"Just what happened here?" was the first question raised in the public comment period after this morning and afternoon's Board of Trustees meeting. And what an appropriate question it was. The tee-shirt should read:
"I Waited Over 5 hours to Hear the Board Enforce its Right to Name the President of Chicago State University and All I Got Was This Lousy Delay"
Or better yet: "I'm With Stupid" (take that to mean the Board or Watson I'm now thinking they are the flip side of the same coin).
Since he had been hired at the behest of Emil Jones (one of those "known secrets") Chicago State's very own "godfather" as Elnora Daniel always called him, Watson and his supporters brought him back to speak on his behalf. Just one pol to another. The spectacle of politicans and Watson's upper administrators swanning around the fourth floor of the library just underscored what I and others have said for years: CSU is run by politicians for political patronage and clearly they want to keep it that way. Victor Henderson, Dr Watson's personal attorney, is the husband of Dr Watson's crony hire, Angela Henderson, formerly of Chicago City Colleges. Besides keeping his wife employed, Dr Watson still owes him bigtime for his brilliance at being able to upset what had clearly been a sweetheart of a deal that the Board offered to Watson if he would leave.
Henderson's comments to the press painting Dr Watson as the paragon of virtue standing high above those evil trustees Rozier and Scott who only wanted him out for political reasons. Watson the paragon of virtue who would not acquiesce to their continued badgering of him to hire their friends. Watson the paragon of virtue who, although he himself was hired as a patronage appointment, who, although he himself has hired a long list of his own friends (dare I add lovers?) of varying competencies and placed many of them in 6-figure salaries (reread some earlier blogs on these folks), this Watson paragon of virtue was scanadalized at what Rozier and Scott allegedly had asked him to do. Brilliant Mr Henderson, but not all that original to use a ploy that is as old as the city of Chicago: turn your client into the righteous victim by deflecting the long list of his shortcomings and quasi-legal actions onto his critics.
And spare no one. In the new Henderson narrative Drs. Beverly and Westbrooks are thrust into Watson's righteous sword for immorality and fiscal malfeasance respectively. Such a conspiracy? Board members against him. His own provost vying for his job. A few disgruntled faculty all in league with the others in attacking the paragon of virtue Watson who is merely trying to "change the culture of the place. And anytime you do that you are bound to bump up against opposition..."
Anyone who read the scandal sheet that was sent out this week --whether it was signed or not by Watson, it is clearly from his side-- should have recognized the document and its companion piece (the scurrilous attack on Dr Beverly that had been handed out on campus from some friends of the Watson party) for the intimidation tactic that it was.
Too bad for the rest of us that it worked.
The Board should have stood down this attack by Henderson and Watson in no uncertain terms. Why they want to negotiate with this kind of challenge to their authority is beyond me. Or maybe it is not. I'm left with the heartsick notion that it was telling that the glowing remarks on Wayne Watson's leadership came not from Dr Watson's academic peers, but from politicians. In other cases I have seen where a President and Board have been at odds the Presidents are bolstered by their fellow scholars and possibly other university presidents. I do not believe there was one person today who got up to recite Dr Watson's intellectual contribution to his field, nor to gush over him as a learned man deserving of respect for what he represents and what he lends to the academic life of the university he leads. What it was that one heard was from politicians and some members of the community disconnected from the life of the university--were slogans, political slogans, those are his praises.
Dr Watson does not, nor has his administration ever, signalled a change for the university that his lawyer Henderson has crowed about this week. No matter how many bathrooms he keeps clean or lights he keeps on in the buildings or shuttle buses he runs or however much fiddling he might like to do to faculty schedules and student requirements, he represents the status quo. His party, his supporters moving in and maintaining their own power to deliver contracts, to pillage and plunder the university through patronage hiring, this whole Chicago way, is the culture that needs change. The politicans with godfather Emil Jones at the helm that were brought in to surround Dr Watson today says it all. They do not want the situation to change. Dr Watson is incapable of bringing the change needed to CSU because he is such a part of the problem. I fear the Board itself is afraid to bring that change. And I fear most of all that after all the drama of the last week students and faculty are going to be left muttering to themselves as they have been for the past 17 years that I have been here: "Well, what do you expect, it's only Chicago State."