Tuesday, April 6, 2010

And yet more on Madhubuti...

The Madhubuti Affair at CSU is becoming its own cause celebre.

This morning I find Scott Jaschik has written about us, "Disrespecting Whom?" in Inside Higher Education (April 6, 2010) and seems to be wondering whether it's about retaliation or something more? The comments to the article are also interesting, unlike a lot of the racist rants one finds attached to Chicago newspaper articles.

"One thing that isn't in dispute is that Madhubuti was among the many professors who criticized the selection of Watson, who had a series of clashes with faculty members at the City Colleges of Chicago, which he led previously, and whose selection as president last year was greeted with boos on the campus. At the time, Madhubuti released an open letter to the university, questioning Watson's suitability for the job. Madhubuti was hardly alone in offering such criticisms, but his letter was much discussed on campus."

Dr Watson defends his position by saying, "The university is going through a "cultural shift," Watson said, and that is difficult for many. But it's the only way to build the "right foundation" for student learning."

Could someone remind me what this "cultural shift" is that Dr Watson is trying to do? Does anyone else in the university know what this is, let alone who decided it? "Cultural shift," from what to what?

On Sunday, Mary Mitchell in the <em>Sun Times wrote again about CSU: "Where's the support for Madhubuti? Where is the outrage over blatant disregard for poet?"

Mitchell writes,
Obviously, Watson is facing a tough challenge.

The former City Colleges chancellor will have to increase the deplorable graduation rate while raising standards -- not to mention change the university's negative image as being the university of last resort.

Watson has already shown he can clear some impressive hurdles.

In 2005, he received a "no confidence" vote from the faculty at City Colleges. Four years later, he was given a five-year contract at Chicago State University amid complaints that the process was rigged.

And while the public is outraged that state employees can collect hefty pensions after moving into new state jobs, Watson has managed to do so without anyone raising an eyebrow.

Icon is disappointed, not bitter
Unfortunately, Madhubuti is not a politician.

He is the poet who turned his words into institutions.

Yet the fact that so many of us have no clue about what this man's stature has meant to Chicago State plays into Watson's hands.

I wouldn't call Madhubuti bitter, but he certainly is disappointed.

It sounds like she is saying, it's not what you do, but who you know.

And what a difference a year can make in university presidential politics here in Illinois. Have a look at the Chicago Tribune article about the presidential search process going on this spring at the University of Illinois:

"University of Illinois interviews finalists for president; List includes 5 university presidents" by Jodi Cohen

The 19-member search committee, including university trustees, students, faculty, staff and alumni, interviewed 10 candidates over three days last month, Strobel said. She said the university received about 200 "applications," mostly nominations for the job.

Wow, the entire search committee at the University of Illinois participated in the interviews of the 10 candidates. Imagine that. Why, it was only last year that here at CSU the Trustees kept our own presidential search committee as much in the dark as possible about who the applicants were and in no way let the committee near the interviews with any finalists. I wonder why the University of Illinois Trustees treat their faculty, staff, administrators, and students so differently?

Politics. Who you know, not what you do.

I may be wrong, but I kind of doubt that there will be a "cultural shift" by the Administration from running Chicago State like a church any time soon.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad the same cannot be said about Madhubuti's extremely flawed position. On the one hand, we read that he is an icon in the "community," yet he's been on hand at CSU for 26 years while its enrollment, retention and graduation rates hit rock bottom. Also, we’re told that Madhubuti is a prolific poet, yet when given the opportunity to teach more students the ways of his trade and do exactly what true educators consider to be a “labor of love,” he decides to retire instead and to add insult to injury, by making a big stink about his own personal decision to do so. Go figure! In life, we need to take responsibility for our actions, not strike out against others who are merely doing the right thing. As a senior at CSU, I am a witness to the improvements that Dr. Watson has been able to make in the mere six months that he has been our President. Because of Dr. Watson, I am proud to attend CSU. Our campus grounds, library, cafeteria, dormitory and classrooms are nicer than ever. Mr. Madhubuti, please stop placing your individual priorities above those of the entire CSU community. There is no poetic justice in taking this opportunity to gain notoriety, achieve higher book sales and book more speaking engagements for yourself, while trashing CSU. This is all we have, sir, so please don’t ruin it for us...PEACE...
    But you tell the TRUTH this time. My children went to Professor Madhabutis' school. They are richer for the experience. But the person that I heard speak at the Gwendolyn Brooks center this weekend tarnished that rich repuation with the rants of a raucous brat. I was shocked at Mary Mitchells' retelling of Haki's lies and tantrum like claims. Ron Huberman, CEO of CHicago Public Schools makes $230,000 a year, he just got a raise. 500 people suddenly lost their jobs last week, and were replaced by young, blonde people with no experience. Many of them were sent from City Hall. Now that's a story! But a Professor with a reputation of sexual liasons from columnist to his Dean that professors devout to his dear wife? An "icon" that bitches about losing a six figure salary becuause he doesn't want to teach anybody else? A poet that sinks to misleading an audience on actual facts? A grown man that attacks the intelligence of current CSU leadership by belittling it's President because Haki cannot have his way? What a jerk!! After 24-26 years of collecting a fat check at taxpayer expense while simutaneously running a publishing company, a private school ..he has a beef? Haki never said that he would sacrifice part of his salary so that a less fortunate worker could keep their meager salary. What a screaming dissappointment. I'm trying to forget this whole scenario. You are brave Ms. Hartman and I applaud your guts. I don't know for sure, but Ms. Madhabuti should check into the Haki/Mary conection- I think something else may be happening there. Which would have nothing to do with literary value . . .