Friday, February 27, 2015

Another Case of Retaliation at Chicago State: The Watson Administration Closes the HIV-AIDS Research Institute to Punish its Director for Standing Up to Them

What follows is my reconstruction of the events that resulted in the Watson administration’s elimination of Chicago State’s HIV-AIDS Research and Policy Institute and the removal of its Director, Tom Lyons. This vindictive and retaliatory action, apparently driven by Watson and Angela Henderson, exposes the university to the potential loss of a $2 million grant and demonstrates the administration’s appetite for vengeance, even at the cost of our students’ and the community's welfare. To regular readers of this blog, this is a familiar story.

As are all of Watson’s administrators, Lyons occupied a precarious position. Save for a small cadre of insiders who can apparently do nothing bad enough to incur Watson’s enmity, other CSU administrators are only one poorly chosen comment away from receiving their walking papers. The failure to express sufficient enthusiasm for the asinine and inept ideas of Watson and his insider cronies, or the high crime of “disloyalty” for even speaking in opposition to the great leader immediately exposes the perpetrator to increased scrutiny. Ultimately, if the miscreant is unable to rehabilitate her or himself, the Watson slime machine kicks into gear. Here is what happened to Tom Lyons.

Lyons began questioning the administration’s treatment of Willie Preston in February 2014. What he knew spurred him to learn more and in March 2014, he began to conclude that something was amiss in the official story of Willie Preston’s behavior. On March 21, 2014, he wrote this in an e-mail:

I spoke with Marie Donovan, a faculty member at DePaul University who was present at the IBHE meeting last fall which was the grounds for Willie Preston's expulsion. She confirmed that he made no threats. In fact, she stated that at the time, she believed what he was saying, although she thought it was the wrong forum to raise the charges.

About a week after this meeting, Angela Henderson filed an order of protection against Willie at the Markham County Courthouse. He was expelled after this

In mid-April, the obvious injustice of the Preston case spurred Lyons to write one of the members of the Board of Trustees in an attempt to advocate for Willie Preston. On May 6, 2014, Lyons attended Preston’s hearing on the trespassing charges the university filed against Preston in March 2014. At the Cook County Circuit Court in Markham, he encountered Angela Henderson, her husband, the CSU Director of Judicial Affairs and two uniformed campus police. Lyons also saw the cozy relationship that existed between Preston’s attorney (who was trying to convince him to plead guilty) and at least one university administrator. He describes the scene this way:

Although my understanding is that she was not required to be there, Mrs. Henderson attended with her husband Victor (Watson's personal attorney), along with Dierdre Cato the director of judicial affairs and two uniformed campus police. I assume that Mrs. Henderson planned to testify and weep emotionally in front of the judge as Willie tells me she did at his expulsion hearing.

Willie's attorney, Bernard Sheldon, showed up almost two hours late. Deirdre Cato actually called him on his cell phone in the hallway after the hearing and he went over to talk to her. He was overheard telling her ‘there was nothing he could do’ (to prevent the continuance?). The judge issued the continuance only because Henderson's side filed some paperwork late.

So Willie was nearly tried and sentenced in a courtroom where he was represented by a lawyer who was apparently in cahoots with Watson and Henderson.

Although she did not speak to Lyons at the hearing, Henderson seemed quite displeased to see him. According to Lyons, she had “daggers” in her eyes. Lyons then compounded his treason against the Watson crony by reading a letter from Willie Preston to the Board of Trustees on May 9, 2014 (following the choking and arrest of Jokari Miller at the same meeting). Here are some excerpts from Preston’s letter:

I was suspended and ultimately expelled from CSU because I openly ran on a platform to utilize the office of the student trustee to express what I grew to understand to be the will of the student body, which is the removal of President Wayne Watson as President of CSU. To be clear, my removal from the university was purely politically motivated. In addition, since that time, I’ve been further attacked by university officials for continuing my endeavor to articulate the reasons why CSU needs new leadership. Specifically, I’ve been falsely accused of a number of ugly things by Interim Provost Angela Henderson.”

After his May activities, Lyons realized that Angela Henderson had started asking questions of his Dean about the HIV-AIDS Center’s function and apparently began suggesting that “institutes” on campus should be abolished. Despite Henderson’s ham-handed threats, Lyons continued his effort to see justice done for Willie Preston, which undoubtedly estranged him even further from the Watson regime.

On December 19, 2014, Willie Preston won a complete victory over Angela Henderson and Chicago State when a Circuit Court Judge vacated the specious order of protection illegally granted to Angela Henderson. Ultimately, on February 5, 2015, another Circuit Court Judge dismissed the ridiculous criminal trespassing charge against Preston (which had been based on the bogus order of protection). Note to Watson’s stooges: this is what “exoneration” looks like, in contrast to having some well-connected “fixer” take care of a troublesome problem.

Frustrated with its inability to railroad Willie Preston into jail, the administration had to find someone to punish. Given his consistent support of Preston, Tom Lyons seemed a likely candidate. On January 23, 2015, our execrable administration notified Lyons that his research institute would be closed and that he would be returned to faculty status. As an added slap in the face, the administration told him he would receive the minimum salary possible for the rank of Associate Professor.

In response to the administration’s obvious retaliation, Lyons wrote the following letter:

I think the letter speaks for itself and underscores the ethical bankruptcy of the Watson administration.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

And This Just In...

So Governor Rauner has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, Blago and the Jellyfish and appointed yet another pastor to the CSU Board of Trustees. That makes four pastors in the past six years. No other state university has even had one. The pandering to African-Americans knows no party boundaries. And there were no other qualified candidates to serve this university? Maybe someone with experience is higher education? What kind of crony nonsense is this???
SMH (Shaking My Head) as my daughter would text.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


So I was reading about tenure recently, which is strange because I have been tenured for 16 years so it never really crossed my mind to re-examine it until recently. I have been asked why do I post the things I do on this blog and why do I give voice to the dissatisfaction felt by many of my colleagues. I actually do this because it is the right thing to do and I feel the burden that tenure imposes. Tenure is not a job for life. It is a responsibility to protect the higher ideals of the institution. It is actually an arrangement between the faculty member and the university that due process will be used to dismiss a tenured professor and the grounds for that will be evaluated by faculty. Its original purpose was to protect academic freedom, the introduction and spread of controversial ideas and the criticism of those in power. Without tenure the academy is meaningless. So as my colleagues and I expose the utterly contemptible mismanagement of this university, I am heartened by that fact that I am using my tenure status to serve the greater good of the university. I have advised junior colleagues for some years to avoid conflict as petty tyrants will deny tenure to vulnerable employees. The current president has abrogated the contract so often that it is now virtually a suggestion in his eyes. Therefore, I have come to believe that un-tenured faculty should stay out of the line of fire because their academic freedom is not as protected as mine is. Additionally, un-tenured faculty tend not to have longevity at the institution thus don’t have the corporate memory of the place. Consequently, their perspectives aren’t necessarily as broad or deep as those of us who have been here more than ten years. There has been discussion in the Faculty Senate about having tenured faculty only serve in that body so that vulnerable employees are not subjected to retaliation for voting no confidence in a plagiarizing provost or condemning the actions of a failed president (pick an action). The Senate President must be tenured so that pressure cannot be applied when misconduct is detected and brought to the public's attention. This principle applies to certain search committees as well. The current regime cherry picks faculty amenable to their ambitions and that is  detrimental to the university. A faculty member with less than three years of service at CSU should never be on the search committee for a vice president. Though not a member of the UPI Executive Committee, I would imagine that tenured faculty would best serve the university in protecting the contractual rights of the members. Otherwise untoward pressure could be brought to bear upon un-tenured faculty serving in critical union roles. My invitation to my tenured faculty colleagues is to embrace the responsibility of tenure and join in protecting the university from further harm.

In a previous post I attempted to provide a balanced critique of the role of the former Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones. After some reflection, I discovered there were some other important things that he did for the university that I did not mention. First, he got the university a percentage of the gambling money from the last gambling license awarded by the State. That battle yielded several million dollars in funds used to directly support our students. The lack of financial resources is the number one impediment for our students. Other state universities expressed their displeasure over CSU getting the funds thus it is imperative that those funds be used and distributed appropriately. Putting someone with no financial aid experience in charge of those funds was sheer folly. As the softest target in the state for budget cuts, I hope the university isn't at risk of losing those monies. Senator Jones also provided start up money for the university to open a Policy Institute, which in subsequent years failed because of university administrative mismanagement. Like his support in other areas it was done without fanfare or publicity. Senator Jones was also instrumental in getting money for the university to get several of its academic programs and the College of Business accredited. Those activities cost money and the past president leaned on Senator Jones to get resources. It was usually the administration that found a way to mismanage those resources. Loyal readers, if you know of other instances of Senator Jones providing help to the university, let me know.

And finally watch this space for the next chapter of As The University Gets Sued.

Monday, February 23, 2015

An Update on the Unfolding Presidential Search Process

On February 18, 2015, Nikki Zollar, Chicago State University Trustee and Chair of the incipient Presidential Search Committee sent a memorandum to Faculty Senate President Beverly detailing the procedure for selection of faculty for the upcoming presidential search. Zollar "invites" the Faculty Senate to provide her a list of "nominees" (at least 5 [five]), from which someone--ostensibly Zollar or Zollar in concert with other Search Committee members--will choose 2 (two). In addition, three other faculty committee members will be chosen by someone unspecified. Zollar's memorandum insists that the Faculty Senate provide these names by Wednesday, February 25, 2015. In a search that simply must be transparent and above-board, Zollar's various conditions represent a somewhat inauspicious beginning.

In the 2008-09 presidential search, faculty committee members emerged from a democratic election held in each college. The six faculty chosen by their peers to serve on the committee came from each one of the university's four colleges, the library and I believe, the Counseling Center. In sum, faculty from all the university's academic units had at least a voice in the process. This selection procedure stands in stark contrast to the recent top-down directions from the current Search Committee Chair.

The members of the Chicago State Faculty Senate discussed this issue over the weekend and came to the consensus that we should draft an open letter to Zollar detailing our objections to a process in which the majority of the "faculty" representatives will be chosen by someone other than the faculty itself. Even the Faculty Senate's "nominees" would be screened for suitability based on some secret criteria. Remarkably, Zollar's memorandum specifically excludes the incumbent Faculty Senate President from service on this vital committee.

Speaking for myself, Zollar's memorandum does nothing to allay my fears that this search already has a pre-selected candidate. Recent "nationwide" searches conducted by the Chicago State Board of Trustees do not offer much reason for optimism--we have spent lots of money only to wind up with candidates whose qualifications are simply inadequate. Frankly, this search appears to begin by following a familiar script. Given the problems we have experienced over the past several years, I find it unimaginable that anyone wants to see a reprise of the kind of contention that this campus experienced in 2008-09.

Ultimately, I believe that Zollar's response to our letter will clarify the intention of Chicago State's Board. I think that if the Board addresses our concerns with a heavy-handed "my way or the highway" pronouncement that our university can expect another divisive and unproductive search. The Faculty Senate is willing to work with other members of the university community to insure the viability of the search process. We believe more than sufficient time exists to create a process that will meet with the approval of all the interested constituencies. How the Board feels about the search we will soon discover. Here are the two pieces of correspondence:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

What Wayne Watson May Ask of His Administrators: A Study in Pathological Leadership

Job announcements for administrative positions at Chicago State include typical boilerplate statements about specific qualifications and requirements. Ostensibly, these qualifications and requirements represent the sum total of what an applicant must possess to be able to land an administrative job here. However, Wayne Watson has his own set of qualifications and requirements. Documentary evidence uncovered over the past several years enables me to offer this assessment of these Watsonian criteria for administrative employment. While not all administrators can expect to be called upon to perform the duties enumerated below, a number have demonstrated their loyalty to Watson by participating in one or more of these activities. Altogether, these distinct and unspoken requirements paint a portrait of a purported university administration that can best be described as pathological.

The most important criterion Watson considers is political reliability. This overshadows all other considerations, especially competence. A cursory glance at the top-level administrators at Chicago State reveals the large number of well-positioned personal friends and cronies in the Watson regime. Watson expects constant acquiescence to his demands and pronouncements, no matter how unethical or how much they might contravene established policy or even law. Watson describes the willingness of his flunkies to unquestionably do his bidding as “integrity,” which means that anyone who opposes his edicts acts without integrity. There are a number of actions Watson may call upon his subordinates to undertake on his behalf:

First, when called upon to do so, he expects his administrators to lie and cover-up administrative incompetence or malfeasance, regardless of the potential damage to their reputations or the risk to their positions. For a specific example of this kind of Watsonian behavior refer to the James Crowley case or the earlier case of Maria Moore.

Second, when called upon to do so, he expects his administrators to participate in the efforts of the Watson slime machine to not only discredit, but destroy his critics and perceived “enemies.” See again, Watson’s dealings with James Crowley and Maria Moore along with the administration’s treatment of Willie Preston.

Third, when called upon to do so, he expects his administrators to take the full blame for Watson’s failures, despite the consequences for their own careers. A number of people have been victimized by this pathology, including to name just a few: Lois Davis, Carnice Hill and Mary Butler. The layoffs and staff reductions coming soon will likely produce a new crop of victims of this pathology.

Fourth, as a companion piece to Watson’s long demonstrated propensity to blame others for his failures, when called upon to do so, Watson expects his administrators to remain silent while Watson takes the credit for accomplishments he essentially has little to do with. The resplendent examples of this pathology abound. This deadly leadership quality is neatly summarized by Mike Myatt in Forbes Magazine: “Real leaders are accountable. They don’t blame others, don’t claim credit for the success of their team, but always accept responsibility for failures that occur on their watch.”

Fifth, before and after Watson’s scandals come to light, he expects his administrators to maintain strict silence in order to protect him from scrutiny. Ths pathology falls under the rubric of “not airing our dirty linen in public,” as if this place were some kind of fiefdom. Most important, Watson’s constant huffing and puffing about “transparency” is dishonest and designed to cover for an administrative culture that is anything but transparent. This pathology includes the university administration’s consistent refusal to respond to requests for information filed under FOIA.

Obviously, there are a number of honest, hard-working administrators at Chicago State. However, enough administrators have been willing to enable or even actively assist Watson as he sets about the task of destroying this institution. As I have said previously, Chicago State is not managed like an educational institution. We are plagued with a crony-riven administration that has demonstrated both its vindictiveness and its incompetence. Watson and his cronies have driven the school to the brink of extinction and unless we experience some kind of deus ex machina, it seems likely this situation will become more and more intolerable.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Just a Bit of Balance

So my distinguished colleague Corday has consistently highlighted the iniquity of the patronage pit that is Chicago State University. Corday has pointed out that one of the key figures in the ascension of CSU to legendary patronage pit status has been former Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones. What has been written is true AND there is always more to the story. 
In the spirit of full disclosure, you loyal readers must know that I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago and I view local politics a bit differently than my colleagues who aren’t from Chicago. I expect cronyism, and graft and corruption. I don’t expect high ethical standards from elected officials or their hangers on like CSU’s disgraced president. My colleagues from out of state are amazed at the level of corruption and I experience it as normal for Illinois.
Second, politics in Chicago is never as cut and dried as one would imagine. There are elements of race, ethnicity and class that can never be disaggregated from the larger political context of Chicago and Illinois. The participation of African-Americans in the political process has rarely been one of full and equal actor. Black votes have been taken for granted by the political machine for decades. Black elected officials have often made sacrifices that taken out of context appear suspect but I believe require a deeper inquiry. With that in mind, let’s paint a richer picture of the man portrayed as the Godfather of CSU.
The university’s past president, Elnora Daniel, relied extensively, almost exclusively, on Senator Jones to cover shortfalls because of administrative mismanagement. When the university would come up short it was his leadership behind the scenes, without fanfare that kept CSU afloat.
When Walgreens approached the university about a College of Pharmacy there were many battles
fought in Springfield to keep CSU from getting what would be a jewel for the university. It was Senator Jones who, again, behind the scenes and without fanfare, ensured that CSU’s College of Pharmacy would open. He didn’t concern himself with the academic or programmatic details. He focused on the big picture of how the College of Pharmacy would benefit the university, the community, the city and the state. It is safe to say, that without his efforts, there would be no College of Pharmacy at Chicago State University.
This university had needed a new library for many years. It was Senator Jones who worked tirelessly to ensure that the university got a library. If you check some of the press coverage at the time you will see there were some who thought CSU was getting undeserved largesse as a result of Senator Jones’ efforts. As a member of the community I can assure you we needed a new library. In the digital era, it is unlikely we will ever get another library so this one was critical to our future.
At the same time, the university was trying to get the library built, it was also trying to get a Convocation Center. Previously, CSU relied upon the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Pavilion to conduct its semi-annual commencement exercises. Beyond cost, it was extremely inconvenient for staff, faculty and students to attend. So Senator Jones pulled double duty and ensured that money was available for both projects simultaneously. I can only imagine the political capital that was spent to have both projects brought online. 
Before that the ILSAMP program, which has produced several hundred minority undergraduate and graduate degree awardees in STEM areas since 1993, experienced a funding shortfall in 1999 and it was Senator Jones who provided $500K as a one year bridge until federal funding could be restored.
And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Emil Jones Foundation made a $200K contribution to the university after he left the Illinois State Senate. His support for this university has usually been done quietly and without fanfare. That had me look at his political persona and I concluded, he is not the kind of politician who is self aggrandizing. He doesn’t call a press conference for every minor performance of his duties. He doesn’t publicly remind beneficiaries of his efforts. In short, he has done what he could, fought the political battles to protect the university and help advance it. He never got caught up in the details, just the big picture of how might he make the university better.
So it was very disturbing to hear that the current president actually considered an offer by a large corporation to rename the Convocation Center that bears his name. I would hope that small token of appreciation wouldn’t be swept away by this failed administration given how much Emil Jones has done for this university for decades, both as an elected official and a private citizen. It smacks of a petulance unbecoming any president but not surprising from this one.
At the end of the day Wayne Watson is still president of this university because Emil Jones did what he has done for decades, namely do what he thought was right for the institution. It turned out to be the wrong choice and I don’t fault him for it. Leaders make decisions. Sometimes they are the wrong ones. It doesn't stop them from making other decisions. All I want from him now is to do the next right thing and help this university rebuild from the damage of an utterly failed president. I would imagine if he were interested, he would do it as he always has, behind the scenes and without fanfare.
Senator Jones, once again, will you step into the breach and help rescue an institution that you have invested so much in?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Here Comes Another Lawsuit

Another "disgruntled" former employee filed a lawsuit against Wayne Watson and Chicago State yesterday. As soon as details are available, we'll let you know.

The New Financial Audit: Our Inept Administration Spins

Hey everyone, it’s time to get excited: the first audit report is out! This is the financial audit, it’s full of numbers and things like that, but there’s some interesting text too. That is what I will focus on in this post, but I promise that I’ll have another soon with lots and lots of figures. In this piece, I will examines the Management Discussion and Analysis and offer my own translations of the meanings of various segments of this multi-page monument to dissembling. This is where the school’s administration gets to spin like crazy to give the impression they have some kind of an idea what they are doing. Of course, we know differently. Along the way, I will test the veracity of Watson’s “right-sizing” bullshit. Anyway, if you want to see the report for yourself, it’s on the Illinois Auditor General’s web site.

After several years of claiming that the university is in a “strong” financial position, this year’s iteration of the MD&A, is somewhat more cautious. This year’s “highlights” are also a classic example of the rhetorical gyrations upon which this administration depends to hide its incompetence. However, their ineptitude inevitably seeps through. In the 2014 “highlights,” the administration talked only about financial matters, somewhat appropriate in a financial audit. However, there were not very many financial “highlights” handy in 2015. Thus, the administration had to change the subject. Rather than talking about finances, it talked about graduation and retention. Of particular note are these passages, which should induce gales of laughter from anyone acquainted with Chicago State’s dire enrollment situation. First, “[t]he University continues to remain competitive in the Chicagoland higher education market by . . . building on-demand niches . . .” (what are those?) Then, “the University continues to allocate resources for student recruiting . . . with proven results.” Certainly, the university can point to proven results, a drop of only 2544 students in four years. Here is the excerpt:

In translation, I think what our administrators are really saying is something along the lines of “we are utterly clueless as to how to address our worsening enrollment crisis, nothing we try seems to work and we hope you won’t notice.”

Of course, the administration of a school in the process of “right-sizing” its student population need not concern itself with enrollment declines. After all, are not those losses part of the master plan? Wayne Watson has, at least for the past few months, asserted that these enrollment declines are all part of building a stronger institution. Unfortunately, the behavior of our administration belies his ridiculous claims. There are a number of references in the financial audit to the deleterious effects on our financial condition caused by our enrollment decline. Embedded in these references is additional information that speaks to the epic failures of our enrollment strategies and the people who create and implement them. Two excerpts from the report address the enrollment decline:

In excerpt one, we see that the administration adopted “deeper tuition discounts” in a vain attempt to check the exodus of students from the univesity. In excerpt two, the administration described its enrollment strategies as “increased scholarship allowances . . . to level tuition enrollment.” The excerpts:

I think that what the administration is truly saying here is that “we are terrified that this runaway enrollment drop will continue and we are willing to give money to anyone who will take it, as long as it keeps them in school and, most important, keeps us employed in our highly-compensated positions.” Unfortunately for that ever-growing army of administrators looting the school, neither strategy appears particularly successful.

No discussion of Chicago State’s administration would be complete without the revelation of another lie coming from personnel in the Cook building. On January 13, 2015, at a Faculty Senate meeting, Angela Henderson told the Senate that the idea for ending the contract between the university and the CSU foundation came from the Board. Here is a summary of her comments:

Here is the material from the audit report. It oozes dishonesty:

Lo and behold, in the most recent audit, the administration told the Auditors about its plans to create a “new” fund-raising entity for Chicago State. As the administration’s statement indicates, the idea for this move came from “the University,” which, of course, means Wayne Watson. Is there any wonder the people in our administration have lost their credibility? Personally, I think it is time to stop acting like the people who “run” this university have the faintest idea what they are doing. They are simply a bunch of incompetents who have taken us to the brink.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Wayne Watson, Failure: Why is He Such a Terrible President?

As Wayne Watson desperately hangs on to his position at Chicago State, it seems like the “end game” is becoming clearer. He intends to saddle the university with one of his cronies as successor, an effort the Board of Trustees is likely to endorse. This will insure the ultimate destruction of Chicago State since the most likely crony candidate has done much to contribute to the multiple failures of the Watson regime.

As we begin 2015, Chicago State University is fighting for its existence. No need to go into the disastrous numbers again, although they are a concrete symbol of administrative failure. The potential consequences of that failure should be apparent to anyone who cares about this school. Looking back over the past five-plus years, the kind of problems we are experiencing are understandable. After all, in 2009, the Board of Trustees forced arguably the worst university president in the United States down the throats of Chicago State’s students, staff and faculty.

In 2009, Wayne Watson had worn out his welcome at City Colleges and with Mayor Richard Daley. Although a loyal political hack, Watson’s tenure as City Colleges’ Chancellor had produced alarming enrollment declines and an embarrassing drop in the system’s academic performance. Of course, as a party acolyte, he could not be unceremoniously discarded so Daley cronies like Leon Finney and Richard Tolliver decided to install him at Chicago State as sort of a reward for his years of sycophancy. After all, there are jobs and contracts to dole out at Chicago State.

Not surprisingly, Watson got off to a rocky start at Chicago State, as he became embroiled in a contract controversy which delayed his “official” start date until October 1, 2009. Of course, by that time, he was double-dipping, drawing a pension of around $140,000 while earning another $250,000 from Chicago State. As part of his going-away gifts from the taxpayers of Chicago, Watson also got a nice payout worth around $800,000. Not a bad deal. He increased his yearly earnings by about one third and got a mansion to live in and a car and a driver to boot. I guess failure has its own set of rewards, at least in Illinois.

For the past five years, this failure has blighted the school. Why is he such a bad president? In 2013, K. Johnson Bowles analyzed the role of the university president for the Inside Higher Ed. Here are some excerpts from that article, see how many remind you of our president:

“The institutional leader must exude passion, urgency and confidence (not to be confused with arrogance).” (how would you describe Wayne Watson?)

“A president must know the law and have excellent counsel, must ensure that the institution acts with integrity and honesty . . .” (does any of this apply to Watson’s administration at Chicago State?)

“And by the time a problem is great enough to land in front of a president, the problem is often quite large . . .” (our president doesn’t deal well with “large” problems, enrollment for instance. Instead, he micro-manages the minute details of the university’s day-to-day operations, particularly in faculty areas of influence)

“Yes, it is important for the leader to be emblematic of higher education by being an expert in her field and having a terminal degree.” (Have you stopped laughing about this one yet? Watson an “expert” in his field?)

“A president must be able to relate to, understand, and appreciate all disciplines within the institution.” (Not much to say about this one is there?)

The role of university president “requires a superior type of intelligence. . . the type of intelligence that synthesizes and applies knowledge in a visionary way to create strategies for success and distinction. It is an innovative, deep, steadfast intelligence seen in the likes of a Nobel laureate.” (Another thigh-slapper. Wayne Watson, Nobel laureate? Maybe he can get one of his friends or cronies to bestow that title upon him before his departure)

K. Erskine Bowles, “The President’s Many Roles.” Insider Higher Ed July 1, 2013.

Here’s the link to the article:

Keeping in mind the outline sketched by Bowles, here is an example of Wayne Watson’s “leadership.” It is difficult to imagine any university president dealing with such mundane matters as hiring. Here at Chicago State, however, Watson inserts himself into hiring decisions in remarkable ways. This is one example from 2010-11, sent recently by one of our faculty colleagues. I could cite more but this seems to capture the essence of Watson’s interference: “this person [applied for a faculty position] in our department . . . in 2010-2011 . . . the president wanted to screen every applicant's name and requested her CV. Before the end of the day, the president sent the CV back with a BIG NO written on it. We did not proceed with the hiring process.”

While Watson busies himself with trivial matters, the house burns around him. Despite a mountain of evidence proving the abject failure of his presidency, the Board does nothing. In his most recent contract, the Board’s “performance criteria” remains what it had been in 2009. Here is the relevant portion of the contract:

Of the seven criteria, Watson clearly has failed in four: enrollment, fund-raising, the university’s public image and faculty relations (despite assertions to the contrary from Watson stooges). While audit findings have dropped, they reached stratospheric levels early in the Watson presidency, so the jury is still out on that criterion.

Speaking of juries and thinking about the president’s need to “know the law,” receive “excellent counsel,” and insure that the “institution acts with honesty and integrity,” Maria Moore at City Colleges and James Crowley, Willie Preston and Jokari Miller come to mind. Of course, honesty and integrity are not specific criteria for evaluation. In Wayne Watson’s case, perhaps they should be.

So what will Wayne Watson’s legacy be? According to university public relations people, Watson’s achievements include “renewed accreditation, a reduction in the number of audit findings, an increase in academic standards and better relations with the South Side community.” Heady accomplishments in five years, and only one connected to the purported evaluation criteria. Interesting that the university fails to mention Watson’s singular achievement: his dramatic expansion of both the number of administrators and the salary expenditures for those persons. An article about another university president seems quite applicable to Chicago State: “a whole lot of it (money) goes directly into the pockets of a metastasizing cadre of university administrators, whose jobs, as nearly as I’ve been able to determine . . . consist of inventing justifications for their own existence while harassing faculty . . .”

Kate Thayer and Jodi Cohen, “Chicago State president to retire,” Chicago Tribune, February 6, 2015.

Paul Campos, “The Lessons of the Megalomaniac University President,” Time June 6, 2013.

Frankly, Wayne Watson has never been up to this job. If he is not removed immediately, if he is allowed to anoint his successor, the university will surely fail. In a major Civil War film, one of the characters remarks that “there’s men dying down that road.” In the case of Chicago State University, if we follow the course that Watson has mapped out, there will be a university dying down that road.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Okay Folks, We're Definitely Taking on Water: Are There Any Lifeboats? Is There Another Ship to Come to Our Rescue?

Back in December, I asked if Chicago State’s enrollment would drop below 5,000 for Spring 2015. Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding yes:

The dismal statistics continue: a drop of 2544 students since Fall 2010 (34.6 percent)and nine consecutive semesters of enrollment losses. What does the Watson administration plan to do about this continuing disaster? Based on their history, they will continue to spin and dissimulate, and continue to set ridiculous and unachievable goals. If this group of administrators remains in place, Chicago State is doomed. Here’s what the H.M.S. Chicago State will look like in a few months:

Now, Wayne Watson is telling the Board that we’re “right-sizing” the university. However, this latest insult to our intelligence from our erstwhile president has apparently been articulated only since May 2014, when our enrollment plunged below 5300. Of course, that was nearly 500 disappearing students ago. Just five months earlier, Watson sang an entirely different tune as he told the Board that increasing enrollment was his administration’s “top priority.” Compare that comment, made on December 13, 2013, with the May 9, 2014, revelation:

The truest indication of how the administration views the enrollment decline appears in its pathetic efforts to create “goals” that are completely asinine and unrealistic. At the same meeting Watson talked about “right-sizing” one of his administrators told the Board about Enrollment Management’s goal of a 3 percent increase in enrollment for Fall 2014. This goal, a percentage increase no university or college system has ever experienced under Watson’s leadership, sought to raise Chicago State’s enrollment from its anemic Fall 2013 total of 5701 to 5882. How did the administration do? They missed slightly, since the actual Fall 2014 enrollment of 5211 fell 671 students (11.4 percent) short of Enrollment Management’s magic number.

Undaunted by what should have been an embarrassment, the Watson administration engaged in even more fantastic thinking about the possibilities of a dramatic enrollment increase for Spring 2015. Ignoring the easily discovered history of enrollment declines from Fall to Spring, the deep thinkers in the Watson administration decided that 5597 (a 7.4 percent increase) students represented a reasonable goal for Spring 2015. Of course, our intrepid and highly-compensated folks in Enrollment Management fell a little short again. The final total of 4818 is 779 fewer (16.2 percent) students than they desired to enroll. So what kind of nonsensical “metrics” will be treated to as we look toward another enrollment debacle in Fall 2015? How about an enrollment of 7,000. Oh, I forgot that we cannot have that many students since that would make us a “very different” school than the incredible shrinking institution Watson envisions. Really, you bunch of incompetents, just stop this bullshit. This problem is far beyond your limited abilities.

Although I take no satisfaction in being somewhat more accurate than the folks who are paid large sums of money to “manage” our enrollment (back in December, I said 4850 for the Spring), I will go out on a limb and predict that our Fall 2015 enrollment will likely drop to around 4700. I fervently hope I am wrong. What do you think it will be?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Here Comes Another Crony Hire: Wayne Watson Creates a New Vice President's Position for one of his Friends

Since 2010, Chicago State’s administration has included a position titled Dean of Student Affairs. Sometime early this year, Wayne Watson apparently upgraded that position to an Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. Although the search is just commencing, the position upgrade, the job announcement, and the prospective hiring date mark this as another sham search, designed to do nothing more than provide a high-paying and fancy-titled job to another Watson crony.

Obviously, Wayne Watson can create any number of Vice Presidents and Associate Vice Presidents for Chicago State. With the addition of this new Vice President’s position, we now have 12, compared to 6 in fiscal 2011.

You might think that the requirements for an Associate Vice President would be far more stringent than the requirements for a Dean, but in the case of this position, that is entirely untrue. In 2011, the university searched for a Dean of Student Affairs. The “minimum” educational requirement was a “Master’s Degree in Adult Education, counseling, higher education administration or related field.” In addition, the 2011 announcement specified that the candidates must have “a minimum of five (5) years of administrative level experience in a two-year or four-year college/university, or student services setting.” For this position, the university’s “preferred” educational qualifications included: “an earned doctorate degree in an academic discipline, curriculum and instruction or higher education administration,” with at least “five (5) years postsecondary experience at the executive level.” Additionally, the university preferred a candidate with “Experience at the four-year college/university level [and] experience at a Dean’s level.”

Now moving forward to 2015, what does the university require for the newly-minted Associate Vice President’s position? Surely, the requirements must be at least as exacting as those for the Dean in 2011. They are not even close. In fact, they are an embarrassment for any four-year university and illustrate perfectly Wayne Watson’s intention to shoehorn another crony into his administration. For “minimum requirements,” the position announcement only asks for “a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent education and experience.” So, someone with a high school diploma, GED or no education of any kind is qualified to apply, provided they have sufficient “education and experience.” As for the “preferred qualifications,” here they are: “Five (5) years administrative level experience in a two-year or four-year college/university, or student services setting, Experience (unspecified) at the four-year college/university level, Experience at a Dean’s level.” Given the minimum qualifications for this position, my eleven-year-old granddaughter looks to be qualified to apply. These are the stringent qualifications for a senior management position at Chicago State? No wonder we are a laughingstock.

Finally, the proposed start date for the successful candidate is April 1, 2015. What kind of an applicant pool will we generate between now and early March, when a list of candidates must be developed to meet the hiring deadline? Like lots of earlier Watson controlled searches, this one will have a short application window with a very small group of applicants, although the pre-chosen candidate will undoubtedly be present. I have an idea. Let’s get the Hollins group to do a “national” search for a candidate and pay them about $100,000. After all, the university seems to be able to use executive search firms for any administrative searches. That way, Wayne Watson could get some cover from his favorite crony search firm. Based on all the warning signs, this search will truly be a scam on the taxpayers and the staff, students and faculty at our school. The only question that remains is the identity of the already annointed candidate. Any ideas?

Here's the 2011 announcement:

Here's the 2015 announcement for the new, improved Vice President's position:

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Is it a University Administration or an Amateurish Version of the Sopranos?: The Watson Administration and the Abuse of Power

In their recent hagiography of Wayne Watson, the Sun Times through its hack reporter parroted the Watson company line that our failed president has “enhanced . . . accountability and transparency.” As we have chronicled on this blog, that assertion is nothing more than a nostrum designed to cover a multitude of secretive and dishonest activities. In contrast to this narrative of Watson the Great, I offer this: the Watson administration has operated more like a corrupt political machine or crime family than a university administration. Members of the Watson inner circle have demonstrated their willingness to lie, even under oath, and abuse the power of their positions by using university policies, procedures and structures to engage in the politics of personal destruction. They are not averse to manufacturing false charges and they are certainly willing to use trumped-up accusations to dump students into the tender arms of the criminal justice system. Their consistent misuse of power underscores their desire to destroy their enemies with fabricated allegations.

The terms “arbitrary” and “capricious” are often invoked to describe administrative actions that are an abuse of discretion. Sometimes these actions result from simple administrative incompetence or ignorance. In the case of many Watson administrators, however, these abusive actions are anything but arbitrary. They are designed to target the most troublesome members of the university community, people who have demonstrated their lack of obeisance to the great Watson and who have committed the cardinal sin of publicizing his various unethical activities. After all, according to Watson’s supporters, the problem with the university’s image is not Watson’s various scandals or the enrollment declines, or the immense judgements against the school due to Watson’s misconduct—the problem is the public exposure of these behaviors. Just recently, I had a conversation along these lines with someone closely associated with Watson. Of course, in an environment like this one, how do you keep these matters quiet? What options for possible redress exist within the university’s structure? Do you take your complaints to the Ethics Officer, Watson crony Bernetta Bush? Do you go to the Executive Inspector General’s Office where your complaint is likely to be referred to the Watson administration?

How does this administration abuse its power? The examples are numerous. First, several Watson administrators have demonstrated their willingness to lie on a number of occasions. In the James Crowley case, both Watson and Patrick Cage had their testimony “impeached” during the trial. That means they both lied under oath and were exposed by Crowley’s attorney. As part of the attack on Crowley, Cage lodged a complaint with the Illinois Attorney Regulatory and Disciplinary Commission. The gratuitous and retaliatory complaint went nowhere. Recently, former student Willie Preston won two court cases in which an Order of Protection and a Criminal Trespass charge rested on dubious testimony and were seemingly based on a desire to silence Preston’s dissent rather than on any discernible public or personal safety issue. In the case of the Order of Protection, obtained by Angela Henderson following Preston’s appearance at a meeting with the Higher Learning Commission in October 2013, grounds for such an order never existed. In the Criminal Trespass case, the university police arrested Preston despite an absence of the required elements of the crime. The Criminal Trespass trial illustrates the lengths to which the administration will go to destroy its enemies. Here is what happened in court.

The person responsible for Preston’s expulsion from the university as a result of the October 2013 incident was apparently Associate General Counsel Janelle Carter. Ms. Carter testified that she was an important person in Chicago State’s legal constellation, that she served on a number of consequential committees and provided important legal advice them. However, when asked about the specifics of Chicago State’s “Expulsion” policy, she did not know. Mind you, this is the person who presided over Preston’s sham judicial hearing. When Preston’s attorney asked her whether the Chicago State library was or was not a public building, she did not know. How in the world does a university’s legal representative not know the policies pertinent to the discharge of her duties?

The testimony of another witness for the university, one of the Chicago State police officers, made it clear that the Criminal Trespass charge of March 7, 2014, resulted from Preston’s audacious attempt to speak to the board in a public meeting. Preston waited his turn to speak and was arrested as soon as he stepped to the microphone. As a consequence of this illegal arrest, Preston spent the next eleven months trying to clear his name, at great personal expense. Preston’s first attorney, obviously carrying the university’s water, attempted to convince him to plead guilty and apologize to Angela Henderson, saying “they’ve got you dead to rights.” Unfortunately for Chicago State, Preston persevered and has been entirely exonerated.

The sham “investigations” conducted by the university of alleged misconduct on the part of staff, students and faculty are another way they abuse their authority. They work quite simply. In any case involving a Watson critic, the allegations against that person are presumed to be completely accurate. These witch hunts proceed by failing to interview relevant witnesses or discounting their testimony, taking at face value the allegations of the complaining party, usually a Watson supporter, and either imposing discipline for allegations not committed or after deciding that the accused person’s actions do not consitute any infraction, threatening them that a continuation of their “inflammatory and unprofessional” behavior could subject them to future discipline.

The Watson administration has also been willing to use innuendo and may even be willing to coerce persons into making false complaints against Watson’s critics. Remember the e-mail sent to the faculty in November 2012 that accused one of Chicago State’s faculty with misconduct when, in fact, no investigation was even ongoing? Watson reiterated that same false accusation in February 2013 when he wrote to the board in a desperate attempt to save his job. Is it hard to imagine that Watson or his lackeys might even try to coerce someone into filing false charges against one of his enemies? Hardly, given his administration’s track record.

Making all this malfeasance possible is a twisted version of “omerta” that demands absolute silence and depends on the unwavering loyalty of persons who know the internal workings of this execrable regime. As Watson presides over a crumbling empire, being destroyed by the unethical and inept behavior of his administration, his sycophants line up to extoll his virtues. Although given his history, he is a somewhat dubious source, former SIU Chancellor Walter Wendler wrote something in 2014 that captures the essence of the Watson administration and the effect of its performance. Here are some excerpts:

“Examples of ethically bereft university leadership abound.
At Chicago State University, “James Crowley, the university’s former senior legal counsel, had been awarded $2 million in punitive damages and $480,000 in back pay after a jury decided last month that he was fired in retaliation for reporting alleged misconduct by university president Wayne Watson and other top officials,” according to the Chicago Tribune. Does this indicate guilt on anyone’s part? At its absolute best, it looks terrible.”

Even more serious are the consequences of corruption:

“Even a whiff of unethical behavior is offensive. When a president hires a son or friend of a friend, pilfers intellectual property, influences scholarships or admissions for kin or supplicant, grants a contract to a political supporter or in any way does anything that undermines the impact of academic accomplishment and integrity, the institution is compromised — corrupted.
And the levy is the highest of all: diminished reputation.”

And the ultimate price of a diminished reputation, visible right here at Chicago State:

“Students vote too — with their feet — and they have options.”

Here’s the link:

Sound like anyplace you know?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Chicago Reader weighs in: it's a resignation, not a retirement. And why is that again?

Someone just forwarded this article from the Chicago Reader: "Chicago State University's president goes away—after a lawsuit doesn't"

Wait a minute. I thought the big long farewell "retirement" that was announced last week was just to mollify the disgruntled politicians of this corrupt state after they realized that someone is going to get saddled with the $3 million+ payout to Jim Crowley from his lawsuit against CSU.  But the Chicago Reader's Michael Miner thinks it's the lawsuit brought by our favorite Crony State bloggers and the free-speech watchdog FIRE that is the ultimate motivation. Interesting idea. Retirement? Resignation?... as the bard says "a rose by any other name..."

The Chicago Reader, Tuesday, February 10, 2015  Posted By Michael Miner today at 12.30 PM
"Chicago State University's president goes away—after a lawsuit doesn't"

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away . . .

There's an undeniable frisson to these old lines by Hughes Mearns, but that doesn't mean the paradox is easy to grasp. Having recently read some legal documents, I have a better idea of how it works.
Wayne Watson, president of Chicago State University, is a man whom many of his teachers and students wished would go away. They didn't welcome his appointment in 2009, and the faculty senate voted last November that it had no confidence in his administration. With a year and a half to go on his contract, Watson recently resigned under fire.

But before he agreed to go away he was very much around. He personally doesn't illustrate the concept. Here's what does.

Fifteen months ago, professor Phillip Beverly received a "cease and desist" letter from CSU. Beverly is chairman of the faculty senate; but he was written by general counsel Patrick Cage in his capacity of publisher of a blog, CSU Faculty Voice, that was highly unfriendly to Watson. Cage told Beverly the blog's "unauthorized use of CSU's trade names and marks" was sowing confusion. So the university told Beverly to cut it out.

And while he was on the subject of the blog, Cage thought he'd add a "moreover." Your blog lacks "any content civility standards," he complained, and "the lack of civility and professionalism expressed on the blog violates the University's values and policies requiring civility and professionalism of all University faculty members."

So Beverly and his collaborator, history professor Robert Bionaz, tweaked their blog. CSU deemed the tweaks insufficient and repeated its warnings. And last July Beverly and Bionaz sued Watson, Cage, and Cage's associate general counsel in federal court. The defendants were accused of waging an "ongoing campaign to silence Plaintiffs' criticisms of how the University is run." Fresh evidence of this was the new Cyberbullying Policy CSU could now wield as a tool "for restricting Plaintiffs' speech."

CSU's Cyberbullying Policy had been adopted in May by the board of trustees, its purpose being "to protect members of the CSU family from bullying through any form of electronic communication." This sounds high-minded, and perhaps the policy was ratified with only the best intentions. But the plaintiffs complained that it slung around terms such as harm and harass without defining them, which gave CSU "unbridled discretion" to make them mean whatever suited the university's purposes. Likewise with an older document, CSU's Computer Usage Policy, which forbids the usage of CSU computer systems "to embarrass or humiliate any member of the community" and requires computer users to "respect the mission of the University in the larger community." Though the computer usage policy explicitly covered only CSU's own "computing facilities," which the blog didn't use, the plaintiffs feared CSU would "arbitrarily" inflict the policy on them anyway.

In reply, CSU suggested the suit be laughed out of court. Beverly and Boniarz, it began, "challenge two CSU policies that have never been enforced against them, have never been threatened against them, and have no reasonable probability of being enforced against them." This "bizarre . . . vast overreach . . . is not only baseless, it also deprives this Court of subject matter jurisdiction. . . . Any allegation that the Challenged Policies will be enforced against Plaintiffs is entirely hypothetical, speculative, and conjectural."

In other words, the plaintiffs had been scared silly by a man who wasn't there. The suit was baseless and the court should dismiss it.

It's true—neither the cyberbullying policy nor the computer usage policy was named by the cease and desist letter (or by a follow-up letter from CSU insisting that "it is not the University's intention to censor or inhibit the professors' speech"). But were those policies lurking on the stairs regardless? It was up to federal judge Joan Gottschall to decide, and she saw their shadows. On January 13 she refused to dismiss the suit. She didn't rule that the bloggers were right about their fears—but she respected them.

She respected those fears judicially because she had to—"At this stage in the proceedings, the court must draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiffs' favor," Gottschall wrote. But this inference was easily drawn. The cease and desist letter had asserted the blog's "lack of civility" violated CSU's "values and policies." It was "eminently reasonable" to conclude those policies were the ones Beverly and Bionaz claimed they saw on the stairs, so to speak, even though CSU insisted there was nothing there.

Gottschall noted that the cease and desist letter complaining of incivility had been sent to Beverly one business day after the blog had accused CSU's acting provost of partially falsifying her resume. And she noted how gratuitous that complaint was. It was, after all, "a letter ostensibly about alleged trademark violations."

If the suit had gone away, perhaps Watson wouldn't have. But it didn't, and he has.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

All in a Day's Work for a Watson Toady

Tom Wogan apparently took offense at the article in the Chronicle of Higher Education about Wayne Watson’s retirement. Here’s the offending portion of the article for those of you who haven’t seen it (Andy Thomason, February 6, 2015): “Among the controversies that played out under Mr. Watson’s leadership:

The university’s former legal counsel sued the institution in 2010, alleging he had been fired for reporting misconduct about top administrators. A judge last year awarded him $3-million.
Last year Chicago State’s interim provost was accused, then cleared, of plagiarizing her dissertation. Mr. Watson and the Chicago State faculty sparred constantly and intensely.

Poor Tom didn’t like the article. Here’s his response:

Amazing that plagiarism was a pertinent topic for the Sun-Times article, but not for the Chronicle’s piece.

Finally, here’s a reader comment on Tom’s little tantrum:

Here are the links:

Here's What the Future Holds for Chicago State: The Board Condemns Us to Oblivion

For those of you who think you can breathe a sigh of relief because Watson is leaving in mid-2016, think again. Between now and June of next year, he can deliver a death blow to Chicago State by continuing and even accelerating the practices that have been so destructive to this point. Here is what that ridiculous board of Anthony Young, Spencer Leake, Nikki Zollar, Horace Smith, Michael Curtin and James Joyce have wrought: more crony hires, more administrators, more money wasted, more interference in academic affairs and faculty governance, more lawsuits, more scandals, and of course, fewer students. Is there a worse board of trustees for any university in the country?

Let’s start with the phony search that will commence soon for his successor. Look at the Chair of the Search Committee: Nikki Zollar, the recipient of hundreds of thousands of dollars in no-bid contracts from Watson when he was Chancellor of the City Colleges. What search firm do you think the Board will choose? What will the Search Committee look like? What are the odds that after this expensive “national search” we will be saddled with another local political hack or demonstrable incompetent like the most high-profile products of expensive and much-ballyhooed searches for top administrative positions at the school. Here comes another rigged search. In fact, I’m sure that Watson, Young and Zollar can already tell us who the new president will be, after all, in this era of dynasty-building at Chicago State, Watson will undoubtedly get to make the choice.

In any event, I expect the administrators with their snouts buried in the public trough to increase their efforts to loot the university while there’s something left of the school. I will talk more about this later, but here’s one example of the kind of crap we can look forward to in the next sixteen-plus months: This e-mail from Watson announces a new search, for an Associate Vice President of Student Affairs. This is quite surprising since on January 23, 2015, the University’s organizational chart listed no such position. Instead, we had a Dean of Student Affairs. So, sometime between January 23 and February 6, Watson waved his magic wand and elevated that position to a Vice President’s position, increasing the number of top level administrators to 14 (5 Vice Presidents, 7 Associate Vice Presidents and 2 Assistant Provosts) compared to 6 in 2010. At a school which has lost more than 2500 students since then. How many other new Vice President positions is Watson going to create?

Now you might be interested to know that in comparison with the phenomenal growth of our administrative ranks, the faculty at Chicago State have been steadily reduced since fiscal 2010. That year, the university had 235 unit A faculty in academic departments, the library and counseling center, in February 2015, it has 196, a decrease of 16.6 percent. Tenure/tenure-track faculty has dropped from 232 in 2010 to 181 in 2015, a decrease of 22 percent. Given the university’s problems with enrollment, the reduction in faculty ranks seems understandable. Compare these figures with the 26.7 percent increase in administrative positions during the same period and with the 233 percent increase in positions with Vice President/Assistant Provost titles.

I can assure the readers of this blog that we will continue to expose the malfeasance of this administration as soon as it is discovered. For those of you who think this nightmare is over, you could not be more wrong. The next few months will be a bloodbath, particularly for our students and the taxpayers of Illinois. By the way, who do you think will be our new Associate Vice President of Student Affairs?

Friday, February 6, 2015

Another reader responds to Ms Iherjirika's Sun Times article

This email was forwarded to me and I am sharing it here. Not everyone buys the p.r. account of the Watson administration's travails that Ms Iherjirika parroted from the Tom Wogan playbook in the Sun Times today. Perhaps the Sun Times needs to hear from a few more of its readers. 

Ms. Iherjirika:
You are wrong about Chicago State University being the only public university in Chicago that serves a predominantly minority population.

The majority of the Northeastern Illinois University student body is African American, Latino or Asian American.

Chicago State University is the only predominantly black institution (PBI) in the Chicagoland area, and the only PBI in the state of Illinois.  But it is not the only predominantly minority-serving public university in Chicago.

This lack of knowledge about higher education in Chicago and unwillingness to do even the most rudimentary bit of research is reflected in the rest of your disappointing article.

Dr. Watson's tenure at CSU has been a failure from the beginning. Enrollment has plummeted by over 30% in five years. He has been sued multiple times for wrongful dismissal. Mr. Crowley's victory in court is only the first loss for Dr. Watson, and, considering his testimony was impeached and shown to be deceitful, it is very likely the university will lose the other pending law suits resulting in several multi-million dollar verdicts.

Your article is full of language that was obviously written for you by the CSU Director of Public Affairs, Mr. Tom Wogan. The writing style and vocabulary is unmistakably his. You did not even bother to alter the style to match your previously published articles.

 Also, Dr. Henderson committed plagiarism. Suing to prevent someone from doing the right thing does not absolve Dr. Henderson of plagiarism. A junior high school student could understand the regulations of the UIC School of Nursing and the violations in Dr. Henderson's dissertation.

 After Jodi Cohen scooped you and the rest of the Sun-Times on the story and quoted three national experts on plagiarism in her story after providing them with copies of the dissertation, your pathetic defense of her misconduct speaks to true lack of journalistic integrity on your part.[sic]

 I previously respected you as a reporter and your writing as a trustworthy news source. Now, I know that my trust in you was seriously in error.
 -- A former reader from the South Side

Chicago Tribune Article on Watson's Retirement

Here's a link to the Chicago Tribune article. It actually mentions some of the problems that beset our school:

Reader Responses to the Watson Retirement Article

Here's a response to the Watson Retirement article from someone writing to the CSU Faculty Voice e-mail address:

The despicable article in the Sun-Times is just pathetic.

Maudlyne Ihejirika has lost any last shred of decency and any pretense of having the slightest bit of integrity.

From the start, the article is dead wrong. Northeastern IL Univ. has a student body that is more than 50%, possibly 55 or 60%, African American, Asian American or Latino.

But since that doesn't fit her story, she left that bit out because she let Tom Wogan write the story for her.

Report on Today's Board Meeting

The report from the Board meeting:

After this morning's Sun-Times story, the Board meeting seemed somewhat anticlimactic. After the Board returned from executive session, they allowed Watson to speak about his impending retirement. Here are some of the highlights:

1) He gave the audience the usual boiler-plate about "right-sizing" the university's enrollment (4804 as of this morning), raising academic standards and putting in place policies when they did not exist or were ignored.

2) More meaningless boiler-plate about "students at the center" and "academics first."

3) More utter bullshit about the succession plan which will be "transparent and accountable." Here comes the Hollins Group I bet.

4) Then ominous promises that he "still got some things on this journey I want to accomplish." And "I will be 150% engaged."

After Watson's remarks, Board Chair Young reiterated the Board's committed to a "transparent" process and informed the audience that Trustee Nikki Zollar would head the search committee for a new president. Included on the committee will be 5 faculty; 5 administrations; 1 clerical employee; 2 civil service employees; 2 board members; 1 person from the foundation (which one?); 2 students; 1 graduate and 1 undergraduate; 1 community member (I will not guarantee the complete accuracy of this list as I was writing as fast as I could). According to Young, on March 6, the Board will announce the search firm as well as the search committee members. Can you say another rigged search?

So there you have it. A whole lot of nothing. Wayne Watson is retiring but we don't know exactly when. He could go all the way to June 30, 2016. Imagine the damage he will inflict on the university by that time. Someone please save us from these fools.

Sun Times Today: "Wayne Watson to retire"--in 16 months. This is news? No, this is a P.R. campaign

Well you gotta give our Prez politician his due--he knows when to plant a story.

On the morning of a big emergency CSU Board of Trustees meeting, the Sun Times screams that WW is retiring from CSU. See the link below, but don't get your hopes up.  Maudlyne Ihejirka (is this Tom Wogan's nom de plume?) who sees, hears, and writes no evil about Wayne Watson and Angela Henderson "reports" that Watson is retiring--but not until June 30 of 2016. Yeah 2016. He is staying on campus until his contract runs out in 16 months. This is what passes for news at the Sun Times? No, this is what is clearly a public relations piece. Perhaps it is a preemptive strike. Don't let any board of trustees tell you when you are leaving, you tell them.

God only knows what this clueless board of trustees is doing today at their emergency meeting on campus to discuss personnel matters and lawsuits. Maybe they finally grew a spine and decided they were not just an extension of the prezvost office. Maybe their political bosses have decided CSU needs a change before new republican governor Rauner's team gets wind of CSU shenangans as patronage and money pit. But this is anyone's guess. All I can say is that an article that is a paean to the glories of Wayne Watson's "leadership" at CSU and the world including a paragraph of the trials and tribulations of the poor plagiarist provost Angela Henderson tossed in for good measure is a sad statement on how the Watson party narrative has to continue to be told and embroidered. (Funny how just a few faculty members who are such insignificant losers are important enough to be mentioned in this story as the nemeses with whom Watson has had to contend).

So WW in the Sun Times today has laid down the gauntlet to the Trustees, the pols, and to CSU.  He is leaving when his contract runs out and not before. He will continue business as usual until then and more. He has 16 months to ensure that his loyal supporters get as much out of CSU as they can pillage, and so will he. More than this, he wants to be around to make sure the plagiarist protege of his becomes the next president.

The Sun Times says that Wayne Watson says he is retiring in 16 months. So I guess we are all just going to have to go about our business as if nothing has happened. And, in fact, nothing has happened.
Wayne Watson, who took the helm of Chicago’s only university serving a predominantly minority student population, after making his mark at the city’s community college system, will retire as president of Chicago State University when his contract expires next year, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Watson, 69, who became CSU’s 19th president in October 2009, before that capped a 30-year tenure at Community Colleges of Chicago by serving as its chancellor from 1998 to 2009.
The colorful and charismatic college head will leave behind a legacy of concrete accomplishments, including a 10-year reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, a top seal of approval, and a stronger athletic department.
His reform agenda streamlined operations, enhanced academic standards, accountability and transparency, and renewed engagement with the surrounding African-American communities.
His accomplishments were often obscured by controversy, as a faction of his faculty made it a mission to fight him tooth and nail.
Watson will announce his retirement at Friday’s monthly meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees, triggering a national search for the next leader of the South Side institution at 95th & State.
“There are many reasons why now is the right time. The university has made significant progress in its academic, athletic and administrative capacities, and we’ve accomplished much of what we set out to achieve in terms of right-sizing the ship and putting the university in a position to succeed moving forward,” Watson said in a statement.
“It’s time to play,” he said. “I have four wonderful grandchildren between 10 years of age and four months, and I want to take time to enjoy them, plus appreciate and embrace ‘the solitude of the land.’ ”
The longest serving African-American in Illinois higher education, Watson last year received an extension of his contract through June 30, 2016. He plans to exit before or at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we sincerely thank Dr. Watson for his commitment, passion and devotion to the success of CSU. Dr. Watson and his team have played a significant role in making CSU a quality university,” Anthony Young, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, said.
“I look forward to continuing to work with him as we move towards a comprehensive search to find the next leader who is best prepared to maximize the university’s potential and continue the progress.”
A committee of faculty, staff, students, community leaders and other stakeholders will begin its search for a replacement immediately.
Watson, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in teaching at Northwestern University, was one of the first African-Americans to receive a Ph.D. at that university, where he later served several years on the board of trustees.
He began his career in higher education at Malcolm X College in 1978. He was appointed interim president of Harold Washington College in 1993; president of Kennedy-King College in 1994; and chancellor of the entire system in 1998.
He has headed or served on the boards of many of the nation’s national education organizations, and said research shows he has served over 2.5 million minority students, with more than 197,000 degrees and certificates conferred under his leadership.
At CSU, he is credited with an overhaul of the then flagging university’s standards and policies. But controversy has also dogged CSU under his tenure.
Soon after taking the reins, CSU lost literary and civil rights icon Haki Madhubuti who resigned, complaining Watson demoted him for speaking out against the search process that brought Watson in. Watson denied it. He would soon find himself at battle with a segment of the faculty that criticized his every move.
Then 3 ½ years in, Watson was accused of an unspecified breach of school policy, with the board considering his termination, then later voting to retain him.
Last year brought still more controversy, as a former CSU employee won a nearly $3 million verdict in a whistleblower lawsuit against the school, and officials including Watson, after alleging he was fired in retaliation for reporting university improprieties to Illinois’ attorney general.
Then Watson’s appointed provost was falsely accused of plagiarism in her University of Illinois at Chicago dissertation by his faculty nemesis, leading to the provost suing UIC; UIC clearing the provost of the plagiarism charges; and a top UIC official stepping down in the wake of the incident.
Already drawing an annual pension of $140,000 from City Colleges, Watson stands to walk away with a healthy nest egg once his CSU pension is computed.
“I look forward to writing a book with regards to my journey through higher education. Serving as president of Chicago State University has been both a challenging and fulfilling experience, and I am appreciative of the faith that has been placed in me by the Board of Trustees, staff, faculty, students and the CSU family,” said Watson. “I am eternally grateful to the CSU family, of which I will always proudly call myself a member.”

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Dear CSU Board: Are You Ever Going to Notice How Bad Things Are Here?

Certainly, no one on the Chicago State Board of Trustees would ever read anything so vulgar as the Crony State Faculty Voice. However, on the eve of another special Board meeting which will likely result in nothing positive for this university, I think it appropriate to revisit Wayne Watson’s plan to deal with our school’s unending enrollment decline. Here it is:

“Then we hope, the hope with strategic planning, the hope with strategies in place, and goals and metrics and accountability behind it, for our enrollment to grow incrementally . . .”

Now that stream of meaningless verbal sludge was apparently sufficient to mollify Anthony Young and other Board members who sat mute after Watson’s empty pronouncements. It seems easy to understand their silence, after all anyone with such a firm sense of purpose inspires confidence. Just think of it, “strategic planning . . . strategies in place . . . goals and metrics and accountability behind it” will solve all of Chicago State’s enrollment difficulties.

Of course, we do have some “metrics” with which to assess the effectiveness of Watson’s plan. As of Monday morning, our enrollment stood at 4795, a slight decrease of 416 students or an 8 percent decline from Fall’s anemic total of 5211 students at the school. Since Fall 2013, Chicago State’s enrollment has dropped by 906 students or 15.9 percent. Of course, now that we have “strategic planning, strategies in place, goals and metrics and accountability behind it,” all our problems are solved.

The Board could do everyone a great service by firing Watson and the entire Chicago State upper administration, then resigning themselves. Of course, they will not do that. I suspect they will reaffirm their allegiance (read obeisance) to this completely failed President and find a way to place the blame on the faculty and staff. Perhaps it is time to close some of the colleges or programs in order to give Watson additional time to make his “vision” a reality. Needless to say our students and school continue to suffer as this obscene story continues.

Breaking News: Willie Preston Acquitted of Chicago State Administration's Trumped-Up Trespassing Charges!

In Circuit Court this morning, another judge handed Chicago State an embarrassing defeat, acquitting Willie Preston of the phony trespassing charge the administration used in an attempt to intimidate and silence him. So far in court, it's Willie 2: Chicago State 0. Also, Chicago State counsel apparently do not know that the library is a public building. More to come soon.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Musings on a cold winter night

So the Fiscal Officers meeting scheduled for February 6th, 2015 has been canceled because there is a Special Board Meeting at 10 AM in the Library Auditorium on that date. The agenda for that meeting is short. The trustees will only deal with legal matters and employment matters in closed session and the requisite public and employee comment in open session. What issues of import could the trustees be discussing that couldn't wait four weeks to take up at the regular board meeting on March 6th? Might it be the preemptive layoffs/firings the regime has initiated in anticipation of significant funding reductions from Springfield? Might it be the plummeting enrollment and unprecedented course cancellations and the impact on the tenure of the president? Might it be a substantive update on the numerous legal actions brought against the university? The Crowley Ticker is over $4 million now. Maybe it is to discuss eliminating all faculty positions to save money to pay administrators who don't appear to be succeeding at enticing students to attend CSU. Or is it the beginning of succession planning for the hiring of a turnaround specialist to repair the horrific damage done to the university since 2009? If it's succession planning, all they need do is pay the Hollins Group $200,000 and find somebody right in the neighborhood. We see how well that's worked out the last time the board needed to hire a president. Maybe the next president is already in our midst.

What Administrative Title Do You Hold? Join the Excess Baggage Ranks Here at Chicago State

It is not all seriousness all the time here on the Crony State blog. Since so many of our incompetent and unqualified administrators so love to play at being part of the leadership “team” here at the site of the “CSU family,” here is a way we can all be administrators, at least in title. This handy-dandy little chart will tell you what your administrative title is at a particular time on any given day. That way, you can become a legend in your own mind, just like our President. Here is the chart (from Ellen Joyce's facebook page):

I will use my own information as an example. Reading from column 1 to column 6, I find that this morning, I am the Associate Vice-Chair in Effervescent Alumni Rationalization. Sounds good, doesn’t it? It certainly makes me as viable as almost all of the lemmings who constitute our current administrative ranks. One more example. Tomorrow afternoon, I will become the Assistant Arch-Rector of Effervescent Alumni Rationalization (you notice that my function doesn’t change, just my title). You too can take the plunge into administrative immortality. Use the chart, find your niche. Remember, here at Chicago State, if you’re in certain administrative positions (Damon Arnold and Tyra Austin spring to mind), you don’t even have to come to work!