Monday, April 20, 2015

"Ethical Fading" from the Chronicle of Higher Ed and FYI it is National Plagiarism Education Week! (not that it matters at CSU)

In case you missed the rehashing of U of I's great admissions scandal of several years ago the Chronicle of Higher Ed published another article about it on April 17th  by Peter Schmidt
http://chronicle.com/article/An-Admissions-Scandal-Shows/229477/.  Scrutiny and analysis of U of I surely takes the heat off of CSU, doesn't it?  The most recent article about the "admissions scandal" adds an explanation of the "Illinois way" of politics and its application in a university setting: the concept of ETHICAL FADING. What an apt description for how institutions, our institution, for example, ignore all that "ethical training" we are mandated by the state of ILL  to take every November. This is "ethical fading:"

A senior administrator," Mr. Harris says, "does not wake up in the morning and say, Today I am going to do something that lands me on the front page of the Chicago Tribune for the wrong reasons." Instead, he says, what comes into play is a phenomenon known as "ethical fading," in which the culture or structure of an organization causes those within it to lose sight of ethical considerations.

...Often, he says, misconduct "originates, evolves, and sustains itself" as a result of a confluence of factors: common psychological tendencies, such as self-deception; environmental pressures, such as financial concerns; and structures within organizations, such as the enrollment-management systems that many colleges have put in place to coordinate their admissions decisions.

Dr Halpin's previous two posts detailing CSU Administrators' circumvention of IBHE are part of a greater pattern at CSU where accountability to state taxpayers and ethical considerations have been consistently "faded" by the Watson regime, the CSU Board of Trustees, former Governor Quinn and a host of affiliated politicians.

See if the paragraphs below from the article describing U of I could not apply to CSU as well. I was particularly struck by the phrases:  "Administrators and trustees 'sanitized their involvement'" and "Trustees rarely discussed the process among themselves, adopting "a hear no evil, see no evil" perspective."

...Administrators and trustees "sanitized their involvement" by employing positive, euphemistic language. Using such language "enhanced self-perceptions of morality," the paper says.

Senior administrators even said the special admissions process helped protect undergraduate admissions decisions from outside interference by providing a place for university officials and administrators to route inquiries about applicants rather than dealing with those inquiries themselves. In reality, the routing of such inquiries through the chancellor’s office aided such outside interference by keeping the people who had passed the inquiries along from having a full understanding of how the process worked and knowing the full ramifications of their actions. Trustees rarely discussed the process among themselves, adopting "a hear no evil, see no evil" perspective, the paper says.

And speaking of "ethical fading," before I forget, Happy Plagiarism Education Week 2015 (April 20-24) sponsored by Turnitin and the Chronicle of Higher Ed. I'm sure the Academic Affairs division is sponsoring many plagiarism awareness events for this.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

If Going Through Proper Channels Doesn’t Work, Open Up the Floodgates, Part Two: The Administration Wonders How They Can Cover This Up.

This is the second post from Dr. Janet Halpin. This series of communications reveals her frustration with a university administration that seems more intent on avoiding blame for its obvious failure to follow appropriate steps for deletion/addition of programs than on addressing the serious issues Dr. Halpin raises. A number of conclusions may be drawn from on her two posts: 1) "General Studies" is a different program than the Board of Governors degree program; 2) the Board of Governors program should never have been eliminated; 3) the General Studies program should never have been implemented as a "Reasonable Modification of an Existing Program"; 4)rather than deceive the IBHE, the Board of Governors program should have gone through the Program Elimination process and the university should have submitted a new program (General Studies) request for IBHE approval; 5) the provost of the university is responsible for and fully aware (or should be) of the problem and its potential programmatic and financial aid ramifications; 6) despite Dr. Halpin's well-founded concerns, the university appears ready to cover this up. Here is Dr. Halpin's second post on the topic:

If going through proper channels doesn’t work, open up the floodgates, Part Two

In my previous post I shared my initial report of the General Studies program admissions. Dr. H and I discussed the matter immediately after spring break and agreed that our Dean had to be informed. The information was sent that day, March 23, because it was important that he not be blind-sided by this. Then there were several phone calls and emails requesting an opportunity to discuss the findings. The Dean requested time to discuss it with the Provost, so I started including Provost Henderson on all reports and emails, in order that she would know what the concerns were.

Next, my email to my dean, of April 13, 2015:

On March 23, 2015, Dr. H and I apprised you of two extremely serious issues related to the General Studies Program:

1. Large numbers of students had apparently been admitted and were taking classes at the University without meeting the admissions requirements for the program.

2. The Provost and Enrollment Management were attempting to change the catalog without going through the channels the curriculum review process, in violation of principles of shared governance and the established practice of the university. It was also in violation of the circumstances in which the program was permitted to move to the College of Arts and Sciences.



On April 2 2015 I provided more information about the transition of the BOG-GSP program, and referenced the files, documents and minutes that you had received from me when your new team started in the CAS Dean's Office. You called me that afternoon to earnestly request that I wait until you had a chance to discuss this with Provost Henderson. I sent a copy of the information to Provost Henderson, in case she was unsure of the nature and details of the issue you wished to discuss.

I heard from the grapevine that a meeting was indeed scheduled for Friday, April 10, and from a different grapevine that the meeting may actually have occurred. No one has contacted me to provide any clarification, to indicate that there is no problem after all, that my information is faulty, that existing admissions requirements are not being waived/ignored.

Can you please update me on this. Registration for summer and fall is now only days away.


The dean phoned on April 15 to share the results of the meeting. I prefer to put things in writing because my memory is imperfect, so I sent a confirmation of the conversation:

Dear Dean:
We spoke about an hour ago and you briefed me on the results of a meeting you had to discuss the admission of dozens of General Studies against existing admissions regulations, and the attempt by Enrollment Management and the Provost to change the admissions regulations without going through the proper procedures.

You said that the following had been agreed:

1. Going forward, no new students will be admitted into the program unless they are in compliance with existing admissions regulations.

2. There will be a meeting of Dr. H (General Studies), the Registrar, Office of Admissions, and [CAS]Dean to ensure that there is a mechanism in place to track compliance.

3. Students currently in the program will be moved to other majors. I asked which majors they are qualified to enter: mainly University College?

Also, you indicated the Provost/Chief Academic Officer of this university was apparently unaware of the process [of shared governance? of changing programs and admissions standards?] and did not intentionally side-step the regulations for changing admissions requirements of the university.

Can you let me know, please, if I misheard any of this?


There was a quick response that [finally] raised concern about where I was going with this and would we be drawn into a quagmire. I’m sorry to say that my alarm, concern, and frustration had finally been replaced by exasperation, and my next email was less measured than perhaps it should have been:


April 15, 2015: “This is already a quagmire, and has been for quite a while.

Last summer when the University admitted students who had not met the requirements for admissions it was a a quagmire. When a second cohort was admitted for the spring 2015 semester the quagmire got deeper. Do any of these students get financial aid? One of the questions I asked earlier but no one has answered yet is: should students who were admitted erroneously without meeting the admissions standards be entitled to financial aid? That's the quagmire getting nasty, I think. We probably should pay that money back.

When there is a document dated December 2014 about changing the admissions requirements, and dozens have already been admitted under non-existent, non-approved admissions standards, it is already a quagmire.

When there is a document from several months later saying that the important thing is to change the catalog and not to have a signature from the Chief Academic Officer from the university, it is already a quagmire.

Maybe it goes back further than that. The former BOG program was problematic, but it had a valuable mission and vision to provide a service to people of this community. Rather than clear out problematic issues and leadership and appoint a team to help resolve some of the challenges, someone stamped their feet and said ‘Off with its head’. So a program that very many universities have and which can play a valuable role in education and employment preparation, disappeared. Oh wait, it wasn't eliminated. It went around through the back door behind the backs of IBHE and re-emerged as the General Studies program. That was one reason for the delay in launching it: no students could be admitted while the BOG major existed, because there was no [separate] CIP code. There's another clue that we already had a quagmire.

When the General Studies program was shoe-horned into the College of Arts and Sciences, the 24-credit hour rule was the FIREWALL that protected the college, because this was still meant to be a non-traditional program. The 24-credit-hours was the standard at which students in the former BOG could apply to the university-proper, after they had demonstrated the capacity and skills necessary to succeed.

In our first real conversation about this, about two weeks ago now, you asked how to fix this. I said we were way past just fixing it. We cannot just talk about 'moving forward'. An injustice was done to the University and to the College of Arts and Sciences. Regulations were trampled. It's time to 'fess up.’



Over the past SIX weeks Dr. H and I have been concerned about moving toward resolution and accountability for what is happening in General Studies. After ensuring that my Dean and the Provost knew precisely what the issue was, I finally sent my concerns to Faculty Senate. I was advised that while that was a correct next step, it would go nowhere. Due to the broken relationship between Faculty Senate, Academic Affairs, and the Board of Trustees, it would be better to report the findings to the Department of Education. I did send an exploratory email to two officials to enquire what route I should take, but have not heard back from them either.

On the morning of Thursday, April 16, I learned from Dr. H that a newly admitted General Studies student with zero higher education credits had called to set up an appointment. There is another detail attached to this particular case that compounds the seriousness of what the University is continuing to do, but let’s just stop here.

There was an assurance that ‘going forward’ this would not occur. I will be willing to work with anyone and everyone to restore a sense of integrity to this educational endeavor. Please help us.

Friday, April 17, 2015

If Going Through the Proper Channels Doesn’t Work, Open up the Floodgates: The Hopelessly Incompetent Watson Administration Puts Chicago State at Risk Again

I am posting the following for my colleague Dr. Janet Halpin. Some background information will help readers fully understand the issue here. First, because of previous violations of Title IV regulations, Chicago State is currently on provisional status for the disbursement of financial aid. Second, early in Wayne Watson’s regime, the administration decided to eliminate the Board of Governors (BOG) program and developed a new degree program which it called General Studies. Rather than go through program elimination for BOG then create a new program to replace the BOG degree path, the university simply transferred most of the admission criteria from BOG to General Studies as a Reasonable Modification of an Existing Program. Although BOG and the early General Studies program resided outside the university in special programs, eventually the administration moved General Studies into the College of Arts and Sciences. In order to be admitted to General Studies, a student must have earned 24 hours of college credit and be at least 25 years old. 2012-14 and 2014-16 undergraduate admissions criteria are below:



In March, Dr. Halpin discovered that with the knowledge and apparent approval of Angela Henderson, the university had admitted a number of students who simply did not qualify for the General Studies Program. At the end of Dr. Halpin’s post are several e-mails that demonstrate clearly that several administrators knew about the modification of admissions criteria. Of the 47 students enrolled in the General Studies program as of February 17, 2015, only 12 meet the criteria for admission to the program. Thus, 74.4 percent of the students enrolled in General Studies should not be there. Finally, 28 students are enrolled full-time, which means they are eligible for financial aid. Of those 28, 23 (82.1 percent) should not be in the program. Despite her knowledge of the change in admission criteria, Angela Henderson refused to give her written assent to the practice. Nonetheless, as Dr. Halpin’s material makes clear, Henderson is clearly responsible for the change in criteria and will be responsible for the potential consequences of the university’s failure to adhere to IBHE and DOE policies. At the least, it seems likely we will be paying back more financial aid we have unlawfully disbursed.

Here is Dr. Halpin’s post (the first of two, another will appear tomorrow):

If going through the proper channels doesn’t work, open up the floodgates

Dr. H of General Studies and I recognized a serious problem in the General Studies program, and immediately began attempts to have it addressed. This is the original report. It has been edited to remove any identifying information of students. Tomorrow I will document our further attempts, ending with April 15/16, when a newly admitted General Studies Student contacted Dr. H to set up an advising appointment.

Date: March 14, 2015
From: Dr. Janet Halpin, Professor of Geography
Regarding: The General Studies Major at Chicago State University

On Monday, March 9, 2015 I dropped by your office. A student who left several years ago contacted me to enquire about requirements to graduate if readmitted. I am trying to find a variety of alternatives for this student. I did not see a CAPP option for General Studies, so I thought you might be able to provide some assistance using degree planning sheets. However, we did not get that far.

Our conversation immediately led to the present situation with General Studies, in which enrollment jumped from about two dozen students in 201409 to 47 in 201501, and for whom you have been provided insufficient information. You added that you have not been able to access all the functions of Banner. I have been using Banner since 1998, so I offered to print out some information for you and Prof. D., who is assisting with advising.

Starting on Monday, March 9, and continuing until March 13, I checked each name on the database. Additionally, there were three students listed as GSP who had Academic Early Warnings in October 2014, whose names are no longer on the list of GSP majors. Table One summarizes the results.

Admissions status code No. of students (N=50) Notes on transfer credits
Freshmen (23+) 27 These students were admitted with no university credits at all. Some were admitted for fall 2014 and some for spring 2015
Freshmen (under 23) 1 student was ftftf in 2010/11, but is trying to graduate after being unable to complete their original program
Transfer Freshmen 12 credits ranging from 0* (two students) to 19
Transfer 10 credits ranging from 10 to 63.360
Table One

*I do not fully understand this. A transfer with 0 credit hours implies that these two students had attended an institution of higher education but had no transferable credits: only Fs or Ds, or perhaps developmental Math. The admissions requirements for CSU, according to the catalog and the Admissions website, will not accept a student who is not in good academic standing. I’m not sure what’s going on there. Also, transfer students should have at least 24 (?)


Of the 50 GSP majors, it appears that only about 10 or 15 met usual requirements for admission to Chicago State University based on 24 credit hour minimum or current ACT score for those with fewer than 24 credit hours. Do you have documentation of the “college readiness interviews” that were conducted as part of the admissions process before students were admitted? You said that the information meetings have been very poorly attended. The most recent one, on Tuesday, March 10, 2015, (?) had no attendees. I myself went to one in Spring 2014 when we sat and chatted the entire time because there were no attendees. You said you received a printout of the students who are declared majors, but you have no information about how they were interviewed or by whom.


While the Office of Admissions and First Year Experience handle the admission, orientation, and advisement of new students, when there is a problem students are sent to their major department. You and Professor D. should have documentation for the students listed in Table Two. For them to register for the spring semester, they would have required an academic plan, and probably a petition for reinstatement of financial aid. Additionally, the student who was Dropped for Poor Scholarship would have needed a Petition for Reinstatement and very clear documentation of the compelling circumstances that led to their getting back into the College of Arts and Sciences after the disastrous 0.0 GPA fall semester. [Identifying information has been obscured]:

Table Two
Name Status GPA Fall’14
Student A Probation 1.50 6/13
Student B Probation 1.00 3/13
Student C Probation 1.61 9/13
Student D DPS, Reinstated 0.00 0/7

You probably would not know anything about the following three students who started as
freshmen in fall 2014 but did not return in spring 2015 (Table Three)
I have received from an unnamed source a forwarded copy of a memorandum sent by Ms. Cheri Sidney of Enrollment Management on December 29, 2014 (see below), requesting approval of new Admissions Requirements for the General Studies program. There are numerous serious issues related to this.

When the decision was made in 2011 to phase out the former BOG and replace it with the General Studies program, we were requested to do it as an RME: a Reasonable Modification of an Existing program. There were three iron-clad rules that could not be changed, in order that it remain a non-traditional program for students of 24 or older. This would also forestall the need to apply to the IBHE for a new program.

1. Students could still challenge up to 18 credit hours for coursework based on portfolios demonstrating skill and knowledge competence from life and career experience

2. There would be no foreign language requirement

3. NO STUDENTS WITH FEWER THAN 24 CREDIT HOURS COULD BE ADMITTED TO THE PROGRAM, because in the non-traditional BOG program, students did not have to meet the same admissions requirements as traditional new admits. BOG was separate from the University, and students who wished to change to a regular major were required to apply to the University - it was not a straightforward Change of Major.

Obviously, the credit hour requirement has proven to be the most troubling. As Prof. Nelly Maynard summarized in an email to Dr. Dave Kanis and me on 2/25/2014

“That is why the nontraditional degree program was always under a continuing education, continuing studies, Center for New Learning, "First College" and other similar programs.

That is why it is a challenge to put a nontraditional degree program with dissimilar admission requirements under a traditional degree program.

The Board of Governors Program has a long history as a separate unit. It was developed in 1972 as a cooperative effort among five state universities formerly under the Illinois Board of Governors. Since then, more colleges and universities: public and private, have opened their doors to this growing population and the competition for adult students, 25 years and older has increased.

The task of restructuring the BOG program requires a second look. If too many obstacles are scattered around and in front of that population, those students will go elsewhere.. They would even pay a higher tuition and attend DePaul or Roosevelt's nontraditional degree program.”


The December 29, 2014 memorandum addresses the plan to change the admission requirements to allow the admission of freshman General Studies students. Why is that a problem?

2. It is a clear violation of an admission requirement that HAD to be in place to move the program from a nontraditional degree program for older adults into an academic college: The College of Arts and Sciences. We could not admit students who had not met the admissions requirements.

3. The memo states that the requirement for pre-admission interviews would follow the University College model. It does NOT follow the University College model: Students in the University College are conditionally admitted into the university, and they are clearly in a separate “Special Program”. On the other hand, once the new General Studies students are “admitted” they are indeed IN the College of Arts and Sciences, because the program is housed in the College of Arts and Sciences.

4. The memorandum was dated December 29, 2014, but dozens of students had already been admitted under the “new” admissions requirements and had already completed a semester of work. Another cohort was already being admitted and placed in courses for the spring 2015 semester.

5. This was compounded by the fact that pressure was being put on the university to change the catalog to reflect these changes in admissions policy. An email was sent on Feb. 25 and forwarded on March 2, 2015 (see below) asking for the catalog to be changed without a required signature, to avoid “compliance issues”. This was already too late to avoid compliance issues. But even more seriously, it was a clear attempt to circumvent the policies, procedures, and shared governance with academic bodies and committees of the university.

Registration will begin in a matter of weeks for the summer and fall semesters. This must be addressed immediately before any more students are “admitted” under these conditions. I will be away for several days on an earlier planned trip but will be available by email and cell phone.

The Banner printouts for the 50 students [were attached to the original letter].

Dr. Janet Halpin
Professor of Geography





Subject: Fwd: GENERAL STUDIES
To: “WH, ID, TR


Drs. D, H, and R

Have we updated the catalog to include the corrections related to General Studies? I spoke to Provost and she stated that our course should be that of correcting our catalog and not her signature.

Please advise as to where we are in the process.

Thank you.

Cheri

Cheri Sidney, CCEP
Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management
Chicago State University
Cook Administration Rm. 129
Chicago, Il 60628
Ph: 773.995.3534
Email: csidney@csu.edu

CSU - We meet you where you are!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: JM
Date: Wed, Feb 25, 2015 at 5:24 PM
Subject: GENERAL STUDIES
To: Cheri Sidney


Cheri,
The Office never received the signed copy. I know you have plenty on your plate but if I don’t nudge this we may get caught in a compliance issue.
I’m just trying to keep ahead of these issues.





How Wayne Watson Keeps His Job: It's the Jobs and Contracts Stupid

I think it fair to ask how someone with Wayne Watson’s record of dismal leadership can continue to hold positions of authority. The answer seems apparent: he is able to curry favor with his political benefactors by dispensing jobs and contracts to their friends, his friends, and political allies. This blog has already discussed Watson’s history of questionable hiring practices and his gift of more than $75 million in no-bid contracts to relatives of Emil Jones. Taking a look back at his history at City Colleges reveals another area in which Watson excels at giving taxpayer monies to well-connected cronies: outside legal work. Ultimately, this backward look will enable us to take a look forward and predict what might be in store for our school after Watson’s blighted regime departs.

A 2012 article in Crain’s took a critical look at the spending for outside legal work at City Colleges of Chicago. The article touched on the money spent by City Colleges on Emil Jones’ relatives, legal work assigned to law firms with connections to Richard M. Daley, and contracts to engineering firms with “political ties.” Although the author discussed these questionable expenditures, startlingly, he failed to mention Wayne Watson even once. The author went back only as far as 2008 in his comparison of City Colleges legal expenditure. However, City College Board Reports are available back to 1998. I will use these to construct a more accurate portrayal of the spending practices Crain’s found so troublesome. Wayne Watson emerges as the most prominent actor in this narrative.

During the Watson era, between 1998 and mid-2009, City Colleges of Chicago spent a minimum of $10.65 million on outside law firms. Notably, between 1998 and 2003, at least 15 months of data on legal expenses are not available in the extant records. Thus, the figure for the Watson years is likely to be closer to $12 million. For the 136 months of the Watson Chancellorship, his administration spent a minimum average of $78,334.65/month on legal fees to external law firms. Of that $10.65 million, a minimum of $3.53 million went to firms with ties to Richard Daley or Wayne Watson. Some of these names may be familiar: Laner Muchin, later apparently hired by Chicago State to investigate Phillip Beverly, reported in the Crain’s article to have ties to Richard Daley, received $981,000 from City Colleges for legal work between 1998 and 2009; another firm with reported ties to Daley, Franczek Radelet received $1.4 million; Chico and Nunes received $183,000 and Pugh, Jones and Johnson, the firm that defended Watson in the Jim Crowley case and a law firm with at least one lawyer who has been extremely useful to Watson and Angela Henderson, received $937,000.

The 2012 article noted that the General Counsel of City Colleges, James M. Reilly, “who is empowered to hire law firms without competitive bidding, was an aide to Mr. Daley before joining the school five years ago.” The author neglected to mention that Wayne Watson hired Reilly as General Counsel on September 17, 2007.

In 2012, new City Colleges Chancellor reportedly terminated an existing contract with a politically-connected engineering firm, Anchor Mechanical. Guess who awarded Anchor Mechanical its original contract then gave the firm a succession of three-year contracts for various services? If you said Wayne Watson, you are obviously paying attention. In 2003, Watson awarded the first of three successive no-bid contracts for a maximum of $85,000/year to the company. In the 9 years the contract existed, Anchor Mechanical stood to receive a maximum of $765,000 from City Colleges. The article quoted Ms. Hyman as saying: "We have to be good stewards of the taxpayers' money. We're making sure every contract is competitively bid, and we need to ensure that every contract is actually needed or if can be handled better in-house."

Just how does Hyman’s administration compare with Watson’s in terms of its stewardship of “the taxpayer’s money?” In the 66 months of the post-Watson era at City Colleges, legal expenses for outside law firms have actually decreased, down to $73,358/month compared to Watson’s $78,334. However, when the residual effects of the Watson Chancellorship are figured into the equation, the post-Watson era appears even more thrifty.

Just after Watson left City Colleges, Maria Moore filed her lawsuit for retaliatory discharge. As chronicled on this blog, she won a huge settlement from City Colleges and the City Colleges Board agreed to pay her legal fees (amount unknown). According to the Court Docket, three separate firms worked on Watson’s defense: Laner Muchin again, Gonzalez, Saggio and Harlan—last seen writing letters threatening legal action against this blog for ridiculous “trademark infringement” claims, and Ford and Harrison. Between July 2009 and May 2012, these three firms charged City Colleges over $679,000: totals of $481,000 for Laner Muchin; just under $104,000 for Gonzalez, Saggio; just over $97,000 for Ford/Harrison. Thus, the actual outside legal expense for the Watson years comes to over $11.3 million or $83,300/month, for the post-Watson era, City College outside legal spending totals $4.16 million, or an average of $63,000/month. Given the obvious increase in legal fees (hourly billing rate) since Watson served as Chancellor, this is a striking reduction in City College legal expenses.

Looking ahead, Watson’s various mouthpieces will find him blameless as Chicago State struggles to cope with the cost of his presidency. Even though it is supposedly impermissible to use monies appropriated for salaries for other purposes, Watson acolytes will attempt to construct a narrative that attempts to place the blame for the Watson administration’s unethical and illegal behavior on the administration’s victims: witness the discussion of how the Crowley judgment necessitates layoffs. This argument is completely groundless. First, because salary appropriations are sancrosanct; second, because the Crowley case has not cost the university a dime (for the plaintiff’s side) to this point; third, the responsible parties are Watson, Cage and the other administrators who participated in that outrage, not Jim Crowley. Nevertheless, as judgments drive the cost of this administration up, Watson will, as he has done his entire career, try to shift the blame onto his innocent victims. That is what I think we will see in the coming months.



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Here's the Latest: As We Prepare to Hire More Highly-Paid Administrators, Watson Lays Off Loyal Employees at the Bottom of the Pay Scale

In response to Corday’s post yesterday, here is what I have learned about the most recent layoffs: At least seven persons have been laid off, eliminating two employee classifications from the Chicago State budget. The elimination of these classifications apparently enables the university to avoid issues of seniority and precludes any of the laid off employees from “bumping” junior employees.

The persons affected by the layoffs have served Chicago State University for between seven and twenty-one years and the total salary “savings” realized by these layoffs are around $200,000. Of course, there will be no actual salary savings for the university as we are currently involved in searches for at least four upper-level administrative positions: the Chief of Police, a newly created Executive Director of Alumni Giving, another newly created Associate Vice President of Student Affairs and a new posting for the Vice President of Enrollment Management. I estimate that the aggregate salaries for these four positions will be at least $500,000.

This is an outrageous action by a president desperately trying to hang on to his ability to hire his friends and cronies. Both the Chief of Police and Student Affairs searches are most likely rigged to insure that Watson cronies (pick your Watson here) get those positions. You can just imagine who Wayne Watson will select as the “Executive Director of Alumni Giving” and the new Vice President of Enrollment Management. Perhaps it’s time to culminate the Cheri Sidney farce by giving that mendacious fraud another hefty raise and a new position from which she can further damage Chicago State.

Why are these layoffs happening at this time? I recently received an e-mail from a highly-placed administrator who had the following explanation:

An interesting thought though, the IBHE warning that public higher ed institutions should consider/plan for a potential 20-30% drop in funding next year is being used as a perfect scapegoat for firing staff to cover our PRIOR financial mismanagement. We're in the hole and hemorrhaging money via enrollment losses/bad business decisions/lawsuits and they got the gift of being told to prepare for a 30% cut. . . . We have to act to resolve insolvency over prior issues under the guise of state budget cut warnings and will have to run another round of firings if the cuts do come to pass. We're probably firing 20% of the university's labor workforce to help pay for the $4m Crowley judgement that the university doesn't have $/insurance to cover. Oh, and to get around that pesky 'union' issue, they are just going to fire everyone within certain classification groups to close out all union employees within that classification.”

This is truly the worst university administration in the nation.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Let the Firings Begin (again)...anyone know what's going on at this place today?

Just had some information this afternoon that lay offs are going on today in the Cook Bldg--but it's not those whom you would hope would be laid off. About 7 or 8 people in the civil service sector have been let go--some in Admissions. Morale must be at an all-time low.
Anyone else have any other news on this?

Sunday, April 12, 2015

How the Watson Administration Treats Chicago State's Tenure-Track Faculty: Use Them then Screw Them

On of the administrative practices that has basically escaped examination is the Watson gang’s contempt for personnel action deadlines. Even a cursory look at how they perform their duties in this area reveals again the utter incompetence of this administration. We already know that it took a grievance last year to force the administration to honor its contractual obligation to grant sabbaticals, but their failure to give even lip service to personnel obligations mandated by the contract and their own policies starkly sketches the contours of their disdain for our tenure-track colleagues. Our administrative motto might be: "use them if you must, screw them when you can."

As many of you know, contrary to customary practice and in contravention of its own personnel action policies, the administration last year apparently failed to notify in advance of the May board meeting any faculty who had earned tenure. As this year’s deadline for administrative notification of tenure recommendations approaches (April 21, 2015), there seems little reason to expect that the administration will act differently this year.

In addition, this year for tenure-track faculty in the midst of their probation, the university has, for at least several faculty, failed to provide status notification for either promotion or retention. Despite a December 15, 2014 date for retention announcements, faculty have still not been notified. Despite a January 21, 2015 date for promotion announcements, faculty have still not been notified. These unwarranted and inexplicable delays are simply unconscionable.

During my probationary period at this university, the administration scrupulously adhered to the personnel action deadlines. When the time came for the board to vote on my tenure, I already knew that the administration had made a favorable recommendation. The timely notification did much to reduce the understandable anxiety associated with the probationary process.

For those unfortunate faculty who are in the current tenure process, no such relief is forthcoming. Imagine waiting three or four months past the deadline to learn your fate—will you be retained or on a terminal contract? The utter lack of qualifications of anyone in this administration to judge any faculty member’s performance notwithstanding, failure to notify persons of administrative personnel decisions creates unnecessary anxiety and in the case of those faculty not retained, the late notification may put them at a distinct disadvantage in the job market.

As far as our administrators are concerned, the only reason for the existence of staff, faculty and students seems to be the furtherance of the interests of Wayne Watson and his regime. As little more than props, staff, faculty and students frequently wait for incompetent administrators to make other important decisions, often with necessary paperwork languishing in an office waiting for nothing more than a signature. In the past few years, Wayne Watson has centralized operations under his control with the result that almost no one else can make a move without his approval. As a result, ignorant, capricious and often disastrous administrative decisions abound.

The scorn with which our administration treats all Chicago State’s faculty is magnified in the case of our tenure-track colleagues.

Here is the personnel action timetable for 2014-15:

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thoughts on the Never-Ending Corruption at Chicago State: The Board and its "Search Committee"

The recent announcement of the “search committee” for the new president highlights the fundamental disconnect between Chicago State’s faculty and its administration. Two caveats before I begin this discussion: first, with one notable exception, nothing that follows should be taken as a criticism of any of the faculty involved in this committee; second, while membership on the committee in no way signifies allegiance to Wayne Watson or his administration, it seems fair to say that no one on the committee is objectionable to our diminutive dictator. Can anyone imagine the selection criteria for this committee being created without the primary input of Wayne Watson? One look at the selection process for this committee convinces me that the administration has rigged the search and will do their utmost to ramrod some unacceptable candidate through the process. How many of you are interested in a continuation of the Wayne Watson regime, albeit through a surrogate?

The desire to anoint Watson’s successor necessitates a committee that includes a large number of employees who enjoy no job security. That certainly holds true for the administrators on the committee. While the four faculty members nominated by the Faculty Senate are secure, the four faculty members appointed by the “committee” without faculty input are all non-tenured. Here are some salient facts:

The fourteen nominees submitted by the Faculty Senate included 13 tenured and 1 Clinical Faculty. The average experience of these 14 faculty members comes to 16.6 years with six years representing the shortest length of service of any of the Faculty Senate nominees. In addition, six of the Faculty Senate nominees have taught at Chicago State for at least 20 years. The respective colleges selected all fourteen Faculty Senate nominees.

In contrast, the faculty selections of the “committee” comprise 3 unit A non-tenured faculty and 1 unit B full-time lecturer. The average length of service for these four persons (tenure-track for the unit A faculty) is 3.5 years, with the longest service belonging to the unit B lecturer. Overall, the faculty selected by the “committee” to serve on the search averages 6 years of service, with the senior member at Chicago State for 12 years.

University-wide, 28.7 percent of the tenured/tenure-track faculty are currently probationary. When the non-tenured Clinical and Research faculty are added to the total faculty, the percentage of non-tenured unit A faculty rises to 34.1 percent. However, Watson and Zollar insured that 50 percent of the faculty on the presidential search committee were non-tenured. In addition, selecting Jonathan Jackson out of all the unit B faculty at Chicago State seems significant. Other than being a devoted supporter of Wayne Watson and the son of Watson patron Jesse Jackson, what makes Jackson a better candidate than more senior unit B faculty?

There seem to be a number of inferences one could draw from the search committee selection process. First, the Board and Chicago State’s Administration do not think that senior faculty have any role in the selection of the school’s next president. Second, even though the Faculty Senate submitted both the Faculty Senate and Union Local President’s names (based on election results in the College of Arts and Sciences) the “committee” chose neither person. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Board and the administration do not care to have the input of either the democratically elected leader of faculty governance or the democratically elected leader of the local union chapter. In fact, the Board and the administration seem not to understand the importance to a viable process of faculty selection of faculty representatives.

At the beginning of this process, Nikki Zollar emphasized that she had no intention of allowing the Faculty Senate President to serve on the committee, not surprising given the Watson administration’s demonstrated propensity for retaliatory actions. However, as we emphasized in our February letter to Zollar, UPI should have a place in the search for a new university president. Thanks to the administration’s vindictiveness, there are no representatives on this committee from either institution of faculty governance on this campus. Is there any doubt that is by design?

The letter to Zollar included this passage: “The faculty is responsible for the selection of its committee members. This is a fundamental principle of shared governance.” Nikki Zollar and Wayne Watson have ignored this principle. This insures a contentious selection process and the potential for widespread faculty resistance to any candidate selected in such a fundamentally opaque and dishonest way. That is our administration’s choice. So be it.


Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Rigged Presidential Search Begins in Earnest: Nikki Zollar Flips Us the Bird

Silly us in the Faculty Senate. When we received the March memorandum from Nikki Zollar “inviting” us to provide 12 names (two from each college) to serve as members on the Presidential Search Committee, we took it at face value. It seemed a sincere response to the concerns we enumerated in our late February letter to Trustee Zollar. Accordingly, we moved quickly to hold elections in each of the university’s colleges and on March 31, submitted the names of 14 faculty members selected by their peers. Frankly, we were pleased that at least one member of the Board of Trustees seemed interested in faculty concerns. Some of use even dared hope that this search would be different from business as usual at Chicago State.

Today we received the Board’s response. Rather than creating a viable search committee consisting of properly selected faculty members, the Committee Chair extends her middle finger to Chicago State’s faculty in a heartfelt “fuck you.” Here is what the newly conceptualized “search committee” will look like: As a sop to our original concerns, the committee will include 8 faculty members. Originally conceived to consist of 5 faculty, 2 “nominated” by the Faculty Senate and 3 chosen by some other undisclosed method, we now have 8 faculty, four chosen by Chicago State’s faculty, and 4 others apparently to be selected by a person or persons unknown.

Also interesting are the colleges the Committee Chair chose to exclude even though their nominees had been selected in a democratic process. Zollar’s memorandum reveals that the “committee” has chosen one non-tenured Clinical Professor from Pharmacy, one tenured Professor from Education and two tenured Professors from the Library/Counseling Center. Of course, all of these persons were included in the list of nominees selected by their peers (see the list below), but there is no representation at all from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Health Sciences. Perhaps persons from these colleges will be chosen by an anonymous person or persons based on secret criteria.

We have no problem with the four faculty selected since they were all products of a faculty-driven process--although Zollar chose two from the library/counseling component while ignoring three other colleges altogether--but at this point in the “search” process, 128 of the 181 tenured/tenure-track faculty at Chicago State have no representation on the purported “search committee.” That’s 70.7 percent of the tenured/tenure-track faculty at this school. Regardless of the committee’s final composition, 70.7 percent of the university’s tenured/tenure-track faculty will not have a representative democratically elected by her/his peers. They will be hand-picked, undoubtedly by the Chicago State administration.

Of the total complement of 276 full-time faculty at Chicago State (including Clinical/Research unit A and full-time unit B faculty), 202 (73.2 percent) will not have a democratically selected representative on this bullshit committee. Here is the list of nominees submitted by the Faculty Senate and Zollar’s memorandum of April 8, 2014:



It seems obvious that we are going to witness another farcical and corrupt search for another hack to lead Chicago State University. This search process is now hopelessly flawed and no committee containing the majority of its members hand-picked by this failed administration will have any viability. Perhaps there is more at play than just a bogus presidential search. Does anyone see possible retaliation here? After all, by not selecting anyone from Arts and Sciences, Zollar insured that the most prominent source of disaffection with the Watson administration would have no democratically elected member on her committee. She also insured that the Faculty Senate President would not serve on the committee.

For me, this fiasco raises a number of questions. First and foremost, since the faculty is not involved, who is selecting the four other faculty members to serve on this committee? Second, what is the criteria for selection? Third, how have the other members of the committee been selected and by whom? According to the Board, we were to know the identity of the non-faculty members of this committee on March 6. It is now April 9 and still no information seems forthcoming. This search already stinks to high heaven.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

How Chicago State Violates the Freedom of Information Act to Keep Watson's Misdeeds Secret

In the past couple of months, we have obtained a clearer picture of what the Watson administrators actually do during their busy days. We know, of course, that Wayne Watson cannot be bothered with such mundane matters as raising money for the university. After all, he’s too busy berating and intimidating undergraduate students, planning ways to destroy his “enemies,” even if that means “framing” his critics for offenses they did not commit, ordering his subordinates to lie in order to shield him from scrutiny for his various misdeeds, lying under oath, and ultimately costing the university thousands of students and millions of dollars. Even though all the proven liars at Chicago State seem to be in the Cook building, Watson pays a nice salary to his favorite toady, Tommy Wogan, to call everyone a liar who dares bring Watson’s behavior into the light.

The Watson administration, like any group of parasites, intensely dislikes the light. One of the ways they work assiduously to keep their activities secret is through their constant violation of the Ilinois Freedom of Information Act. Not content to merely disobey the law, the Labor and Legal folks at Chicago State, under the guiding hand of Patrick Cage, flout the law in the most outrageous ways. Unfortunately, there seem to be no serious consequences for their actions, a not surprising outcome in a state as corrupt as Illinois.

Illinois FOIA is designed to enable private citizens to keep abreast of the activities of public officials and public bodies. The law takes an expansive view of what constitutes “public” documents and expects public entities to respond within certain time frames to requests for public information. There are simple requirements in FOIA: a public entity has five business days to respond to a FOIA request but may extend the time another five business days. If the requestor receives a denial of a FOIA request or the public entity fails to respond within the statutory limit, the requestor may (within 60 days) file an appeal with the Public Access Counselor. The Public Access Counselor has seven business days to respond and if “further inquiry is warranted” the public entity has seven business days to respond to the Public Access Counselor’s inquiry. Thus, most FOIA requests should result in the requestor receiving public information within a month of the original request. In extreme cases, a binding decision from the Attorney General may be necessary to resolve the matter, but those are rare. A timely response is one of the aims of FOIA.

However, some public entities treat the law as an inconvenient nuisance. Chicago State’s FOIA responses are simply abominable. Since August 2013, I have filed 35 FOIA requests with the university. The legal department has complied with the law five (5) times. On twenty (20) occassions, the university has simply ignored my requests and it has been necessary for me to appeal to the Public Access Counselor eighteen (18) times. Of the last 22 FOIA requests I have filed, the university has not reponded to 16, denied 2, provided documents late 2 times and provided requested documents on time twice. Out of necessity, I appealed thirteen (13) of those 22 requests to the Public Access Counselor.

What does the university gain by these kinds of tactics? In my estimation, Chicago State’s refusal to comply with the FOIA law is simply part of a larger pattern of lawlessness that has resulted in disastrous consequences for the school. At this point, the main goal seems to be delay. An administrator close to Watson told me a few weeks ago that Watson had said the following about the James Crowley case: “fuck Jim Crowley, he’s not getting paid while I’m here.” The longer the university can delay the inevitable, the sooner Watson can walk away with his lavish retirement and leave the smoldering ruins behind him.

Patrick Cage and his legal department operate as if no requests for information are worthy of their consideration. Underscoring an apparent desire to keep the Watson administration’s activities a secret, Cage even ignores existing legal opinion to deny for ridiculous reasons legitimate FOIA requests. Recently, I requested a copy of the contracts between the university and several private law firms. I also requested copies of invoices paid to these firms by the university. The university denied this request although Public Access Opinion 14-002 clearly states that withholding non-exempt information from legal invoices is a “violation” of FOIA, and that “remaining information contained in the legal billing invoices, including general descriptions of the nature of the services . . . and the corresponding dollar amount billed . . . may not properly be withheld under section 7(1)(m).” I guess Mr. Cage, as one of the “top” university general counsels, does not keep up with current legal decisions. (Mr. Cage also seems to have as much trouble with “advice” versus “advise” as he did with “tenants” versus “tenets.”)


You may access the Public Access Opinion here: http://foia.ilattorneygeneral.net/2014binding.aspx

At this point, I am waiting for the university to respond to three outstanding FOIA requests, the request for contracts and invoices for private legal firms being only one. I seem to be under the mistaken impression that the legal expenses incurred by the Watson administration for its various misdeeds should be part of the public discussion about Watson’s utter failure as this university’s president, a failure abetted by a Board of Trustees that continues to abdicate its responsibility for Chicago State’s welfare. By all means let us rig another search to bring another worthless hack into the president’s office. By all means let us allow this administration to hand-pick the search committee, railroad another fraud through the search process and complete the destruction of the school. Truly, it seems that the only reasonable conclusion that can be drawn from the actions of our Board over the past five-plus years is that their goal is the destruction of this university.