Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mary Mitchell Again Comes Out in Favor of the Status Quo

On September 28, 2016, Mary Mitchell called Chicago State an “embarrassment,” and “the laughingstock of the state university system, giving critics ample ammunition to call for its shutdown.” Now, as part of a desperate attempt by the Watson cronies to retain control over the university, she’s changed her tune. Now, we cannot have any change at this school, even though its situation has further deteriorated since Mitchell’s late September article. Her latest effort advances the argument that “A call for former CPS Chief Paul Vallas to take over the president’s job at Chicago State University plays into a lingering stereotype about black institutions: When things go wrong, a white person has to step in to fix it — as if black people can’t run anything successfully.” Here's the article:

Reliance on that stereotype’s explanatory power ignores the most important component of the Chicago State story: The failure of our leadership to adequately manage this university and the existential crisis that has resulted from that failure. For the past six-plus years, our upper level management has provided arguably the worst university leadership at any U.S. university. As a Tribune editorial in February described, no one with the authority to respond to the crisis at Chicago State had done anything to address “the cronyism and corruption that thrived on campus. . . (the) sharply declining enrollment . . . that abysmal graduation rate. Worst of all: No one in Springfield held them accountable for promising big yet delivering meager results for low-income students who depended on CSU to help them succeed.” That scathing indictment is the crux of the issue here. Our school’s leaders did not fail because they are black, they failed because they are at best incompetent and at worst malevolent. Now we have reached a fork in the road. Are we going to change or remain the same? Will we allow the persons who have nearly destroyed the university to continue in their sinecures to complete Chicago State’s destruction? The answers to those questions will determine the fate of our school.

If you’re going to make an argument, you should be able to make a persuasive case for your position. Let’s see how she does that. Mitchell uses two sources in her article, one is Kamm Howard, a “community activist” and the “legislative commission chair for National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N’COBRA),” who called the effort to make Vallas president a “smack in the face.” Howard went on to criticize Vallas with this: “Every institution this guy has been to, black and Hispanic graduation rates fell. Children have not benefitted from his sledgehammer type of administration, and he has no university experience at all.”

Ninth Ward Alderman Anthony Beale is the second source quoted in the Mitchell article. Here are some of the things he had to say. “CSU has been plagued with financial mismanagement, administrative scandal, and poor academic performance for far too long. We need a president who can reverse those trends and make CSU the institution it once was. This is the only criteria that matters, not whether the new president is male or female, brown, yellow, white, or black, Democrat or Republican.”

After the first round of quotes from Beale, Mitchell turns to a discussion of a discussion of criticism directed at Vallas “being floated throughout the community.” The source of the criticism?
“(U)nflattering headlines from his tenure in Philadelphia.” Mitchell then turns to innuendo, wondering if Beale’s support for Vallas “is politically motivated or indicates his personal support for the embattled governor.” Beale responds by saying: “Anybody who knows me knows better than that. Chicago State is in dire need. The people who are opposing Paul are the same people that have chosen the last three presidents and you see where that has gotten us,”

Beale continues by saying, “Right now, Chicago State needs someone with proven leadership. This is a person who has a history of turning this around and moving in the right direction.”

The article offers starkly different views of what needs to happen at Chicago State. Beale directly confronts the university’s major problem, the damage caused by incompetent leadership. He has a solution. In contrast, both Mitchell and Howard ignore the university’s leadership issues. They offer no way out of our continuing debacle. What should we do, Mary Mitchell and Kamm Howard? Simply because they are black leave the same people in place, even though they have continually demonstrated their unfitness for university administration?

In my fifteen years at this university I have frequently been amazed at the underlying idea that incompetence or downright malfeasance is all right at Chicago State. Nearly 70 percent of our students are black; apparently that means they deserve nothing better than a university led by incompetent hacks. Just take a look around the campus and you’ll see the deep respect our black administrators have for our black students. Crumbling buildings, filthy bathrooms, no supplies, classrooms with broken technology and broken chairs, mold and water damage in a number of buildings. The destruction of undergraduate advising, the continual problems with course scheduling, the decimation of the library, financial aid, and admissions staffs all demonstrate the priorities of our administrators. They take care of themselves and their friends and everyone else on this campus can just go to hell.

I agree that the stereotype to which Mitchell refers exists. I also believe that it would be best for Chicago State to be led by a black president. I do not agree that we should settle for unethical, incompetent political hacks. Our students are frankly marvelous; they make such sacrifices for their studies and over the years this school has provided them with life-changing opportunities. They deserve the best this university can give them and that begins with a president worthy of the title and an administration attentive to their needs. As faculty, we demand excellence from our students. They have a right to demand the same from the stewards of this university.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Go Away Already!

So why is an utterly failed former president with no link to the university meeting with a weak interim president while the Board of Trustees mulls how to proceed in cleaning up the mess created by said former president? Probably to protect the utterly inept cronies put in place since 2009. There is only one thing to say about this. 
GO AWAY!!! You have no business here. You have failed the university, the community, the State. You have betrayed tens of thousands of alumni, thousands of students and untold potential students by your inept management of this university. 
So to end the betrayal, GO AWAY and don't come back. We won't miss you. And if, as expected, the forensic audit turns up wrongdoing on your part, expect a visit from law enforcement officials.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Here's What Must Actually Occur for Bruce Rauner and His Surrogate(s) to "Take Over" Chicago State

I believe that most of the staff employed here at Chicago State are astute enough to see through that nonsensical effort to insure that Watson's cronies retain their positions by creating this idiotic diversion about Rauner and Vallas "taking over" Chicago State. It's time for a lesson on University governance for anyone who would like to have ammunition to counter this moronic and utterly dishonest attempt to keep the University in the hands of the people who have nearly destroyed it.

First, no single individual, not even the Governor, in the State of Illinois is able to effect a change at the top of this educational institution. 110 ILCS 660 is the Chicago State Law. Section 5-10 reads: "There is hereby created a body politic and corporate which shall be styled the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University (hereinafter called the Board), and which shall operate, manage, control, and maintain Chicago State University in accordance with the rights, powers and duties now or hereafter vested by law in that Board." Section 5-15 of the Chicago State Law also specifies the size of the Board: "The Board shall consist of 7 voting members appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and one voting member who is a student at Chicago State University."

For the author(s) of that ridiculous broadside or for anyone else who might actually believe this conspiracy is afoot, here's the reality. No matter who the Governor might want to be President of Chicago State, s/he has no authority to place anyone in that position. The only way anyone becomes President of this University is by garnering a majority of the votes from the Chicago State Board of Trustees. Since there are eight Trustees, that means five votes. In essence, the Watson acolytes making this spurious accusation of a conspiracy to install Vallas as CSU President are actually accusing the other Board members of being in cahoots with Rauner's scheme. If the three holdover Board members are continuing to do Watson's bidding, as they have for the past several years, that means that all five of the remaining Board members would have to be on board with this nefarious attempt to take over the school. I wonder which of these cowardly pro-Watson minions wants to tell Kam Buckner, Nicholas Gowen, Tiffany Harper, and Paris Griffin that they are part of a conspiracy to turn the University over to Bruce Rauner.

Because of the University's legislatively-mandated governance structure, if Paul Vallas ends up heading Chicago State's turnaround effort, it will be because the new CSU Board feels he is the person most likely to get the job done.

We've Seen All This Before. The CSU Clowns Weigh In On the University's Leadership

Here is the latest shot in the developing war between the Watson forces and Paul Vallas, who they have obviously identified as the most serious threat to their sinecures. This was distributed to Civil Service employees yesterday.

This is a classic case of creating a narrative out of lies then repeating the same lies over and over again. You might notice that almost the entire broadside is fact-free. I will focus on some of the more absurd pronouncements. Let’s start with the title. Indeed, why would Rauner want CSU? The answer? Because it’s part of a grand conspiracy to take over the University. As with all conspiracies, the absence of evidence simply proves the existence of the conspiracy.

Here’s the evidence: “Word is, Rauner is using Vallas to take over CSU.” “Word is, (Vallas’s) main goal has always been to be the next president of CSU.” Really? Is that a desire he’s had since childhood? And who exactly is responsible for the “word” being cited here? As usual with the Watson cronies, all this nonsense is anonymous.

The next gem is this: “Truth is, Vallas has no credentials to be a President of any University. He has a Master’s Degree in Political Science and the only education experience he has is in K-12.” Vallas is perfectly capable of defending himself here, I will only say that our current interim President is the poster child for someone with no qualifications serving as a University President. At least Vallas has degrees in academic disciplines (History, Political Science). Lucy is simply a bean-counter, his education consists of a bachelor’s in accounting, an MBA, and a J.D. In terms of experience, Vallas has managed huge school districts in major U.S. cities (I seem to remember that the experience managing a large educational enterprise was one of the items used to defend the selection and continued tenure, despite multiple scandals and disasters, of the execrable Wayne Watson). Lucy has served as a financial officer for a variety of employers, including stints as the CFO of two Universities with enrollments under 4,000.

Moving along, we next encounter the unsubstantiated accusation that Rauner will withhold funding if Vallas is not put into the President’s position. This has been vehemently denied by the Governor’s office and until there’s some independent verification of that assertion, it’s worthless. Next we come to the part about “secret plans.” What the hell are those? Then this question: “Does that sound like Rauner is trying to steal CSU from right under our noses?” Whose noses? The broadside’s author fails to make that clear.

The broadside’s final gurgles seem more like irony than anything else. Is the author trying to be humorous? First, there’s the assertion that “CSU is not to be compromised!!!” If there’s a more compromised educational institution in the United States, I’d like to know where it is. Finally, I did not realize that “we are on the road to recovery.” I imagine that anyone attending the last Board meeting or paying the slightest attention to the ongoing ineptitude of our administrators would find that assertion somewhat less than credible. We are in freefall.

Readers are free to draw their own conclusions about what all this means, but I have some observations. As always, any interpretive errors are solely mine. First, I’ve seen this act many times in the past. Anonymous accusations supported by nothing more than empty assertions. Second, using surrogates to get your message out is nothing less than intellectual cowardice. I’m sure that the person who distributed this nonsense would claim authorship. That’s bullshit. This garbage came straight from someone highly placed in this University, or perhaps a gaggle of someones who simply don’t have the courage to expose their self-serving selves to public criticism. Third, I find it interesting that persons who cannot raise their voices to oppose the elevation of unqualified hacks to the presidency of this University can be so vocal about their objections to Vallas. Where were you while the Watson administration tore this institution apart? When the Board destroyed Thomas Calhoun’s (someone with actual qualifications for the job) presidency ? When they rewarded administrators who worked assiduously to undermine Calhoun’s administration? Silent, huh? Why so loud now? How is Vallas different from Wayne Watson, Angela Henderson, or Cecil Lucy?

Finally, I want to be clear about how I, and a number of my colleagues, feel about the direction in which this University is headed. We are dismayed that the same persons who have taken us to the brink of destruction remain in place. We are angry that the Interim President is obviously willing to let the University sink rather than make the hard personnel choices that must be made. We are disappointed that no one has been held accountable for their multiple administrative failures. We are concerned that each day that passes makes a viable solution to our crisis more difficult to achieve.

I’ve made no secret that my preference is for Thomas Calhoun’s reinstatement. I believe he deserves to be given a chance to lead this university out of its morass. However, if that course of action is not possible, I want to be clear that if the choice comes down to Cecil Lucy and the Watson cronies or Paul Vallas and a new set of administrators as the interim leaders of this institution, I’ll take the fresh faces over the wretched old gang.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Watson Strikes Back: Let the Innuendo and Lies Begin

The Chicago Sun Times, which has shilled for Wayne Watson on a number of occasions, recently published an article by Mary Mitchell which reveals the strategy Watson and his cronies are using to remain in control of Chicago State University. As you would expect, their sleazy campaign features racial innuendo, anonymous “sources,” and outright dishonesty. In a nutshell, it boils down to simply keeping the current administration in place by allowing Cecil Lucy to continue as president until a search can be conducted. I will respond to each of the article’s claims point-by-point, but here’s the link:

Claim #1: Let’s start with the title: “Is Rauner pushing Paul Vallas to be president of CSU?

Mitchell uses several quotes from Vallas to ostensibly demonstrate Rauner’s meddling and his desire to hand Chicago State to the Governor’s surrogate: First, Vallas tells Mitchell that “Rauner wanted him to ‘take a leadership role.’” Vallas’s next comments indicate his unfamiliarity with university administration: “‘It might be as chief executive officer or chief administrative officer,’ Vallas told me. ‘Clearly, it is their (the Governor and his staff’s) desire for me to take a leadership role and to give me the authority to work in the university full time.’”

Mitchell goes on to write, “In a follow-up email, Vallas said he is ‘seeking the authority to make the changes needed to stabilize the university’s finances and develop and implement an effective strategy for immediately improving student enrollment and retention.’”

Response: Much of this is nothing more than a distraction, an unsourced nod to Watson’s oft-stated claim that “white people” want to take over Chicago State. Why? to destroy the school? Watson and his cronies have already accomplished most of that task. According to the Sun Times story, the Chicago Crusader originally reported Rauner’s scheme. Here’s what that publication wrote: “Some CSU officials are not happy with a white officials serving as president of a predominately Black school.” Which “CSU officials” are those? See: For the full Crusader article, including some of the quotations used in Mitchell’s piece, see:

As to Vallas’s comments, is anyone going to argue that someone needs to take a “leadership role” at this institution? that someone needs to figure out how to “stabilize the university’s finances and develop and implement an effective strategy for immediately improving student enrollment and retention.”? Although I do not want Paul Vallas as the permanent president of Chicago State, at this point, I do not care much about who rights the ship. I do know that what has been done in the past at Chicago State has resulted in nothing but failure. We’re in uncharted waters here and desperately need creative solutions to our school’s continual problems. The holdovers on either the Board or in the administration are in no position to provide those solutions.

Facts: The damage done to this university and its overwhelmingly Black student population has been done by Watson and his cronies. In fall 2010, the university enrolled 7362 students, with 5832 Black students (79.2 percent). By spring 2016, the university’s enrollment had dropped to 4442, with 3050 Black students (68.7 percent). Put another way, of the 2920 students lost between fall 2010 and spring 2016, 2782 or them (95.3 percent) were Black students. Secretary of Education Beth Purvis acknowledged the meeting with Hatch and Anderson, saying according to Mitchell: “There was a conversation about how do we bring the urgency so we can bring more resources to the university[.] There was absolutely no threat.” As for Vallas, Purvis told Mitchell: “I have had conversations with members of the board that I actually believe Paul is the person to get CSU on track, but that doesn’t mean he is the right person to be president.”

“[At a] university like CSU, we need someone with a long history and academic background[.] That is different from someone who will come in and manage through a crisis.”

I certainly do not claim to know what is in Bruce Rauner’s mind regarding Chicago State, but my position is that Paul Vallas does not have the academic qualifications to be the president of this university. However, neither did Wayne Watson, nor does Cecil Lucy. None of these persons would be qualified for tenure in any academic department at Chicago State.

Claim #2: And the Chicago Crusader reported last week that the governor’s education secretary, Beth Purvis, called a meeting with CSU board chairman the Rev. Marshall Hatch and board member, Tony Anderson, and told them if “Rauner’s request isn’t met, he will not secure additional funding to help solve the school’s financial woes and withdraw his support.”

Response: Until this threat claim is actually verified, it has no validity. Obviously none of the Crusader’s sources is willing to go on the record, and Mitchell did nothing more than reprint the accusation. The Crusader’s sources seem to be “some officials,” “some are concerned,” “some at CSU,” “some say,” and “opposition by some.”

Facts: At this point, this claim that the Governor’s office threatened to retaliate if Vallas is not named president has not been verified by anyone mentioned in either the Crusader’s or Mitchell’s article. Hatch did not return telephone calls from either the Crusader or from Mitchell. Additionally, Anderson did not return Mitchell’s telephone call. In Mitchell’s article, Purvis flatly denied making any threats to “withhold support” from the university. At the conclusion of the Crusader article, they included this quote from Eleni Demertzis, a spokesperson for Rauner: “First, any notion of threatening future state funding is entirely false. Second, the Governor’s Office has been in regular communications with CSU leaders about potential university leadership candidates, including Paul Vallas, to work towards a turnaround of this university in crisis.”

Claim #3: In countering Purvis’s comments, Mitchell provides this evidence: “But sources said Vallas, who serves in an unpaid role, is making a full-court press for the president’s position, even parking his car in the space reserved for ‘President’ of the university.”

She followed with this from another anonymous source “‘It would be highly unethical for Vallas, who has been on campus acting like he is the president already, to be considered,’ said a community organizer who asked not to be identified.”

Response: I hardly know how to respond to this silliness. Of course, it’s completely ethical for Wayne Watson to be on campus acting like he’s still president.

Facts: I have heard nothing about where Vallas parks his car when he’s on campus. Certainly, I have seen no cars but the interim president’s parked in the president’s unmarked spot next to the Cook building. I’m not sure that where you park your car represents “acting like” a president.

Next, Mitchell provides a series of ridiculous and even stunning comments by Nikki Zollar, the MIA Trustee who was the architect of Calhoun’s ouster, and one of the major causes of the current turmoil.

Claim #4: Zollar claims that Vallas is “wreaking havoc” on Chicago State.

Response: It is impossible to respond to a claim as vague as that one.

Facts: the most recent “havoc” or uproars at Chicago State have resulted from the final settlement of two costly lawsuits; the university’s efforts to delay settlement of one of the suits, causing more expense for CSU, reports about questionable spending on the “Westside” campus; the university’s refusal to respond to legitimate FOIA requests about that endeavor from the Chicago Tribune; and the failure of campus boilers which should have been replaced some twenty years ago, which reportedly cost the school $1.2 million. Paul Vallas bears no responsibility for any of those circumstances.

Claim #5: In the next two paragraphs, Zollar sets the stage for the punchline which will come in claim #6. First, Zollar says: “I don’t understand his (Vallas’s) purpose.” She next says that “Paul himself have (sic) said in many meetings ‘I want to be the president of the university.’ I do think he has all good intentions, but I wouldn’t be able to support the idea of Mr. Vallas being the president of CSU because he doesn’t have the requisite background in higher education.”

Response: Again, I agree with Zollar that Vallas does not have the academic qualifications to serve as a university president. Of course, Cecil Lucy does not have the requisite qualifications either, however, that did not discourage Nikki Zollar and the old Board from naming him the interim president of Chicago State.

Facts: Zollar’s claim about Vallas’s expressed desire in “many meetings” to be president of Chicago State fails to stand up to close scrutiny. To the best of my knowledge, the communication between the new and old members of the Board has been minimal. Since Rauner appointed the four new members in mid-January, the Board has held only one meeting, which Zollar failed to attend (in fact, she last attended a Board meeting in September 2016).

Claim #6: Finally, here’s the Watson strategy, articulated by Nikki Zollar: “I think, at this point, to continue the stability of the university and the trajectory of the university, we need to keep our interim president until there can be another search.” Zollar’s final comment demonstrates her complete unwillingness to face the real problems at Chicago State. “This university has been starved for money, not leadership.”

Response: There is no “stability” at Chicago State and the university’s “trajectory” is a steep dive. However, retaining the interim president insures that Zollar’s good friend Angela Henderson and the other Watson cronies who have done so much damage to the school will remain in their high-paying jobs until a new president is installed, certainly no sooner than the beginning of the next school year. Maintaining the status quo also insures that Wayne Watson will continue to influence affairs at the school. Where did these people get the idea that this state university was some kind of property over which they could exercise sole control? Nikki Zollar’s comments demonstrate her continuing willingness to protect Watson and his cronies at the expense of the students, staff, and faculty of this school.

Facts: Every problem that has plagued this school since Watson came in fall 2009 can be attributed to poor leadership. We have lost 4107 students since fall 2010. Watson did virtually no fund-raising during the six years of his presidency. The university has been saddled with millions of dollars in legal fees and damage awards because of Watson’s and Cage’s unethical and illegal actions. During Watson’s tenure, a number of other scandals caused by incompetent leadership damaged the university’s reputation. Crony hiring ran rampant during the Watson years, and on the academic side, the crony Provost destroyed the university’s academic advising system and micro-managed course offerings, all to the detriment of our dwindling student population. No Ms. Zollar, Chicago State’s problems are all about bad leadership, exacerbated by the state’s budget impasse. We are in freefall and the fact that you don’t acknowledge this demonstrates your unfitness to serve on this university’s Board of Trustees. A new search indeed. When Ms. Zollar, 2018? If this administration remains in place through fall 2017, this university will simply not be salvageable.

Claim #7: Mitchell concludes with this: “If Rauner is trying to ram Vallas down board members’ throats, he is playing the same cutthroat politics he claims drove the university to ruin in the first place.”

Response: Mitchell has advanced neither a credible theory nor supplied any credible evidence that such a plot is occurring. I will finish with a comment on Chicago State’s “leadership” by one of my esteemed colleagues:

“This CSU administration is exhausting. Their current positions all seem to have the same tasks - save their salaries, at all cost. I cannot adequately articulate how very disappointing it all is. I teach Black Studies and this has to be the worst discovery that all of my studies and research has ever revealed in Black on Black violation. . . Black face and lack of morals is all they need to totally subdue then annihilate an institution that has been so much for so many, so long.”

Saturday, March 11, 2017

We Need a New Provost--Here are the Reasons

Here are the reasons Angela Henderson should be replaced immediately:

Industry Standard Qualifications for Provost

• Requirements that a Provost be a senior scholar with extensive teaching experience are typical. Currently, there are 25 Provost jobs at various universities listed on Of these 25, 19 specifically mention a record of “scholarship” as a requirement. For example, Eastern Illinois’ job announcement requires “a record of outstanding scholarship,” for Provost applicants. Additionally, 9 other universities require a teaching/scholarly/service record that warrants tenure at full Professor. Again, Eastern Illinois requires “a record of outstanding scholarship and superior university teaching, meriting an appointment of full professor with tenure.” An additional 3 universities require that applicants be qualified to receive tenure in an academic department. Altogether, 21 of the 25 job announcements (84 percent) specify that applicants possess a scholarly track record and/or are eligible for tenure, most at the level of full professor.

Qualifications of Provost Henderson

• Angela Henderson has absolutely no record of scholarly achievement. At the time of her appointment to Interim Provost on July 1, 2013, she had not yet received a Ph.D., which the University of Illinois Chicago conferred on August 13, 2013. Given her scant academic credentials, Angela Henderson is not qualified for tenure, at best she might be able to qualify for an entry-level position as an Assistant Professor.

Material Misrepresentations on Angela Henderson’s Application Materials

• On March 18, 2011, Angela Henderson submitted an application and résumé for the position of Vice President of Enrollment Management. Both her application and résumé contained one obvious falsehood and one other material misrepresentation. In her on-line application, she claimed that she would receive a Ph.D. in “Nursing Research” on June 30, 2011. In her résumé she falsely claimed an “anticipated completion” date for the Ph.D. of “June 2011.” In March 2011, she had not even begun the major research on her dissertation project. The University of Illinois Chicago Institutional Review Board did not grant her permission to begin her project until February 13, 2012. Additionally, her résumé failed to reveal a change in job duties (a return to teaching from an administrative position with a nearly 33 percent cut in salary) that occurred in August 2001 and lasted until January 2002.

Angela Henderson’s Unsuccessful Job Performance

• Angela Henderson spent two years as the Vice President of Enrollment Management (2011-13). During her tenure, the University’s enrollment dropped from 6882 (fall 2011) to 5701 (fall 2013). Since becoming Provost, she oversaw more enrollment declines as the University’s enrollment has dropped to 3255 this semester. Particularly as Provost, she has made a number of bad decisions that have contributed to student disaffection and enrollment declines, notably the slashing of academic advisors from 35 to 4 or 5; micro-managing departmental course offerings; course cutting sessions that eviscerate schedules and often contribute to students having difficulty getting courses they need to graduate or make satisfactory progress in their programs. Her performance as Provost resulted in a “no-confidence” resolution from the faculty and Academic Support Professionals in November 2015 that passed 142-4 with 4 abstentions. Simply put, Angela Henderson has neither the confidence nor the support of the faculty and staff at Chicago State.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Fall Looks Bleak Folks

It seems possible that the new Board members quickly realized that virtually no useful information came from people in key administrative positions at CSU. Particularly problematic was the report from Enrollment Management, which was obviously a production of the Provost’s office, since it was virtually content free, except for items that could charitably be described as ludicrous.

Remember that these people have been making unfulfilled promises for the past six years or so. The beginning of the report is truly breathtaking in its fantasizing. The “goal” for the fall is to increase the number of incoming freshmen and transfer students by 100 percent over the anemic 2016 figure, with a 20 percent increase in graduate/professional students. This translates to 592 new undergraduates and 245 new graduate students, a total incoming student population of 837. I’ll talk about the numbers I think we’ll be able to realize in a moment, but first there are a number of reasons this “goal” is ridiculous: first, Admissions is down to one actual admissions person, since the Director of Admissions recently left the university. There are currently no job announcements for any additional staff to do the work in that area. Second, as the report indicates, our fall applications are currently at 2600. For fall 2014 and 2015, the university received better than 7000 undergraduate applications, which yielded in those two years 803 and 697 new undergraduates. I don’t know how many applications we received for fall 2016, but our new undergraduates totaled 296. The consistent failure of the administrators responsible for attracting new students to Chicago State coupled with the absence of personnel to actually do the work of admitting students does not auger well for the success of this endeavor.

Of course, the university also loses students during the year. For the years complete data is available (2009-10 to 2013-14), just over 20.3 percent of our undergraduate students left the university; either by graduating or for other reasons. Additionally, 18.9 percent of our graduates finished their programs. Taking this fall’s enrollment figure of 3578 (1226 graduate students) as the point of departure, we should expect to lose at least 477 undergraduates and an additional 232 graduate students, for a total of 709. Based on the projected graduation numbers and given the “goal” of increasing graduate enrollment by 20 percent, it becomes necessary to attract 477 new graduate students. Thus, doubling our incoming undergraduate student population and increasing our graduate population by 20 percent would increase our actual enrollment by 373 to 3951. Absolutely ridiculous.

Unfortunately, the projected figures on student losses are likely quite low. Enrollment Management reported 245 applications for fall graduation. Given that spring graduation is typically much larger, I think it likely we will approach 650 undergrad graduates. Adding to that total the expected 232 graduate students finishing their programs, we will lose 882 students this year to graduation alone (we graduated a total of 949 last year). Adding to that total the 5.7 percent of undergraduates (134 students at our current enrollment level) who leave school for other reasons, our projected student losses before fall 2017 come to 1016 students. So the enrollment “goals,” if attained, will leave us with a net gain of 66 students for a total enrollment of 3644.

It just gets worse from here. If we only attract a similar number of students as the 296 who enrolled last year, our enrollment would be 3103. Last year the graduate student population dropped by around 6 percent (by 79 students). If we do that again this fall, our graduate population will be at 1152, rather than the 1471 the enrollment “goal” seeks to produce, the enrollment drops to 3029. Frankly, I think we’ll struggle to reach 3,000 students in fall 2017. I fervently hope I am wrong.

The Crowley Debacle Finally Ends

The Crowley case is finally over. Even though the university apparently wanted yet another fruitless hearing, which would have been scheduled for May 1, we suddenly decided to end this fiasco. Our most recent delays cost us an additional $21,000 in interest. No worries, after all, it's not Patrick Cage's money. Here's a Tribune report:

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Governors State cuts 22 programs; Northeastern Ill Univ employees to take 5 furlough days--and CSU?

Seems the bad news about public education in the state of ILL is getting worse. Our sisters schools, Governors State and Northeastern ILL, are taking some drastic actions this month--see article below. What does Gov Rauner and the legislature, IBHE, HLC have up their sleeves I wonder?

A New Day Indeed, But How Much Time Do We Have?

So as my distinguished colleague noted in the previous post, it does, in fact, appear to be a new day. The new trustees were remarkable in their first meeting. They grilled administrators and contractors and were not overawed by the standard, well worn, meaningless responses of our intrepid administrators. I would hope the impending forensic audit would demonstrate the seriousness in which the new trustees are approaching the job of holding the fiduciary responsibility of the university. Of course, there will be the tired refrain of not having any money to pay for the forensic audit. But I am sure with the number of senior administrators currently occupying space in the Cook Building, money could be found with some administrative right sizing. Maybe the BOT will revisit other issues like the Office of the Executive Inspector General finding against a previous president which the Board chose not to act upon. As the Board will be reviewing policies and practices at the university and seem willing to at least listen to the institutional memory (faculty & staff), this very well might be the time to make substantive suggestions on how to address the countless challenges facing the university. During the financial exigency the University Advisory Committee made 30 suggestions on revenue generation and cost savings, with not a single suggestion being acted upon by the Gang of Four. 
I am guardedly optimistic that the new Board of Trustees will actually act in the best interests of the institution and not function as enablers to a failed, petty, incompetent administration. 
And speaking of enablers, where has Trustee Zollar been? As one who voted to remove President Calhoun in September 2016, she has not attended a board meeting since. If the business of the university is so unimportant, why not tender your resignation and allow the Governor fill out the Board with members who are actually engaged and desirous of improving the situation at the university? 
You, loyal readers, already know how much work needs to be done and how little time there is to do it. Let's think of creative solutions that we can communicate to the board on how to keep the ship from going under.

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.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

A Warm Welcome

So on January 17th, the Governor made official his appointment of four trustees to the CSU Board. One name was particularly noteworthy, that being Paul Vallas, former head of the Chicago Public Schools and recognized turnaround specialist in K-12 systems. The other three trustees, Mr. Kambium Buckner, Mr. Nicholas A. Gowen, and Ms. Tiffany R. Harper,  all attorneys in Chicago, bring the benefit of legal education and incisive interrogation of critical issues to the position of trustee. Unfortunately the newly appointed trustees cannot meet because of prohibitions imposed by the Illinois Open Meetings Act. Therefore, their first gathering will be tomorrow at the next scheduled board of trustees meeting.

As an interested observer, I am eager to see how the board handles the Governor's wish that Paul Vallas be the board chairman. Apparently, Trustee Hatch was caught off guard by the Governor in comments made at the announcement of the new trustees. The window is narrow for the Board to keep the ship from sinking.

The new trustees will have a steep learning curve, and at least temporarily, be plied with misinformation from a group of failed administrators and their enabling supporters. I sincerely hope they aren't given any narrative about the university's problems stemming from the current budget impasse. The enrollment fiasco started in 2010 when Pat Quinn was in his first term as governor. The university has experienced 13 consecutive semesters of enrollment decline. This clearly predates, the Rauner administration. The new trustees must be disabused of the fabrications they are likely to hear about the nature and causes of the dysfunction at CSU. I would invite them to look at the body of evidence of misconduct and incompetence and ask who was individually and collectively responsible and once that is clear, DO NOT REWARD FAILURE!

Courageous members of this board attempted to course correct in March 2013 and unfortunately failed. The university finds itself in its current situation as a result of that failed attempt to protect the interests of the university. As there is likely not much time left for the university in a practical sense, I hope they move boldly away from a culture of failure that became firmly ensconced in 2009. 

I extend a heartfelt welcome to the professionals willing to undertake what is clearly a formidable challenge, rooting out a culture of administrative failure and protecting a 150 year old higher education institution from totally imploding. 

I am sure I speak for all faculty when I say we stand ready to assist in your learning about how universities should work and supporting your leadership to protect the institution.

CSU Board of Trustees Meets Tomorrow. The much vaunted "new Trustees" are on board. Will it be business as usual?

The first meeting of the new Chicago State Board is tomorrow at 8:30 am in the Academic Library Auditorium on the fourth floor. The UPI and Faculty Senate encourage the university community to attend to demonstrate that the faculty and staff are committed to a new direction for the university, that we believe it imperative to root out every remaining remnant of the failed Watson administration.

I don't  know if the Board will hear what any of us have to say at the meeting. In January it seemed Gov Rauner's visit to CSU signaled some possibility that CSU will go on. How sincere he is for maintaining CSU's existence or its transformation remains to be seen. I hope this Board in 2017 will not be about "business as usual."  I don't know about anyone else but I am fed up with the lack of real leadership at CSU. I do not mean the leadership in name that has been festering month after month in the Cook Building since financial exigency was declared and then undeclared --the old crony-ridden regime of Wayne Watson--I mean leadership that shows some kind of vision for this university. 

I am sick of walking onto a ghost town of a campus in the morning and making my way across a deserted, poorly lit, abandoned campus at night. 

I am sick of stumbling on the cracked sidewalks, the rutted parking lots, the crumbling staircases. I am sick of smelly toilets, broken doors, and broken desks jumbled up in hallways and corners of classrooms.

I am sick when I see the darkened offices on my hallway emptied now of faculty who have been fired or fled for better offers or retired sooner than they might have, disgusted by the way the university is run by the inhabitants of the upper level of the Cook Building.

I am sick of seeing my department chair trying to run a ridiculous "department" of five disciplines without a secretary or clerical help. 

I am sick of not being able to access computer technology in my classrooms even after multiple phone calls and help because there is simply not enough technology staff to upgrade and oversee the computers.

I am sick of seeing this university work at cross purposes: firing staff in student service areas and expecting that students will be served; firing tenured faculty and then hiring them back as adjuncts because they are needed to cover certain courses; miraculously attracting students and then cancelling classes that they need; mandating that faculty with knowledge of their field and programs be replaced by "professional" advisors who are expected to do the impossible and master the curriculum details of several programs and not specialize in any.

I am sick of being told that I am to blame for "airing our dirty laundry" in public and that those who create the dirty laundry are not to blame.

I am sick of hearing about our lawsuit pay-outs but nothing about consequences for those who caused them.

CSU needs leadership that is not tainted by the stench of Watsonian antipathy to faculty and student needs.  And I am purposely putting faculty first in this sentence for a change. The administration likes to remind us that without students faculty would not have a job. I am reminding them that without faculty, students would not have a university.

And is anyone else sick of hearing Nikki Zollar's mantra that the Interim President Mr Lucy and the sinecured and "untouchable" Provost Henderson "saved" CSU last year? They did so by firing some good faculty. This "saved" CSU alright. Saved it so that Henderson could maintain her sorority sisters in administrative jobs as my colleague pointed out in a post below. 
I am sick of the same leadership clique roosting at CSU and keeping its own nests feathered. 

Mr Lucy is a stop-gap interim president put in place nine months ago by Watson-obsessed Board of Trustees. How long do we need an interim president? CSU might not be able to change the external assault on education in Illinois that the state budget crisis has provoked. But the Board of Trustees must begin to act independently and be what a board is supposed to be. Step up and show some leadership. Fish rots from the head. You corporate types know that to change the culture of an institution you have to cut off its head. Give us something to hope and believe and work for at Chicago State.

Agenda for the Board meeting is linked below. Sign up for public comment before 8.30 am.