Monday, October 20, 2014

It is Past Time to FOIA the Administration's Case Against the Faculty Senate

Because I am sure the administration's attack on the Faculty Senate results from a thorough investigation of the alleged improprieties in the Senate's election of February 10-18, 2014, I am today filing this FOIA request. Clearly a step as consequential as withdrawal of recognition from the Faculty Senate must be supported by documentary evidence of wrongdoing. Since the administration has not yet shared any of that evidence with the Senate, it seems appropriate to find out what they have. Since the Senate's Executive Committee demonstrated its commitment to a resolution of this current difficulty, I think it is time for the administration to demonstrate its commitment to the same outcome. I feel confident that when we know exactly what the administration's allegations entail, we will be able to address their concerns. The only goal of the Executive Committee is a resumption of normal faculty governance processes. This is my humble contribution to that effort:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

More thoughts on the Administration's Survey to Dismantle the Faculty Senate: "I will not be completing this survey without more information..."

The survey many (apparently not all) faculty have received this weekend has elicited more than a few discussions online here and among faculty and I believe it will continue at the UPI membership meeting tomorrow. 

This survey illustrates the Administration and Board of Trustees' naked desire to take over the CSU Faculty Senate and turn it into its own rubber stamp, a body that will not trouble it when the Administration tries to do things like mandate curriculum (senior/M.A. theses), institute your department's DAC, or impose faculty members in your department (Criminal Justice hirings) in trumped up searches --the only kind they know how to run. They've already neutered the SGA (invalidating their elections last year). Now the Faculty Senate is targeted with the same excuse to shut it down. Who's left then? Look out UPI. 

At any rate, our colleague, Dr Arthur Redman, offers this assessment of the administration's attempt at surveying the faculty. He is allowing me to print his comments here: 

"One of the advantages (or disadvantages, depending on your perspective) of teaching social research methods is the development of a very critical eye regarding surveys.

If one of my students submitted this in class he or she would receive a D (for effort only). Not only is it poorly developed, it has the worst type of research design possible in surveys (10 open-ended questions). Moreover, it fails completely in one key element. To wit, every survey should have a clear introduction which identifies the survey-writer/s, the intended purpose of the survey, and how its results will be used. This survey does none of those things. It merely says that it is gathering information for an "ongoing conversation," and that we should send it to our chair, who will send it to the Dean's Office, which will forward it to "the administration."

I will not be completing this survey without more information. I want to know who sent it and what they intend to do with it. I further recommend that all of us exercise great caution with this survey. I am cc'ing Dr. Jones in hopes that we can get clarification on this survey."

Thanks Art. 

Random Thoughts on the Recent Survey

The recently circulated Senate survey is the predictable outcome of the Watson administration’s utter failure at Chicago State University. This sophomoric attempt at data collection would be laughable of its implications were not so serious.

It is an ironic piece of work don’t you think? The ethically bankrupt members of this administration, those cheaters, plagiarizers, academic nonentities, liars under oath and their army of incompetents who have brought Chicago State to the brink of disaster presume to pass judgment on the probity of the faculty’s governing body.

The allegation of improprieties in the February Senate election is not supported by a single shred of evidence. Based on the complete lack of evidence, I say they are simply lies, fabricated for the sole purpose of providing cover for this most recent assault on the faculty at Chicago State. A number of persons at this school can attest to the myriad ways this administration decides on an outcome then shapes the facts to suit that preordained result. They do it in academic affairs matters, personnel investigations and disciplinary findings. They did it to the Student Government Association and now they are trying to do it to the Faculty Senate.

Now, Wayne Watson and his minions have arrogated to themselves powers that are not permissible for the administration to exercise, based on the university’s governing documents. Given their proven ability to perform disastrously, it is impossible to imagine anything worthwhile emerging from this recent fiasco. The combination of ignorance and arrogance is always dangerous and this administration possesses a seemingly unending supply of both. Conversely, the members of this administration have no capacity for shame. You would think that after their abominable performance at this school that simple decency would dictate that they resign their positions. You would think that after being exposed as liars and frauds, they would be embarrassed enough to remove themselves from the university environment. Of course, you would be incorrect, instead they prance around and play university administrator.

The daily debacle that defines the Watson administration harms us all: the considerable number of competent administrators striving to do their best under difficult circumstances—victims of arbitrary and vindictive practices and inconsistent application of policies, the faculty who teach in deplorable conditions and with ever shrinking resources, the staff who work under a constant shadow of fear, whose daily experience often includes unreliable but highly-paid supervisors failing to competently perform their jobs, and most important, our students who make prodigous sacrifices to go to school and who have a right to a degree that means something.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Administration Takes a Giant Step Toward Total Control of Chicago State's Faculty: What Will We Do About It?

Today, you should have received in your e-mail something from the administration titled "Questionnaire About Faculty Senate." This is ostensibly a survey designed partly to assess the faculty's feelings about the current controversy between the Faculty Senate and the administration. Of course, that controversy has not yet been resolved as we are awaiting the Board's response to our recent communication and the Attorney General's Office has not yet made a determination as to the validity of the administration's FOIA request.

That does not prevent our administration from moving preemptively to establish a new faculty governance structure at Chicago State, one likely to me more amenable to Watson's failed administration. There are a number of problems with this survey, not the least of which is the Chicago State Board of Trustees own Governing Policy. This policy states that the structures of campus organizations "shall be determined by the constituencies they represent." Thus, any discussion of the structure of a faculty governance body must be faculty driven. In this case, the administration is asking the faculty to give their opinion on ten different items, submit that document to their respective Department Chairs who will submit it to the College Deans who will then tally the results and submit them to the administration "for their consideration." Is there any doubt about the outcome?

Look at the first bullet point. This is "part of an ongoing conversation"? Between who and who? The administration has certainly not spoken to the Faculty Senate, except to issue ultimatums. Have they talked with anyone else? Are these people even capable of telling the truth? Then take a look at the ten questions. Most revealing, I think are numbers 2, 6 and 8. Question 1 asks whether mediation is a viable option then question 2 makes clear that the Faculty Senate will be “suspended.” Question 6 asks faculty members to weigh in on whether non-unit A faculty should be included in the Senate and whether their right to vote should be subject to yet-to-be determined “prescribed limitations.” Finally, question 8 asks faculty to decide whether each college should have equally represented, which would result in colleges with 6 percent of the faculty possessing 20 percent of the Senate seats or a college with 53 percent of the faculty also possessing 20 percent of the Senate seats. What about the Library and Counseling? Will they also be part of the equal representation scheme?

All of these possibilities raise the specter of administrative interference (again) in legitimate faculty functions. Obviously, a Senate configured with a large number of non-tenured faculty would be in a highly vulnerable position. Similarly, equal representation would allow the administration to potentially exercise a great deal of influence over that “representative” body. This reminds me of the “company unions” of the 1920s, where the company’s administrators selected the leaders and shaped the agenda of what they cynically refered to as unions.

Neither the administration nor the Board has ever responded to any of the numerous policy recommendations and resolutions passed by the Faculty Senate. Now, however, the administration is interested in the structure and activities of that body. This is nothing more than a naked attempt to take even more power (what little remains) from an apathetic and often supine faculty. While the “survey” raises a number of questions for me, I will save them for later. The most important question I have now is this: what should we as a faculty do about this? I await your response.

What’s worthy of honor on the CSU Website?

Posted at the request of our colleague Janet Halpin:

This post has been stewing in my computer for awhile. I’m submitting it now because my dear friend YS is waiting for something entertaining to appear on the blog.

Several weeks ago the CSU home page carried an announcement of the great honor bestowed on our Chief Counsel, Patrick Cage: Top General Counsel, at the August 2014 First Chair Awards Conference and Gala. Wow. I looked at the First Chair Website ( and learned that, at the banquet attended by almost 400, the breakdown of awards was as follows:

Top General Cousel (including our own P. Cage)—56
Top Assistant General Counsel—62
Top Litigation Counsel—24
Top Compliance Counsel—10
Top Real Estate Counsel—11
Top Corporate Counsel—30
Top Intellectual Property Counsel—5
Top Healthcare Counsel—7
Top Legal Department—2
Top Private Equity Counsel—1
Top Employment Counsel—11
Rising Stars—20

Firms and companies included BMO Group, Walgreen’s, The Newport Group, Sunoco, Inc., Sears Holdings Management Corporation, to name just a few. The list of companies was almost exclusively from the private sector. The total number of awards was 239. I kind of feel sorry for the remainder of the almost 400 in attendance, who did not win an award.

While not mentioned on the University webpage, I would like to bring to the University’s attention a recent award received by one of CSU’s English faculty. Dr. Christine Ohale, Professor of English at CSU, was named one of the top 15 professors in art programs in the Chicago area by The Art Career Project. I checked out the website and learned that TheArtCareerProject is a national initiative to attract students to professions in the arts. There are similar lists for San Francisco and New York: a total of 45 honorees nationally. Which institutions were represented in our region?

Discipline: Institution
Architecture: DePaul University
Graphic Design: Columbia College of Chicago
Drawing and Painting: School of the Art Institute
Music: North Park University
Journalism: Northwestern University
Art History: University of Chicago
Theater: Loyola University
Industrial Design: University of Illinois at Chicago
Radio/Television/Film: Northwestern University
English: Christine Ohale, Chicago State University
Graphics: Illinois Institute of Technology
Music: University of Chicago
Fine Arts: Roosevelt University
Art History: School of the Art Institute
Music: Harper College

For each awardee there was a thumbnail sketch of their work and value to student learning. Christine’s spoke to the intersection of her work with art, to her expertise in African literature, and to her strong rapport with students in her classes. Furthermore they stated clearly that, while she was not in an art program, they wished to make an exception in order to honor her accomplishments and sensibility.

Now, why was Mr. Cage’s award so prominently displayed on the University webpage, while Dr. Ohale’s was not? Congratulations, Christine.

Dr. Janet Halpin
Professor of Geography

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Update on the Faculty Senate Controversy

Wayne Watson does not like people who disagree with him. Wayne Watson has a documented history of retaliating against people who disagree with him, sometimes with disastrous results for the school with the misfortune of employing him (see Maria Moore v. District 508 and James Crowley v. Wayne Watson for two prominent examples). Wayne Watson and his administration are not above perverting the democratic process and rigging elections if they do not get the results they want. In May 2013, the administration voided a legitimate student election because the winning candidates were avowed Watson opponents. Now, the Watson administration has set its sights on the Chicago State Faculty Senate. They claim, with no evidence and no specific allegations of wrongdoing, that the Senate’s February 2014 election to amend its Constitution featured “irregularities” and disfranchised eligible voters. Bullshit.

The Board of Trustees does not care about Chicago State’s faculty. In fact, they do not even want to hear from them—save for those faculty in complete agreement with Wayne Watson. As a result, they believe everything Watson tells them. If he claims the Faculty Senate election needs to be investigated, they take that as gospel. After all, Wayne Watson has consistently proven himself to be infallible. Thus, the Board of Trustees declared the Senate to be invisible, no longer recognized by that august body. All because of voting “irregularities” and disfanchised eligible voters. After all, Wayne Watson told them so. More bullshit.

However, after various ultimatums from our administration and the Board, the Faculty Senate finds itself in the position of being not recognized and unwillingly participating in the farce currently playing out at Chicago State. Although the matter of the administrative demands and subsequent FOIA requests is still in the hands of the Illinois Attorney General, neither the administration nor the Board desired to wait for their decision. No worries about due process here, they just went ahead and de-recognized the primary governance body for Chicago State’s faculty.

Why? Perhaps because the Faculty Senate has been unpleasantly disposed to oppose the disastrous Watson regime. Perhaps the two no-confidence votes in Watson and his faux-Provost stung the poor man. The answer? Do away with that troublesome group and put a more amiable bunch in their place.

As previously noted on this forum, the administration seems to believe that more than 350 faculty were eligible to vote in the February election. In fact, just over 200 unit A faculty were eligible. This misunderstanding could have been resolved with a simple request from the administration. Instead, without a shred of evidence or even an allegation of wrongdoing, the administration formulated a list of six demands. Eventually, the list grew to seven, as enumerated in the FOIA request by Patrick Cage and as parroted by the memorandum from the Board of Trustees.

Since the administration is doing nothing and since the Board only seems interested in re-issuing previous ultimatums, it devolves upon the Senate to attempt to solve this brouhaha. Accordingly, this morning the Senate Executive Committee sent the following letter to the Board of Trustees. A copy of this letter also went out to unit A faculty this afternoon:

The Senate election was not a referendum on Watson's leadership but the results were overwhelmingly in favor of all nine proposed amendments. Not a single one of the amendments received more than three negative votes. The Senate Executive Committee believes that this controversy can be resolved and is willing to work toward that end. That is our only goal. We will gauge the good faith of both the administration and the Board by their response to our letter. I for one, am not particularly sanguine about the outcome.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Results of Recent Survey on the Leadership of Wayne Watson and Angela Henderson

Here are the results of the recently conducted survey of tenured faculty. The survey asked respondents to indicate whether they supported (confidence) or did not support (no confidence) Wayne Watson and Angela Henderson. There was also a third option: no opinion or do not care. Altogether, 56 of 128 persons responded to the survey (43.75%).

For Wayne Watson, 2 expressed support, 53 expressed no support, 1 person had no opinion/did not care.
For Angela Henderson, 1 expressed support, 52 expressed no support, 3 persons had no opinion/did not care.

Thus, 94.6 percent of tenured faculty who responded to the survey expressed no support in Wayne Watson while 92.9 percent of that group expressed no support for Angela Henderson. Thanks to everyone who took the time to participate.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Breaking News! The Army War College Rescinds Senator Joe Walsh's Master's Degree for Plagiarism

Thanks to Robin Benny and Dick Milo who sent this:

So, it appears that the Army War College has more stringent academic standards than either Chicago State or the University of Illinois at Chicago. Here's the link:

Literary Excerpt of the Day Contest

Faithful readers,

In tribute to us and the great U.S. literary tradition we offer this contest.  The first to identify and post to the blog the name of the author and title of this literary masterpiece wins either a "Jokari Miller" hat or an "It's only a hat.  Please don't choke" baseball cap to wear at Board of Trustees meetings*.

"You're nobody, son.  You don't exist-can't you see that?  The white folk tell everybody what to think--except men like me.  I tell them;  that's my life telling white folk how to think about the things I know about.  Shocks you, doesn't it?  Well that's the way it is.  It's a nasty deal and I don't always like it myself.  But you listen to me.  I didn't make it and I know I can't change it.  But I've made my place in it and I'll have every Negro in the country hanging on tree limbs by morning if it means staying where I am."

He was looking me in the eye now, his voice charged and sincere, as though uttering a confession, a fantastic revelation which I could neither believe nor deny.  Cold drops of sweat moved at a glacier's pace down my spine...

"A man gets old winning his place, son.  So you go ahead, go tell your story; match your truth against my truth.  The broader truth."

*Please indicate size and preference.  Hats sponsored by the Vigilance Committee in recognition of Officer Mike Jones' serving and protecting the status quo by choking graduating senior, Jokari Miller, at the May 2014 CSU Board of Trustees meeting.  Express your solidarity with Black men and all others attacked, abused and murdered by the police and other State agents by wearing a hat in front of the CSU BOT and Wayne Watson who stood idly by while Mr. Miller was assaulted by CSU police.

If you were wondering what Tom Wogan's email was all about last week--we're on Fox news...

Like more than a few of my fellow disgruntled faculty I was puzzled by Tom Wogan's email to the faculty last week that implied a news story might be forthcoming criticizing "events that took place at the President's house as something that is somehow negative or inappropriate or that they were unworthy of university funds." He mentioned "Jazz on the Hill" and a new faculty reception as events to be criticized. He then castigated the reporters "who engage in typical yellow journalism" and "some who are part of our community..." that is,  "...a select few employees who are grasping for ways to damage our reputation in order to fulfill their own agenda have gone to multiple media outlets trying to convince them to run a story that misrepresents the university, yet again..."

Well Tom, it wasn't us. It may be that there are other more silent factions on campus going to the multiple media outlets, but it was not your usual suspects here at the faculty blog. This story on Fox (and your email) caught all of us completely by surprise. It seems other organizations, to wit, the long-standing Better Government Association has CSU on its radar.

It also appears that you overplayed the extent of the story. The BGA doesn't care about CSU hosting a faculty reception or an administrative retreat at the Presidential Mansion. It does care about the use of taxpayer money throwing a block party in Beverly whether you call it public relations or not. I love the way Alderman O'Shea was quick to say that no city money was used for this event even though he was listed as a co-host.

Frankly, I thought the story would focus on the fact that CSU police blocked protesters at the event. Students and faculty had showed up to protest the treatment of CSU students Willie Preston and Jokari Miller. That would have been a nice addition, but no one talked to us about it... And maybe the BGA's interest in $6,000 spent on the event will encourage it to look at some of the more scandalous wastes of money under Dr Watson's presidency.

Jazz in the grass stuff is of course popular with the public and the "community stakeholders." Of course CSU gets positive press from these events--bread and circuses always are popular. Ask the Roman emperors. Mayor Daley, long-standing emperor of Chicago, was a master at giving out summer freebies to the people of Chicago-concerts, fireworks, nice flowers on the street etc. The point is that someone ultimately has to pay. The BGA doesn't think you should be using taxpayer money to do it.

And, oh yeah, if you want to stop the bad publicity, stop doing stuff that will generate the bad publicity--very simple.

Here's the Fox Story and its link from yesterday.

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News & Better Government Assoc.)

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News & Better Government Assoc.)
It's always good to meet the neighbors.
So, when Chicago State University President Wayne Watson wanted to say hi to his neighbors in the South Side Beverly neighborhood, he threw a party using publicfunds.
FOX 32 and the Better Government Association have obtained the bills for the summer social, which the university is defending as a "marketing event."
A historic mansion on Longwood Drive is the property of Chicago State University, about a four mile drive west of campus. For decades it's been used as the residence of the university's president. Chicago State security was patrolling it the day FOX 32 was there.
So, when Watson decided it would be a good idea to meet his neighbors, the university threw a party. The invitation mailed to over 1200 Beverly homes in July for "Jazz On The Hill" promised live music and light refreshments on the front lawn of the president's home.
"It's not a party just to have a party," said CSU spokesman Tom Wogan.
Wogan said the event was also designed to market the university, reach out to alums and recruit Beverly students.
"To put on a good event, sometimes you do spend a little bit of money," Wogan said.
Invoices obtained by FOX 32 and the BGA show the university spent close to $6000 on the neighborhood party, including nearly $2800 on food and refreshments from a local catering company.
Among the six selections of hors d' oeuvres served by tuxedo-clad waiters was oven roasted turkey focaccia panini and beef tenderloin bruschetta with horseradish sauce dollop.
"If you want to hold a good event, a successful event, then you want to make sure people enjoy themselves. So I think it's appropriate that you have some light refreshments," Wogan said.
Then there's entertainment. In addition to Chicago State's jazz band, the university also hired a local singer for $1800.
Those invitations cost over $800 to mail and print, and then there was a total of 24 hours overtime for six university security officers.
"You can split hairs all day long about any dime that any business, any public organization spends that way. I think the more responsible and practical way to look at it is was the event successful and did it achieve the goals that you set out to achieve. And to that end it did," Wogan said.
"It needs to be known that this is a public university that's funded by tax dollars," Patrick Rehkamp of the BGA said.
Rehkamp noted that Chicago State has a long history of issues, including declining enrollment and one of the worst graduation rates in the country.
"Outreach is certainly necessary, especially when a lot of universities around the country, including here in the Chicago area, are hurting for enrollment. But throwing a house party for up to the cost of $5400 is what we know, seems a little excessive," Rehkamp said.
The university said about 300 neighbors attended the event, which was cosponsored by 19th Ward Alderman Matt O'Shea who said no city funds were used.
By the way, that massive home that president Watson is living in was given to the university in the 70's and is occasionally used for university receptions.