So my learned colleague thoughtfully articulated the reasoning behind the “financial exigency” yet did not discuss a key element of this entirely unwieldy structure. In hierarchical structures, the person with the responsibility at the top of the structure has the duty to ensure compliance throughout the organization. That person would decide if say, direct reports, were insubordinate by not performing their duties and if they were insubordinate the chief executive could terminate them for insubordination. The way the Board of Trustees has configured this structure it is impossible for the university to be governed effectively. Any of the members of the Management Action Committee could literally commit crimes and not be fired by the President for cause or otherwise. My learned colleague cited the specific language of the resolution that essentially prevents the University President from protecting the interests of the university (paid in part with tax payer dollars) from all forms of misconduct up to and including criminal activity. No employment actions including terminations can be initiated by the President for any reason because of this exigency declaration.
Why did the Board declare exigency when no other public universities which were in similar conditions did so? Eastern Illinois University and Western Illinois University instituted furloughs, layoffs and other cost cutting without declaring exigency. What exactly was gained by the CSU declaration? What has the Board and the four headed co-presidency done that could not have been done without said declaration? Why does the former president continue to collect a $199K per year salary while the support staff of the university is decimated by a hapless, clueless Board of Trustees who have repeatedly demonstrated total disregard for the best interests of the university?
Might I remind you loyal readers, that it was this Board that sat by while the chief academic officer of the university was proven to have plagiarized her doctoral dissertation. It was this Board that took no action when the Office of the Executive Inspector General upheld a damning ethics complaint against the former president in which former Board members were libeled. It was this Board of Trustees that declared financial exigency without a plan for how to get out of exigency and that declaration triggered a visit by the Higher Learning Commission, the outcome of which is still pending. It is this Board that continues a ridiculous quest to overturn the judgment in the Crowley case which is likely to cost the university $5 million. And it won’t be the Board that goes to Springfield to ask the legislature for the money. It will be the President who inherited this situation. It is this Board that has allowed a 30% enrollment decrease to occur with no accountability from the former president or provost/enrollment management vice president who oversaw that decline. It is this Board that has seemingly allowed ex parte communications from senior administrators absent the President. It is this Board that has at least one member who believes the university should be closed and who didn’t even know of the existence of a 150 year old institution located at 95th and King Drive.
So when the post mortem is completed for the institution formerly known as Chicago State University, there will be plenty of responsibility for its demise to be meted out. The Board of Trustees should top the list of those who have consistently failed the university. They will join the governor’s office, the legislature, the Higher Learning Commission, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, the US Department of Education, the Office of the Executive Inspector General, the Illinois Attorney General’s office and the various and sundry politicians and community “leaders” who failed our students and alumni with their haughty self-importance and maintenance of a truly dysfunctional status quo.
Thanks to the Board of Trustees for their apparent success in destroying a perfectly viable university and shattering the dreams of generations to come.