Thursday, May 24, 2012


The HLC Committee has been encouraging "college employees" to complete the Noel Levitz "COLLEGE EMPLOYEE SATISFACTION SURVEY". Some colleagues have mentioned to me that they are afraid to fill it out for fear that it is not truly confidential and that there would be retaliation against them by the Admin (Cook offices and beyond) and our culture of rule by personal loyalty. This is a telling point that the committee might want to make note of --the campus climate of fear that faculty full and part-time don't even want to complete a survey to discuss how the culture of fear pervades the place! This is compounded by apathy where there is a strong feeling among many faculty that "no matter what I say "they" will go ahead and do whatever "they" want anyway." Both are still true, unfortunately, in spite of some strides made in the areas of shared governance and transparency of action over the past year. I am forwarding this message from Sarah Austin of the HLC Committee. She assures me that the test is completely confidential and that CSU administrators will not see personal info. In other words, do not fear retaliation.

From Sarah:
Subject: Re: PLEASE complete the HLC: College Employee Satisfaction Survey

PLEASE spread the word that the link goes DIRECTLY to Noel Levitz (tell them to watch the web address when you are directed to the survey)

Noel Levitz does NOT save any info about people who do the survey, and the ONLY identifying info that they record is:

Are you

- Part time or Full time

- Staff, Faculty, or an Administrator

We really need folks who have taken it to tell others that this is important and that it IS confidential.

Noel Levitz Link is posted here:

Monday, May 14, 2012

Highlights and lowlights from the Board of Trustees Meeting

In the swirl of finals, grading, and end of year reports that have absorbed faculty and students there has been a lot going on around us on campus—some of this comes up at the Board of Trustees meeting some of it does not. Here are some highlights from the public part of the BOT meeting on Friday that I gleaned. Please feel free to add commentary if anyone else was there who has something to add:

  1. We are again short one board member—a resignation, can’t remember which one at the moment. Not sure when that replacement will be made. Maybe this is the time to rally for a Faculty trustee?
  2. The Civil Service Employees, particularly the janitorial staff who work all around us are facing a loss of a paycheck in June because of a reordering/changeover of their payment schedules. If I understand correctly they had been getting paid one week in advance. In order to adjust this so that they work 2 weeks and then get paid, a pay period has to be missed. After some negotiation with Human Resources, the employees will be “loaned” a check in June and have deductions made over 6 pay periods. It seemed a reasonable solution until a couple of members of the civil service staff spoke out during the public comment period and asked, “were there Union Representatives at these negotiations with Human Resources?” The question went unanswered, no union representatives spoke up, and the follow-up question was met with more silence: “Is it legal?” I wonder what the answer is.  It was nice to see the Library Auditorium harboring a contingent of the greenshirts of our workers alongside the suits for a change at this Board meeting. I wonder, however, if anyone noticed them leave en masse at one point. I hope they get the answers they need.
  3. Another thing that came out was that a contingent of Civil Service employees lunched with the Trustees on Friday which continues the Trustees’ attempts to reach out to all sectors of the university—faculty, staff, students. At the last Board meeting, some members of the Faculty Senate met with the Trustees.
  4. President Watson gave his report praising “Dr. Henderson” (is she a doctor now?) of Enrollment Management on the aggressive marketing and the improved statistics she has made in various areas—I couldn’t keep up with all the numbers. Did I hear our grad rate moved from 14% to 21% in a 2-year period? Did I hear that we would be at a 25% grad rate in May 2013 for first-time/full-time freshmen? Sounds good, I think, at least it will keep the Trustees happy. The word “branding” was bandied about (as usual). And Dr Watson owned up to working “quite a bit toward shared governance” although he provided no examples of this.
  5. New Senate President Phillip Beverly gave a Senate report making reference to the Senate’s dismay over that shambles of a “Communications Policy” that was issued this spring on the heels of the computer usage policy. Since Dr Watson has been invoking his absolute right not to hire a department’s faculty search choices if he does not deem them worthy of employment at CSU (e.g. “I am the great and powerful wizard of Oz”), the Senate expressed its dismay over this failure to let faculty, who know their own disciplines and departments better than he does, have a say in the hiring of their colleagues. Faculty at CSU, if you remember, do not have a right even to RANK candidates of their job searches and the Union failed to bring this to the table in the last negotiation. Dr Watson claims the right to review ALL the application files and turn away finalists. I understand he wants to see “writing samples” from incoming faculty—hello, we call these articles and books at the university-level. Is this all just part of the CEO’s micromangerial style we’ve heard about? Or, is he afraid we will be hiring too many more potentially disgruntled white faculty to add to the cadre of those he famously attributes the last few years of apple-cart upsetting on campus? So the Senate is on record at least of calling attention to various departments’ unhappiness about their overturned searches and while no one is against the checks and balances that any institution needs to have, the overreach of the executive authority into academic matters is taking on unfortunately high proportions.
  6. Public Comment. Oy veh.
It is interesting that some students accomplished what is usually a faculty-based action and offered to the Board of Trustees a petition of about 150 names citing “no confidence” in President Watson and his regime. The spokesperson cited several examples of Dr Watson failing them and recalled a quote from Oliver Cromwell of all people (certainly not my favorite historical figure) to the Rump Parliament of 1653: "YOU HAVE BEEN SAT TO LONG HERE FOR ANY GOOD YOU HAVE BEEN DOING. DEPART, I SAY, AND LET US HAVE DONE WITH YOU. IN THE NAME OF GOD, GO!."

A second student spoke to the Trustees as the guardians of the university who needed to pay attention to the internal crises on campus. To Dr Watson he said that he must seriously seek the support of faculty and students because “you cannot steer this ship alone” and finally he asked, “do you believe faculty have control over curriculum matters?” The question was left to be answered at another time and place. These “students” by the way, are grown men who have a certain amount of age and experience behind them. They were not the typical students that that cadre of 4 or 5 disgruntled white faculty members are usually accused of manipulating. I was surprised and impressed as I have been so often by CSU students.

The meeting ended shortly afterward, but clearly the discussion is not over.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reminder: Board of Trustees Meeting on Friday

The last meeting of CSU's Board of Trustees will be on Friday, May 11th. Even though it's a busy time of year it's important to be aware of what is happening at our university. The Library Auditorium on the 4th Floor is the usual venue, after 12 or 1 p.m. for public comment.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

CSU in the News--we must be rich!!

A friend sent this link today from the Daily Herald and asks the question:  "CSU gets 2% of the take at this casino. What is being done with that revenue?"

I guess this is an argument for keeping CSU at the status of an Illinois patronage pit (assuming we don't aspire to much more than that). This deal was cut some time ago, I believe. Without political connections we'd never have gotten this benefit. I wonder though, was it--is it-- worth it?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A few bits and pieces

So I want to extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to Dr. Yan Searcy for his service to the Faculty Senate as its President, to the University as an exemplary scholar and to the larger  community in his work with young people. He announced at the April meeting  his resignation to pursue an administrative post where I am sure he will be outstanding. Faculty moving to administration is an archaic phenomenon that has some merit even in the 21st Century.  In the wake of his departure Professor Toth and Drs. Raynovich and Kuzdale were elected to form the Executive Committee along with your humble narrator succeeding Dr. Searcy as President.

CSU, along with all of the state universities have been receiving a repeat audit finding because faculty at state universities have declined to be treated like minimum wage Wal-Mart greeters by accounting for their time. The university has decided to implement a web based time keeping system for faculty. It will account for our normal time and exception time, e.g. bereavement leave. The Director of Human Resources asked for feedback from the Faculty Senate prior to implementation. I suspect that faculty feedback will be productive in implementing this new policy. The surprising thing was that the Senate was informed that the UPI agreed to this new process last year. To say that many Senators were surprised that the Union agreed to this system and not inform the membership or request some discussion would be understatement.

May 17th will mark the Spring Commencement at the Jones Convocation Center. For faculty interested in being faculty marshals please contact me at The faculty marshals lead the graduates into the hall during the processional and lead them out during the recessional. We are anticipating that we will stay in integrity around time and that all participants that have speaking roles will be mindful of the time graduates expect to spend on the ceremony.

Finally, I want to congratulate all the union members elected in the recent election. I also want to thank all those who stood for election offering to serve. I am sure all of the membership is eagerly awaiting the results, including ballots cast and candidate totals. It is my understanding that the Chapter presidents will have the results and determine how to disseminate those results to their respective members. I am hopeful those results will be published on this blog.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Independent Student Union TEACH IN Thursday, May 3rd 12-4 p.m.

I am posting this on behalf of CSU's Independent Student Union who are sponsoring a Teach-In on campus this week:
Attention CSU Community

Thursday, May 3rd, 12pm-4pm

SUB Conference Rooms A, B, C

Come out and hear students and professors discuss:

Shared Governance 
Campus Atmosphere

This event is aimed at interjecting new beliefs and perspectives into the CSU community.

We want to promote discussion around things like faculty, student and staff consideration around decision-making that affects the university, the adequacy of CSU facilities and resources, and the source of the inactivity of the majority of the members of the CSU community.

This discussion can be the start of something so come join us while we work collaboratively to better CSU.


Our Ideas and Voices Together Are The Compass to Success!