Sunday, December 6, 2009

News and notes....

So is it true that our fair university has taken a page from the corporate world’s playbook and moved us into the realm of mergers and acquisitions. To wit, is it true that Chicago State University is merging with Daley College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago in a heretofore unprecedented ultra articulation agreement? The proposal which has not been formally presented to the Faculty Senate for its consideration is but the first step in the assimilation of CSU into the Chicago City Colleges in some 21st Century higher education hybrid. Your humble narrator can only hope that the university administration has done its due diligence by thoroughly investigating whether this ‘merger’ needs approval by either the Illinois Board of Higher Education or the North Central Association; whether the Illinois House or Senate Higher Education Committees need to investigate this process; whether the university Board of Trustees needs to approve the agreement; or whether the faculty of the university will be consulted given the clear curricular implications of such a merger. If the administration has not received in writing, the blessings of the aforementioned bodies, then they have demonstrated a deplorable degree of negligence that continues to engender a lack of confidence in those associated with the university. If all of those agencies have given their blessing, why has there been no public discussion of such a major change in the operation of the university? Is this project an indicator of a more opaque communication process than the prior administration? Is there something in this merger that is being deliberately hidden from the faculty? It is time for the Faculty Senate to demand information on the university’s first foray the mergers and acquisitions world.

So our women's basketball season is off and running. The Ladies played at a tournament at the United States Air Force Academy this past weekend. They will be off during finals week but will have their next home game on December 17th against Akron. Unfortunately for some that is the same night as the Commencement. How are the women going to play a home game in the Jones Convocation Center if the Commencement is scheduled for the same night? The short answer is that they won’t. They will play at the Jacoby Dickens Building in a clearly inferior athletic facility. The real down side is that the university is now liable for a $10,000 penalty for breach of contract with Akron because the contract the university signed months ago stipulated that the game be played in the JCC. Because the university could not de-conflict its events and schedule the commencement for Saturday we will now pay our opponent to come and play against us. I would think some administrator would have caught this and saved the university $10,000. How much athletic equipment could have been purchased for that amount?

So has anything really changed after the trumpeting of new leadership by of BOT chair, who by the way has some interesting financial challenges outside of the university.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CSU ≠ Southside Community College

Sunday's New York Times (Nov. 28th 2009) brought this article edited by the Chicago News Cooperative: "Chicago News Cooperative: Problems and Discontent Bedevil Chicago State"

The story has been "bedeviling" the Administration for the past few days. One can almost hear the condemnations of "the white-controlled media" ringing through the corridors of the Cook Building. It must be quite stinging after the love letter Wayne Watson and Leon Finney received in the Chronicle of Higher Ed two weeks ago. Blumenstyk's article there is so highly esteemed by the CSU powers that be that it is posted on the mainpage of the CSU website! Of course, no faculty or representatives from the Faculty Senate were quoted in that unbalanced portrait.

Granted, the NY Times article itself meanders from Convocation center costs to graduation rates and is bedeviled (word of the day) by its own inaccuracies. Are budget cuts so severe that there are no fact checkers left in journalism? Wayne Watson has not been president of CSU since 2008, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee resigned in April 2009, not in July 2008. These are journalism 101 failings. And yet one cannot dismiss the article merely on these points.

The most interesting comment comes from our own alumnus, Sen. Edward Maloney, and gives one a glimmer of hope that someone in the Illinois State political web cares a little bit about what is happening with us. It's the first public stand I've seen him take since a contingent from the CSU Faculty Senate and Alumni Association met with him in June to discuss the problems connected to CSU's flawed presidential search. It seems Sen. Maloney does not share Trustee Finney's desire to lower standards in order to raise enrollment. And he disagrees with Pres. Watson on Rickey Hendon's west-side pork project to build a CSU extension campus over there. More importantly, he sees CSU as a state university, not a "south-side university," let alone an extension of the Chicago City colleges. Thank God someone in politics has said it. And considering what I've heard about CSU linking up with Daley College, I hope Sen. Maloney will be true to his words. But more on that later.

Here are Sen. Maloney's comments:

...But State Senator Edward D. Maloney, Democrat of Chicago, a Chicago State graduate and chairman of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee, said improving the university’s graduation rate should be at the top of the list.

“They have to raise standards, be aggressive about recruiting quality kids who are going to graduate,” Mr. Maloney said. “It’s a state university, not a South Side university.”
Dr. Watson supports a move initiated by State Senator Rickey R. Hendon, Democrat of Chicago, to create a $40 million Chicago State satellite campus on the city’s West Side. Mr. Maloney opposes the proposal.

“I will do whatever I can to see that doesn’t happen until there is some proof at the current campus that there’s a willingness to improve,” Mr. Maloney said. “I can’t see anyone appropriating that kind of money for another campus when the current one clearly is not fulfilling its responsibility.”