Wednesday, August 26, 2009

We're back...

The placid atmosphere at CSU since the aborted August 3rd "meet and greet" of the Trustees' flunky Wayne Watson, now termed "president-elect," should not be mistaken for docility or reconciliation on the part of the faculty, staff, or students. While there have not been many posts this month to this blog, a lot has been going on behind the scenes.

Watson, who is not to take office until October 1st, has been parading around campus, speaking at orientation, visiting dorm rooms, essentially calling the shots with or for Trustee Leon Finney (it's really hard to distinguish between them or to say who is really running CSU) since July. All this seems at best to be inappropriate action for someone whose job doesn't begin until October 1st. Watson claims he is "volunteering." Hmmm. At worst, it may be a violation of SURS and the board's own contract with him.

But I'm not here to go into those details right now. I do want to alert people that there has been a lot going on on our campus all summer and that those of us sickened by the Trustees' continued interference in the day to day workings of CSU and their contempt for the faculty, staff, and students that led them to give away our presidency to a politically- connected crony, will continue to be investigated and discussed in this blog.

I will also mention that at this time the student newspaper Tempo is on hiatus, hopefully not for too long, for a number of reasons. The on-line student paper, The Cougar Chronicle, however, has returned and its first issue is just out and accessible at See this issue for Yan Searcy's eloquent statement to the university community as we begin this school year. And the Cougar Chronicle trumpets the not-yet president Watson as "The Great Conciliator." We'll see.

a bientot

Friday, August 7, 2009

And the beat goes on.......

So, the first week of the new regime is over, well sort of. Below is the text of an email message sent by the Faculty Senate President Yan Searcy.

"Greetings Senators!

At a 9am conference call of the President's Executive Council, The Board of Trustees Choice for President of Chicago State University, Dr. Wayne Watson, was introduced as
"President Elect."

This was found to be a curious title. The contract of Dr. Watson allegedly states that his term as president was to begin on August 1st . After inquiry, it was discovered that the signatory on university related business remains Dr. Westbrooks. In addition it was found that Dr. Watson's monetary compensation is to begin on October 1st.

It is unclear why this is the case. Rumors have surfaced and some have suggested that this may be related to retirement pension issues. If this is indeed the case, then any type of compensation on the part of Dr. Watson would bring up ethical, legal, and professional concerns related to the state retirement pension system. State housing and state vehicle use are considered compensation. Again, we are unclear of the rationale. We do not wish to operate in a culture of rumor.

In addition, it is unclear what the responsibilities of a "President Elect" are. It is unclear whether the directives of a" President Elect" are binding.

Senators at this important juncture (at the start of a new school year and the beginning of a new presidential term) the university community must gain clarity, particularly as ethical concerns continue to plague the leadership of CSU.

In service,

Yan Searcy
CSU Faculty Senate President"

So the the first question I want answered is who is the president? Being unclear about who is in charge diminishes further the reputation of the institution. As Yan points out in his message, are any of the directives binding. For example, the number of personnel actions that have taken place in the past few weeks may actually have been illegal.

There was a possibility that the new regime would have started off on a high note with a meet and greet on Monday morning. About fifteen minutes prior to the start of the event the university community was notified that event was canceled without explanation. Rumors began to surface almost immediately, including a very plausible one that the 'President Elect" was summoned to Federal District Court to appear as a defendant in his most recent wrongful termination lawsuit. That would be the lawsuit referenced by my colleague on Monday.

A second, also plausible explanation, is that the "PE" could not participate in any activity which would indicate his acceptance of employment in a State University Retirement System (SURS) institution. So was the recent inspection of the university dormitory by the "PE" an activity indicating his acceptance of employment prior to the legally required period of no employment. I can fully understand wanting to make a good impression on the students in the residence hall, but wasn't the real reason for the inspection to get the dorms in top shape for the students from Mississippi Valley State who will be participating in the Bud Biliken Parade tomorrow? Was the continuous back and forth about the parade an indicator that the "PE" was actually serving in an official capacity? Was the installation of a telecommunication system at the official residence an indication of acting in an official capacity? Were the numerous meetings and requests for information from the "PE" as far back as May an indicator of acting in an official capacity? Who was responsible for giving the movers instructions about what furniture was to go where in the official residence? Was it the "PE"'s official cheerleader and chief sycophant, someone rumored to now be in charge of the marketing efforts for the university. The University Legal Counsel's office has not responded to my Freedom of Information Act requests in the legally mandated time period. What is the "PE" and his masters on the BOT hiding? Will we find out that what we are seeing is simply a continuation of the malfeasance and incompetence of the BOT manifested in the flawed hiring process of the "PE"?

Maybe a visit by 75-100 faculty to Governor Quinn's office will at least get a commission formed to investigate the activities of the university board of trustees. Or should we have something a bit less important like an influence peddling scandal. Oh wait, that's what we have. Go figure.

As usual I welcome any comments to clear up the proliferation of rumors surrounding our university.

Stay tuned!

Monday, August 3, 2009

The Latest on Wayne Watson

I had been thinking about posting something on my experience doing research while at CSU, and the importance of the summer for getting substantial research done. You know, to try to add another conversation to this faculty blog to reflect the diversity of our work as faculty members at CSU. But, then I saw these articles in both the Chitown Daily News and the Capitol Fax Blog, which report that WYCC, the City College's public television station, is the subject of a state ethics investigation as well as a federal law suit for allegedly producing free videos for politicians who were friends of then-Chancellor Watson.

Some choice bits from the Chitown Daily News: "The Daily News learned of the investigation from a July 15 internal e-mail titled "Meeting regarding Ethics Report." The e-mail was sent by LaDonna Perry, who works in the ethics office, to WYCC's general manager and to a college vice president who oversees the station at Kennedy-King College. The e-mail highlights more than a half-dozen issues and criticisms contained in an "Ethics Report." The report lists at least 15 programs that were never broadcast and were allegedly "distributed only to friends and associates of the Chancellor." The programs showcasing Jones included “Emil Jones fundraiser,” “Emil Jones State Senate California Trip,” "Emil Jones St. Francis Hospital" and four editions of "Emil Jones Golf Promo."Other programs included “Jesse Jackson Birthday Party" in 2006 and “Todd Stroger Registration Event” in 2004."

And, just slightly later in the article: "The e-mail also mentions Maria Moore, the former WYCC general manager who took issue with the Chancellor's request "to have WYCC assist with filming the Jesse Jackson birthday video …" Moore sued the City Colleges in federal court last week, saying that she was fired in 2007 after she voiced concerns about the television station being used for political ends."

And, then here's the substance of Moore's lawsuit: "“Each time Dr. Moore voiced her concerns to Chancellor Watson, he told her ‘I’ve heard your concerns. You’re wrong, I’m not asking you to do anything unethical. Do what I tell you to do or I’ll have you fired for insubordination,’” the lawsuit reads. Finally, the lawsuit says, she was fired in late 2007 after she was denied a medical leave, even though she had a letter from her doctor."

Perhaps it's time to renew calls to Gov. Quinn and others to act quickly and decisively before the fall semester starts. In the words of the title of the article from the Capitol Fax Blog, "Just when you think you’ve seen it all…"