Tuesday, February 5, 2019

From the AAUP

As a follow up to Ann Kuzdale's comments:


A Terrible Settlement by UIC for $694,000

It is shocking that the University of Illinois at Chicago would waste $694,000 in taxpayer funds to pay off a disgraced Chicago State administrator over a frivolous lawsuit. Angela Henderson was the acting provost at Chicago State when faculty critical of her took a look at her UIC dissertation and discovered strong evidence of plagiarism.
I can’t personally evaluate if Henderson committed plagiarism because she now keeps her dissertation secret. But in 2014, the Chicago Tribune asked three experts on plagiarism to evaluate the question:
“It is not sloppiness here or there, or plagiarism here or there, it is quite often,” said Tricia Bertram Gallant, editor of a book on academic ethics. “It is clear that this work is problematic enough that it needs to be looked at and perhaps withdrawn.”
Teddi Fishman, director of the International Center for Academic Integrity at Clemson University, said the examples ranged from “really sloppy or poor citation” to “quite problematic.”
Daniel Wueste, director of the Rutland Institute for Ethics, also at Clemson, noted “significant problems” that suggest Henderson lacks “a full and complete understanding of academic protocols and scholarly expectations.”
“That is a problem if that person is provost of a university,” Wueste said
As the Chicago Tribune editorialized, “Is that plagiarism? Yes.” Unfortunately, a UIC hearing officer disagreed with all of these academic experts in the field and ruled that it was not plagiarism.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, “Henderson’s lawsuit accused the university of violating the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) by publicly discussing her Ph.D. Dissertation.”
A dissertation is not a private educational record. A dissertation is a public document displaying scholarship. In fact, that’s how the plagiarism was discovered. When you have a public scholarly document, it cannot be a violation of FERPA to announce an investigation of that document.
Second, it is not a violation of FERPA for universities to announce that they are investigating allegations. Imagine if universities were prohibited from ever revealing (even to the victims) if an alleged racist on campus was being investigated for a hate crime. FERPA is being abused when it is used to impose a shroud of complete secrecy on campus disciplinary processes, and this settlement will make that secrecy much worse.
FERPA is a puzzling basis for a lawsuit, since the Supreme Court has ruled that individual students cannot sue for FERPA violations, they can only file complaints to the government about it. So Henderson’s lawsuit settlement is for harm to reputation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It is ridiculous to assert that UIC caused the harm to Henderson by merely stating that it was investigating claims (an investigation that Henderson now uses to support her reputation by claiming it exonerated her), when the real harm to Henderson’s reputation came from the critics and the newspaper that openly declared her a plagiarist.
It is dangerous to free speech when FERPA is used to suppress criticism of top college administrators and their scholarly work in this way. This settlement will have an chilling effect on academia, silencing criticism of academic misconduct and keeping the disciplinary process at colleges shrouded in complete secrecy for fear of lawsuits.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

UIC pays our ex-provost Angela Henderson $700,000 --as if this absolves a plagiarist.

For those of you following the saga of Chicago State's corruption--see the pay out to Angela Henderson recipient of multi-no confidence votes here in the Sun Times today. After decimating this university by her incompetence and vindictiveness as the epitome of a crony political hire at the side of her boss Wayne Watson, Angela Henderson was paid a 6-figure salary in August 2019 when she was unceremoniously taken down from the position of Provost. Now the lawsuit against her alma mater allows her to rake $700,000 because of heaven knows what UIC was covering up. 

Do not be fooled by articles such as this one written by Henderson's friend, Maudlyne Ihejirika. Notice, that "Under the agreement, UIC denies wrongdoing.." Notice that Ms Iherjirika solicited no comments from Dr. Bionaz who brought to light the plagiarzed dissertation. Do not be fooled. Ask to see her dissertation and look at it for yourself. Oh wait, you can't get it, it is permanently unavailable. An "anonymous" reviewer in the process declared it not to be plagiarized. Why "anonymous?" If the dissertation has been declared not to be an example of sloppy scholarship and plagiarism and if it is a source of pride for "Dr." Henderson why keep it under wraps? What a joke for those of us who did see it. UIC must have been awfully embarrassed about allowing the dissertation to have gone through approval to have paid out so much. Remember, Wayne Watson, her boss at CSU at the time, was a sitting member of her dissertation committee.

The former corrupt president Watson made Henderson the queen of the crony hires and advancements while she was here even before she obtained her "doctorate." She knows how to play the game. If you fall for her "I'm just a poor woman of color in academe and everyone is trying to take me down" routine quoted here then I'd like to sell you the Brooklyn Bridge.

Angela Henderson might be pretty well off for having been showered with high-paying posts by Wayne Watson while she was with him at City Colleges and then when he brought her here to CSU. She might become rich from all her shenanigans with UIC, but she is still a plagiarist. And she remains a scab on academia's rump.


Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Another Unnecessary and Costly Settlement for Wayne Watson's Misbehavior

Colleagues and Friends:
I've been waiting for the end of our civil action to post this. As I intend this to be my final post on the CSU Faculty Voice, I will bid all of you adieu.
Recently, the long-running lawsuit against Wayne Watson and CSU filed in 2014 by Phil Beverly (and me) concluded with the university agreeing to pay $650,000 in damages and attorney's fees to settle the action. There's a story about the settlement in the Tribune, you can read it here: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-chicago-state-university-faculty-blog-lawsuit-20190107-story.html
What the Tribune story fails to note is the large sum the university threw away on defending the egregious behavior of former president Wayne Watson and former General Counsel Patrick Cage. In mid-2016, the legal bills had already exceeded $400,000 for university attorneys Husch-Blackwell. My estimate is that the cost for that firm to represent the university in this loser of a fight will come in around $1 million, making the total cost at least $1.5 million for this case.
After twice threatening the blog with legal action, after lying about the blog's violation of non-existent university trademarks, after lying about a variety of other matters, after ham-handed attempts by the Watson cabal to inveigle various administrators to file false sexual harassment charges, the university's feeble defense predictably failed to stop the lawsuit. Thus, the university faced the prospect of a trial which would have featured a defense by two notable liars having to tell their ridiculous lies on the stand. Kudos to President Scott for finally putting an end to this farce.
None of this had to happen. Soon after we filed the suit, the Illinois Attorney General's Office floated a potential settlement which would have resulted in a modification of the two unconstitutional policies (Computer Usage and Cyberbullying) and the payment of $60,000 in damages and attorney's fees for our attorneys. Rather than accept this reasonable offer, Watson decided to fight, replacing the Attorney General with a private law firm, whose efforts resulted in this loss, the modification of the policies, and an estimated $1.5 million price tag. After all, it wasn't his money.
So the university must once again pay the price for Wayne Watson's incompetence, his vindictiveness, his mendacity. Hopefully, the settlement indicates that at least someone responsible for administering this school will actually put the university's interests first.

Friday, September 28, 2018

What Kanye Could Do At Chicago State University: Suggestions from A Hip Hop Head and Scholar

Lots of excitement this week as there have been daily Kanye West sightings.  Accompanying these sightings is speculation about what he is doing here and a great deal of hope that he is here either to assist the school or scout talent for record contracts.  Other non-fans and cynics ask: What the hell is he doing here?  I imagine that only Kanye knows why he is here.

I've been a fan of Mr. West's since I first heard the song, "Through the Wire" and "Jesus Walks."  In my diversity and class and stratification courses I still play "All Falls Down" from his first album; I use it to describe class, conspicuous consumption and related terms. Even though the corporate media tries to sensationalize his image and words often with his help, I know he has a lot to offer still.  In addition, I believe that Mr. West is sincere in his visits to CSU.  After all, he spent a good amount of time as a youth walking the campus with his mother, the still-esteemed former professor, Donda West.  Colleagues who have been around long enough describe seeing Kanye "running around in short pants" as a retired colleague once told me.  Undoubtedly, his and his mother's experience here shaped him in many ways.  CSU has much still to offer him and he much to offer CSU. 

Since Mr. West has begun to show serious interest in CSU I thought it appropriate to assist him in understanding our needs and strengths and offer some ideas about how he can partner (because, of course, he will benefit, too) with CSU.  Here's just a few.  Feel free to add your own.

--Endow the music program including and especially the new cutting-edge electronic and popular music degree.  He could create an endowment that would earn money to buy equipment, hire 3 to 5 faculty members, and fund full-ride scholarships for 30 talented Chicago youth.  I am certain that the emcee and music producer would love to assist young men and women like him develop their talent.

--If he loves Black people like he says George W. Bush doesn't, then he could endow a Social Justice Institute.  The institute could include an interdisciplinary program in social justice.  Again, existing programs in political science, criminal justice, sociology, African American Studies, and others could be used as a framework for developing a new program.   It could have research components, provide services, provide jobs and be a think tank for solving many of the social ills that we face in Chicago and around the globe. 

--He could endow an urban agriculture problem to help solve the problems of food apartheid including malnutrition, toxic food, diet-related illness and socio economic problems.  The urban agriculture program could have a social justice mission that included education but also could connect with communities already doing this work much like the Neighborhood Assistance Center already does with few resources.  Once again the money would be used to bolster existing programs in Geography, biology, sociology and others as well as provide scholarships, hire faculty and develop infrastructure related to the Aquaponics Center, etc.

--Develop a Chicago Hip Hop Archive that as always includes an education component.  It could include a research library or section of the library, performance spaces, archives, and study rooms.  The Archive would build on our already existing resources including our talented students and faculty who teach courses on or related to hip hop and research and write about it. The library staff would be the foundation of this effort and more faculty, staff and other professionals would be hired including hiring students to staff the archive as they learn.

--Bolster the efforts of the Women's Resource Center and Women's and Gender Studies.  The unit or program would provide services to our community and to our predominantly adult female population that could include daycare, parenting services, counseling, etc.  The new program or center would have a research and academic component tied to the existing efforts of my colleagues in Women's and Gender Studies, African American Studies, and other disciplines throughout the university.

--Develop a much-needed community health center/institute again tied to existing programs in nursing, pharmacy, OT and other health sciences as well as appropriate social sciences.  Such a center would include services, curricula related to community health, new faculty and student scholarships.

Of course, every unit would want something.  Buildings, grounds, student services, enrollment, athletics, etc., etc., all need assistance so that we can become the '21st century university' that we are being asked to become.  My belief is that if we are able to bolster our academic programs, create unique programs and tie them to services and social justice, then we will begin to once again make a positive name for ourselves and be a model for urban universities across the country.

Mr. West has already raised the profile of CSU by just being here.  My wish is that his presence will start a mutually beneficial relationship between him and us.  Not being an academic Mr. West is likely to need help identifying how he can plug in here at CSU.  My advice to him is speak to those of us who have been around for awhile and who know our needs.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Will Angela Attack?

How long do you think it will be before the former Provost starts taking potshots at the school? Despite her years of fraud and failure, I'm sure she thought her association with Wayne Watson would enable her to stay in her position as long as she wished. Does anyone really think she'll not try to strike back. After all, remember that the Watson administration's mode of operation included attempts to destroy his Lilliputianess's real and perceived enemies (ie. Jim Crowley, Glenn Meeks, LaShondra Peebles, and a host of others). Henderson learned those tacticw well. So where will the attack(s) originate? From the political hacks on the state level who have done nothing over the past 9 years as the University plummeted to its current imperiled position? From political hacks in the HLC? (Remember their recent concern about our internal operations) From friends and allies in the media? From allies remaining on the Board? From ridiculous lawsuits? Stay tuned.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Don't Put the Broom Away Just Yet. The Cronies in Wonderland

In the past few days, we’ve seen a handful of Friends of Wayne or Friends of Angela lose their sinecures at Chicago State. Hopefully, this won’t be the end of the much-needed firings at this University. On July 26, the new President moved Angela Henderson, a long-time Watson crony out of the Provost’s position. Last week, another Watson administrative crony who had “protected Watson” according to a senior administrator, lost a key job. Additionally, one of the highly placed “Friends of Angela” who had seen a 221 percent salary increase in the past seven years, found the new President unimpressed with her/his job performance. Altogether, these 3 administrators made $473,868.90 in salary and overrides in fiscal 2018.

After the first wave of Watson crony hires in 2009 (Mitchell, Sidney, Cage, and Ronnie Watson most prominent), another wave of cronies came on board between mid-2011 and early 2014. Included among these lucky “Friends of Wayne” were Henderson, hired June 15, 2011 as the Vice President of Enrollment Management at a salary of $150,000/year; and Damon Arnold, hired as “Director” of a program with 4 students at a salary of $140,004/year on October 3, 2011. Watson soon promoted both these cronies and raised their salaries. Henderson eventually became University Provost at a salary of $231,750 (a bump of $81,750, or 54.5 percent, while Arnold, apparently despite infrequent appearances at work, was anointed an Assistant Dean, with a more modest increase to $144,204 or 3 percent.

Of course, Watson also involved himself in other hirings, reportedly even interviewing candidates for maintenance, police officer, and of course, faculty positions. In the Watson universe, a paranoid concern with subordinate loyalty reigned supreme. Ignoring the obvious inadequate qualifications of most of his crony selections, Watson populated Chicago State’s senior administrative ranks with incompetent friends and friends of political friends, effectively consigning to irrelevance any actual ability to do a particular job. As an example, after Henderson’s terrible performance as VP of Enrollment Management (enrollment declined from 6882 to 5701 on her watch), Watson promoted her to Interim Provost on July 1, 2013.

Of course, 5 years ago, both Watson and Henderson had a problem with a faculty and staff who saw through their charade and recognized them as the frauds and political hacks they actually were. Although most faculty members were unable or unwilling to publicly express their displeasure with the operations of the Watson regime, several no-confidence votes and other polls demonstrated consistent opposition to their “administration.” Having been rejected by the academic community, where could these two clowns turn for support?

By rigging student elections and putting pressure on our most vulnerable population, the Watson/Henderson “juggernaut” co-opted a number of students. They taught a number of lessons to students who desired to participate in the affairs of the University. Loyalty to Watson/Henderson resulted in rewards, while disloyalty or even indifference could engender disastrous consequences. As the legatee of her mentor’s management style, Henderson demonstrated that she learned these lessons well.

The point of contact between students and administrators became the Office of Student Activities. Organizationally, this office bounced around between 2012 and 2018. In January 2012, the office operated under the Enrollment Management VP, Angela Henderson. At that point, two Deans, a Dean of Students and a Dean of Freshman Experience existed under Enrollment Management. The Dean of Freshman Experience was vacant. The organizational status quo obtained on July 31, 2012. By January 24, 2014, Henderson had been promoted to Provost, and Student Activities remained under the new Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management, LaShondra Peebles. By this time, one of the loyal employees working for Henderson had been promoted to an Interim Dean’s position.

By February 2015, Peebles had been fired and the Enrollment Management operation significantly reduced. The Student Activities component was now headed by an Interim Dean of Student Affairs, reporting directly to the President. Almost every office dealing with student activities now essentially reported to the President. This organizational arrangement avoided any potential conflicts between the wrong Dean and the Henderson friends and loyalists in the old Enrollment Management empire. The one exception: the Interim Dean who had been promoted in 2014 now worked directly for Angela Henderson. The First Year Experience operation had been detached from other student departments and reorganized under the Provost. The Vice President’s position in Enrollment Management was vacant.

By the date Thomas Calhoun assumed the presidency, the entire Student Affairs operation, including the Dean and the Dean of First Year Experience operated under the Provost’s office. Again, this reorganization protected these Henderson loyalists from the incoming President, who had exhibited a threatening desire to actually develop a positive relationship with the University faculty. This organizational structure existed under Cecil Lucy in February 2017, and continued under Rachel Lindsey in February 2018.

The same kind of administrative bloat seen across the University has afflicted Student Activities in recent months. In Spring 2014, that operation consisted of an Interim Dean, a Director and an Assistant Director of Student Activities. By Spring 2016, the Assistant Director had gotten a new administrative position and a nice raise of $39,000, from $46,000 to $85,000 a year. For the next three years, that office consisted of a Dean and a Director of Student Activities, with an annual salary expense of $175,000 to $200,000. However, in Spring 2018, with enrollment at record lows, undergraduate enrollment below 2000, and Freshman enrollment down to 224 (fall 2017 figures), the administrative staff in Student Activities suddenly doubled. We now have a Dean, an Assistant Dean, a Director of Student Activities, and a Director of First Year Experience, for a total salary expense of $390,311.30.

So we know what the employees get for their loyalty to Henderson. What do the students get? In 2013, the Watson administration interceded in a student government election to insure that two anti-Watson candidates were not elected to the positions of SGA President and Student Rep to the CSU Board (the anti-Watson candidate won 292-80, while the anti-Watson Board candidate won 236-88). The administration made a concerted effort to destroy the anti-Watson Board candidate, as Angela Henderson filed bogus “stalking” charges, got an injunction from a friendly judge, and caused the subsequent arrest of the student for violating the bullshit “anti-stalking” order. Ultimately, both the order and the criminal charges against the student were dismissed in court. All this apparently cooked up by the President, Provost, and General Counsel, abetted by Student Activities personnel, to silence a student for daring to disagree with Watson.

In February 2014, I wrote this: “Under the Watson regime, persons without protection are cynically co-opted, bullied and intimidated into actions that serve the interests of Wayne Watson and his cronies. The administration subjects students who disagree vocally with the Watson regime to the full weight of the university’s enforcement apparatus while it defends administrators who lie, cheat and plagiarize.”

As a student, it was not even necessary to publicly disagree with Watson/Henderson to have yourself discarded and your academic career ruined. Let’s take the hypothetical case of a student who simply may not have been able to handle the pressure of the various demands made by Watson/Henderson and their acolytes:

After admission, the student’s first 3 semesters look like this: 41 credit hours attempted, 41 completed, 41 passed, a 3.63 GPA. The student then gets involved in campus politics, aligns her/himself with the Watson/Henderson administration, serves in important positions, and over the next four years attempts another 146 hours, completes 116, passes 96, with a 1.55 GPA, dropping her/his overall GPA to 2.03. The hypothetical student ultimately leaves school with no diploma. Could this actually have happened?

It seems like the focus of President Scott’s housecleaning targets inefficiently performing administrators, including some obvious crony hires. As I have said repeatedly, they are an impediment to the University’s ability to reconstruct its reputation and again become a viable educational institution. Madame President, while you evaluate the senior administrators, please do not ignore the mid-level crony administrators who have enthusiastically contributed to the school’s demise while happily cashing those nice paychecks. As you are assuredly discovering, for years, a number of these people have done almost nothing except collect a salary. Let's see if we can't replace them with people who, preferably at other universities, have demonstrated the ability to support students and increase enrollment.

Monday, July 30, 2018

The End of the End Or The Beginning of the Beginning

So it took 936 days, two interim presidents, one permanent president and a non-traditional president to bring to an end the darkest period of Chicago State University’s 150 year history. Since 2008, the university has endured an ever deepening spiral into non-existence. To answer who is responsible is to tell a much longer story than your humble narrator has time to tell here. The short version is that everyone affiliated with the University prior to July 1st of this year has some measure of accountability here. Those who would support a regime that was demonstrably failing in real time bear the greatest responsibility. That includes the current and former governors, state legislators, administrators, tenured faculty, and alumni. Accrediting bodies and the Illinois Board of Higher Education are also responsible. By their action or inaction members of all of these groups contributed to a 65% enrollment decline between 2009 and 2018. And no, loyal readers, do not believe the apologists who blame the two year budget crisis for a 9 year enrollment decline.
So the last ten years have been horrific for the University and now the last vestiges of that period are being purged. There are still some remaining who shouldn’t be long for CSU and then the really difficult phase begins, the race against time to restore the university to some semblance of viability.
Just in the matter of Academic Affairs, it would appear that the division should be gutted and rebuilt. Does an Interim Provost have time to do that heavy lifting? Does this Interim Provost have the skill set to take on such an enormous task? Should we lower the expectations to just keeping the lights on or should we expect more?
I believe the first thing to address is the appalling treatment of tenured faculty who were laid off, some of whom were rehired at a reduced grade and salary. All of these faculty should be restored effective August 15th. If the University wishes to fire tenured faculty, then there is an accepted process in the Academy that those who are familiar with such things, would follow. If tenure is to be stripped, then that requires Board action and the Board has been remarkably silent since 2016 when it inexplicably entered the University into a state of financial exigency. Tenured faculty deserve much better treatment than they have received with the previous regime.
The second thing that must be addressed is to rebuild the advising process at the university. The now departed Provost did an exemplary job in destroying the student advising process. It is too late to fix it for the Fall 2018 semester and it needs to be addressed immediately.
The third task is to get permission to offer courses off campus. It has been six years since the university had the ability to offer courses off campus and the now relieved provost seemingly couldn’t figure out that part of her job responsibilities. The Interim Provost now has the duty to correct this and I would hope this is addressed promptly.
Fourth, the curriculum process must be rebuilt from the ground up. This process is an excellent opportunity for the new administration to participate meaningfully in shared governance. The past several administrations have failed miserably in the practice of shared governance and here we are again with another opportunity to function like a university. Stay tuned.
Fifth, the Interim Provost will need to rebuild trust between the faculty and the administration. I believe this would lead to increased faculty morale and possibly increased faculty productivity. It will take a Provost who can lead, not just manage budgets and nickel and dime faculty over tenths of CUEs. Only time will tell if a leader or a manager occupies the seat.
Finally, the President and Interim Provost will need to acknowledge the enormous human cost of the last ten years on those who have been associated with the university. People have been hurt. Reputations have been damaged. The dignity of good people has been assaulted. Not acknowledging the human cost will prevent the university from moving forward. And soon it will be too late. 
There is so much more that needs to be addressed and I don’t know if time favors the institution. I thought I would have been happier at this change and yet I’m only sad because all of this was avoidable. And those who are ultimately responsible should be ashamed of their role in the  damage wrought on the university. Yet, I’m sure there will be no accountability and no acknowledgment that human beings, colleagues and friends, have been deeply hurt. And I’m still just sad.

Hopefully, a Portentous Week

Last week brought extremely positive news to the long-suffering students, staff, and faculty at Chicago State. Although in office less than a month, new CSU President “Z” Scott did what Thomas Calhoun could not do and what Cecil Lucy and Rachel Lindsey would not do. What might this mean as the new school year approaches? For what they’re worth, here are my thoughts.

The new President actually seems to recognize bullshit when she sees it or hears it. As we all know, Chicago State possesses a number of highly-paid administrators who, as far as I can tell, produce nothing, or worse, do damage. One has just been jettisoned. Hopefully, a number of her friends and cronies still blighting the University are now nervous and will decide to explore alternative career opportunities.

The Board and President seem to realize the seriousness of the school’s situation and the precariousness of its existence. Currently, fall enrollment is down another 7 percent, which would translate into a fall head count of around 2800, potentially the sixteenth consecutive semester of enrollment losses. In this environment, acting in the best interests of the University becomes imperative. This past week, President Scott did just that.

Although the new President is not an academic, she obviously understands management. She is unafraid to take decisive action. She brings her own political influence to this job, effectively neutralizing the toxic residue of the Wayne Watson administration, perpetuated by apparatchiks who are determined to have the University remain in the same corrupt and incompetent hands. While the task of rehabilitating the University is formidable, even daunting, we now seem to have someone with the desire to use her political skills for the benefit of the school rather than for the benefit of her friends and cronies. Based on the early returns, she deserves our support.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Finally, a Change in the Provost's Office

A relief and long overdue. Thanks President Scott for putting the University's best interests first.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Life After CSU

Our former colleague, Dr. Yan Searcy, has accepted a position as Dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at California State University-Northridge. Congratulations Yan!