Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chicago State City College

Given the spate of former city college administrators in key administrative positions at Chicago State, it seems appropriate to make a comparison between the current state of affairs and the conditions that existed under interim president Frank Pogue.

First of all, let’s discuss the qualifications of Frank G. Pogue (Ph.D. Sociology, University of Pittsburgh), our interim president in 2008-09. Dr. Pogue came to Chicago State as interim president in 2008. By that time, Dr. Pogue had already served for 25 years in various university administrative jobs, including 11 years as president of Edinboro University in Pennsylvania. Prior to that he had served from 1983 to 1996 in the SUNY system as interim president of SUNY-Cobleskill, as Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs and Special Programs at SUNY-Cobleskill, and as Vice President for Student Affairs at SUNY Albany. After leaving Chicago State, Dr. Pogue received an appointment as the interim president of Grambling State University. He is now that school’s permanent president.

Given the fact that Dr. Pogue continues to serve as a university president, it seems likely that given the right circumstances, he would have remained at Chicago State. In any event, we know the history of the subsequent presidential search and the ultimate selection of our current president.

Early in his brief tenure at Chicago State, Dr. Pogue articulated his goals for the university under his stewardship. Among them were: “Continuing to pursue academic and personal excellence;
Improving the financial aid and operational management and enhance other University operations; Restructuring the University to ensure that we enhance the quality of administrative leadership; Enhancing and increasing undergraduate and graduate enrollment and improve persistence and graduation rates; Aggressively instituting marketing and public relations strategies that will enhance the image of the University; Creating additional ways to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of University constituents for the excellence they achieve;” and finally, “Increasing graduate enrollment, support for the graduate Division and identify future graduate program opportunities.”

The Pogue administration disseminated these goals to the entire university community and they are encapsulated in a press release dated September 9, 2008. In addition, in mid-2009, Dr. Pogue made this observation about university leadership: “My position is anybody can clean house. Anybody can walk in off the street without an ounce of education and fire everybody. My job was to empower people to do their jobs.”

Dr. Pogue made these comments in response to remarks made by the newly-selected president of Chicago State, Dr. Wayne Watson. Compare Dr. Pogue’s views on the university with Dr. Watson’s: On May 4, 2009, Dr. Watson spoke to Peter Sachs of the ChiTown Daily News about the need to change Chicago State’s culture. “You’ve got to change people’s behavior or you’ve got to fire them.” That included faculty. Dr. Watson warned: “If for any reason they refuse to do their job and to do research … then those faculty have defined… their future status.” On May 6, 2009, Dr. Watson described himself as being “among the top in the nation in terms of higher education.” and asserted that he would “focus on helping CSU professors improve their teaching,” a comment he disputed on May 11 when he claimed “This quotation is not attributable to me, for I did not make such a statement.” Then three days later, on May 14, the Chicago Tribune reported that Dr. Watson was thinking of creating some kind of faculty training program because "We are going to have to take our existing faculty, and in some instances, not all, we are going to have to teach them how to teach. Why do we make the wrong assumption that because you have a PhD in chemistry that you know how to teach?" Based on this material, I think it is safe to say that the two presidents take a somewhat divergent view on the competence of Chicago State’s faculty and on their own appropriate roles as university presidents.

I think that one of the ways to judge a leader is by the quality of the people he or she chooses for key administrative positions. Again, there is a fundamental contrast in the two president’s choices for important posts related to the university’s academic integrity and reputation. On October 28, 2008, Dr. Pogue announced the appointment of Dr. Howard C. Johnson as Vice President of Academic Affairs and Enrollment Management. Given the reported (often times inaccurately) problems with graduation and retention our school has encountered over the past several years, this position seems vital to our continued accreditation and academic progress. At the time of the appointment, I asked myself: who is Dr. Howard C. Johnson and what are his qualifications for this position? This is what I discovered:

Howard C. Johnson held bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics and a Ph.D. in mathematics education from Northwestern University. He had taught mathematics and mathematics education at the City Colleges of Chicago, Syracuse University, and the University of North Texas. He had published extensively and presented numerous papers at various conferences. He had supervised 10 doctoral dissertations and served on another 15 doctoral dissertation committees. His administrative experience included 12 years as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Syracuse University, which included 7 years as the Dean of the university’s graduate school; 1 year as Executive Vice Provost of Academic Affairs at Syracuse; and 4 years as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of North Texas. Needles to say, I thought Dr. Johnson an outstanding choice for his position. Of course, he is now gone. You may view Dr. Johnson’s recent C.V. here:

Since our new president has taken over leadership of the university, the personnel in the Office of Enrollment management have come to their jobs with quite different credentials. Prior to beginning this discussion, I want to categorically state that there is nothing personal in any of the following comments. I know that administrators often like to deflect the conversation from the subject at hand to the behavior of individuals participating in the discussion. Unfortunately, I do not know how to nicely say that someone is unqualified. I do not personally know any of the individuals I am about to discuss, so I do not want anything I say to be construed as an attack on their character or worth as human beings. Because they lack what I believe should be the minimum qualifications for their jobs, I simply do not think they deserve to hold the positions they occupy. I am also unsure about whether or not the persons I will discuss are the only persons to have occupied this position during the tenure of our president, they’re just the only ones I know of. As always, if there are factual inaccuracies, they are mine alone and I will be happy to correct them if someone has the consideration to point them out.

Someone named Andre L. Bell came to Chicago State as the Vice President of Enrollment Management, possibly late in 2009 or early in 2010, He apparently came directly from the City Colleges of Chicago, where he had worked for only 10 months. Mr. Bell had been hired on January 12, 2009, by the City Colleges, seemingly for his first position, a Senior Research Associate in the District Office at a salary of $66,240. Mr. Bell must have done a superb job in his 10 months at the City Colleges because the Chicago State administration hired him at a salary of $150,000 per year. I do not know what became of Mr. Bell since he no longer appears on any CSU sites. I am assuming that he has left the university. I have no idea what educational or other qualifications Mr. Bell possessed that made him a suitable choice for such an important position.

Our next (and current) incumbent in this position also came to us from the City Colleges. Angela Henderson had a long tenure in various CCC administrative positions: She was an instructor, an assistant professor, a departmental chairperson, a Dean, Vice Chancellor of Health Programs, Academic Affairs, and finally Provost from August 6, 2010, until her resignation on May 11, 2011. According to public records, Ms. Henderson holds both an M.B.A. and a M.S.N. from the University of Illinois-Chicago (1992), and is currently enrolled in a program described as “Nursing Administration,” which may be one of the components of the Doctor of Nursing program at UIC.

Other staff in the Office of Enrollment Management include the new Dean of Students, Teresa McKinney. Dr. McKinney served from September 10, 2007 to June 15, 2009, as the Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, then from June 15, 2009, until November 5, 2010, as the Assistant Dean of Student Services at Daley College. On November 5, 2010, the City Colleges apparently laid off Dr. McKinney as part of a “reduction in force.” Dr. McKinney received an Ed.D. in Community College Leadership in June 2011 from National-Louis University.

Finally, the Director of Enrollment Management, Cheri Sidney, seems the most mystifying occupant of one of the university’s most important management positions. While neither Ms. Henderson nor Dr. McKinney possess any administrative experience at the university level, it is not apparent that Ms. Sidney had any managerial experience at all when she got her job as Associate Director of Human Resources on November 9, 2009. As noted in an earlier posting, Ms. Sidney possesses an on-line degree from what is essentially DePaul University’s equivalent of our Board of Governors program. In addition, she came to her position with no relevant university administrative experience, and possibly no management experience at all. Interestingly, the university hired her into a newly created position in 2009 and has subsequently promoted her to the Director of Enrollment Management, a position roughly equivalent to the Dean of a College. Why?

As I and other posters have said repeatedly, we are concerned about the qualifications of these administrators and the effect it may have on our upcoming accreditation. Again, I am not saying they are not nice people, I am simply pointing out that given their thin academic and non-existent university administrative credentials, they seem curious choices for such important positions. Having top-level administrators like these puts Chicago State in a unique position relative to similar schools (as I pointed out in a previous post).

Given the caliber of the person Dr. Pogue selected for the Enrollment Management position, it seems like Chicago State could have attracted a strong pool of applicants. A critical top-level academic management position at a university in the city of Chicago should attract candidates with distinguished academic credentials, strong publishing records, and relevant and extensive university management experience. None of our current incumbents seem to possess any of those credentials. Perhaps the intent of our current administration is to turn Chicago State into the eighth City College of Chicago. Perhaps they know no other model.

In conclusion, after he left Edinboro University in Pennsylvania in 2007, the college Board of Trustees honored Dr. Pogue by naming the student center after him. Perhaps the Chicago State Board will accord Dr. Watson a similar honor upon his departure. Of course, it is always possible that by that point, there will be no campus.

1 comment:

  1. Andre Bell's Facebook page. He left CSU due to a chronic physical ailment.