Wednesday, September 25, 2013

News Flash: Chicago State, The Incredible Dwindling University, is Bleeding Students!

This has been updated on October 2 to reflect the current data.

The most recent enrollment figures released this morning show that due to the "drop process," the university lost 101 students. This means that enrollment at Chicago State as we speak stands at 5701, a decrease of 406 students (a 6.6 percent decline) from fall of 2012. That makes the enrollment loss since 2010, 1655 students, or 22.6 percent. The enrollment decline attributable to Angela Henderson's tenure as head of Enrollment management? 1175 students--a 17.2 percent enrollment plunge. You might remember her as the person Wayne Watson thought the best candidate for the interim chief academic officer job at our shrinking little university. Should we take the failures of the Watson administration seriously now?

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Chicago State in the National News

Here's a story from the USA Today that uses the measure of six-year graduation rate for full-time first-year freshmen and mentions Chicago State in an unflattering way.

Obama's college plan has potential genius: Column
Michael Dannenberg 3 p.m. EDT September 22, 2013
A rating system could help minorities and students from low-income backgrounds choose the right school.
Story Highlights
• Among the indicators on which the president wants to rate colleges is graduation rate.
• Many colleges are dispelling the myth that student characteristics effectively determine graduation rates.
• Obama's college affordability proposal could be the beginning of a civil rights in higher education plan.
President Obama's college affordability plan has been eclipsed by the diplomatic showdown over Syria and now talk of a government shutdown, but it will be back this fall when, hopefully, its true benefit will get an airing.
The plan sounds like an appeal to the middle class, but it could prove more a boon to minorities and students from low-income families. And therein lies a long-term impact that could be bigger than either of the stories dominating the news.
Currently, selective colleges compete based on prestige and amenities such as free Wi-Fi and the best gym facilities. The president's plan would instead aim to spur competition based on value as reflected in price and effectiveness. Most pay attention to the first part of that equation — tuition and fee price — but the value in the Obama plan lies in measuring and rewarding the second: effectiveness.
Among the indicators of effectiveness on which the president wants to rate colleges is the graduation rate of first-time, full-time students. Not a bad idea, given that the graduation rate averages less than 60% at four-year schools. And that's just the average. When Education Secretary Arne Duncan implements the Obama plan, he should be sure to break out the graduation rate and other measures of effectiveness by race and income. Then we can hold colleges accountable for results, forcing them to pay attention not just to diversity in admissions but also the performance and graduation rates of poor and minority students, for whom average disparities are enormous.
Fewer than two in five African-American bachelor's students and only half of Latinos will earn a degree in six years, compared with nearly two-thirds of whites.
Syracuse vs. Hofstra
Many in the higher education community argue these disparities are nobody's fault but the students', that it's unfair to hold colleges accountable for the performance of these students. Somehow, it's inevitable that certain groups of students will achieve at vastly lower rates than their whiter, richer peers.
But a close examination of the data reveals that many colleges are dispelling the myth that student characteristics effectively determine graduation rates. These schools graduate low-income students and students of color at significantly higher rates than other institutions serving similar demographic mixes. The president's plan could highlight those colleges where education works for everyone, drive students toward them with added funds and encourage other schools to replicate effective practices.
Compare Syracuse and Hofstra universities — two midsize, non-profit private colleges in New York with a median SAT score of about 1,175. Underrepresented minorities make up 17% of Syracuse's undergraduates and 18% of Hofstra's. About 25% of Syracuse's freshmen class are Pell Grant recipients, compared with 24% of Hofstra's.
Despite these similarities, Syracuse has a six-year graduation rate that is 22 percentage pointshigher than Hofstra's (80.2% vs. 57.9%). Fewer than half of Hofstra's black students (49%) will graduate in the same time that nearly three-quarters of black students at Syracuse (74%) will complete a degree.
How do Hofstra's administrators explain that? What are they doing about it? The Obama plan could prod them in the right direction and reward them for improvement.
Albany vs. Chicago State
The differences are nationwide. Consider two institutions at the other end of the selectivity spectrum: Albany State University in Georgia and Chicago State. At both institutions, nine out of 10 students are black and more than eight in 10 are low-income. Median SAT scores and high school GPAs are similar.
The similarities stop there. Four in 10 Albany State students graduate within six years, compared with only two in 10 Chicago State students.
Think about that. There's an 80% dropout rate at Chicago State, and the institution receives "competitively" awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Education.
In elementary and secondary education, the consensus view is that all children can learn to high standards and that students, teachers, schools, parents and peers all play critical roles in determining student success. In higher education, though, too many seem to think graduation is simply a matter of student ability and maybe financial aid, absolving colleges of responsibility to provide a good education to all the students they enroll. That's wrong.
Demography is not destiny in K-12 or higher education. With a few important additions, for the plan is not complete, President Obama's college affordability proposal could be the beginning of a civil rights in higher education plan. Let's hope he and others follow through.
Michael Dannenberg is the director of Higher Education Policy at The Education Trust.

The link is here:

Administrative Failure 103: The Never-Ending Saga of Enrollment Management. Or, How to Make Chicago State the Worst Performing Public University in Seven States

Perhaps this is becoming redundant, but I have additional material that underscores the colossal failure of the Watson administration, something that our current board cares nothing about. This school’s enrollment performance is simply a disgrace, how serious our situation is should become even clearer given the objective measure of our ongoing enrollment debacle. However, before I get into the data, I want to say emphatically that I believe this university can be turned around if someone in the state in a position of responsibility cares. We need a new, truly autonomous board of trustees who will select a distinguished president with a scholarly record, four-year university administrative experience and some understanding of what is required of faculty engaged in teaching, research and service. That will assuredly not happen in this political climate, with this board of trustees.

I have extended my comparative analysis of Chicago State’s enrollment problems to include the following samples: 1) the 12 schools in 8 states that constitute our “peer” institutions; 2) all the non-research public universities in states contiguous to Illinois: Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Missouri and Iowa. This adds 57 schools to our sample (three in Indiana for some reason have no enrollment data past 2011), bringing the total to 63 schools and 2 university systems (Illinois and Southern Illinois), providing 62 other examples of enrollment management. Of the 63 schools in 15 states, only data from 2010-12 is available for 44, with 19 schools having released current enrollment data.

From 2010-12, Chicago State saw its enrollment shrink by 17 percent. This is the worst performance of all 44 schools during that time period. Only three other schools experienced enrollment drops of better than 10 percent, with a 14.2 percent decline being the second poorest enrollment performance. Overall, enrollment at these 44 schools increased by 2322 students, or .006 percent.

From 2010-13, Chicago State’s enrollment (still changing daily, although minimally) decline of 24.2 percent again leads the pack of 19 schools. Only two of the other schools saw their enrollments decline by better than 10 percent, with the current runner-up showing a 16 percent decrease. Overall enrollment in these 19 schools has dropped by 2.5 percent, or a total of 8914 students. Chicago State’s drop of 1784 students during this three-year period represents 20 percent of the total decline, that from a school with 1.6 percent of the student population.

To summarize, of the 63 schools in this sample, Chicago State has been the worst performing school in terms of enrollment, in both two- and three-year measures. Does anyone want to make the argument that this is a satisfactory performance? Is this what we should expect from the president? From the highly-paid administrators in Enrollment Management? Is this all that our students deserve? Is it time to send this flim-flam administration packing? The board’s decision on Friday made that less likely, but I do not believe it is impossible. What do you think?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

From the top flows????

So I must admit to you loyal readers, that I was not at all surprised that a politicized Board of Trustees would continue CSU on its downward death spiral. I was saddened by the thought of hundreds or thousands of prospective students going elsewhere; saddened by the prospect of CSU being unable to attract world class faculty because of the plummeting and almost irreparable, reputation and saddened by the likelihood of the continuing cavalcade of cronies careening carelessly through the halls of CSU. And we should not be surprised! When a chief executive’s job can only be saved by the intervention of a political godfather, not accomplishments or fulfillment of contractual duties, then what would a reasonable person expect? If past performance is the best predictor of future performance, the prospect of this university remaining viable has been significantly reduced by the Board’s most recent actions. If any one has any questions about why this university is as dysfunctional as it is, one need only look at the Board and its actions. 
Every management book I have ever read, says that the tone and tenor of the organization comes from the top. Whether it be a Jimmy Carter White House that was micro-managed into ineffectiveness or Lehman Brothers which led the way of the near collapse of the world economy in 2008, it is the behavior at the top that trickles down to the lower levels and sets the context for how things get done, undone or not done. Thus for a Board not to hold the chief executive accountable for criteria outlined in his contract communicates to the institution that accountability is not important. Following the rules created by the Board is not important. 
An example might be helpful here. At the end of the last board meeting there were only three trustees present. There was no quorum so conducting business like adjourning the meeting is not possible. Therefore, the September 20th meeting is still ongoing and would technically need to be adjourned before the next board meeting is called to order. Now I understand this is just a technicality and yet technicalities are the rules that help keep order. Technicalities are not and never should be excuses for misbehavior or misconduct. I did something wrong and was convicted on a technicality??? No I did something wrong and was held to account because of the rule, regulation, directive or law that I violated. The expression of "it was a technical violation" is the refuge of those shirking their responsibility either to an institution or community. It is clearly unbecoming of those that have a public trust like trustees at a public university. How might we expect any improvement when the message communicated from the top is that improvement is not the priority? Apparently, the priority is maintaining a status quo that has included crony hiring, increased audit findings, declining enrollment, decline in executive fund raising, irreparable damage to faculty relations, and a destruction of anything resembling morale across the institution. 
I am sure that the regime apologists will find excuses for why things are the way they are including misstatements about what the faculty has done or not done. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked what needs to change and when I respond to the questioner it is the leadership at the top that needs to change, the conversation abruptly stops. No one wants to speak the words "the emperor has no clothes," and yet until those words are spoken and understood nothing will change. And given the Board's past performance, there is no guarantee there will be any change. There is no evidence that the CSU Board of Trustees has the capacity or the will to hire a president befitting this university. 
So it is very likely either this president or the next will have as their legacy the closing of this university. And when that happens let the finger pointing begin.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Some Random Thoughts on Yesterday's Opera Buffa

Yesterday I was struck by the structure of Wayne Watson's rhetoric. By turns during the meeting he relied on sclerotic banalities, unsupportable generalizations and assertions, turgid pedantry and occasionally, misleading statistical analyses. It was particularly painful to see him employ a succession of prosaic platitudes in order to rescue the unfortunate victim from Enrollment Management who had to deliver the bad enrollment figures to the board. I found particularly interesting his claim that nationwide, college enrollment had dropped 700,000 this year. Of course, he neglected to provide any context for that figure. In truth, college enrollments are down about one million students the past two years, or around 5 percent of the total student population in 2011. If that figure sounds familiar, it should, it is the same percentage drop experienced by Illinois public institutions during the same time period. Of course, it's a slight improvement over Chicago State's decline of 21 percent. Thanks to our new, vibrant board, we can now look forward to another two years of this poseur and his minions.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Breaking news from the Board meeting

So just when you think you have heard it all, you hear the body that holds the fiduciary responsibility for the institution states they have confidence in the vision of the president and are taking steps to extend his contract until June 30, 2016. No, loyal readers, that date is not a typographic error. In the face of declining enrollments, a shrinking endowment, more than 100 audit findings in three years, continued negative public perception and a plethora of ostensibly unethical behaviors, the Board of Trustees is extending the contract of the president. This is a chief executive who by the methodological standards employed in the recent book Presidencies Derailed should have stood down or been stood down several months ago. Having not satisfied five of seven contractual criteria the Board of Trustees ignored that in favor of having confidence in a vision; a vision that has yet to be realized in four long years. This action is a clear statement of how the Board views the University. CSU will continue to be a patronage plaything for certain political elites for the foreseeable future and is unlikely to realize its potential as an outstanding university.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Board of Trustees Meeting Tomorrow

Just a reminder of the Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow, September 20. Here’s the agenda

Board of Trustees Meeting
Full Board Meeting
Academic Library, Auditorium Room 415
September 20, 2013
8:30 a.m.
1. Call to Order………………Trustee Anthony L. Young

2. Roll Call…………………………Ms. Bonnie Phillips

3. Verification of Meeting Notice………………Ms. Bonnie Phillips

4. Action Item
a. Approval of Previous Meeting Minutes
1. June 28, 2013 Board Meeting
2. August 23, 2013 Board Meeting
3. Resolutions May and June 2012

5. Reports
a. Academic and Student Affairs……..Trustee James Joyce
1. Information Items
a. Academic Affairs Update…………………Dr. Angela Henderson
1. Action Items
a. Granting of Tenure Status Resolutions.………Dr. Angela Henderson
b. CUMAR Grant……………………………………Dr. Yvonne Harris
c. Textbook Learning and Materials Program Grant….Dr. Yvonne Harris
d. LSAMP Bridge to the Doctorate Grant……………Dr. Yvonne Harris
e. Combined Priority for Personnel Development...Dr. Yvonne Harris
f. Student Development at CSU (RISE)………………Dr. Yvonne Harris
b. Enrollment Management and Student Affairs Update………Ms. LaShondra Peebles

b. Finance and Audit…………………Trustee Michael Curtin
1. Information Items
a. Administration and Financial Affairs Update………Mr. Lawrence Pinkelton
1. Action Items
a. FY2014 Budget Approval………………Mr. Lawrence Pinkelton
b. Live Text………………………………………Mr. Lawrence Pinkelton

b. Athletics Update……………………Mr. Dan Schumacher
1. Action Item
a. Amendment to Board Regulations – Athletics...Mr. Dan Schumacher
b. Athletics Funding……………………………Mr. Dan Schumacher
c. Information Technology Update……Mr. Prashant Shinde
1. Action Items

a. Network Storage…………………………………………Mr. Prashant Shinde
b. Cable TV Service.………………………………….Mr. Prashant Shinde
c. Telephone Maintenance…………………………Mr. Prashant Shinde
d. CBORD…………………….……………………………………….…Mr. Prashant Shinde
e. Identity Management………..…………………Mr. Prashant Shinde
f. Ellucian Management & Support……Mr. Prashant Shinde

c. Facilities………………………………………………………Trustee Horace Smith
1. Information Item.
a. Facilities Update……………………………………Mrs. Monique Horton
1. Action Item
a. Fire Alarm System….………….…………………Mrs. Monique Horton

d. Legislative and Human Resources……Trustee Spencer Leak, Sr.
1. Information Item
a. HR Update………………………………………………Dr. Renee Mitchell
1. Action Items
a. Flexible Hours…………………………Patrick Cage, Esq.
b. University Alcohol Policy……Patrick Cage, Esq.
c. Conceal and Carry Policy………Patrick Cage, Esq.

e. Foundation …………………………………Trustee Horace Smith
6. Recess into Executive Session Pursuant to The Illinois Open Meetings Act
a. Employment Matters
b. Legal Matters
c. Collective Bargaining Matters
d. Minutes of Meetings Lawfully Closed

7. Reconvene into Open Session
1. Action Items

a. Approval/Release of Executive Session Minutes 2012-2013
8. President’s Report…………………Dr. Wayne Watson
a. Shared Governance……………………Dr. Bernard Rowan

9. Faculty Senate……………………………Dr. Phillip Beverly

10. Other Matters
a. Public and Employee Comments

11. Adjournment

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And now for the “Really Big Show….” (aka the Three Ring Circus!)

This post is brought to you from a colleague of ours who has some concerns and asked to have this posted.--Corday

Just what you’ve been waiting for, ladies and gentlemen! A big production! The “Evening with Smokey” looks like a great scholarship and fundraising event for our students and for the University. Nothing raises the scholarly and academic profile of the institution like a trip down memory lane of the “golden oldies,” does it? Unless you’ve eliminated anyone and everyone who has any institutional memory of the place but I digress….

 As we all know, CSU has a “communication” problem…. And the recently anointed (and newly populated and re-populated) Office of Marketing and Communications (OMC) has been up and running now for several years under the new regime. Or is it the Department of Integrated Marketing Communications? or Public Relations and Communications? or the Office of Publications? If one looks on the current OMC website, one is not really sure what the old “Office of Public Affairs” has become. I’m sure the new inhabitants will know….

In any case, whoever is functioning as the leader (in an interim capacity no doubt given all of the turnover this office has had the last few years) they will know how to advertise the “big event!” You would think they have things down by now, especially after the giant four story tall “starving child” poster that took the South Loop by storm last year communicating “something” about CSU. And who could forget the impressive “You Greater” campaign (otherwise known as the “HLC marketing job”) that has really taken off! Doesn’t everyone have a green CSU pen by now? Given these experiences, let us see how well we’re doing marketing what is best about CSU for the “big event!” A little ad campaign for a fundraising event should be no problem for our experienced marketing team, right?

Amidst the hustle and bustle of the first weeks of class, it is likely only a few folks noticed the first electronic poster emailed to the entire University community. Of course, it was followed a day later with a revised version containing some new information. Clearly, the branding geniuses under the leadership of Sabrina Land would not have forgotten to tell folks where the event was being held? Isn’t the title of the University enough? It’s on campus somewhere, right? Besides we’re just trying to pump out a little poster for the big event to generate a little “buzz” as the new year begins, right? Good thing they didn’t spend any money on hard copies, eh? or did they? I guess we’ll never know. They bury mistakes around here… Happily, the revised electronic version sent out a day later indicates clearly the day, time, and location of the event. Still unclear however, is the difference between “premium” and “VIP” floor tickets, select and general seating, and what attire one should wear to a “strolling supper reception.” Of course, foolish me! With three drinks per ticket and an open bar, it will become clear enough I’m sure. Just follow the crowd! That is until event security doesn’t let you into the “VIP” area like some concert bouncer…

While I believe CSU can indeed put on a first class event that represents the University community well, our first electronic poster attempt also illustrates how public perception of ineptitude at CSU may be correct and how “on-the-job training” continues unabated in the marketing department. Let us count the ways: when looking at the first poster, one has no idea where the event is to be held. There is no location given beyond “CSU” and the date. Should I wear a low cut dress? Or a ball gown? Will the event be held in a gym? The new Library? or the old Robinson building? As we look closer, let’s say I am interested in the fundraiser dinner and then a little entertainment afterwards. But the choices are all so confusing. Should I get “select seating?” or the premium package? And what’s the difference? Is the cash bar included or does that cost extra for a different “package?” Such a dizzying array of choices…. one drink or two? maybe three? Should I get the ticket package that contains dinner and the show? Or can I just go to the really big show and skip the dinner? Is a donation required for one or both events? By the way, are there one or two events? What do you expect when it appears as if so many of the folks who have prepared these announcements seem never to have produced anything more than a series of “cut and paste” jobs by attaching a corporate logo and hoping for the best prior to their CSU employment. For those of us who have planned campus wide events at CSU over the years, there used to be a policy manual. Materials were proofread by people who looked for such information before it was distributed.

As should be obvious by now, the need for a second announcement was caught quickly by our crack marketing team. The revised poster comes out a day later listing the location and mailing address of the university as well as a phone number one may call if you wished to find out more information. But for some of us, the damage is clear and the poster fiasco has already communicated “ineptitude.” Many of the questions I asked above still remain unanswered by the revised advertisement. The whole fiasco illustrates how poorly CSU communicates its central ideas and how little information is really contained in the glitzy, glossy brochures being produced by the Office of “Whatever Title You Wish to Insert Here” these days. Select seating, premier packages, “strolling receptions” and a bunch of other nice sounding but vacuous distinctions that seem to make the “big event” appear really special are foregrounded while critical information like location and contact information are absent or contained in “supplementary communication.” It’s as if to say, “just call us and we’ll tell you which category of tickets you’re eligible for…”

So now we have arrived at the main issue: if this is how one “markets” a major event at CSU, how much greater and more significant would the failures of communication be if the same folks who created the poster fiasco claimed to know how to “brand” a university? And what if the folks making decisions in the “Office of Whatever” are without any training or experience marketing in an academic setting?  Do any of the members of the OMC possess experience creating the “branding” or institutional identity of a major state University? If not, the result might be to produce much of the same kind of confusion witnessed in the poster fiasco university-wide. For example, how do we fix financial aid? Where do we set up information tables to reach the most number of students?  which classes do we cut or let go? do our new academic advisors help or hinder our students? are they properly trained or prepared? and which candidate is the “best fit” for the position we just advertised? All of these “academic” concerns require the same kind of sensitivity, experience, and willingness to learn from others as writing good copy about the “big event.” Without such experience and sensitivity (and with apologies to Smokey Robinson), the big event looks like it risks becoming a three ring circus despite the nice color glossy “campaign materials.” Given the weighty structural issues that face our little university, the “poster debacle” will probably be little more than a minor distraction and no one will care. Besides… how alike is the activity of creating an advertisement and running a university? 

 Perhaps we are communicating more than we think….

Monday, September 16, 2013

Administrative Failure 102: Or Hey! Hermene Hartman: Watson's a Loser

"The Chicago State University presidency is ideal for Wayne Watson. Education is his passion. He will bring the school to new heights with student enrollment, a wonderful facility and a good team. I hope for the students' sake that he is the choice. His skill set is perfect, his commitment is sincere and his accomplishments speak for themselves. And perhaps, just perhaps, this experienced veteran educator will take Chicago State University to greatness." Hermene Hartman on April 17, 2009.

Forgive me for posting twice in one day, but I've just finished research into the audit findings and I wanted to share the results. The examination reveals a far more accurate statistical breakdown. Here it is:

2011: Chicago State 41 exceptions, Urbana-Champaign 35 exceptions, UIC 7 exceptions, UI Springfield 1 exception. 2012: Chicago State 34 exceptions, Urbana-Champaign 31 exceptions, UIC 5 exceptions, UI Springfield 1 exception. 2013: Chicago State 29 exceptions, Urbana-Champaign 24 exceptions, UIC 4.5 exceptions, UI Springfield 2.5 exceptions (one audit finding was present at both UIC and UI Springfield). Three year totals: Chicago State 104 exceptions, Urbana-Champaign 90 exceptions, UIC 15.5 exceptions, UI Springfield 4.5 exceptions. Chicago State had 15.6 percent more audit exceptions than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a school with more than 43,000 students. This officially makes the Watson administration's compliance performance the worst in the state.

This is just one of several dismal administrative statistics during Wayne Watson's tenure. As of last night, Chicago State's total enrollment stood at 5796, down 311 (or 5.1 percent) from Fall 2012. This year's figure contributes to the total decline of 1566 students (or a drop of 21.3 percent) since 2011, again the worst administrative performance in the state in terms of enrollment management. This decline comes as no surprise since Watson presided over a 22.3 percent drop in enrollment at the City Colleges during his last nine years as Chancellor. In fact, we now have thirteen years of data to use in evaluating Watson's performance in enrollment management. During that time the schools he "led" experienced only two years of enrollment increases: City Colleges in 2008-09 (Watson's final year) added 83 students to a population of 95,224 (an increase of .000872 percent or 872 one millionth of a percent). In Watson's first full year at Chicago State, the population increased from 7235 to 7362, a gain of 127 students (or .01755 percent). Historically, these meager increases have been wiped out by yearly enrollment drops of 6.1 and 9.6 percent at City Colleges and successive declines of 6.5, 11.3 and 5.1 percent at Chicago State.

In terms of fund raising for the university, the Chicago State Foundation's income has decreased 46 percent under Watson's regime, while contributions have decreased around 35 percent. Of course, it is hardly necessary to recount the difficulties Watson continues to have with faculty and the press.

Hartman's 2009 column represents an almost textbook version of doublespeak. Permit me to provide a translation. "The Chicago State University job is going to Wayne Watson whether you like it or not. Self-promotion is his passion. He will bring the school to new lows with precipitous drops in student enrollment, a crumbling facility (see the Science building or the parking lots for examples), and a bumbling, highly-compensated, crony-filled team. . . His skill set is non-existent, his vindictiveness and cynicism are legendary and his accomplishments as a scholar, "educator" and administrator are negligible. And perhaps, just perhaps, this political hack will leave Chicago State University on life support."

Patronage or just a reward for services rendered?

In the past two years, university employees with close ties to Wayne Watson have benefitted materially from those ties. The four administrative employees Watson brought on board in late 2009, Police Chief Ronnie Watson, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Cheri Sidney, General Counsel Patrick Cage and Human Resources Director Renee Mitchell have received raises averaging 19.9 percent over the past two years. During that time, the salaries of these four have risen from an average of $114,928 to $137,804.

These four persons are part of an eight person group who either worked with Watson at City Colleges of Chicago, have a close personal relationship with him or have demonstrated unwavering loyalty to Watson for the past few years. The others in this group: Associate Vice President of Finance Maricela Aranda, Vice President of Sponsored Programs Yvonne Harris, Executive Director of Project Counseling (TRIO) Jasmika Cook and of course, newly-minted PhD (according to Human Resources--that information is yet to be verified independently) and Provost Angela Henderson. The average raise for these eight persons in the past two years: 17.65 percent.

The overall salary increase for all full-time employees at Chicago State for the past two years has been 8.4 percent or an average of 4.2 percent per year. In comparison with the eight persons above, the three Deans who have retained their positions for the past two years have seen their salaries increase 6.7 percent (3.35 percent per year), while the nine chairs have enjoyed a 4.7 percent (2.35 percent/year) raise. In addition, in 2011, the salary difference between the 8 Watson-connected administrators and the 12 deans and chairs stood at 10 percent. Following the raises Watson awarded to his most valued administrators, the difference now stands at 23 percent.

As far as individuals are concerned, the biggest raises have gone to persons who are part of the Watson group of eight. Leading the way is the new Provost Angela Henderson with a promotion and a likely salary increase of 38.7 percent, (this is an estimate based on the most recent raise that put the Provost at a higher salary than the Dean of the College of Pharmacy). Given Henderson’s abysmal performance as Vice President of Enrollment Management (university enrollment down better than 21 percent for the past three years, including 15.8 percent since she came to Chicago State, retention rate down), it is amazing that she still has a job, particularly in light of the president’s much ballyhooed (cynical?) focus on “responsibility and accountability.” Of course, Henderson possesses other qualifications: she is a long-time Watson crony, having worked for him and been the recipient of his benevolence at City Colleges. And let us not forget the sterling performance of her husband, Victor Henderson, defending Watson valiantly against the "scurrilous" accusations hurled against him in March.

Not surprisingly, second place on the list of individual raises goes to Human Resources Director Renee Mitchell (25.0 percent). Mitchell produced that amazingly contradictory whitewash of the Criminal Justice hirings in 2012. Third place belongs to Watson’s girlfriend, Cheri Sidney, who has enjoyed at least one promotion and a salary increase of 19.3 percent. Sidney’s lack of qualifications are well-documented, an on-line Bachelor’s degree from DePaul when she was hired with no significant upper administrative experience and no administrative experience whatsoever in institutions of higher education. Sidney, who has seen her salary increase 25.9 percent since her hiring in 2009, now has a Master’s Degree in Applied Professional Studies from the DePaul School for New Learning (awarded June 14, 2013). Anyone wishing to explore the rigor of that particular degree program can simply log on to the School for New Learning website. Since coming to Chicago State, Sidney has been an integral part of the failures of the Enrollment Management colossus.

Fourth place belongs to Police Chief Ronnie Watson with an 18.9 percent increase. Watson, who has additional duties related to buildings and grounds, physical facilities and parking, now makes $137,916 and has the responsibility for a staff of 109, including 26 badge personnel (according to the Chicago State directory). Watson’s salary is comparable to the lower salary range of a Chicago Police Commander who is responsible for one of the city’s twenty-plus police districts and hundreds of employees.

Rounding out the top five is Patrick Cage at a 17.4 percent raise since 2011. We all know Mr. Cage from his several forays into censorship and his nonsensical 2012 comments about Chicago State’s loss of a first amendment case that eventually cost the university over $200,000 in court costs and legal fees, as actually a “win” for the university. Although it should be noted that the first amendment violation did not occur on Wayne Watson’s watch, Cage’s statements exposed the university to additional ridicule.

When Watson awarded huge raises to three administrators at the beginning of the year, university spokesperson Thomas Wogan claimed that the raises were based on “merit and performance” and that “competitive salaries are needed to retain talented employees.” For at least two of Watson’s favorites, their “merit and performance” should have earned them termination. For the others, when compared to some of their fellow administrators, their connections to Wayne Watson appear to be an important factor in determining their worth. Compared to these generous pay increases, how have you fared?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who is Tyra Austin and Why is She an Assistant Director of Anything at Chicago State?

"These students also deserve a university that is run like a university, not a patronage machine . . ." Emil Jones, talking about Chicago State on March 7, 2013.

"It’s also part of my job to clean up any existence or any potential, ah, any potential of patronage existing under my watch.” Wayne Watson speaking on "Chicago Tonight," March 7, 2013.

I recently submitted a FOIA request for the educational credentials of various administrators since they are not available any longer in the Chicago State catalog. When I received the response, someone named Tyra Austin, the Assistant Director of Financial Aid, appeared on the list with the notation that she possessed a B.S. from Howard University. However, there was no date of degree listed, a piece of requested information which had been provided for virtually everyone else on the list of administrators. When I checked with the degree verification service used by Howard University, the response was that Austin had no bachelor's degree of any kind. I realize that degrees can sometimes be delayed for various reasons, but here's the problem: The university hired Austin (apparently with her high school diploma in hand) as the Assistant Director on August 16, 2012, at a salary of $55,000 per year, with a boost in pay at some point during the fiscal year to $66,000. Interestingly, the Financial Aid Counselors who work for Austin make far less than that and they are apparently required to have at least a Bachelor's Degree.

Now I don't have incontrovertible evidence that Austin was a crony hire, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's likely a duck. What do you think?

This is an update on September 13 2013: According to the National Student Clearinghouse, Austin's last date of attendance at Howard was August 11, 2012, five days prior to her being hired at Chicago State.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Emil's Farm

It's been a long summer musing about the events at CSU from the spring --that display of the Emil Jones machine coming to Dr Watson's rescue at the March Board meetings--public relations networks and all-- calling all and sundry, getting the church folks to show up--just like old man Daley taught--and the coup de grace of the coup d'etat--the neutering of the Board of Trustees by a gutless Governor. Quinn that [bleep] has been a fixture all summer at the big southside festivals –will he really get the Af Am vote or will they go to another Daley? Joke would be on him wouldn’t it?

I knew that Emil controlled the southside, but after seeing last spring’s performance we are more of a jewel in his crown and empire than I had thought.

So the ride toward what I don’t know continues…

Big discussion at the Faculty Senate yesterday—many, many faculty “disgruntled” by man & woman hours put into search committees –avg is probably 150 hrs and A LOT of wasted money--only to find that HRH Watson, who has enlarged presidential power on this campus in a way never dreamed of by his female predecessors, who has made himself the final authority for all hirings on campus, turned back candidate after candidate. What did someone estimate 31 authorized searches (that means, the go- ahead was given by the Admin) with only 13 new hires among tenured faculty? Please correct me if I’m wrong.  And why were so many searches turned down by his Eminence? No reason given. Not required to give a reason. Masters of the Universe do not explain. (Memo to the administration’s shared governance committee: “Hello?”)

Maybe this is why faculty did not show up in overwhelming numbers for Convocation last week. Is it true the Admin were high-fiving themselves and talking about the “faculty-driven” convocation at last week’s whatever council meeting? At the Senate yesterday the estimates were that no more than 200 people showed up (granted enrollment is down) and most of those who did were administrators…

 The fiction of governance on this campus, shared or otherwise.

Well, in case you need it spelled out for you, transparency and shared governance here at Emil Jones University have been done in and morale along with it. The HLC is gone, no need to keep the fiction going for their sake. There is that pesky monitoring report due in June, but you know the Prez wants to attend your department meeting, he had a reception for the 13 new faculty members, he has a university shared governance committee hard at work surveying opinion, getting through that should be easy now. Hopefully that online survey won’t end up with the recommendations the Faculty Senate made from its Teach-In on Shared Governance September 23, 2009—was that the meeting that the President actually tried to have shut down?; or the recommendations discussed at the Senate’s “Shared Governance Conversation” on April 14, 2010 which included representatives from the AAUP –even HRH attended that; or the “Report of the Shared Governance Committee to the CSU Faculty Senate” from 2012; or the complaints of violations against shared governance that were made in the Senates’ Bill of Particulars that preceded its vote of no confidence in the prez last November; or the long, long discussion of shared governance at the faculty senate after the appearance of a campus administrator informing the senate of the administration’s constitution of a shared governance committee in spring 2013; or the many blog posts here that have discussed shared governance; or, frankly, the blog itself which was born out of frustration with the lack of transparency and shared governance in the wake of the sham presidential search in 2008-2009 that brought us the imperial triumphal presidency we now endure….but, oh well, who cares…?

In the meantime there is no shared governance on this campus and no hope of it because essentially the Imperial Presidency does not want it. When the President has authority over the Board of Trustees the story is over. Since Emil swept in with the pols last spring and Gov Quinn took down the board, the power that a Board of Trustees is supposed to have no longer exists. The president holds power over them--fear o'Emil will drive that board now as never before. No “hopey-changey-thing” here on campus anymore.  Do we really think the president is going to “share” governance with faculty?

There are no university committee actions that have binding power on the president, not even in a theoretical sense. He does not have to accept any committees' "recommendations" be they the grand Board of Trustees or the lowliest department recommendation for chairperson (now only a one-year appointment--someone please tell me what is the difference between that and an interim appointment?) whatever shreds of a shared governance committee's "recommendations" he may perfunctorily call for he is not bound to follow.

University moneys are centralized in this president’s hands. Remember how deans used to have that discretionary power to dole out a few hundred bucks for a conference?  He has centralized the hiring process in his office as evidenced by the number of candidates he, he with the Ph.D. that is not in your field, decided were not suitable teachers and colleagues for you after you conducted nation-wide searches.

Someday we may be released from the patronage machine that keeps us a provincial mediocre institution no matter how much talk or publicity we and the p.r. folks churn out about our "global" connections and "how much good we do." Change will probably come when something is forced from the outside because clearly there are a lot of folks hoping the goose that lays the golden eggs will keep laying and maybe someday their self-interest will be fulfilled and maybe they will not be fired after a year or shafted (at least not too soon) by the machine--ask a few of Watson's ex-hires about that aspect to riding the patronage pony.

So when are we going to get mad enough and channel that into some action down here on Emil’s Farm? Is this the year? I keep hearing  old B. D. in my head—get the live version of this one:

No, I aint gonna work on Maggie's farm no more
Well, I wake up in the morning
Fold my hands and pray for rain
I got a head full of ideas
That are drivin' me insane…

...I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother no more…
Well, he hands you a nickel
He hands you a dime
He asks you with a grin
If you're havin' a good time
Then he fines you every time you slam the door
I ain't gonna work for Maggie's brother more...


                                                                                     "PSSST...very attitude-y"

Administrative Failure 101

Throughout his higher education administrative career, Wayne Watson has demonstrated a talent for self-promotion. He and his various mouthpieces have created a narrative of Watson the competent administrator that simply fails to withstand close scrutiny. Replete with meaningless jargon like “change agent,” “paradigm shift,” “establishing accountability and transparency,” “institutional renaissance,” “enhance our professionalism,” and “change our work culture,” this narrative is long on bluster and short on substance. However, it is possible to determine just how effective the Watson administration has been using data for the past four years that is easily accessible from a number of sources. I will revisit the issue of audit findings and examine them from a slightly different perspective to determine if the conclusions I drew from my earlier posts on the Watson administration’s ineptitude relative to financial and compliance issues hold up when different data are used as evidence.

I will not rehash the miserable audit statistics of the past three years except to reiterate the point that Watson has blamed the horrible financial and compliance performance during his presidency on prior administrations. When the first of the three successive poor audits came to light in 2011, Watson quickly moved to distance himself from the findings and claimed that his administration would identify and correct the problems. How has he done?

One of the pieces of information provided by the Auditor General’s website is the number of repeat findings in each audit. In general, it seems reasonable to conclude that repeat findings represent an administrative failure: the inability to correct a previously identified problem. High numbers of repeat findings signal poor performance by an administration. Similarly, a large percentage of repeat findings reveal an administration that is struggling to correct its internal problems. Of course, the larger institutions should be expected to generate the largest number of audit findings: high numbers of audit findings in schools with comparatively few students are particularly telling.

Unfortunately, that is exactly what exists here at Chicago State. Our repeat audit findings for the past three years number 49. During that same time period, there were 88 audit exceptions identified, resulting in repeat findings constituting 55.6 percent of all audit findings from 2011-13. The only institution with more repeat audit findings is the University of Illinois system, with 80 audit findings out of 127 total exceptions, or 63 percent of their findings. In fact, for the past three years, these two institutions have been responsible for 129 of the 178 total repeat audit findings (72.5 percent) in Illinois public universities.

Chicago State’s audit performance would look better if the school were similar in size to the Illinois system. However, Chicago State’s average enrollment (2010-12) was 6784 compared to Illinois’ 76,655. CSU's average represents 9 percent of the Illinois system’s enrollment. On average, for the past three years, Illinois public universities have averaged one audit exception per 2,500 students. The Illinois system averaged one audit exception per 2100 students. Chicago State’s average? One audit exception for every 197 students. Given this ratio, if Wayne Watson were running the Illinois system, it would have averaged nearly 390 audit findings per year for the past three years, a slight increase over their actual average of 36.7.

Finally, comparing Watson’s performance to Elnora Daniel’s reveals an increase in both repeat findings and percentage of repeat findings. Between 2004 and 2009, the Daniel administration had 31 repeat audit findings out of a possible 66, or 47 percent. It seems reasonable to again conclude that although the Daniel administration was not particularly good, Wayne Watson’s is far worse. I have provided links to this date before so I will not do so again, but those interested can find the audit summaries on the Illinois Auditor General’s website, the quotes attributed to Watson come from various sources, which I will be happy to provide upon request.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Students organize moving candlelight vigil for Telkia Burns

On Tuesday September 3rd fifty students and faculty were joined by ten members of Telkia Burns’ family to celebrate his life and mourn his premature death as a result of street violence. Two things made this a remarkable event. First, several speakers were intimately part of Telkia’s life and loved him for the good man he was; they spoke of his military service, his devotion to his family, his determination to pursue his college education, and the many gifts of friendship that he gave to others. We were moved by this tribute to Telkia Burns.

Second, the event was entirely the result of student initiative and organizing. It showed the remarkable ability students have to do something significant to honor a friend. The candles were there. Someone brought paper plates so that hot wax would not drip on our hands. The organizers had prepared an agenda so that the tribute would unfold in an orderly way. They had planned how attendees could help the family without students’ having any involvement with any donations. The amphitheater to the south of the cafeteria glowed and sparkled with candlelight as students and faculty listened respectfully to the moving tributes to Telkia and the condemnation of the violence that ended his life and that of many others. This student initiative was made all the more remarkable because the administration had sought to discourage this wonderful event.

All who worked to organize the vigil and make it a success are to be commended!

More on the September 3 Student Vigil

This afternoon, I spoke with Ms. Marsh on the telephone regarding the e-mail I sent her on September 3. This is the gist of our conversation: The original commemoration of Telkia Burns life did not involve an official student group. Rather, the request to use university facilities emanated from someone representing a group of students who were friends with Mr. Burns. The student "wanted to do something" to remember Mr. Burns but told Ms. Marsh that s/he did not even know where to start. Ms. Marsh told the student that since Student Affairs already had rooms reserved for Welcome Week, it would be possible to use one of those rooms for a memorial service. In addition, Ms. Marsh spoke to the student who organized the September 3 vigil and suggested that they could participate in the memorial already being planned. She had a meeting scheduled the next day with the September 3 organizer who, according to Ms. Marsh, forgot about the meeting and did not speak with her about what options existed for either participation in the original commemorative event or another possible memorial for Mr. Burns.

Ms. Marsh indicated that she desired to create a protocol for these kinds of circumstances so "students don't have to go through," additional stress at an already difficult time. She said that one possibility might be to designate a specific area on the university grounds for events that must be organized on short notice. Finally, Ms. Marsh said that there would be no discipline as a result of students holding the September 3 vigil. Ms. Marsh told me she had spoken earlier that day with the student organizing the September 3 event and that they had amicably resolved any issues or misunderstandings.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Administration Speaks on the Telkia Burns Vigil

As Professor Pancho's earlier blog indicated, when more information regarding the administrative response to the proposed September 3 student vigil for Telkia Burns comes to light, it will be posted. Here are two e-mails, the first sent on August 29 by the Director of Student Activities to one of the organizers of the event. The second e-mail is one I sent Ms. Marsh this afternoon. I have yet to receive a response.

------ Original message ------
From: MaToya Marsh
Date: 8/29/2013 10:10
Subject:September 3rd Event

This email is in regard to the non approved event that you have scheduled for September 3, 2013. While I am sure that your intent was in good spirits, there are rules that must be followed when using University's grounds for events. As you know you must first submit a request on behalf of a club or organization to the Office of Student Activities who then submits it to the Office of Meeting and Events for final approval (minimum 10 business days). Without this approval you are not allowed to move forward with this event. Failure to adhere to this directive is a direct violation and will be forwarded to the Office of Judicial Affairs. If you have any questions feel free to contact me via email.

MaToya S. Marsh
Director of Student Activities & Student Leadership
Department of Student Activities
Chicago State University

Dear Ms. Marsh:

I am writing about the administrative decision to deny permission for students to hold a September 3 candlelight vigil on campus in memory of Telkia Burns. In your e-mail to one of the organizers of this event, you reference the necessity of following “rules . . . when using University’s grounds for events.” You continue by writing that any group wishing to use university grounds “must first submit a request on behalf of a club organization . . . for final approval (minimum 10 business days).” You then threaten the organizer with disciplinary action by writing “Failure to adhere to this directive is a direct violation and will be forwarded to the Office of Judicial Affairs.”

This e-mail raised a number of questions. First, which campus group served as the sponsor of the previously held commemoration for Telkia Burns? Second, given that his death occurred on August 25 and that the commemoration took place late last week (August 29 or 30 I believe), it seems that the 10-day requirement was not followed for that event. Is this the case? If so, why does the September 3 event apparently have to meet different criteria? In exigent circumstances may not the university waive the notification requirement? Finally, is it necessary to accompany this denial with the kind of threat you made in your penultimate sentence? Is that Judicial Affairs referral some kind of statutory requirement or does the Department of Student Activities possess some discretionary authority in that area?

Yours truly,

Robert E. Bionaz
Associate Professor of History
SCI 275

Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Tragedy At So Many Levels

So, one thing I have discovered is there is most often no single right answer to things and there are often many wrong answers. Regarding the most recent tragedy to befall the university, the senseless loss of a student’s life, I believe it very easy to be caught in the whirlwind of emotions, grief, anger, fear and begin to see things less clearly than usual.
Let’s put out the facts as I understand them. A student wished to have a vigil for the victim, collect money for the family and have the event on campus. The event would be sanctioned if all of the requisite paperwork was completed and an employee from the Cashier’s office were present to collect the money. Otherwise, the university would be at risk of an audit finding, and likely a criminal investigation for mishandling money. If the student did not agree to the rules as they have been implemented for several years then that student would not be allowed to conduct that event. My understanding is that the student communicated their unwillingness to adhere to the standard protocol. The Division of Student Affairs has legal, moral and fiduciary responsibility for our students and the institution. In pursuit of those responsibilities students may not get what they want and in the long run should learn valuable life lessons about following established procedures. How that message is delivered may not always be elegant and as long as the institution follows its own rules and those rules are designed to advance the institution then we should generally support them. It is when the rules aren’t clearly established or followed that problems occur. Any follower of this forum will know that this university and its most current iteration of management has had significant challenges in this area, so much so that a monitoring report will be due to the Higher Learning Commission addressing issues of  communication and the institution’s adherence to policy.
Another challenge that was highlighted for me in this situation is the absence of direct communication and a systemic mistrust of the administration by faculty and students. Your humble narrator has often written about communication challenges at this university. There are two major challenges to communication. First, is the absence of the mechanisms needed to communicate. Second is the presence or absence of the will to communicate. The university has adequate mechanisms so I am left believing that the major failing is in the will to communicate. This administration has failed the university numerous times, the declining enrollment only being the most recent. So poor communication is par for the course. Unfortunately, it has spilled over into the faculty ranks. I believe faculty don’t have the will to communicate with this administration because the veracity of the response is likely to be suspect. I am dubious in initiating communication because it is likely to result in time that I have wasted and can never get back. I clearly understand my colleagues’ frustration and as much a reminder to myself as them, we must go to the source of the problem and get the facts as understood and presented. When those “facts” don’t quite jibe with reality then we can continue to challenge.
So to my faculty colleagues I say let us be rigorous in our inquiry as we are the group at this university trained to do that. We don’t just support or oppose something or someone predicated on base self interest, like getting one’s family members hired for a job they aren’t qualified for. We critique based on sound intellectual arguments and use inconvenient things like data. We don’t throw things against the wall to see what sticks. I believe us to be better than that which we critique.
I believe this conversation should have been directed toward focusing our outrage at the senseless loss of life and not on the failings of an administration that provides little in terms of leadership to the university or the community at large.