Saturday, April 24, 2010


This month our department and a few others on campus are doing CSU's CEO's bidding and creating a dual enrollment program with the Kennedy King Community College (a place formerly under Dr Watson's rule). I think we got wind of this at some point in the past year, but details have only been given out in dribs and drabs in the usual trickle-down passing of information from on high to provost to deans to chairs etc. etc. Well, the business is upon us this month and we are supposed to hurry to get it into place. The dual-enrollment action is being negotiated by deans and department chairs, but not a single faculty member is part of the meetings and negotiations with this community college--nor do there seem to be faculty members present from the community college side either. Has this been vetted through CSU's Faculty Senate at least? The dual-enrollment has important curricular implications and should not be usurped by CEO edict: "make it happen."

Faculty in our department have been asked to "review" the proposals in our continuingly tedious slot as merely "advisory" to any major thing that happens on campus. At what point in CSU's history did we become tangential and "advisory?" Is it so that the Adminstration can cover themselves to the politicians they answer to by claiming faculty were aware and marginally part of the process, while not really ceding any control? (Hello, contract negotiations anyone?). We are being assured that the dual-enrollment is not dumbing us down to the level of a community college but will be a win-win situation for both KKCC and CSU in regards to enrollment. From my understanding it's supposed to stream community college students straight into CSU. But it seems to me to be a bit like an enrollment smokescreen to keep the politicians off our back. CSU can claim it has more students even if they spend half their time at Kennedy-King. What the implications are for the dreaded statistics for first-time, full-time freshmen, I don't know. Will we have to be responsible for those KKCC first-time students who drop out? Is this dual-enrollment a way around CSU's "strict" (sic) admissions policies to open us up to a more community college-like admission standard? Trustee Finney weighed in on lowering CSU admission standards last year as a way to gain enrollment numbers (note, get the numbers up, student performance is secondary). Does Senator Maloney's office know about this? I know that CEO Watson likes to believe that the newspapers "always get it wrong" when they are talking about CSU, but he might want to re-read Sen. Maloney's comments last fall. Maloney is a CSU grad and chairman of the Senate's Higher Education Committee. "They (CSU) have to raise standards, be aggressive about recruiting quality kids who are going to graduate," Mr. Maloney said. "Its a state university, not a South Side university." The New York Times, November 29, 2009.

In my "review" of the draft we faculty were given I have lots of questions. Does the Illinois' Higher Learning Commission approve of this action? Will this look good for re-accreditation? Is there a model in Illinois that we are following? What other state universities that grant doctoral degrees are pairing up with community colleges? And explain to me again, why our current articulation agreements with Illinois community colleges (city colleges included) are not effective enough in streaming students to us? You remember that project a few years ago where a number of our courses were coded IAI to ease transferring credit from one college to another in Illinois. Has that panacea now proved such a failure that it is being scrapped?

I suppose I'll be criticized for not "thinking enough outside my box." OK, so here's another suggestion. Why is it that on many, many CSU committees when we are asked to do something new our first inclination is to compare ourselves to schools that are "like us?" Why, can't we model ourselves on schools that are more successful or better in a particular area or ranked higher than ours? If you want to improve your tennis game, you play with someone better than you. Maybe we at CSU should be the ones looking to partner with a school that has more resources than ours. How about a sister school like--UIC? SIU? Northwestern? or even the University of Chicago? If some of the ivy league schools are doing it, let's get in on that action. This idea was inspired by a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education (in spite of their newspaper status we must believe them, their fawning article about CSU has been plastered on the front page of the main web page for months now). The article a few days ago focusses on how "minority-serving institutions are doing great but unheralded work and are worthy of more investment" by research universities. This is what Brown University is doing:

Valerie P. Wilson, associate provost and director of institutional diversity at Brown University, joined other speakers at Thursday's event in emphasizing that even top research universities with much smaller proportions of minority students have much to learn by forming partnerships with minority-serving colleges. Brown, in fact, has a nearly 50-year partnership with Tougaloo College, a private, four-year historically black institution in Jackson, Miss.

The partnership provides faculty and student exchanges and collaborative research projects, and administrators from the institutions meet regularly to plan projects that benefit both. For example, Brown and Tougaloo students from a wide variety of majors have been able to gain valuable insight studying at Tougaloo's archive of civil-rights materials. Another program gives Brown graduate students an opportunity to teach in their field at Tougaloo for one or two semesters, providing them the experience of working in a different cultural and academic setting and making them better prepared for the job market, Ms. Wilson said.

So, that's my advisory opinion on the dual-enrollment question, let's try to partner up for a change.

Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2010 White House Adviser Urges Historically Black Colleges to Change How They Are Seen By Eric Kelderman

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