Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The fix is in...

There was a cautious optimism last year at this time across campus when CSU began the search for a new president. The belief at that time was that the selection process would involve constituencies across campus from whom the Board of Trustees truly wanted to hear. Sources close to the search, however, have related stories that describe the deflation of that initial hope over the summer and fall as the meetings on the presidential search progressed. From the very start, apparently, the search committee of the Board of Trustees made it clear that they would do the hiring and that the advisory committee (made up of faculty, staff, and administrators, including a student representative) was not going to be anything but, well, “advisory,” in the narrowest sense of the word. The advisory committee would not vote, would not have a say in who was chosen for a short list and would not be present for interviews of the final five candidates. This proscription of the advisory committee was repeated periodically in the course of this search.

So, anyone who read the statement issued on Tuesday, “the search committee, with input from the 16-member presidential search advisory committee, reviewed more than 30 applications for the position” should disabuse themselves that this process was shared. The Board of Trustees alone has made the decision to bring in Drs. Wayne Watson and Carol Adams not with, but in spite of, the advisory committee.

The advisory search committee was not permitted to review the portfolios of those 30+ candidates, but did review the chosen twelve candidates. The advisory committee had less than a week to make extensive comments on paper evaluating the candidates. The plan was to discuss those candidates at the next search committee meeting. Most of the advisory members did fill out the forms which were detailed and took a long time to complete. Yet no discussion between the Board of Trustees and the advisory search committee about the twelve candidates ever took place. On the day of that meeting, in what could only be called a parliamentary technicality, Trustee Tolliver moved the meeting into executive session before any discussion could take place. The Senate-appointed advisory search committee was never part of a meaningful discussion as to who Chicago State University’s next president would be.

After a year-long national search, conducted by a local search firm, the two finalists are two very prominent and problematic individuals from Chicago. What began as an optimistic opportunity for the university to come together to improve the “culture of Chicago State,” has ended in farce. Cynicism about the choice, but more importantly, about the process, is what one is hearing now. The faculty in particular should watch very carefully over the next few weeks as the Trustee’s choices for President of CSU interview on campus. Maybe some meaningful participation of the entire university can still happen in this process, unfortunately, I’m afraid the die is cast, the fix is in.


  1. It seems that what I've been hearing about the process goes beyond cynicism. Shouldn't the faculty do something more than "watch very carefully over the next few weeks"? That strikes me as too passive. If it's clear the process was fundamentally flawed, then it seems we should speak up now. Perhaps this goes against much of our training as academics (where we are taught to think things through in detail), but I would argue we need to adopt an activist's approach and just do something. Any takers?

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  3. For the Board of Trustees to deny faculty and the advisory committee the right to see the candidates who were "supposedly" considered for Chicago State University's President position is crazy. To have a list of 30 candidates and the best the Board of Trustees could do is select w individuals with shaded or a shaky past? Sounds suspensions? The Freedom of Information Act should satisfy that notion of suspension shouldn't it? The problem is the faculty and staff at Chicago State is afraid of retaliation from the Board and the new appointee. It would take the Governor's Office to do something but the catch is, they can't put fire out if they don't see the smoke. The smoke must come from the campus community. The campus community needs to draw attention to this faulty practice of appointing and hiring candidates. The campus community must speak up and voice their concern on the direction their university is going into. The campus community must get a petition started and signed in support of the Governor's Office to come and clean out this incompetent Board of Trustees. The campus community for the first time in history need to be united and not divided.

    Chicago State the whispering in each others' offices, on campus, in your cars, and on the phone about the Board should be voiced in the place where it the Office of the Governor. Request to see the list of candidates, request for the Board to be removed or resign, request for the right to have your university to be represented in a positive light for a change...stop letting things go!

    Peter Marshall said,"A man who doesn't stand for something will fall for anything." Aren't you tired of falling for everything these people on the Board keep dishing out to you?

    Helen Keller said, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.” Aren't you tired of the trials and suffering being the punchline of the jokes in the State of Illinois? Isn't it time to have a clear vision for the university instead of watching the clouds linger over our heads? Isn't it time for your ambition to realize its inspiration and success to accomplished through your hardwork and dedication? Chicago State...isn't it time to SCREAM?