Thursday, August 25, 2011

What's in a name?

A year ago, as the semester was ending, an administrator told me that when we faculty returned from the summer CSU would be a very different place. Well, that prediction was a year late.

Just before summer began this year @14 junior faculty members across campus in their fourth year retention, found out they were not going to be retained. Since faculty don't hire, deans do, (remember we faculty only "recommend," we are "advisory only" and God help you if you attempt to send a ranking of candidates to your dean, the Deans' prerogative to hire is sacrosanct) then if this isn't a big old administrative failure I don't know what is. In an age when it is a buyer's market for Ph.D.s how could our Deans have hired 14 people who were so completely un-retainable? Maybe that sacrosanct right to hire needs to be reevaluated at contract negotiations. Or, is it that something else is going on masked as cost-cutting measures, get rid of anyone who is potentially a pesky overpaid tenured faculty member? UPI take note.

But faculty were not the only ones to be cut this summer. One year before accreditation, CSU Admin fired its long-standing dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. Rachel Lindsey was swept out of office sometime in June--officially she has "retired," but rumors, as they are want to do, abound.

We in the College of Arts and Science then heard that there was to be a massive reorganization of the college departments--ostensibly to save money. All those departments with their money-sucking chairs would be cut down this fall to the confusion of faculty and students who have been wandering around wondering what happened to their dept chair. By January 2012 we are expected to attain our final status as Chicago State Community College with people attached to "divisions"--no info has been forthcoming on how the division head would manage all those former departments and people. All this has been mandated with no consultation of the Senate's Academic Affairs Committee. And isn't there something in the union contract about the need to consult regarding university reorganization? One more ding to the Admin on the failure of shared governance. We are back in Alice's Wonderland: mandate first, then consult those advisory-only faculty later.

So the College of Arts and Sciences is turned into a community college, but where is the savings in money at the university when new lines for administrators are being created over at Cook Admin at the same time? Oh, right. The demise of the departments allows the creation of new Administrators. Got it. As one faculty member said, the CSU Commencement ceremonies in May looked like a reunion of Chicago City College administrators. And another of my more cynical colleagues has been referring to CSU's "City Colleges Reemployment Program" instituted by our ex-Chancellor of City Colleges.

And just to add to this summer melange of mandates and counter-mandates, out comes the Chicago Tribune with the gloves off. We are again on the front page and subject of an editorial and cartoon (that one really hurt)for keeping students with low gpa's enrolled (and I guess able to get financial aid). Of course the CEO was shocked, shocked to find out that this was going on, this practice didn't start with him, he's only been here for 2 years going on three, so no one should blame him for this, that would be unfair because after all he didn't know anything about it.

In the summer, CSU changed its mission and vision and is touting some kind of new "brand." Having lived through the time of the Noel Levitz consultantcy back in the day (does anyone today remember that brand?), I'm wondering if the time isn't right for a name change. The "C" now most certainly stands for Chaos.

If you are as disaffected by all the chaos on campus, let your Senators and UPI reps know. Attend the Board of Trustees meeting coming up in September and let them know how you feel during the public comment section. It may not change anything immediately, but the discontent will go on record. Better yet, join with some students who are trying to organize a meeting to develop a student group to become active concerning campus issues/problems as well as other issues. See the poster below and pass along the info to your students.

There are many problems that affect students, teachers, and campus workers at Chicago State. We need to do more to address them. Students (and others) who would like to become active from a social justice perspective should assemble
Topics of interest for concerned students may include, but aren't limited to:

• Bookstore policy of not allowing students to select their own books
• U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, adequate services for veterans
• Need for a student newspaper
• Automatic billing of $500 for health services
• Health care cuts in the Chicago area, closing of Oak Forest Hospital; service cuts at Provident, Stroger, and health clinics

• Police abuse, “consent” searches on the street and in cars, support for prisoners
• Student-centered radio station addressing student issues
• Problems receiving good service from financial aid office
• Cuts to state aid to elderly for prescriptions and health care

This announcement has been prepared by those who wish to encourage more students to stand up for social justice. For information contact Pancho McFarland, x2333

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