Friday December 10th was the last CSU Trustees meeting of 2010. In case you missed it here are some of the highlights:
1. Trustee elections that afternoon brought about a new Chair, Gary Rozier; Vice-Chair Zaldwaynaka “Z” Scott; and Secretary Lisa Morrison Butler. All are the new Gov. Quinn appointees. Best of luck to them.
Did I hear that right?
2. At one point during the nomination for Secretary of the Trustees, Rev. Tolliver asked Langford Neal, Trustees’ legal counsel, if Neffer Kerr, the student representative, could be nominated for the position of Secretary of the Board. I believe Rev. Tolliver was serious about this. No disrespect to Ms. Kerr, but considering the faculty has absolutely NO representation on the Board is anyone else out there as uncomprehending of his thinking as I was? Ok, we are in the season of “a child shall lead them” and all that, but if a student can be Secretary, why stop there? Let the student trustee be elected Chair of the BOT. Well, now wait a minute, maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad idea now that I think of it… In the end Ms. Kerr declined the nomination and legal counsel, who did not know the answer to Rev. Tolliver’s question, did not have to rule on it.
Straight from the Orwellian Playbook.
A student spoke to me at the end of our final exam this week and expressed great shock and outrage after learning of how history is being re-written (or written out of) the high school curriculum in the State of Texas. The conservative Texas school board will emphasize Christian values, capitalism, rehabilitate the reputations of Jefferson Davis and Joe McCarthy and de-emphasize “contributions” of minorities to U.S. history. Since we had spent some part of the semester discussing the “construction” of history I was happy to find that my student made this connection to the events in Texas. It’s not just the “victors who write the history,” it’s state school boards and legislatures as well.
And anyone who has read Orwell’s 1984 knows that totalitarian states are dependent on this kind of re-writing or erasures from history. Which brings up the rewriting of history at our very own CSU.
3. In some lengthy remarks praising Rev. Tolliver, Rev. Finney stressed Tolliver’s peaceful handling of the 2009 CSU Presidential Search process that ushered in Dr Wayne Watson to CSU’s CEO position. Calm? Peacful? As the “Holy Alliance” shared the dais with their CEO, and gave a show of hugs and handshakes all around I wondered if anyone else recognized CSU newspeak: “All war is peace,” “all lies are truth.”
4. If you are as curious as my student is about how history is constructed or erased in the re-telling, check back on some of the blogs here and from the Chicago Tribune, Sun Times, and ChiTown Daily New(i.e. the “white-controlled media”) for a reminder of those contentious months in the spring of 2009. Rev. Finney is interpreting history against the evidence. This is just a fraction of the timeline from that period:
APRIL 17, 2009 BOARD OF TRUSTEES & PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEET TO DISCUSS ADAMS & WATSON INTERVIEWS IN EXECUTIVE SESSION. 7-PAGE MEMO GIVEN TO PSAC MEMBERS FROM LEGAL COUNSEL MARK DUNN DATED APRIL 16, 2009, RE: “SEARCH PROCEDURES AND THE CAMPUS ADVISORY COMMITTEE.” REITERATES THAT “THE CAMPUS ADVISORY COMMITTEE HAS NO ROLE THAT ALLOWS IT TO VETO OR CALL FOR THE TERMINATION OF THE SEARCH PROCESS…AND SUCH A RECOMMENDATION IS NOT PROPERLY CONSIDERED TO BE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE CHARGE TO THE CAMPUS ADVISORY COMMITTEE AND HAS NO ‘OFFICIAL’ FORCE OR BINDING EFFECT.” IN RESPONSE, 13 OUT OF 15 PSAC MEMBERS SUBMIT THEIR RESIGNATION AND WALK OUT FROM THE MEETING CITING THAT “IT WOULD INAPPROPRIATE TO LEGITIMIZE A LESS THAN TRANSPARENT OR PARTICIPATORY PROCESS BY RECOMMENDING EITHER OF THE TWO FINALISTS FOR THE POSITION OF CHICAGO STATE UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT…”
APRIL 21, 2009 FACULTY SENATE UNANIMOUS VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE IN THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AND CONDEMNS THE CSU PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH PROCESS.
APRIL 22, 2009 RALLY OF STUDENTS, FACULTY, AND ADMINISTRATORS ON CAMPUS PROTESTING THE BOT AND THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH PROCESS; FACULTY SENATE LETTER DELIVERED TO GOVERNOR QUINN REQUESTING REMOVAL OF THE BOT OF CHICAGO STATE
April 25, 2009 Chicago Tribune Lead Editorial, “March to mediocrity” SUPPORTING EFFORTS TO HAVE GOV. QUINN ADD NEW MEMBERS TO THE BOT AT CSU AND STOP THE PRESIDENTIAL SEARCH PROCESS
I suppose it is not a surprise that Rev. Finney would want to construct the history of the CSU Prez search in his own way, memory fades over time and they are all friends after all. What is disturbing is that the public record of the events of those meetings has been erased. Try as you might, you will not find a single reference to the resignation of the Faculty Search Advisory Committee on April 17, 2009 in the BOT Minutes for that day, not in the section under Presidential Search, not in the Executive session. No mention of the letter of resignation that was submitted, let alone of the contentiousness of the meetings in April. Check out the minutes for those meetings (they are public records and are posted on the CSU Trustees webpage) if you want to see how well CSU matches Texas in its revision of history.
And on other Fronts
5. The 1000-room dormitory seems to be underway in the imaginations of the upper Administration and Trustees; full steam ahead on getting that off the ground. No word, however, if this will be constructed at the CSU “West-side campus” or the one on 95th Street…
6. In the President’s Report based on the last 3-4 months Dr. Watson reported that he has continued to push for articulation agreements with high schools and community colleges around the City; wrote letters to ILL legislators who are grads of CSU citing CSU’s accomplishments. And in a performance self-evaluation to Trustee Hill he mentioned that she wanted to see more “metrics” in it (i.e. items that can be measured—enrollment, retention, grad statistics etc.).
7. A video of a short t.v. commercial to be broadcast somewhere sometime with Dr Watson and students was shown.
8. Lastly, discussion among Trustees, Administrators, and Students led to high-fives all around over the declared success of the IPAD initiative as reported by CIO, Ce Cole Dillon. For those not in the know, this was the idea to supply first-time, full-time students with IPADs —was it to enhance student learning or to lure them to CSU? a little of both, I guess. This was an initiative taken up and approved in a July 2010 BOT meeting. At this meeting Trustee Samuels wanted to get faculty input on the initiative, but Rev. Finney did not see the necessity of delaying the process in this way. Approximately $350,000 was spent to bring this technology to incoming freshman students. The moneys came from the Information Technology Division. One could wonder what was sacrificed to make this possible, not to mention what process was used to make this determination.
While CIO Dillon quoted a litany of statistics from an “assessment survey” given to students about the IPAD regarding student use, Ms Kerr volunteered that the students said that giving them IPADs makes them feel that the university is “investing” in them. In response to earlier reports of the IPADs being sold or stolen, she noted that there was a “zero-tolerance” policy (not sure exactly what that means—expulsion? arrest?) for students found to have sold or stolen an IPAD.
And a Wow moment: Trustee Samuels suggested to CIO Dillon that she needed a faculty survey on the use of this technology to which Rev. Tolliver agreed! I already know from my colleagues what the IPAD technology hath wrought in the classrooms. The students may smile and say in their surveys to anxious Administrators that they are using the thing for taking notes, but if my experience is like anyone else’s, students are mostly checking their email, surfing the net, and basically quite divorced from interaction in the classroom. If I ask a student with an IPAD in my class to answer a question, I am met with a blank look and a request to repeat the question. Another colleague tells me he will ban ALL hand-held tech devices in his classroom next semester because of the distraction they cause.
After the meeting ended a faculty member suggested to Ms. Dillon that there were some problems with the IPADs in the classroom that needed to be addressed. What started out as a rather reasonable conversation with the potential for real communication, turned into an all out contest: faculty vs. administration. In many ways this conversation symbolized the divide on this campus. Why can’t faculty ask questions directly of those who have power to make decisions that affect us so significantly? Why must one have to go through the intermediary of the Center for Research and Teaching Excellence which is what Ms. Dillon suggested? And this conversation was the first place that I had heard the faculty being directly blamed for the failure of technology in the classrooms.
When Ms Dillon was asked why there was a need to spend $350,000 on IPADs, not to mention $140,000 on flatscreen t.v.s in classroom buildings, when that money would have benefited more students by updating the classrooms on campus that have computers in disrepair or no computers at all, she said that basically faculty are to blame for this. Faculty are to blame for the damage to the computers and to the theft of them (5 computers or projectors were stolen from BHS during the first weeks of school this year) because faculty fail to lock up the cabinets that house these. She said that there will be no new classroom technology until there can be a way to secure it. So there’s your answer O my colleagues who have beaten their paper notes into powerpoints and who bought into the old regime’s dictum of incorporating technology in your teaching.
The security issue led to another discussion on the impracticality of keeping classrooms themselves locked at all times or of giving out keys to all faculty for every single classroom. I think Ms Dillon is aware that this is not a high school (at least not yet) where we all have “homerooms” that are “our” classrooms for all our courses. This was not at all a pleasant conversation. It resolved nothing and did not leave hope for future dialogue between Information Technology and faculty concerns, at least not with the CIO herself. The ability of this conversation to escalate into anger and condescension on both sides makes me think that a university without faculty might be awfully hard to pull off, but would be just what many at CSU would prefer.