Thursday, November 1, 2012

And Anonymous writes...

In case some of you missed the email received and distributed from an Anonymous source this morning I am posting it here.
REMINDER:  there is a UPI meeting this afternoon in SCI 216 at 2 p.m. to discuss the matter of Presidential Performance and a vote of no confidence.
ON Tuesday, Nov. 6th there will be a Senate meeting from 12.30-2 p. m.

An Open Communiqué to Faculty Colleagues at CSU

First, I thank my daughter for the tedious task of cutting a pasting each email address from the CSU employee directory. While she likely missed some I suspect; she did her best. Next, I am grateful to my husband for encouraging me to speak out as part of the too silent majority of faculty at CSU. Note: You have received this email as a “blind copy” to not disclose to anyone that you are a recipient.

I wanted to post this statement on the CSU Faculty Blog since I have been reading it for a long time. However, to my surprise I learned that unless a faculty member at CSU is approved by a few key faculty leaders, one cannot post one’s ideas or opinions. This may be fine for excluding the Administration from posting on the Faculty Voice Blog, but not for faculty—so much for academic free speech between the faculty members.

I Have Been In Bad Company

We are known by the company we keep. I have decided as a Bargaining Unit-A faculty member to disassociate myself with the university politics of Dr. Phillip Beverly and anyone who keeps him in the Faculty Senate. I will tell my department's senators that they are not to cast a single vote for anything that Dr. Beverly proposes before, first, vetting the matter fully with each member of my department's faculty, regardless of whether they are tenure-track or not. In addition, I and several of my departmental colleagues will wait in the tall grass for the next Faculty Senate election to elect peers to replace that extremist gang who currently control our Senate and who represent only themselves and their personalized concerns. We need senators who truly want to engage President Watson and his administration to make CSU what we envision rather than a constant war of words against the President and smears of the reputation of the people that he recruited to help.

I have not come to this place in my mind without thoughtful reflection. I recall the flier that was distributed a few years ago about Dr. Beverly's conduct on and off the campus. I saved my copy and the key concerns raised against him then were:

· Dr. Beverly personally benefited from his relationship with former CSU presidents Drs. Daniel and Cross and never spoke out about the unjustified if not criminal mis-spending during their tenure.

· Dr. Beverly has never fully explained his role regarding the sex tape of former convicted Rep. Mel Reynolds and his role in orchestrating the fake assassination attempt on Mr. Reynolds to avoid prosecution for solicitation of child pornography, among other crimes.

· Who paid Dr. Beverly to attack CSU’s current leadership in this manner? Who are his backers and what is their interest in gaining control over the Institution?

· Has Dr. Beverly (and his supporters) disclosed that they were not able to scare the Board of Trustees into hiring their presidential candidate whose sole management experience was having served on the Faculty Senate? Is this the reason that he and his supporters constantly attack the current CSU president?

· Why does Dr. Beverly spend his class time talking badly about Dr. Watson? Is that what students are registering to be taught?

Draw your own conclusions, however, these were disturbing allegations distributed from outside community people, some of whom were arrested by the Administration. What is it that these community dwellers know or find so disturbing about Dr. Beverly that motivated them to make these allegations (and they are allegations)? At the time, I was absolutely certain that an ethics committee or similarly constituted committee of the Faculty Senate would be empowered to investigate these charges and that the Administration would make available resources--including an attorney--to aid the Senate’s investigation. Those same seven to ten members of the Senate shouted-down anyone who even quietly raised concern about these allegations and the Administration apparently did not want the confrontation with Dr. Beverly and his supporters. That was a mistake by the Senate and the Administration in my opinion.More troubling, however, is that too many of my students also in courses under Dr. Beverly and some (not all) of his fellow Senate leaders continue to complain that, just as last year and the year before, he spends almost all of the class period railing against Dr. Watson and why the President must be fired. They complained of buying an ungodly number of books that they never use in class. They wanted me to do something about it and for a long time I have remained silent because I need my job and need my departmental peers' support to be promoted, some of who seem awfully close to Dr. Beverly (which is why this is sent anonymously). Then, about a month ago, one of my female students asked for my advice about a very personal matter involving a class taught at CSU. She wept as she told me how she needed that and one additional course only taught by this professor to graduate and if she did not give in to her professor's desires for private favors in return for a very good grade, she was told by him that her grade in the current and future course would be not be passing ones. She said that other female students quietly talk about the same dilemma with this professor. At first she refused to tell me who the professor was, but did agree to go to the Counseling Center. About three weeks later, after insisting that I promise to never tell anyone this came from her, she told me the faculty member’s name and it was that of the male whom I view as the most prominent leader among faculty senators. I became angry for not doing something within my power in the past. This is why I am writing this now. I sent a statement to the Ethic Office who I trust will officially investigate it and in it I named the faculty member.I have truly been in the wrong company at CSU. My place should have been with our students and with all of my colleagues—faculty or administration--who are working their hearts out to help them. I am in the right company now.Is CSU Worse Under President Wayne Watson or Actually Better?Last Friday, a colleague whom I trust told me of a confrontation that had happened the day before between Dr. Beverly and Dr. Wayne Watson during a departmental meeting. While Dr. Watson, it was told, was being besieged with one angrily asked question after another from Dr. Beverly, the President said that he continues to be surprised at how he (Dr. Beverly) is constantly at odds with him rather than engaging in a sincere, shared-governance effort. According to the report, Dr. Watson stated that he recalled how Dr. Beverly and he had shared a conversation immediately following Watson’s presidential job interview in 2009 where Dr. Beverly said to him that, "when I learned that the president's job was open, you were the first person who came to mind to fill it. I really want you as the next CSU president. The questions I raised during your interview were just about failures in the process." I was told that Dr. Beverly, upon hearing this account from Dr. Watson, fled from the room, shouting at the President and slamming the door madly—in what was described as a most disrespectful act.Here is the question that lingered in my mind after hearing this account and believing it is reasonable accurate: Why did Dr. Beverly not remain in the meeting and offer his account of the conversation? But, more important: What are the implications if Dr. Watson's account is the truth? That last question caused me to reflect on what positives changes have actually occurred since Dr. Watson became president compared to the frequent criticisms about him as president. Dr. Watson retired after about 30 years (if my memory is correct about news reports at the time) of working for the City Colleges of Chicago and received his earned pension at 65 years old of about $130,000 annually. In addition, he was allowed to retain his life insurance policy and was paid for his un-used leave days about $500,000. The truth is, I too expect to be paid my full earned pension when I retire as a public employee and to be paid for any leave days that I earned and did not use but went to work all of those days instead. I want my life insurance policy too. I feel bad that I did not think of it that way when this was the talk of CSU in 2009. I see more clearly now.Faculty Teaching, Research, and Service Effectiveness. Dr. Watson also was quoted upon his arrival in the newspaper that he wanted to see the faculty improve their work (I forget the exact quote.) I cannot ever recall why that statement made me a bit upset at the time, except that leaders in the Faculty Senate told us that we should be upset. Yet, after reading our department's revised DAC, if I am able to fulfill the requirements well, indeed my work as a faculty member in teaching, research, and service will have improved. I now feel bad that I got upset when we were asked to revise our DAC to make it more rigorous since that is exactly what I ask my students to do with much of their work—"make it better." What made us initially as faculty insist that our DACs, as submitted in May 2012, were perfect? Even after the President approved our revised DAC, I know that we could improve it even more.

I, like many of my departmental colleagues bought into the silliness at the time that the President has no business involved in teaching and learning at the University. If you think about it, however, that is about the strangest assertion one could make about a university president. Who does the Governor, the Legislature, the Courts, taxpayers, students, parents, and alumni hold first among all as accountable for what students learn, know and are able to do while enrolled and after they graduate from Chicago State University? THE PRESIDENT! If any one of us as faculty had that level of scrutiny, we would insist that we make the faculty evaluation process fair but also of sufficient rigor that translates into desirable student learning outcomes. Aside from keeping everyone safe while at work and in school at CSU, making sure that faculty are at the top of their game seems the most important thing that a president can do. Equal to that, of course, is making sure that the Administration has an efficient operation and sufficient resources to support faculty in their duties. I believe I over-reacted to the whole DAC issue. We are learning as we read the HLC Self-Study that faculty and the Administration share responsibility for achieving effective student learning outcomes. Only a responsible faculty evaluation system and resources from the Administration to meet DAC criteria will make this happen. Dr. Watson’s position of requiring increased rigor forced us as faculty to address this much needed improvement in our DACs and now I believe that faculty and thus the University will be stronger for doing it. Now, the Administration must supply the resources we need to perform.The student who introduced Dr. Watson at Convocation said something of the sort—that she knows that the President is taking hits in the teeth; but, the first guy through the wall always gets bloodied. It is unfortunate that Dr. Watson has to get beaten-up for doing things or taking positions that his predecessors would not—but things that we need to do. I do not mind so much that he has gotten a bit bloodied. He applied for the job and he appears to be the tough-minded person CSU needs at this time in our history. I also hope that he remains healthy because he is over 65, I believe it was reported, and that he will work in a fair-mined way with all of us (employees and students) to improve the Institution. We all should wish him well and he should always have our best welfare uppermost on his mind.Suspending Poor Performing Students. In 2011, at first I did not like the fact that Dr. Watson made a decision to put those 650 or so students out of school. I do not know if I could have made that decision. However, it showed me as a faculty that he expected students to meet our standards. I have worked here almost eleven years and never before had any leader--president, provost, VP, dean, or department chair showed such decisiveness. In fact, I now feel encouraged to know that if any of my students do not meet the standards that I set for the course, I have the President's support if I fail them. In the past, we allowed students to hang out on campus and collect student aid regardless of their academic standing. Those days are over since CSU now adheres to its standards.I listened to Dr. Watson during convocation list the twenty or more things that had been done since he arrived. It is easy to not notice this change, yet it exists and the campus feels like it has a forward momentum—at last. He said that we did these things together, and I suppose he is right; but, I wondered if we would have ever even tried to do any of those things if we had not been pushed to do them by him and by some of the people he brought in to help. My classrooms are cleaner; my building is cleaner; the traffic lines are shorter each morning. I even received a CTRE grant to travel and enhance my research program; and this is the first time that I ever took part in establishing our department's budget and planning. One can feel the forward momentum.

Do I think Dr. Watson is arrogant? Yes, at times; but most leaders are. Do I think he should listen more and talk less—especially during town hall meetings, or just one-on-one? Yes. Do I think the people he brought in make too much money? No, not really as long as they continue to get things done that have been overlooked here for decades and if they are working very long days, nights, and weekends--and if they are truly solving the great problems that have held CSU back since I arrived in 2004 and well-before.

Quite frankly, if someone is earning $125K/yr., that equates to $93.7K/yr. on a nine months scale (which is more than I make). However, if as it appears that typically our top administrators work about 72 hours/week, then at an annual salary of about $125K, one is actually being paid at about $25 per/hour. At that $25/hr. rate, these administrators’ actual earnings are probably diminished by 1/2 due to working long hours. As for me, I just want to earn more too, but I doubt that I could commit to those long hours.

Thinking as a Responsible College Professor Must

What I have decided to do is to apply basic principles of critical thinking and analysis to the case that Dr. Beverly and his followers continue to make to fire Dr. Wayne Watson. We should apply these principles to the case to retain Dr. Beverly and his followers too as faculty senators.As faculty, we should be committed to perfections of thought such that workable standards of analysis are self-evident. It is easy to often find ourselves taking a position without reflectively engaging in dialogue based on critical analysis.

The essential process of critical analysis involves first understanding the other person's basic beliefs. Yet, to understand whether to accept your beliefs, I have to understand what supports them, specifically what reasons, evidence, and experiences you would cite to support them. Thinking about these reasons, evidence and experiences I should look for assumptions you may have made as you thought out your reasons, gathered your evidence, and interpreted your experience. You may have taken something for granted which should have been questioned. You may have assumed when you should have verified or tested. Furthermore, I cannot understand your thoughts unless I know your purposes and goals. What are you trying to accomplish and under what conditions and constraints? How are you conceiving the issue(s) or problem(s)? Are there other ways to conceive them? What ideas or concepts are you using? What are the relationships between them? How do you apply them? Are you applying them appropriately?

Then, where is your thinking taking us, what are its implications and consequences? If we accept this or that of what you claim, what else are we committed to accepting? What are some of the practical consequences that follow this acceptance?

Finally, within what point of view or frame of reference are you thinking? Are you looking at the problem from the perspective of a particular academic discipline (biology, psychology, anthropology), or with a special focus (moral, economic, political)? Are you thinking within the perspective of some ideology or overarching system of beliefs (as a Christian, Muslim, Capitalist, Marxist)? Your point of view serves as a screen and selective organizer of thought and information. I should notice how your point of view is structuring your thought. Finally, I should notice how mine is doing the same.As I apply this critical thinking process—a process that each of us as CSU faculty are obligated to follow before reaching conclusions in an intellectually honest way— I have reached this conclusion about Dr. Beverly and his supporters and Dr. Watson: Dr. Beverly and the very small group who supports him do not accept Wayne Watson as a legitimate president of CSU. They have made public and private statements suggesting that he is mentally shallow; that he wants to hire only blacks; that he is an autocrat; that the Board of Trustees had no right to hire him; that he hates shared governance; that he hires cronies; that he is arrogant to a fault and never listens. Let us analyze those key ones among these charges. He completed his degrees, through the PHD, at Northwestern University. To the degree that Northwestern confers PHDs to mentally shallow graduates, Dr. Watson could certainly be among them. What evidence do we have of Dr. Watson’s mental shallowness? Have we studied his dissertation? What are we using to draw these inferences? Is this claim based on any racial or ethnic biases we ourselves my hold, knowingly or unknowingly? As we consider our choices, do we want the President to be a Nobel Prize winner in his discipline or someone who has the political juice to get sufficient money appropriated from the State Legislature to pay our salaries and keep the campus facilities operating? Obviously, we could have both, but that is rarely if ever the case at resource-strained public universities. Has the President hired only blacks since he arrived? I do not know the answer to that, as I do not have access to the evidence. However, the last three hires that serve on the President’s Executive Council are ones that I can recall. He hired a former provost as the chief of staff who is black; a white Irish coach as the athletics director, and as CIO an Indian from the corporate arena. I remember those. He also brought with him from City Colleges the general counsel whom I learned was an established litigator or note; a VP for enrollment management with a long-term tenure as the No.2 leader of an institution with ten times CSU’s budget and staff; and a former judge as our ethics director. I suspect he wanted some people working with him that he knew-as presidents and CEOs tend to do. Yet, what I believe displays most Dr. Watson’s character is that he kept the Provost and most deans and chairs from the previous administration, to the best of my memory. From everything that I have seen, these former City College executives are well-credentialed for their assignments and are tackling many problems here that have been ignored—problems that I have complained about—especially related to more selective admissions standards and practices; increasing graduation rates (the President stated the rate increased by 50% in two years); establishing a brand that is uniquely CSU and marketing it with billboards, radio, and TV; offering interesting activities for students; creating a true climate and culture of ethical behavior; and establishing with our union a new faculty contract.It is never healthy for a collegiate work environment for race-based accusations to be made in the first place; or to smear the reputations of people just to make political points. One thing is obvious from the evidence: CSU serves about 80% black students so I suspect that we need a representative number of capable black employees in every component of the university. I am of Eastern European ancestry and I still believe that this perspective is the rational one.I believe that there is a tendency for all presidents (of colleges, companies, charities, churches, congregations, etc.) to be autocratic to some degree. Since I do not work directly with Dr. Watson, it is not easy to tell his leadership or management style. He does, however, have a specific point of view about how he wants CSU to run. He can talk endlessly about his plans and ambitions for CSU—as we have learned from Town Hall meetings— and does so without giving little time to listen to the ideas of others--at least in meetings that I have attended. Yet, he keeps an open door, I am told. For myself, I have not had a critical issue other than wanting a salary increase that one day may lead me to seek an audience with him. Still, our departmental Faculty Senate representative informed us that Dr. Beverly and other officers now have monthly meetings with the Administration and that the President’s Office reports to them in writing on actions taken to address any concerns raised. This sharing of concerns and follow-up action is new at CSU.The charge that he hired his cronies, I believe, came from the hiring--according to Dr. Beverly and his followers--of three new faculty members to teach in the criminal justice degree program. Dr. Beverly asserts that Dr. Watson arranged to hire two lawyers and one Ph.D holder to teach in the program which, according to what is posted in the online CSU Fact Book has by far the largest enrollment at the institution, doubling its closest rival. Dr. Beverly and others further assert that the Administration did not allow faculty to take part in the search and selection process, according to two colleagues who attended last week's meeting between the Department and Dr. Watson. The Administration stated, according to reports, that it will provide the printed findings to faculty of its investigation conducted by the Human Resources director--once any personnel related data is redacted, if redacting needed to protect privacy of employees. Let us wait to see if the Administration follows through on this commitment. If the Administration hired faculty without giving faculty members the opportunity to take part in the selection process, then Dr. Watson should explain to the Department and the Faculty Senate what was done or planned to make certain that this does not happen again. And it must not happen again.It is important to note that Dr. Beverly and his supporters do not assert that the three faculty members who were hired are without sufficient credentials to be tenure-track faculty members of the criminal justice program. I did a Google search on the two lawyers and one is nationally eminent in criminal and civil rights law; the other is listed among Chicago's top criminal lawyers. The PHD holder, according to colleagues, is equally qualified and well-prepared in the discipline. What is disturbing is that the very public ways in which Dr. Beverly and others are smearing these new faculty members’ reputation is not only placing all faculty members who participate in that exercise at risk of being named in lawsuits, but making it difficult for these new hire colleagues to have a fair tenure and promotion process by their peers. That is unfair and I will not have anything to do with it. Did our Faculty Senate leaders not notice that these new hires are litigators?

Dr. Beverly, in talking to faculty about this maintains that it is not the people hired that his group opposes; it is the process used to hire them. Ironically, this is what Dr. Watson said that Dr. Beverly used as his reason for attacking him during Watson's presidential interview in 2009—“the process,” according to those I spoke to with knowledge about last week's meeting of the criminal justice, philosophy, and political science department.

Finally, under the leadership of the new Faculty Senate President, Dr. Beverly, we are told that because some members of the Faculty Senate assert that Dr. Watson hired three faculty members without faculty involvement in the search process, the faculty should hold a No-Confidence Vote on Dr. Wayne Watson as president of CSU. While this over-reach by the Administration may be found to be factually correct, we cannot reach any credible conclusion until we at least see the findings of the investigations from our Human Resources department--which some may hail as biased towards the Administration's perspective--yet those of us with calmer minds must maintain appropriate restraint since that department gets our paychecks and retirement correct month after month while keeping our personal matters private--including those of Dr. Beverly and his supporters, and Dr. Watson.

NOTE: If anyone has received a copy of the response regarding this matter that I am told that Dr. Kelly Harris wrote to Dr. Beverly and Dr. Walter, please forward it to me for I very much wish to read it. I am told that he wrote something quite remarkable which gave voice to those of us who are often quiet on these matters.What is a bit troubling is that it seems a bit opportunistic on the part of Dr. Beverly and his supporters in the Faculty Senate to intentionally embarrass Dr. Watson at the very moment that HLC is visiting CSU to examine its management, teaching, student learning, and support services against tough new re-accreditation criteria. Far too much is at stake, in my opinion, to be involved in a gamesmanship from anyone—including the Faculty Senate or the Administration. We must also recall that those who asserted to the Faculty time and time again that they never wanted Dr. Watson as president are unrelentingly leading this effort to pressure the Board of Trustees to fire him. Like most who are employed as faculty or staff, I do not have the luxury of taking part in a frivolous power plays that defame newly hired faculty members, as I need my job and I equally like my career at CSU. I like where the campus is headed and, like Dr. Watson stated at Convocation, he has not achieved by himself the progress we now observe. It has taken the efforts of us all.We are all known by the company we keep. I believe that I am in good company with my colleagues in my department who come to work to help give our students the best chance at a college degree and a ticket to a better life. I appreciate the opportunity to work at a campus that would hire such competent and caring faculty, and while--like me--all of them are not perfect, they get their jobs done. I have come to feel the same way, over time, about Dr. Watson—and the people that he brought to CSU to work in his administration. While they too are not perfect, I see them as hard-working and as fellow employees giving their best efforts while responding to the great expectations from us all to make institutional systems and processes more effective. We can work as faculty and administration to resolve our differences though meaningful dialogue driven by critical analysis. While, as faculty we should expect and demand solutions, not excuses from the Administration, we must also continue to be willing to work things out with Dr. Watson and this team through intellectual honesty, integrity, and civility. I believe that, finally, we have forward momentum in this regard at CSU. Because of this, Dr. Watson and his administration still have my confidence and I remain pleased to be in their company as well.

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