Monday, March 6, 2017

Is it Business as Usual or a "New Day" at Chicago State?

Those of you who attended Friday’s Board meeting might have noticed a slight change in tone on the part of the new Trustees. They seemed unwilling to accept the happy, happy, joy, joy picture various administrators attempted to paint. They seemed willing to ask pointed questions and follow them up with more pointed questions. A few administrators found themselves floundering for answers to questions they should have known were coming. In particular, the new Trustees seemed interested in our never-ending enrollment decline, and our financial practices. Although I’ve posted information relative to both topics before, I humbly offer the following material as a refresher for regular readers and as information I believe the Board should know.

As far as enrollment, the administration has been scamming the Board of Trustees, the state, and the taxpayers of Illinois for years. Beginning in Spring 2011, the university experienced 13 consecutive (and counting) semesters of enrollment declines, taking our student population from 7362 to 3255. In yearly reports to the Illinois State Legislature, the university administrators have continuously asserted the importance of its efforts to “[refocus] its admission recruitment practices at both the undergraduate and graduate level to increase the quality and quantity of its incoming student population.” Included in those efforts is an acknowledgement of the importance of adequate academic advising: “Advisors are needed to increase advising services to students across colleges. This . . . supports our strategic goal to improve enrollment, retention and graduation rate across colleges.” As one of the keys to this goal, “, the Institutional Research department must be enhanced to ensure data integrity and timely submission of institutional data.”

Of course, internally, the Watson clique sang a different tune. This from the 2015 University “Fact Book”: “Over the past five years, Chicago State University (CSU) has been provided new opportunities in right-sizing its institutional enrollment by adhering to institutional policies through improved practices, increasing academic standards and expectations of students and strengthening the enrollment management structure.” Or this: “The University has continuously rightsized it’s [sic] enrollment as witnessed in [sic]the slow decline of enrollment from 2010 – 2014.” Or these gems from a 2016 Enrollment Management Report. Under the category of “How do you know if you’re effective?”: “This plan includes increasing enrollment (bold mine) through outreach and marketing efforts and increasing retention and graduation through coordinated efforts of support programs and services. CSU’s measurements of success indicators include the following:

• Overall improvement in University graduation rate from 14% (2010) to an average of 20% over the previous past 3 academic years: 21% (2012), 21% (2013), 19% (2014). However,the current rate had a sharp decline in 2015 and fell to 11% (bold mine).”

In direct contradiction to the above nonsense, the report included the actual enrollment figures from 2011 through 2015. The enrollment decreased by over 2100 students, from 6882 to 4767. The report’s author(s)concluded the decline indicated that “CSU’s enrollment is stabilizing (sort of like the Titanic "stabilized").”

We followed through on these “goals” by eviscerating Enrollment Management, particularly, Institutional Research, advising and admissions. We devastated the library and sharply reduced the IT and financial aid staffs. In the meantime all the friends of Angela Henderson retained their jobs and high salaries. Through the years, the State Legislature and our lifeless Board have swallowed this arrant nonsense without a peep. Breathtakingly Orwellian!

Now let’s talk about our financial stewardship of taxpayer money. An early announcement at the meeting informed everyone that we had just added yet another Vice President to our constellation of high-level administrators. This in the form of a new Interim (of course) Vice President for Development. This position appears nowhere in the university’s Internal Operating Budget (through fiscal 2015), or on our Illinois State Legislature Forms as a requested new position. It appears only on our organizational chart of February 4, 2015, as a “vacant” position. Obviously, we are still creating out of thin air positions for Vice Presidents.

Here are the Board Regulations relative to the creation of new positions at the level of Vice President:



In order to promote shared participation in responsible and wise decision-making and to ensure channels of communication, the university shall provide for elected campus organizations, the structures of which shall be determined by the constituencies they represent and approved by the President. Except as limited by the scope of collective bargaining negotiations between the Board and the academic employees and the requirements of good faith collective bargaining, the appropriate and duly constituted committees of faculty government shall participate in the decision-making process of the university in the following areas:

1. University curriculum.
2. Basic policies with regard to campus planning and facilities construction and utilization.
3. Creation of administrative positions at the level of Dean and Vice President and selection of administrative officers for such positions as well as of the President of the university.

I am eager to hear from any and all faculty who participated in the creation of this new Vice Presidency.

This new Vice President brings the total number of CSU Associate Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents, Associate Provosts, Provosts, and Presidents to 14. Here’s a look at the metastatic growth of those positions since 2009.

In 2009, our enrollment was 7235. We had a President, a Provost, three (3) Vice Presidents, an Associate Vice President, and an Assistant Vice President. Seven (7) positions total for a salary expenditure of $833,000.

In 2010, our enrollment was 7362; in 2011, 6882; in 2012, 6107; in 2013, 5701; in 2014, 5211; in 2015, 4767, in 2016, 3578. It’s 3255 this Spring.

In 2010 we again had 7 Associate Vice Presidents and above at $1.07 million; in 2011, Watson increased that number to 12, at $1.7 million; in 2012, we had 14 at $1.98 million; in 2013, we actually dropped to 13, at $1.73 million; in 2014, we remained at 13, at $1.9 million; in 2015, we again grew our ranks, to 16, at $2 million. As I said above, we now have fourteen (14) of these persons working at CSU. We are paying for two presidents, a Provost, three (3) Associate Provosts; three (3) Vice Presidents, and five (5) Associate Vice Presidents. The cost? $2.2 million.

Based on the behavior of our administration to this point, it seems apparent they believe that the same bullshit will continue to work. They’ve learned nothing from the various debacles of the past several years and they continue to create jobs for Watson/Henderson pals. The plan seems to be continued plunder of the university while they keep the Board at a distance. While we cry poverty, there always seems to be money for some things. Will the new Board members play along? Based on the first meeting it seems doubtful, however, we will still have to wait and see.

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