Saturday, February 1, 2014

From Patronage Pit to the People’s Pride

I am posting this on behalf of a colleague who had technical issues with the website:

Our indefatigable colleagues, who have posted to this blog with great frequency and determination, have made a compelling case that the current regime has failed stunningly. But this is no spectacle for the merriment of onlookers, although the media exposes of the past year may have entertained some who marvel at such destructive ineptitude and foolish decisions. Every member of the faculty must and presumably does take the debacle seriously and with grave concern. We do not agree on every particular of the critique, but we all recognize that our university is in peril. We have known for far too long that our students, and their families and neighborhoods, are denied the quality of education that they need and want and that this regime has refused to provide as it plays petty political games and treats this university as a patronage pit.

So we recognize that, as documented repeatedly in this faculty blog and various investigations by the Faculty Senate, the current regime has failed. It has demonstrated a woeful lack of basic understanding of what a university is and how it should function. It has acted with hostility toward faculty, deals dismissively with staff, shows indifference to students, and disrespects the community.

Unless the current regime takes on the monumental task of transforming itself, with all that that involves, it must end. It must end for the good of the university and all whom it serves.

We must replace it with an effective and informed administration that acts in good faith and works with all in a spirit of good will. How can we get there? Recognizing that we can control only our own actions, faculty nevertheless must take the lead. Previously the Faculty Senate and the faculty union cast overwhelming votes of no-confidence. We need to reinforce that message and to make clear that it represents a strong consensus of CSU faculty.

Hence, coming days will bring more votes of no-confidence. We must use them to inform and mobilize, and to send the clear message of massive denunciation by this faculty of this regime.

Complementing the votes, a petition shall soon circulate. It seeks the public statement by tenured faculty of their condemnation of this regime and their urgent request that those with the authority to replace it do so. To make the message clear and powerful, we need dozens of tenured professors to step forward and identify themselves in their principled opposition to the regime.

We understand and appreciate that this entails some considerable risk, given the record of the executive administration and its avowed intention to stonewall. We can expect veiled threats and individual blandishments. Yet, if tenured faculty will not take this step, what hope do we have of convincing others to take the actions that they should take?

So please sign the petition and encourage others to do so. Also, if you have any reservations, please talk with your colleagues, including those who have been resisting the regime with great vigor, as well as the much larger number who voice their criticisms more quietly.

We all would like to spend even more time in our classrooms, our laboratories, studios, libraries, archives, and field research settings, our office consultations, and to productive meetings to maintain and enhance the academic integrity of this university as a genuine and valued community resource. That is, we would like to concentrate on the primary scholarly commitments that we profess. But we cannot do so until we have done all that we can to ensure that Chicago State University honors its mission. We must continue to resist those who undermine that mission, and to expand the mobilization against them.

Our integrity depends on it. We owe it to our students. They show up in bitter cold weather and frequently against great adversity to meet with us, to seek knowledge and understanding, to improve their lives and support their families and better their communities. They need to know that it is worth it. They need a regime that cares about academic quality and that acts with integrity.

The reign of error must end. Chicago State University must show itself worthy of the South Side, truly becoming what it is: a state university in Chicago. It is not enough to have the name, while the institution stumbles and falls under gross mismanagement and lack of authentic leadership. Chicago State University finally must live up to its promise, and become the people’s pride. Let’s do all that we can to make that happen.

Douglas Thomson


  1. The students must speak up as well.

  2. Thank you, Dr. Thomson! Extremely well articulated piece of prose. I certainly could not have said it better. I hope my tenured colleagues will agree with you and sign the petition. Wayne's only argument is that it is only a handful of faculty who are displeased with his behavior. Such a petition can put that lie to rest. But, only if our colleagues are willing to put their names on the dotted line. Otherwise, we will continue to suffer through Wayne's administration.