Friday, June 9, 2017

It's Been an Interesting Summer So Far

An update on some of the upper management personnel and CSU Board changes that have occurred since April 7, 2017, when the Board appointed a new president and Chief Administrative Officer:

1. Trustee Nikki Zollar resigned her position on the Board. Given the role she played in undermining President Calhoun while simultaneously advancing the interests of the corrupt Watson administration, its Godfather and his assorted cronies, good riddance.

2. Associate Vice President of Human Resources Renee Mitchell resigned sometime in March or April.

3. Police Chief Patricia Walsh no longer works at Chicago State. I knew her only slightly, she seemed nice enough, but was the hand-picked successor to the execrable Ronnie Watson. Most important, she had no support among her officers who last year unanimously voted "no confidence" in her.

4. General Counsel Patrick Cage no longer works at Chicago State. His performance speaks for itself.

5. Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance and former Interim President Cecil Lucy no longer works at Chicago State. He played an important role in undermining President Calhoun and was determined to maintain the destructive status quo after Dr. Calhoun's termination.

These are positive changes for the university. We must root out all vestiges of the Watson administration in order to begin the healing and rehabilitation which is a precursor to moving the university in a positive direction. I applaud the new university administration for these moves and look forward to more of the same in the near future.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

The West Side Campus Redux: Another Financial Scandal Brought to You by Wayne Watson and Friends

Here's another installment in the continuing West Side Campus fiasco. Some of the highlights: our former General Counsel Patrick Cage is caught lying again (as Sabrina Land says, he "misspoke"); we not only used grant money for expenditures on a feasibility study, an architect, marketing, and a non-refundable deposit on property. Additionally, the administration (read Wayne Watson and his crony Ronnie Watson),spent at least $324,000 of appropriated or income funds on lawyers, site selection, and a "project manager" named Bruce Washington, a politically-connected insider who reportedly received $267,000 for three week's work. Current university officials admitted that "former school officials needlessly and improperly spent institutional funds on the project." Of course, "It does not appear that any of the spending went before the board for review or a public vote."

Obviously, this is all the Tribune's fault for reporting on this. Once again, if we stop doing stupid things, we won't make the paper for this kind of financial malfeasance. More important, in order to prevent these scandals from emerging on a piecemeal basis, we must have a forensic audit done at this University. Another scandal on the balance sheet of Wayne D. Watson and his corrupt administration.

Here's the story:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-state-west-side-campus-spending-20170601-story.html

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Friendly Reminder that May is Almost Gone

We are now past spring graduation. We are also now past Memorial Day. Too many of Watson's holdovers remain at this school; Watson himself was again sighted a few days ago. Why are these people still blighting the campus? There is no support for anyone tainted by complicity in the Watson-era shenanigans; the faculty and staff have clearly signaled their desire for new senior leadership. Every day these people are allowed to remain in place, making decisions and influencing events, is a day wasted. Frankly, we are running out of days to squander. Last week's personnel changes were a nice start. We all know who else needs to go, let's just get it done.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The University With No Money Spends over $3 million on Administrators.

With the University finally filing its 2018 report to the Illinois State Legislature, the scope of last year’s layoffs/terminations becomes clear. Notably, talk of staff reductions of “350” or even “300” must be taken with more than a grain of salt. That number is only achievable if non-permanent employees are included in the total. Here are the actual numbers: Administrators terminated without cause: 46; staff laid off: 84; Unit A faculty laid off: 9. Total number: 139. Additionally, 8 employees classified as “Temporary Administrators” (including 4 Undergraduate Advisors), lost their jobs. The University also laid off a total of 159 Unit B Lecturers (72 full-time, 87 part-time). Adding temporary employees and non-tenured tenure track faculty to the total brings the reductions to 306. However, the University in 2016-17 employed 126 Unit B Lecturers (44 full-time, 82 part-time), so the actual number of persons who did not return for the fall semester comes to 180. One final caveat, several of our laid off staff members have returned as temporary employees, so that 180 figure must be further reduced, perhaps to 170 or so. In any event, a far cry from the number the administration has publicly floated.

Our recently departed (and not missed) Board member Nikki Zollar claimed that the Management Action Committee, particularly Cecil Lucy and Angela Henderson, “saved” the University with their staff reductions. As has been noted on this blog, that claim is not supported by the facts. In fact, the 2016 layoffs/terminations did incalculable damage to the school. The University claimed the state’s budget crisis necessitated the carnage of April/May/June 2016, another assertion not supported by evidence. I’ve detailed much of this in previous posts, but as a refresher, I’ll again provide some data. The people who made the layoff decisions saw the University’s “fat” in two places: the academic side (faculty, departments, colleges, student-serving functions, etc.) and the facilities/plant services side (custodial services, purchasing, central stores, parking, etc.). Of the 306 layoffs, 245 (80.1 percent) came from the University’s academic endeavors, including 168 faculty. Facilities and Plant Services contributed 37 victims (12.1 percent). The final 25 layoffs/terminations came from
Computing/Network Services: 7 (2.3 percent), University Administration (Provost, Legal, Marketing, and Auditor): 7 (2.3 percent), University Services (Human Resources, Police, Accounting/Budget): 6 (2 percent), and Athletics: 4 (1.3 percent).

The proportions change if only full-time permanent employees are part of the calculation. Of those 139 employees, 81 are from the academic side (58.3 percent), 37 from Facilities (26.6 percent), with the remaining 15 percent coming from the other categories. The 7 Upper Administrative terminations accounted for 5 percent of the total.

Of course, the University continually told us that our “financial exigency” necessitated those draconian staff reductions. After all, we were out of money, right? Not exactly. First, on June 30, 2015, Chicago State had cash and cash equivalents of $24 million. On June 30, 2016, of $21.7 million. Just prior to the layoffs/terminations in April 2016, the University received an appropriation from the state of $20.7 million. Just after the faculty layoffs in June, the University received an appropriation of around $13 million. On May 31 and June 15, 2016, the University paid out over $2.2 million in cash to terminated/laid off administrators and staff. The breakdown: Severance for administrators, $1,569,992.50; benefits for administrators, 411,287.83; benefits for staff: $252,455.60. When the University laid off 9 faculty members on June 29, it claimed “financial exigency” to avoid giving them their contractually-mandated terminal contracts, which would have cost Chicago State only $590,000 spread over 18 paychecks in fiscal 2016-17. Eventually, the faculty who lost their jobs received nothing.

Altogether, in the period of “financial exigency,” the University spent at least $3.4 million on new hires, primarily administrators, and on severance cash-outs. In addition to the expenditures listed above, between the beginning of "financial exigency" on February 4, and its end on December 9, 2016, the University hired 10 new employees, 9 of them administrators. Cost for all 10: $876,000. For only the administrators: $796,000. Finally, on October 3, 2016, the University paid former President Thomas Calhoun $300,000 in severance, bringing the total expenditures for administrative hires/severance just during the period of “financial exigency,” to over $3.3 million. Clearly, the University had no money.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Once Again, Proof That the Provost Has No Support From Chicago State's Academic Community: A 116-1 Vote of "No Confidence"

Between May 6 and May 9, 2017, members of the CSU-UPI Chapter of Local 4100 participated in a poll that measured support or non-support for Provost Angela Henderson. As you may recall, here at Chicago State, two prior confidence/no confidence votes on Henderson revealed virtually no support among the Chicago State faculty for the Provost. In February 2014, the Chicago State Faculty Senate voted "no confidence" in Henderson by 25-2 with, I believe, 3 abstentions. In late November 2015, UPI members voted "no confidence" in the Provost by 142-4, with 4 abstentions. In that poll, Chicago State's tenured faculty voted "no confidence" by 86-3 with 3 abstentions. These results were reported to the University President and Board of Trustees.

The most recent poll demonstrated that Henderson's support had declined even further. The final result was 116-1-0 (99.1 percent) "no confidence" in Henderson, including tenured faculty members, who voted "no confidence" by 74-1 (98.7 percent). Thus, in three separate votes (2014, 2015, and 2017), Henderson garnered 7 votes out of 297 cast, a microscopic 2.4 percent of the total. Chicago State's tenured faculty have voted 161-4 with 3 abstentions, (2.4 percent support for Henderson) in the two polls conducted by the union (2015 and 2017). Based on these results, I think it accurate to conclude that Chicago State's Chief Academic Officer has virtually no support from the academic community she purportedly leads.

Frankly, Henderson's well-documented performance failures, insufficient credentials, demonstrated dishonesty, and a management style that has featured a commitment to cronyism have earned her the contempt expressed in these multiple repudiations of her "leadership." The enrollment declines alone should have gotten her dismissed, yet here she sits, continuing to draw her hefty salary, continuing to damage the university. In a viable organization, people at the top are held responsible, are accountable for their performance, and for the organization's success or failure. Chicago State is certainly not a success story, but despite years of failure, Henderson has been protected by a University President and members of a Board whose outrageous and frequently unethical behavior contributed materially to the current crisis. Given the latest demonstration of the faculty's and the academic staff's nearly unanimous opposition to this Provost, we must again ask: is anyone listening? will Angela Henderson be held accountable for her woeful performance and for the damage she has done to the University? We shall see.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Congratulations to Our Newly Tenured Colleagues

Congratulations to our faculty colleagues who earned tenure this academic year; granted by the Board on May 5, 2017:

Dr. Bryon Martin, HPERS.
Dr. Garrard McClendon, GPED.
Dr. Tatjana Petrova, Pharmacy Practice

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Why We Need New Leadership Now.

As we reach the end of another school year replete with scandals, more enrollment declines, and bad financial news, it seems increasingly important for our new leadership to identify the persons most responsible for our predicament and to remove them from University employment. This process will likely take some time, but it must include rooting out every crony hire made during the Watson/Henderson regime, from the Provost at $225,000 to the Administrative Assistant at $45,000. This process will also be costly, as some persons will be entitled to generous Board-mandated severance payouts. Nonetheless, these personnel changes must occur, despite the expense. Unfortunately, the University is simply going to have to continue to pay for the cynicism, incompetence, and epic failure of our previous administration.

Once again, all evidence points to the inescapable conclusion that the previous Board/Administration abrogated their specific responsibilities to the students who placed their faith in Chicago State University, and their general duty to oversee the Watson administration’s academic stewardship. Rather than protecting the interests of the University and its students, the Board/Administration comprising Wayne Watson, Michael Curtin, Marshall Hatch, James Joyce, Spencer Leak, Horace Smith, Anthony Young, and Nikki Zollar embraced the cynical and destructive management style of Wayne Watson, and abetted his administration’s endorsement of academic and employment dishonesty, managerial misconduct, financial mismanagement, crony hiring, and a continuing enrollment disaster. The Board ignored its own presidential performance standards and ultimately rewarded the failed president with numerous perks. After Watson’s ”retirement,” the Board orchestrated Thomas Calhoun’s untimely departure by allowing his senior administrators to undermine the new President, then selected a cipher to fill that critical leadership position, effectively returning control of the University to Watson and the Provost. Not surprisingly, the University continued the enrollment decline that began in 2010, cratering at 3250 this spring.

The previous Board’s failure to act on the declining enrollment, the questionable hiring practices, the demonstrated dishonesty of senior administrators, and the continual financial shenanigans of the Watson administration, coupled with its railroading of a respected and popular new President represented a complete betrayal of our students.

Since the Board consisted of Watson loyalists, this betrayal hardly seems surprising. After all, Wayne Watson had been betraying students at City Colleges and Chicago State for years. His self-styled “distinguished” career as an “educator” is notably devoid of scholarly and/or administrative accomplishments. Instead, his performance has featured consistent enrollment declines, multiple scandals, a vindictive and paranoid management style that resulted in abusive and costly administrative misconduct, a consistent reliance on hiring cronies and loyalists into positions for which they have no qualifications, rewarding his friends and cronies with not just jobs, but with lucrative contracts, and a constant need to avoid responsibility. Frankly, his cynicism knew no bounds. His friends and cronies would be rewarded; the academic integrity of the institution be damned.

The current Provost is a well-schooled product of the Watson style of management, abusive and suspicious, not averse to taking care of her friends and cronies, and likewise, devoid of scholarly and administrative accomplishments. While her performance has earned her a pink slip, the symbolism of her departure would be a powerful signal that “business as usual” has come to an end here at Chicago State. She has absolutely no support from any segment of the University community and her hold on a position usually reserved for a respected senior scholar speaks volumes for the enduring toxicity of the Watson regime. She came to the University as a crony hire, then got her promotion to Provost because of her relationship with Watson. She lied on her application/resume about her expected completion of the Ph.D., then had to hurriedly complete a dissertation to get the degree because Watson wanted to promote her to Provost. The dissertation committee failed to meet the UIC College of Nursing minimum requirements for such a committee, since it included only two members of the graduate faculty, instead of the requisite three. However, the committee did include Wayne Watson, and a person who served as her research assistant. Despite the findings of the anonymous “hearing officer” that her dissertation was not plagiarized, its multiple irregularities more than met the UIC Nursing threshold for plagiarism. Indeed, I found more than 80 passages taken entirely or in part, without appropriate attribution, from various articles, all ostensibly violations of Nursing’s published academic integrity standards. More than three years later, the “revised” dissertation remains unavailable. Anyone questioning the academic integrity of this institution need look no further than the Provost’s office to make a case.

As long as the Provost and her friends (and Watson’s friends) remain on this campus, we are stalled. The April 17 memo from Board Chair Marshall Hatch (a willing participant in the Calhoun firing) may signal an attempt to keep the Provost in place. He wrote this: “Provost Angela Henderson has admirably led in the four year benchmark of our accreditation processes with the Higher Learning Commission. We appreciate all the hard work of the leadership team.” No, Reverend Hatch, we do not appreciate their “hard work.” The staff and faculty at Chicago State want this leadership team gone, and your willingness to shill for the failed Watson holdovers demonstrates your unfitness for a position on the Chicago State Board of Trustees. You should follow Trustee Zollar’s example and immediately resign your position. I fervently hope Hatch’s bullshit will not dissuade our new administrative team from making long overdue personnel changes. After all, we cannot be saved if we are unwilling to save ourselves.

Although ridding ourselves of the Watson blight will be expensive, we must bear the cost. We cannot excise all the Watson tumors immediately, but I urge our new administration to expeditiously begin the work of extricating the school from the muck of the Watson administration. It seems apparent that our new Board members have the school’s best interests at heart, and I believe they will support any personnel changes our new President sees fit to make.







Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A New Kind of Town Hall.

Yesterday’s town hall with the new Interim President and Interim Chief Administrative Officer proved remarkably free of the dishonesty and cynicism that has marked appearances by Chicago State’s leadership since 2009. In fact, the forum’s tone featured high hopes and a number of actual ideas (imagine, that!) for extricating ourselves from our current predicament. To be sure, not everything will work out as planned, but I came away with the sense that we’ve at long last started down a new road. Kudos to Dr. Lindsey and Mr. Vallas for their plain speaking.

Kudos, also, to the several CSU staff and faculty who asked sharp questions and made comments that expressed their disaffection with the events of the past seven years. We heard about the devastating results of the mass layoffs of 2016, the advising fiasco that Dr. Lindsey recently ended, the always looming specter of the ridiculous and unnecessary West Side campus, the complete inadequacy, even illiteracy, of the university’s web site and its continual promotion of our failed former president, the failure of high-salaried administrators to create any effective policy for recruiting students, the multiple failures in public relations that have enabled the narrative that CSU is closing to remain viable, the waste of public fund on salaries for people who apparently do nothing, and who, by their failure to do their jobs, have contributed to the university’s failure writ large. I’m sure I missed a couple of things, but that’s my recollection of the topics covered at the meeting.

As Dr. Lindsey pointed out, we all have a responsibility to our students. They are entitled to the best educational experience we can provide. After the doom and gloom of the past seven years, the staff and faculty have much hard work ahead to repair the damage and make this school what it should be. I agree with Dr. Lindsey that we all must work together to make the school’s possibilities, realities. However, I must point out that our administration also has responsibilities to its faculty and staff. Most important, the personnel changes everyone acknowledges are necessary must occur, and soon.




Wednesday, April 26, 2017

End of Semester Updates

So as the end of the academic year draws close, many long suffering CSU community members are cautiously optimistic about the direction the University is headed in the next 12-15 months. I join them in guarded optimism and am mindful that the institution has been on the brink of removing failed administrators before and couldn't execute. To bring you, loyal readers, up to date, several things of note have occurred in the past three weeks.

First the Board of Trustees appointed a highly qualified and experienced academic to the position of Interim President. Dr. Rachel Lindsey has been retired for nearly six years and has been spared bearing witness to the epic incompetence the University has been subjected to. Her more than 20 years as an administrator has born fruit immediately. She has returned advising responsibility to the academic departments and restored department chair terms to three years. Those are two concerns faculty have voiced for several years. I am sure there will be more to follow.

Second, two vacancies have opened on the Board of Trustees with the resignations of Paul Vallas and Nikki Zollar. Governor Rauner now has two more appointments and it is my fervent wish that he be as perceptive in his appointments of the next two as he was of the remaining three new trustees. They have been of remarkable service to the University in a very short time. 

Third, like the Beatles, the Gang of Four (#CSUclowncar) is being dismantled. One has resigned from the University; one is rumored to have resigned; one has been reassigned and the last????? Everything that has a beginning has an end according to the Oracle from the movie The Matrix. Mercifully, the end of this period of institutional madness is coming to an end. Onward to the forensic audit and all of the fruit that it will bear. And by the way, having shredding parties doesn't always destroy all of the evidence of misconduct.

Fourth, there are rumors that the 24 pay period option is to be restored for faculty beginning August 2017. For some unknown reason, the provost thought it would be a good idea to inconvenience the 90% of faculty who used the 12 month option to spread their salary over. The administration doubled down on this ridiculous decision with the now relieved interim president telling your humble narrator, that she was looking out for faculty, even though faculty leadership was vehemently opposed to the decision. This is another example of rewarding failure.

One of the consequences of this change is that faculty will now have to pay out of pocket the Central Management Services, for the cost of their health care during the summer. Just another way to inconvenience faculty and demonstrate the provost's contempt us. The one upside is an opportunity to review and change benefits during the Benefits Choice change period which runs from May 1st through May 31st. Faculty can go online www.Mybenefits.illlinois.gov and make changes. If you don't have a PIN for your account, please call toll free 1-844-251-1777 Monday - Friday 8AM-6PM CT. Additionally, the Office of Human Resources will be hosting a Benefits Fair May 4th from 9AM - 4PM. Direct questions to Ms. Kim Bandy at kbandy20@csu.edu. 

Finally, in our campaign (#MakeCSUGreatAgain), it is the responsibility of employees to assist in the compliance function of the University. To that end, all employees are Mandated Reporters and as such must complete the online DCFS training and submit the completion certificate to the Compliance Office by April 28th. Like the annual Ethics Training, there are possible consequences for employees not completing the training. And no, the University cannot download the database file from DCFS of its employees who have completed the training. Remember, we are in Illinois after all.

And finally, (really), thanks to my loyal colleagues who have persevered through circumstances that are truly incredible. Our students have the benefit of some of the best teachers in the academy. It humbles me to think what we could do with some real academic leadership.