At the risk of offending my more sensitive colleagues, I feel it my duty–in an old-time serial format–to provide for the Chicago State community a look at how several of our administrators secured their lucrative positions. For the past four years, Wayne Watson and his various mouthpieces have sanctimoniously sounded the somewhat opaque themes of “responsibility and accountability” as a necessity for successful university governance. However, as we have previously seen, “responsibility and accountability,” apply only to faculty and staff, not to our top-level administrators. What follows offers concrete evidence that the Watson administration engages in the crony hiring of unqualified administrators. Given our recent enrollment declines, the deleterious effects on the university of this kind of hiring seem apparent.
The most egregious crony hire of the Watson regime remains Cheri Sidney. Watson hired Sidney, with whom he is apparently involved in a romantic relationship, as Associate Director of Human Resources, a newly created position, on November 9, 2009. Prior to July 1, 2010, Watson promoted Sidney to another newly created position: the Director of Enrollment Management. By July 1, 2012, Watson had promoted Sidney to another new position: Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, the position she continues to occupy. Along the way, Watson raised Sidney’s salary from $90,000 to $113,004. In order to ensure that Sidney had a path to promotion and raises, the Watson administration created three new positions, two of which were apparently just for her since they ceased to exist after Sidney’s occupancy. For the positions of Director of Enrollment Management and Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, no job announcements exist, suggesting that no legitimate job search ever occurred for either of these two administrative jobs and raising the question of insider (crony) hiring.
The university set the bar quite low in terms of qualifications for the Associate Director of Human Resources, requiring only a Bachelor’s degree and five years of “human resource experience.” The résumé Sidney submitted in 2009 delineated qualifications far above the minimum requirements for the position. Unfortunately, much of the information Sidney supplied in her résumé is simply false.
First, Sidney claimed to have “seven years of Human Resources management” experience, although her résumé listed nearly nine years experience: some six years in the private sector with CNA Insurance and three additional years with “American Tax & Business Services.” According to a Human Resources administrator I spoke with at CNA, the position Sidney occupied there is not a management position. Thus, Sidney had to pump up her résumé to meet the minimum qualifications for the Associate Director’s position. At best, this is an exaggeration.
Second, Sidney listed on her résumé a position (2007-09) at Harold Washington College as “Director of Student Retention.” There is no record of her employment with City Colleges during those years, or for any other year, and the Harold Washington Organizational Chart lists no such administrative position. The absence of any verification of either the existence of this position or Sidney’s employment with City Colleges makes her claim simply untrue.
Finally, Sidney blatantly lied about her educational credentials. On her 2009 résumé she claimed to hold a Master’s degree from DePaul in “HR Management.” In fact, Sidney neither held nor currently holds a Master's degree in HR Management. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from DePaul on June 9, 2006, with a major in “School For New Learning Degree Program.” On June 14, 2013, Sidney received a Master’s Degree from DePaul’s School for New Learning in “Applied Professional Studies.” The false degree information Sidney supplied on her résumé also appears on her 2009 administrative hiring form.
Sidney is not the only administrator who has lied on a résumé or application. In August 2012, the Watson administration hired Tyra Austin as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid. The job announcement for this position was explicit as to the required minimum educational qualifications: “A bachelor’s degree is required and a Master’s in Business, Accounting, Public Administration or Student Personnel or related field is preferred.” On her résumé Austin claimed to hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Howard University. Oddly, she indicated a degree date of May 2013 on the résumé. Also curious is the fact that Howard does not offer a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, the degree conferred is a Bachelor of Arts. Even though Austin clearly failed to meet the minimum qualifications for the position, the Watson administration hired her. To this date, she has still not earned any kind of Bachelor’s degree and remains devoid of the minimum educational qualifications for the position she occupies.
Both Sidney and Austin work under the direction of the Vice President of Enrollment Management, until July 1, 2013, a position occupied by Angela Henderson, the current interim Provost. Although Henderson’s 2011 résumé and application contain no blatant lies, there are a number of representations and omissions that are noteworthy. First, Henderson did not meet the minimum qualifications in the job announcement for the Vice President’s position. Included among them: “Currently VP of Enrollment Management for a college or university with a record of outstanding growth and student retention.” At City Colleges, Henderson had not worked in such a position, and nothing in the job description for the positions she had occupied describe any kind of enrollment management component.
Although Henderson did not lie about her educational qualifications, her résumé indicates that she expected to receive her Ph.D. on June 30, 2011, a strange statement given that she apparently did not successfully defend her dissertation until spring 2013, receiving her Ph.D. on August 11. It seems unlikely that she was on the verge of finishing her program in early 2011.
Henderson’s résumé also contains at least one major factual omission: She details her work experience at City Colleges as a continuous succession of administrative jobs, beginning in August 1998 when she became Chair of the Nursing Department at Olive-Harvey College, until 2011, when she had reached the level of Provost. In particular, Henderson claimed that she had been the Dean of Instruction at Olive-Harvey from August 2000 until December 2002, an assertion that is simply untrue. On August 19, 2002, Henderson (then known as Angela Starks) was apparently demoted from her administrative position at Olive-Harvey and returned to teaching. Along with her occupational change, Henderson suffered a 31.6 percent reduction in salary (from $77,353 to $52,873). While there is no reason given for the change, it seems possible that someone at Olive-Harvey was not particularly pleased with Henderson’s performance. Fortunately, Wayne Watson soon rescued Henderson as on January 3, 2003, she was again reassigned, this time to the District Office as Executive Director Career and Technical Education. Along with her promotion came a healthy salary increase to $77,250, virtually the same salary she had been receiving at Olive-Harvey. Henderson never again worked anywhere but the District Office. Henderson neglected to mention the break in her administrative service in her résumé. It is hard to believe that someone would forget that kind of an experience.
To summarize the credentials of the three administrators I have just discussed: in 2009 Sidney lied on her application about her educational qualifications, while likely lying about her apparent non-existent human resource experience at City Colleges and embellishing her human resource experience at CNA. Tyra Austin lied about her educational qualifications, describing her possession of a non-existent degree from Howard University. Austin did not and does not now meet the minimum educational qualifications for the administrative job she holds. Angela Henderson misrepresented the date of her Ph.D. on her 2011 résumé, she failed to meet the minimum experiential qualifications for her position and she omitted information from her résumé that would have changed her work history, albeit marginally. I will continue this discussion in the next post.