The recent announcement of the “search committee” for the new president highlights the fundamental disconnect between Chicago State’s faculty and its administration. Two caveats before I begin this discussion: first, with one notable exception, nothing that follows should be taken as a criticism of any of the faculty involved in this committee; second, while membership on the committee in no way signifies allegiance to Wayne Watson or his administration, it seems fair to say that no one on the committee is objectionable to our diminutive dictator. Can anyone imagine the selection criteria for this committee being created without the primary input of Wayne Watson? One look at the selection process for this committee convinces me that the administration has rigged the search and will do their utmost to ramrod some unacceptable candidate through the process. How many of you are interested in a continuation of the Wayne Watson regime, albeit through a surrogate?
The desire to anoint Watson’s successor necessitates a committee that includes a large number of employees who enjoy no job security. That certainly holds true for the administrators on the committee. While the four faculty members nominated by the Faculty Senate are secure, the four faculty members appointed by the “committee” without faculty input are all non-tenured. Here are some salient facts:
The fourteen nominees submitted by the Faculty Senate included 13 tenured and 1 Clinical Faculty. The average experience of these 14 faculty members comes to 16.6 years with six years representing the shortest length of service of any of the Faculty Senate nominees. In addition, six of the Faculty Senate nominees have taught at Chicago State for at least 20 years. The respective colleges selected all fourteen Faculty Senate nominees.
In contrast, the faculty selections of the “committee” comprise 3 unit A non-tenured faculty and 1 unit B full-time lecturer. The average length of service for these four persons (tenure-track for the unit A faculty) is 3.5 years, with the longest service belonging to the unit B lecturer. Overall, the faculty selected by the “committee” to serve on the search averages 6 years of service, with the senior member at Chicago State for 12 years.
University-wide, 28.7 percent of the tenured/tenure-track faculty are currently probationary. When the non-tenured Clinical and Research faculty are added to the total faculty, the percentage of non-tenured unit A faculty rises to 34.1 percent. However, Watson and Zollar insured that 50 percent of the faculty on the presidential search committee were non-tenured. In addition, selecting Jonathan Jackson out of all the unit B faculty at Chicago State seems significant. Other than being a devoted supporter of Wayne Watson and the son of Watson patron Jesse Jackson, what makes Jackson a better candidate than more senior unit B faculty?
There seem to be a number of inferences one could draw from the search committee selection process. First, the Board and Chicago State’s Administration do not think that senior faculty have any role in the selection of the school’s next president. Second, even though the Faculty Senate submitted both the Faculty Senate and Union Local President’s names (based on election results in the College of Arts and Sciences) the “committee” chose neither person. Therefore, it seems reasonable to conclude that the Board and the administration do not care to have the input of either the democratically elected leader of faculty governance or the democratically elected leader of the local union chapter. In fact, the Board and the administration seem not to understand the importance to a viable process of faculty selection of faculty representatives.
At the beginning of this process, Nikki Zollar emphasized that she had no intention of allowing the Faculty Senate President to serve on the committee, not surprising given the Watson administration’s demonstrated propensity for retaliatory actions. However, as we emphasized in our February letter to Zollar, UPI should have a place in the search for a new university president. Thanks to the administration’s vindictiveness, there are no representatives on this committee from either institution of faculty governance on this campus. Is there any doubt that is by design?
The letter to Zollar included this passage: “The faculty is responsible for the selection of its committee members. This is a fundamental principle of shared governance.” Nikki Zollar and Wayne Watson have ignored this principle. This insures a contentious selection process and the potential for widespread faculty resistance to any candidate selected in such a fundamentally opaque and dishonest way. That is our administration’s choice. So be it.