Wednesday, May 11, 2011

New ideas???

So it would probably be hyperbolic to describe the university’s inexorable march toward becoming a junior college as the educational equivalent of the Bataan Death March of World War II. During that event more than 11,000 Filipino and American military personnel lost their lives. But, the current period in the university’s history seems similar in that the university is being driven in a direction of inevitable failure by leadership that does not grasp the significance of the collateral damage it is inflicting by its continued mismanagement. The latest torture the university endures is two-fold.

First, CSU will become a drop-in center for students from Moraine Valley Community College with our or their students taking classes at CSU taught by MVCC faculty. The reasoning for this escapes me. If it is designed to circumvent some first-time, full-time freshman designation for students admitted to CSU who are “under-prepared,” it probably should have been managed a bit more opaquely so as not to attract attention to the fact the regime is trying to circumvent the rules established by the US Department of Education. Also, given that faculty are routinely told that there is limited classroom space, especially for night classes, when would these classes be scheduled and what CSU faculty would be displaced? This professionally unhealthy connection to junior colleges is disturbing. The more we act like a juco, the harder it will be to be taken seriously as a doctoral degree granting institution.

The second scheme is much more disingenuous. In it, students enrolled for more than twelve semesters who are not graduating are to be contacted and encouraged to change majors to an Individualized Curriculum in order to graduate, and the university will foot the bill for them to come back and complete the last semester in the original degree program to which they had enrolled. I must say that if this is the way the regime plans to fulfill the promises of the testimony given by the CEO on March 17th to the Illinois House Appropriations Higher Education committee, then I am extremely dubious. This type of academic shenanigan is more likely to create an accreditation stir than the march toward becoming a junior college. It also does not consider the reasons for the student not having completed a degree in 12 semesters. The impact on students has not been considered. What message does it send to students to tell them to accommodate the university when the university may not have accommodated them? Given the reported difficulties of ‘under-prepared’, working students, I would have thought the efforts would have been directed to assisting students not finding ways to cheat the system.

I believe this scheme compromises the greatest asset of the university, its academic reputation. Of all of the negative publicity CSU has received in the past 15 years, its academic performance and reputation have not been directly threatened. Students and alumni continue to speak favorably of the academic experience they received. This scheme is a direct assault on the faculty of this institution. Matters that affect the academic integrity of the institution must be discussed and decided upon by the faculty. Most universities have language on the diploma that states faculty grant the degree, not administrators with their inane ideas for gaming the system. And with the reputation of the institution remaining in tatters under management, indistinguishable from the Daniel Administration, this appears to be another series of self-inflicted wounds that will no doubt be blamed on “the white media” who will not give a poorly managed institution a pass on its worse than mediocre administrative performance.

Here’s a suggestion. Raise admission standards, eliminate all remedial courses, do not offer special programs during the summer to compensate for sub-standard K-12 education, and recruit high quality students from outside of the city of Chicago and State of Illinois. CSU will not be recognized as a high quality doctoral degree granting university until it has leadership that understands it is not the local high school.

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