of those who don’t conform to Watson's “vision” or perform some of the quasi-legal stuff they demand. CSU has never been more of an arm of the southside political machine than it has been under Wayne Watson.

The CSU “Family”
To quote Tolstoy (Anna Karenina), “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” So, while CSU’s attempts to limit free speech on campus may not be unique in the history of the academy, it is unique in creating its own unhappy family. I’m sure the Watson supporters and apologists (student and faculty) will be shocked, shocked, to learn of harassment and intimidation on a small-scale that has gone on on this campus. Last year a student who was attempting to organize a protest on campus was approached by someone he did not know who told him that the administration knew him and was watching him and that he should stop doing what he was doing. After this happened a second time with a stronger threat, the student freaked out and stopped his involvement in a student organization. He was too afraid even to come to a meeting to describe his experience at a forum organized in April to discuss free speech on campus. There are other experiences that students have received from other students. And Wayne Watson claims his desire is to protect students from “bullying.” Well, like faculty, some students are more equal than others.

Besides the Fire lawsuit, you may or may not know there are lawsuits out there from students who believe their civil rights have been violated by this administration—Willie Preston and Brittany Bailey have filed suit. A few other students probably should—arresting a student who would not take off his hat at a Board meeting, chokeholding him and then saying he resisted arrest? The stuff of a political ward, quite worthy of a civil rights lawsuit.

And the CSU “family” may still be subject to some kind of “civility policy” which was floated around at some point this year. Even the stand-by-your-man Board of Trustees clucked a month ago about imposing some kind of dress code for attendance at their meetings—can’t have those baseball hats on –after chucking out (or arresting) all the hat-wearers will Chief Watson use a ruler to measure the hemlines of women’s skirts? I guess our mostly male and mostly senior Board of Trustees has forgotten how long hair or afros or miniskirts or dashikis shocked the elders in the 1960s and 1970s. Clothing, like words, like text, is also free speech. As one of my colleagues has pointed out to me on numerous occasions—“Chicago State ain’t church.”

FIRE’s Azhar Majeed in ‘Chicago Tribune’ on Chicago State Lawsuit
By Susan Kruth July 7, 2014

Azhar Majeed, Director of FIRE’s Individual Rights Education Program, takes Chicago State University (CSU) to task in the Chicago Tribune today. As part of FIRE’s new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, two CSU professors have filed suit against the university for its unconstitutional speech codes and attempts to shut down CSU Faculty Voice, a blog to which the professors contribute.

As Azhar notes in his column, “Schools that maintain speech codes have consistently lost in court when trying to defend these policies.” Yet CSU and hundreds of other universities maintain policies that clearly infringe upon students’ and faculty members’ right to free expression. In his article, Azhar reviews CSU’s poor free speech record:

Chicago State has demonstrated a pattern of attempting to silence criticism and dissenting viewpoints. The university has repeatedly tried to shut down a blog published by several faculty members, CSU Faculty Voice, which documents allegations of mismanagement by the university administration and provides links to relevant public documents. Chicago State’s general counsel sent the faculty members a cease-and-desist letter last year ordering them to “immediately disable” the website “in order to avoid legal action.” Two of the professors who write for the CSU Faculty Voice are plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed last week. The lawsuit also challenges the school’s computer usage policy, which prohibits, among other things, “any communication which tends to embarrass or humiliate any member of the community.” The policy provides no indication of what might constitute such expression, despite the vagueness of the terms “embarrass” and “humiliate.” This gives Chicago State carte blanche to go after any speech that is critical of the university, questions its policies or leadership, or takes viewpoints the administration does not favor.

Indeed, forwarding Azhar’s article—or this one—using CSU’s computers or network would appear to run afoul of the computer usage policy. After all, the university may find it “embarrassing” to be called out publicly for trying to silence professors’ criticism (which, of course, may result in more criticism). But FIRE’s statements on the case—just like the content of CSU Faculty Voice, and just like a wide range of expression that could be punished under the computer usage policy or a similarly restrictive cyberbullying policy at CSU—are nevertheless constitutionally protected.

Read the rest of Azhar’s commentary in the Chicago Tribune.
Chicago Tribune, July 7, 2014: Chicago State stomps out free speech: lawsuit targets over free speech
Chicago State Stomps out free-speech

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Is There Trouble In The World of Financial Aid?

So one of the things I've learned to accept about American higher education is the unjustified expansion of the number of administrators and the concomitant increase in cost of education for students. Some decades ago, when I was an undergraduate the Pell Grant could be fairly substantial in providing relief for many students. Unfortunately, Pell has not kept up with the skyrocketing cost of higher education and other forms of financial aid are required. Thus it is critical that the Financial Aid office at any university is well managed so that said university does not have its ability to receive federal financial aid impinged upon.
So imagine my dismay upon reading the report/agreement from the United States Department of Education, Federal Student Aid – Schools Channel office, dated March 15th, 2013 that granted CSU Provisional Certification. There are two levels of certification, Full and Provisional. Certification, like accreditation, is for a fixed period of time. Full certification is for six years and affords institutions more flexibility in its operations. Provisional certification is for a period of one to five years. There are many reasons a university might receive a provisional certification. The audit report from the state may not be submitted within the time proscribed by the Department regulations or the institution might have administrative deficiencies.

I believe it is important to understand what Provisional Certification means and why CSU was granted this level of certification. This provisional certification means the institution has not complied with the myriad of statutory requirements, or regulations set forth in the Code of Federal Regulations.

The important elements here are that the agreement is 1) time limited and 2) based on failures in administration of financial aid. Given that the office of Financial Aid does not have a permanent director since the former director left in May of 2014 and the previous interim director, cc’ed in the letter had no financial aid experience before being placed in that position, it begs the questions, whose minding the store and if no one is, does that place the institution at risk as stated below?
Page five of the document is especially telling as evidenced by the section “Reasons and Special Conditions of Provisional Certification. The first reason identified by the Department of Education probably comes as no surprise to long suffering members of the CSU community, namely Deficiencies in Administrative Capability. These deficiencies were clearly articulated in the Final Audit Determination report received by the university in April 2014. 

So the question I have, given the significant personnel turnover and clear deficiencies in administration generally, is what does the Board of Trustees think about all of this. Surely they have been fully briefed on the status of and implications for the university of the Provisional Certification, right?
Loyal readers, there is much to digest in these two reports and over the next few days, I will share with you the salient points and implications for the university.
Stay tuned.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Tale of Two Universities

There’s a dramatic difference in the way leadership qualities are defined at Chicago State and the way leadership qualities are defined at a real university. Foremost, at a real university, there is some concern by the board for the students as well as for the university’s reputation. Leaders there, although they may perform poorly, are at least qualified to lead such institutions. In contrast, the criterion most valued at Chicago State seems to be political alliances. Any political hack can lead this university as long as he or she pays obeisance to the persons pulling the strings: the local politicians who are responsible for putting that person into power.

A comparison between the leadership situation here and previous leadership crises at the University of Illinois seems instructive. Here, no matter what the evidence, no matter what the scandal, no matter what the damage to the university, our ridiculous board stands behind Wayne Watson. As far as our board is concerned, no failure rises to the level of incompetence, no outrage against academic integrity is sufficient to warrant board intervention, no scandal smells bad enough to root out the cause. Wayne Watson could perpetrate any outrage and it would simply be insufficient to move this sclerotic bunch of trustees to action.

Let us contrast this situation with the circumstances of the last two leadership changes at the University of Illinois. In May 2009, the Chicago Tribune reported on the “clout” scandal in which persons were given preferential treatment for admission based on their political connections. That scandal even roused our governor from his typical torpor. B. Joseph White resigned as university president in September 2009.

In May 2010, Michael J. Hogan replaced White. In January-February 2012, White’s management style angered the faculty at the University of Illinois. About 130 faculty (about 4 percent of the total) subsequently wrote a letter to the Illinois Board of Trustees informing them of their lack of confidence in Hogan’s leadership and asking for his resignation. In response (see if any of what follows seems familiar) the Board Chair said “[board members] continue to support (Hogan's) efforts” and said the faculty concerns are “peripheral to the core values that we think a strong president brings.” A university spokesperson pointed out that the university system employed “more than 3,000 faculty” and proclaimed “We all recognize that it is a distraction and takes the focus away from a lot of the good things that are taking place” . . . “If everybody can just turn down the volume and heat on the rhetoric and agree to do a better job of communicating and working on the tasks at hand, everything will get back to normal.” Sounds sort of like the contempt for faculty and the mindless support by our board for Wayne Watson, no? Quotes from Chicago Tribune article "130 top scholars call for U. of I. president's ouster," by Jodi S. Cohen, Feburary 29, 2012.

Here is the letter Illinois faculty sent to the board:

If you did not take the time to read the letter, here are some of its highlights:

“we wish to state for the record that we have no confidence in Michael J. Hogan as President of this University. In our view he lacks the values, commitments, management style, ethics, and even manners, needed to lead this University, and his Presidency should be ended at the earliest opportunity.”

“We have no need of kings on this campus, or of petty tyrants with delusions of grandeur, particularly ones as preoccupied with their own power as this one.”

“We are disturbed by President Hogan’s repeated demonstration that he is devoid of any respect for, and commitment to, the long-standing autonomy and academic excellence of the Urbana campus”

“We thus write to express both our lack of confidence in Michael Hogan and our hope that, as stewards of the future of this institution, you will assess our reasons dispassionately, and do the right thing for the students, staff and faculty of the University of Illinois. That would be to ask for President Hogan’s resignation.”

The letter details nine reasons in support of the faculty demand for Hogan’s resignation. They include: 1) Hogan’s propensity to ignore for “those who immediately serve him” financial constraints other university personnel have to deal with (sort of like Watson’s habit of giving positions and raises to his friends); 2) Hogan’s abuse of power by “arrogat[ing] traditional Chancellor functions” and his failure to conform to established channels by failing to include relevant administrative personnel in important decisions (similar to Watson’s incursions into faculty hiring and his unilateral edicts sans discussion with relevant university administrators or faculty); 3) the Hogan administration allegedly doctored an official report to “make it conform to already pre-existing desires for a centralized, University-level enrollment, admission, and financial aid system, and then discussed what was essentially his report with the Board of Trustees without first having consulted with the faculty of this or any other campus.” (similar to anything sent by this administration to the HLC); 4) “Hogan has by his own admission attempted to spy on, interfere with, and even bully the Senate Conference’s in-house deliberations about possible responses to Hogan’s enrollment proposals.” (here, the Watson administration has gone a step farther, threatening to disband the Faculty Senate)

Obviously, the University of Illinois has none of the other problems that plague Chicago State. Although the board and administration responses to the Illinois faculty’s complaints were derision and dismissal, the ultimate result was Hogan’s resignation as president, effective June 30, 2012. It is impossible to imagine the board at Chicago State taking any kind of similar action. Obviously, the University of Illinois Board of Trustees is capable of transcending the rhetoric of its chair to focus on the well-being of the institution. Our board is not capable of that kind of independent decision making. Of course, no one in power in this state really gives a damn about Chicago State University.

Chicago State Board to CSU Faculty: If You Don't Support Wayne Watson, You Can Just Go to Hell

As regular readers of this blog know, we have been engaged in a lengthy effort to find someone who would listen to our concerns about Wayne Watson’s leadership at Chicago State University. We have gathered a mountain of evidence that supports our conclusion that his administration is a failure: enrollment numbers, fundraising, fiscal responsibility and compliance, the university’s public image and the university’s academic image suffer because of this administration’s basic incompetence and particularly its inattention to detail. We have found irrefutable evidence of the dishonesty of several of our management staff, including the shocking plagiarism evident in Angela Henderson’s doctoral dissertation. We have found evidence of budget manipulations that regularly occur which foster the explosive growth of our administrative staff.

On several occasions, colleagues have remarked that they were troubled by the “tone” of our criticisms, or that they wondered why we were not taking our concerns directly to the president. First, I consider the objection about “tone” to be basically specious. Second, we have spoken to the president and other upper-level administrators several times. Those discussions have had no effect on the behavior of the administration, which I would argue has become even more egregious in the past year.

The body most responsible for the current state of affairs at Chicago State is the university’s Board of Trustees. Following the aborted attempt to remove Watson in March 2013, Governor Quinn removed the board members who seemed poised to take the university in a different direction and replaced them with three members who have proven to be reliably loyal to the president. The current board has consistently supported Watson and his “vision” and has taken no steps to protect the institution’s academic integrity. This board has ignored the substantive problems facing the school and sits idly by while Watson and his administrators mouth clich├ęs and platitudes as enrollment plummets and threatens the school’s continued existence.

As many of you are aware, neither the staff nor the faculty at Chicago State have direct access to the Board of Trustees. Although the Faculty Senate president often reports to the board, there is no regular communication between the board and university staff and/or faculty. Given the difficulties inherent in speaking directly with board members, Phil and I recently made a back channel attempt to restate the case for Watson’s dismissal to the members of the board. We made this attempt based on information supplied by persons with personal connections to board members. Here is a summary of what they told us:

Wayne Watson has basically misled the board about the conditions at Chicago State. He has made the assertion that the opposition to his leadership stems from a few faculty who are attempting to assist “white” legislators and politicians in taking the school away from the Chicago African American community. Watson’s untruths included the claim that the plagiarism charges against Angela Henderson were nothing more than “allegations,” that UIC would decide if she had actually plagiarized her dissertation. Additionally, Watson had not informed the board members of a recent audit report from the U.S. Department of Education which was scathingly critical of the administration’s financial aid compliance. Finally, the current board members claim to be unaware of some of the statistical information we have posted on this blog for months. I was asked to send documentary evidence in a variety of areas and I did so.

The documents we sent supposedly opened the board’s eyes. They now understood that Watson had not told them the truth about Angela Henderson’s dissertation and we were told that at least one board member was really angry with Watson. This board member, apparently convinced that Watson should be removed, would make that argument to the other board members, at least two of whom were already leaning toward Watson’s removal. Ostensibly, this matter would be discussed in the executive session at the regular board meeting on June 27. While neither Phil nor I believed that this would occur, we saw no disadvantage in providing this material. A few days later, we sent the following letter to each member of the board:

Of course, during the board meeting on June 27, nothing at all happened regarding Wayne Watson’s continued tenure as Chicago State’s president. Although the executive session of the board lasted 3 ½ hours, reports we received indicated that it was primarily devoted to a discussion of another administrator, someone who was recently terminated from her position.

However, on that date the board of trustees drafted a letter to both of us which in essence told us to go to hell. I will refrain from making any editorial comment at this point and will simply present the letter here:

Clearly, the Chicago State Board does not want to hear any more from the faculty on this matter.

Friday, July 4, 2014

FIRE's Stand Up for Speech Campaign

For anyone interested in an overview of the FIRE campaign for free speech, this is the link: