Friday, June 29, 2012

TODAY Second All-Faculty Meeting (Senate & UPI) in SCI 116 at 10 am AND Board of Trustees TODAY at 1 p.m.

If you missed the All-Faculty meeting that was held on Wednesday, there will be another meeting today in SCI  116 to discuss the Administrative imposition of DACs and the UPI & Senate's response. There is also a meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees. Public Comment period will begin @ 1p.m. or so. It's important to let the Trustees know that you are concerned about academic integrity and the primacy of the faculty role in academic processes at CSU.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


So it seems like just yesterday, that David Slatkin was hired to stand up a new college at Chicago State University. And it seems just a few days ago, Senate President Emil Jones battled downstate forces trying to stop the creation of the new of College of Pharmacy. It was however, several years ago that quest began and this week that quest continued its advancement. In May the College hooded 77 new Pharm.D. graduates. And this week the university received  the announcement of full accreditation of the College of Pharmacy by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education. Neither of these milestones is minor. I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all of my faculty colleagues and the incredible staff in the College of Pharmacy and extend special recognition to the Dean, Miriam Mobley-Smith. Taking the baton from Dr Slatkin after his retirement she finished her leg of the race leading her team to a well deserved victory. For those unfamiliar with the trials and tribulations of professional accreditation, I invite you to spend some time with the Dean and get a sense of the thousand things that could go wrong in this process. I would hope that on a slow news day maybe CLTV or the Chicago Tribune might note these twin achievements on the academic side of the institution and report them to the larger community. I know, one can hope. 
Again congratulations to the College of Pharmacy!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Blame the Chairs!

The latest communication relative to the DAC process is out from the president's office and it basically blames the fiasco on the departmental chairs. Here are the pertinent sections: "In a commitment to shared governance, during a June 6-7 inservice with Department chairpersons, the provost disseminated my written comments on areas in the DAC where, in my opinion, each Department should strengthen their DAC. Department chairpersons were instructed to share my suggestions with each faculty member as they convene and discuss ways to strengthen their DAC documents.

Since some faculty members may not have been in contact with the chairperson or may have missed essential communications, I am transmitting my suggestions again in writing. Below is a list of the suggestions I disseminated earlier for use and consideration as the DACs are developed by the faculty for approval. Each statement/question applies to each department's DAC and is as follows . . ."

What follows is a list of generic questions that were apparently originally presented as power point presentation to the assemblage laying out the workshop's agenda. They were not presented as responses to individual DACs. The contention is ludicrous on its face.

In analyzing these two paragraphs, it seems apparent that the president has little or no respect for the intellect of either the faculty or the chairs at Chicago State. I have a difficult time imagining that any sentient being would be convinced by this cavalcade of mendacious claims: "A commitment to shared governance," a falsehood as evidenced by any number of imperial fiats that have emanated from the president's (usually through surrogates) office in the last two-plus years; "written comments on areas . . . each Department should strengthen their DACS," another blatant falsehood; "instructed to share my suggestions with each faculty member . . ." directly contradicted by all the e-mail communications from the deans and chairs regarding the DAC process; "developed by the faculty for approval," a ridiculous, even laughable falsehood, belied by all the communication that has come before this memorandum.

Nice try, president Watson, but only the most dedicated sycophants or apparatchiks believe this nonsense. You are responsible for trampling the contract. You are responsible for interfering in what is the faculty's responsibility for setting disciplinary standards, you are responsible for the creating a toxic environment and for attempting to pit faculty against administrators (even mid-level administrators like departmental chairs).

In 2009, one writer in the Huffington Post made the following observations about the imposition of Wayne Watson on Chicago State: "Chancellor Wayne D. Watson is the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time, and a bad pick as the next president of Chicago State University . . . What cannot be denied is that Mr. Watson is a skilled self-promoter and a man experienced at political maneuvering. . . And this is part of Dr. Watson's political genius: In his circumscribed education administrator's world, faculty members are to blame if students flunk out of the university. How convenient -- for Dr. Watson's career."

Based on his behavior during the DAC controversy, it seems apparent that Wayne Watson has no desire to take any responsibility for what is obviously his handiwork.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

You Decide

So two members of the Faculty Senate Executive Committee met this afternoon with the President, Chief of Staff and the Provost. A statement, included below, was read and then discussion was had about a variety of issues. The administrators present attempted to disabuse us of the negative perceptions of faculty and convince us of the transparent nature of the ongoing Departmental Application of Criteria (DAC) process. We were told that the process will have three opportunities for faculty input, that the faculty are actually at fault for submitting DACs past the May 1st deadline and that the administration is willing to improve a process that was only created after the deficient DACs were rejected. I would expect that some faculty will be found to validate the administration’s position of transparency or collaboration. I am sure that the Senate Executive Committee, the Summer Committee and the Senate will probably be castigated as being out of touch with what faculty think specifically about the DAC process and generally about the state of the faculty/administration relationship. So it is important that you decide for yourself if being asked to comment on document that was given to you is shared governance. You decide for yourself if the environment that you work in is conducive to you giving your best effort.There was more to share that will be provide in subsequent posts.

Faculty Senate Executive Committee Statement
June 26th, 2012
    The Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate takes this opportunity to express its deep concern over the clear hostility of this Administration to the faculty of Chicago State University. It was clear to some faculty that the President held nothing but contempt for the faculty of the university when he was quoted May 6th, 2009 by the Chicago Tribune Vox Pop blog as saying “...he’d focus on helping CSU professors improve their teaching skills.” From the ill- conceived Senior Thesis to a  poorly thought out Computer Policy to the dismissal of generally accepted faculty responsibilities around hiring, promotion, tenure, retention, and other faculty personnel activities, the Administration has demonstrated nothing but contempt for faculty, paying only lip service to perfunctory exercises in shared governance. In its creation of a toxic and hostile climate, this Administration is fully responsible for the self- inflicted wounds the institution has suffered in the past three years. Our concern is for the morale and performance of faculty in the critical period prior to the Higher Learning Commission visit in November. The outrage articulated by several faculty around the absence of a credible, contractually consistent process for the revision of the Departmental Application of Criteria documents is but the tip of the iceberg in terms of dissatisfaction over the unprofessional treatment of faculty since July 1st, 2009. Decision making processes devoid of data and critical and incisive analysis characterize an administration driven by petulance and hubris rather than by anything approaching collegiality or mutual respect.
    The deep concern that the Executive Committee is communicating to you is an effort to mitigate against further damage to the administrative/faculty relationship. Further damage will only negatively impact the students as repeated surveys report that students have few issues with faculty performance and multiple issues with administration. Needlessly compounding those issues is likely to lead to lower enrollment and lower student satisfaction.
    The Senate firmly stands by its contention that flawed processes lead to flawed outcomes. Therefore, the administration is hereby invited to abandon its current, flawed DAC process and engage faculty in an authentic process of shared governance around the creation of these critical documents. This may be a step toward a mutually tolerable relationship.

Monday, June 25, 2012

ALL FACULTY MEETING -Weds. June 27 in SCI 116 To Discuss the Administrative Imposition of DACs

On the weekend, you should have received UPI President Laurie Walter's message calling for a meeting of the Faculty Union membership to discuss what happened to the normally faculty-driven process of DAC creation. The meeting is set for:

Wed., June 27, 2:00-2:50, in SCI 116

From Dr. Walter:
Because of the serious concerns raised by the DAC process, we would like to have a meeting for all UPI members this coming Wednesday, at least those of you who can make it to campus during the Summer. (Those who cannot are of course invited to send ideas.) 

The main item on the agenda will be the DAC process and our response(s) to it--but you may bring up any other issues of concern, as well.

FYI. There may also be a joint meeting of CSU/UPI with the Faculty Senate on
Friday morning, June 29th before the Board of Trustees meeting that afternoon.

Faculty should attend both meetings and share in this discussion with colleagues. If you have seen copies of the DACs they are punitive in some cases and contain impossible standards in others and most certainly do not represent our disciplinary expertise. The process the Administration has taken is a violation of the contract and undermines the Board of Trustees' regulations that holds faculty the experts in their areas.

It would do well for the Administration to consider seriously the impact of this flawed process they have undertaken in mandating and imposing departmental criteria. This has not been a faculty-driven process. It reflects ASSessment gone mad especially in its quantity over quality focus. As other blogs have noted, it is an attempt to break tenure and it undermines our academic freedom and creativity as teachers (see Paul Gomberg's two postings).

The students of CSU do not come to the university because of its great Administrators or because of Dr Watson, and they stay IN SPITE OF the Administration. Faculty likewise get teaching, research, and service done IN SPITE OF, not because of, what the Administration says or does for us. The students want what we have (as one student said at the Board of Trustees' meeting this year), not what the administration has. The faculty must take back their primacy of place in this hijacked DAC process, in oversight of the curriculum, and in hiring faculty colleagues at CSU.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Proposed DACs would undermine teaching and relations between teachers and students

The post below is an edited version of comments sent to David Kanis on the new philosophy DAC. I asked Kanis to share them with other faculty because the component of the blog it criticizes--documentation of help we give to students in their writing and other work--almost certainly applies to DACs across the university. The comments below apply only to that one element the DACs. I endorse birobi's post below giving a more comprehensive account of the meaning of these new DACs.

The documentation of “additional activities” required as evidence of superior teaching constitutes a form of petty harassment. Are we do ask students to fill out a form indicating our help to them each time we meet in assisting them in their research, mentor them, or lead a study group? Of course, this is possible to do, but it is a ridiculous form of petty harassment. It does more to remind us that we are underlings than it does to enhance teaching and mentoring of students.

The requirement that we documentsuch activities as a condition of receiving raises or promotions changes them from meaningful activities of being a real teacher to things we do in order to receive a raise. (For evidence of how such extrinsic motivation undermines the intrinsic meaning of important activities see the research of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan; if you would like further documentation of their research and how it applies to the changes in the DAC, I can provide this upon request.) The generalization is that extrinsic motivations for performing intrinsically meaningful activities undermines their intrinsic meaning and importance.
Mentoring and tutoring students are parts of the meaningful activity of being a teacher. We do these things because we are teachers. What gives our lives as teachers meaning is seeing our students learn. Giving an external incentive for them will tend to make us do them for that external incentive, and the evidence is that acting on such external incentives undermines their intrinsic meaning. So instead of helping students in order to see them learn the material we do so in order to get a raise, retain our job, etc.

It would be easy and trivial to create the required documentation: prepare a series of form letters and place them on our office doors. Each time a student comes for advising, mentoring, tutoring or a study session, ask the student to fill out the form, including the time and date and the activity that we carried out together.
But such documentation UNDERMINES THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN TEACHER AND STUDENT. Now we help students because we are teachers and helping them advances their learnings. The students see that this is what we are doing; this creates a morally-motivated relationship between teachers and students. If we ask students to fill out a form explaining the help we give them, that changes the relationship from a moral one to a business relationship of tit-for-tat: I help you with the course material; you help me to get a raise (keep my job) by filling out the form.

So the required documentation of teaching activities is a stupid form of petty harassment that would undermine intrinsic motivation to be a teacher and undermine relationships with students.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Our alleged DACs

The president’s recent memo provides a breathtaking example of disingenuous sophistry. This DAC fiasco is in no way “shared work,” or “transparent.” Instead, it represents another top-down attempt by our administration to impose its arbitrary will on CSU faculty. In labor history, bosses have been able to make their workers easily replaceable by a tactic called de-skilling, which takes production knowledge from the master worker and transfers it to the boss where the production process is broken down into small, repetitive steps. Training for this kind of production can be minimal, resulting in an unskilled workforce that may be easily replaced (if they become troublesome for example) with other (low wage) unskilled workers. This process is occurring in pre-college education with things like mandatory curricula, etc. In this context, teachers become unskilled workers delivering instruction.

Although this is an imperfect analogy for what is happening here (see Paul's post on the blog for another variant on this theme), I think the administration of CSU (the bosses) are attempting to make faculty knowledge irrelevant. Tying syllabi to meaningless criteria like "measurable outcomes" or "assessment" or "reflection" that are so popular in education is simply another step toward standardized syllabi and ultimately standardized curricula. In the new DAC for the Social Sciences, one of the requirements is a course syllabus "in the HLC format and [that] will include items required for specific accrediting agencies when appropriate." In addition, course materials "are expected to reflect the following qualities: balanced coverage of the assigned material . . ." Who gets to decide what constitutes “balanced coverage?” What does that even mean? Does that mean all syllabi for a particular course are supposed to have the same "balanced coverage," ie., the same curricular material? Finally, there is this gem. "All courses should have assessment measures. Additional assessment instruments may be required for some courses, as designated by the department. Faculty administering such instruments must compile the results and return them to the Assessment Coordinator on a timely basis. Effectiveness will be measured by the quality of reports submitted for evaluation." So the criteria becomes the quality of the assessment report, not the value of the assessment itself. Again, this seems rather vague, does this mean that all courses must have standardized assessment criteria? It seems like we're headed in that direction.

I don't mean to be an alarmist here, but it seems to me that if the curricula and course materials can be micro-managed and standardized, when "assessments" are also standardized, when faculty are judged by the quality of their reports rather than the quality of their teaching (I would argue that none of these criteria are indicative of good teaching, rather they reflect the ability to collect data and give the bosses what they think is appropriate), then faculty with specific disciplinary knowledge can be eliminated. After all, if profoundly anti-intellectual administrators think we can all teach interchangeably, perhaps that really is the goal of our administration. I think this represents de-skilling in the academy and if we allow ourselves to accept any part of this process or its ultimate product, we consign ourselves to perpetual second-class status.

The Board of Trustees description of CSU faculty indicates that it is our "mastery of our subjects that entitle us to our classrooms (I don't have the exact language)." The attempt by our administration--led by the president and abetted by all our administrative personnel, provost, deans and chairs included--to hijack a process that has always been faculty generated, represents a new front in the attempt to ultimately eliminate tenure. At the least, it will assist in the move toward complete politicization of this campus. No longer will there need be any pretense of faculty inclusion in things like hiring, promotion, tenure and retention. Instead of being judged on our merits, we will be evaluated on the basis of our political reliability. In 2009, a former City College employee sued then Chancellor Wayne Watson for a number of alleged unethical and possibly illegal activities. Ultimately the City Colleges settled the suit in favor of the plaintiff. One of the comments made by the plaintiffs lawyer described the atmosphere at City Colleges as follows: "the allegations in the lawsuit are part of a larger culture at the City Colleges that 'demands absolute loyalty.' There is essentially a standard operating procedure in place at City Colleges so people who speak up and speak about things the powers that be don’t want to hear, they are retaliated against, they are terminated.” This is the atmosphere that Wayne Watson has brought to Chicago State and the attempt to take the DACS out of the hands of the faculty serves the goal of making CSU a completely political institution.

We are the persons who know our disciplines. We know the demands of a 4-4 teaching load and the ways that load (and the heavy service requirements at CSU) affects research productivity. The members of each discipline are uniquely qualified to judge the qualifications of both their current and potential new colleagues. However, we have no control over who is hired and DACs have been ignored by this administration fairly regularly. In the past three years, we've witnessed two blatant attempts to curtail free expression (Computer Usage and Communications policies) which we have successfully resisted. We have seen curriculum and degree requirements imposed upon students with no faculty input. Now we're being asked to rubber stamp a product that emanates from a process in which we took no part, to endorse new requirements that come not from any empirical evidence of their necessity, but from the impressions of a president with no knowledge of academic disciplines. We must resist this effort with all our power. We must not allow this process to receive even tacit approval.

The DAC process must begin anew, produced by the faculty. Any specific objections to DACs should be in writing and directed to the appropriate departments and their members (per the contract). Or, the university administration can simply review the DACs already submitted then comply with the contract. In any event, we should not recognize the authority of our administrators to write DACs that apply to disciplines about which they know nothing.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Ask the Deans

An old Pink Floyd song has been running through my head all day and though the context in which it was written is different the words seem to apply in the midst of this Summer of Wayne.

So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from Hell
Blue skies from pain.
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?
Do you think you can tell?

Principal Watson has lived up to his reputation from his 10 years at the Chicago City Colleges (appointed there by Little Richie Daley). A former colleague and employee of the old Chancellor summed up his m.o. for us at the time of Dr Watson's "interview" on this campus in 2009: "to come in, create chaos, and then exploit it." Well no one now can deny that there hasn't been chaos on this campus for the past two years, nor that the exploitation of it hasn't worked. And now, tenure as we know it, especially on the Arts side of the College of Arts and Sciences, what was once considered the heart and soul of any university worth its salt, is being strangled. Ask the Deans across the University why they let it happen.

Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?

The DACs across campus are to be standardized because Dr Watson couldn't make heads or tails of them and a few examples of the most outrageously weak ones were read out at the DAC Workshop as if all were like that. Actually, we had much simpler DACs 10 years ago or so, but Faculty were told they needed more "specificity" by the Contract Administrator and the higher powers. So, we gave them more specificity. Now, the problem for the Administration is that they are confused. Specificity in my discipline might not be the same specificity in your discipline--so the documents are messy, not nice and neat and categorizable like only a grade school or high school teacher could want. But this is academia (supposedly), not a business, not a primary school. So, instead of a faculty-driven process which for all its irritation it was in the past, the new stadardized DACs are Administratively-driven. Chicago State University High School: Where Flawed Process Becomes Flawed Outcomes. Come nosedive with us.

And just who is this lot doing the driving? Career educationalists and politicians. The entire DAC process was hijacked by the Administration this spring on a legal technicality and not one department to my knowledge, not one single DAC, received a rejection slip in writing as per the Union contract from the President explaining why it failed to meet his "standards."

Standards. What would happen to our university if Dr Watson was the model for our "standards"? As I've mentioned before, at his "interview" in 2009 he bragged about not having a scholarly publication record of his own and he was even lionized for it in such august bodies as WVON back when this record of non-achievement was under review. He should be ashamed of the hypocrisy of the situation. Ask the Deans who shared in his actions why they did not call him out on this and demand faculty representation, not just chairs, at the workshops. Ask the Deans.

Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?

Tenured faculty need to wake up and ask some serious questions of their Deans and Chairs. Why is the Administration calling in some external "advisors" (cherry-picked by them, no doubt) to review these ridiculously impossible, school-marm persnickity, imposed DACs, and claiming some kind of objectivity of process by comparing them to what other universities do BUT giving no primacy, NO PRIMACY to the opinion of its own faculty? Ask the Deans why they are going along with this, why they are letting the tail of the university wag the dog?

Since the meeting with the Union President and the aforesaid trio of upper Administration, Dr Walter, UPI President, said that faculty are promised time for us to comment on the External evaluators comments, 30 days worth of commenting on the DACs at some point. What a joke. Why should we even bother? Waste our time (while we are not even on contract) to submit our objections, offerings of "advice" and considerations that will no doubt be ignored?
  • The history of our "advisory only" status has shown that it has netted us no voice in the presidential search process of 2009 that was so trumped up by the politicians who keep CSU as their own little football to pass around that the entire Faculty Advisory Board quit.
  • There was no faculty voice for our "comments" on the presidentially-mandated senior thesis imposition a year ago.
  • It netted us no changes at all when a committee of faculty were told to submit a report on what to do about the presidential decision to terminate (i.e. disorganize, there's that chaos-thing going on) the Graduate School and its Dean? Not one section of it was incorporated into the Administrative plan. 
  • Departments this year have submitted faculty personnel actions to the president for approval after they have been through faculty interviews, chairs, deans, the provost has seen the candidates only to have the process be upended and be told that he is the decider and he wants to see all the portfolios of the personnel searches because he is concerned about the lack of "diversity" in our hiring (now there's a lawsuit waiting to happen). No faculty consideration there, no consideration of faculty voice in the hiring of their own people.
So, in good faith, following directions from the Union and the Administration, faculty DAC committees spent time this spring bringing our DACs up-to-date with the new contract only to have them rejected en masse as not up to the principal of our school's standards. And Drs Westbrook, Moses, and Mr Cage say our comments will be taken into consideration? Puh-lease. The Deans know what the Administration thinks of the faculty, ask the Deans why we need to waste our time playing out this charade?

And, have you even seen your DAC yet? Dr. Watson is claiming transparency of process and "shared governance," and he may even fool the Board of Trustees (now down 2 members) into believing him, but I doubt the HLC will be completely bamboozled by these ploys, they may not fuss as much about the shared governance part as some of us would like, but I wonder where they stand on setting unfair and impossible standards as criteria to judge faculty without lowering the teaching load? Not to mention the failure to get faculty buy in to the standards that are being imposed on them--or in the words of the tedious Assessment process we must endure for our programs--"faculty ownership of the process." Ask the Deans how they think HLC will interpret all this.

There are interviews this week and next for the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences ask the candidates how they would stand up for faculty. I wonder what would have happened if every single one of the Deans and and Chairs present at the DAC workshop farce would have gotten up and walked out? What if even half of them did? Whoever will be the new Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences should remember that even our last Dean who thought she would be able to protect faculty in some way by bending far and far enough down for her master president and conformed herself to a lot of distasteful stuff still found herself unceremoniously dispatched when she finally said enough and stood up to him. I think she thought she could outlast him. I bet she wished she'd walked out earlier.   
(A propos the Deans at CSU, the name of the song is "Wish You Were Here")

Monday, June 18, 2012

The new DAC

The new draft DAC for the Social Sciences is out, with a request for comments by 11am today since it has to be submitted to the provost by 5pm. This is certainly evidence of the administration's strong belief in faculty participation. This execrable document makes clear the administration's desire to destroy tenure at CSU. Those of you who received a copy can peruse it at your leisure, I will simply focus on the revised requirements for tenure/promotion to associate professor. In order to receive tenure under the terms of the new DAC, it will only be necessary for faculty in the Social Sciences to teach excellently using an approved, standard syllabus format while performing at least eight other required activities; to publish at least three peer-reviewed articles or monographs (any articles or monographs accepted for publication but requiring revision do not count); and to engage in 20 service activities, including required activities in the community and in the category of enrollment, retention and graduation. Requirements for each yearly retention category have been made much more stringent as have requirements for further promotion and post tenure review.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

CSU--a Research I Institution? --more on the big and little picture of the DAC story

The previous post correctly locates CSU as part of a bigger phenomenon going on across the USA and probably elsewhere as well. Another CSU colleague forwarded this story to me about what is going on at the University of Virginia—I’ve excerpted some of the pertinent sections below. It is an interesting story of a university where the faculty actually do not want their president fired (!!).

More important though than the author’s critique of the one-size fits all business model on a university is the discussion of the need for central control and top-down power in order to implement said business model. As different as CSU and UVA might be, they sadly share a similar path toward Administrative fascism.

The past two weeks of DAC revision across the university has been nothing less than the naked attempt by the university to break tenure. By all accounts from various individuals who have weighed in on this process, the criteria in the DACs is being set so high that virtually no one will be able to achieve tenure and because of post-tenure review at CSU, few tenured faculty will likely be able to maintain that status. The CSU teaching load of 4/4 is not going to change, but from what I can make out from the draft of the DAC for the College of Arts and Sciences our research output is to be that of a Research I institution. Ironic isn't it for a President who bragged about not having a scholarly record at his "interview" during the trumped up "search" that imposed him on this campus in 2009 to make such demands on his faculty? [And when do we get to review or weigh in on his record of "productivity" and get an accounting of all the fundraising he has done for CSU --a University President's main job these days is not to act like a High School Principal].

There will be more coming out about the details of the DAC situation in the next few days. The Faculty Senate representative to the President's Executive Committee (PEC) last week was waylaid after a 2 1/2 hour meeting for another hour+ meeting with the Provost, the Legal Counsel, and the Chief of Staff. There should be a memo about that meeting to the Faculty forthcoming via listserve. One point to note is that Legal Counsel Patrick Cage claims a technicality in the contract allows Dr Watson to assume all control over the DACs and his inclusion of Chairs and Deans in the "DAC workshop" was really Dr Watson being quite magnanimous. They claimed they owe nothing in writing to the Faculty.

A day after the meeting with the Faculty Senate rep. the Administration met with CSU's Union leadership. There should be a memo about that too. No real details except to say that the Admin backtracked on some items. If you have concerns or questions or think there has been a violation of the contract for whatever reason--you should contact Dr. Laurie Walter, our UPI President . You might also want to write to her about your views on this process since it seems the pattern of ignoring faculty's voice is going to continue. (What will HLC say?)

So, here is the article that should put more perspective on how we are part of a much bigger assualt on education than even this sad situation that our university is experiencing. Paul Gomberg is also correct in his previous post, the things that are truly data-driven evidence for making changes in education are ignored and by-passed in favor of points of view or untested ideas of those in power who have minimal expertise in the areas they claim to govern.

Faculty need to show up at the Deans interviews this week and next and especially at the Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, June 29th (public comment will be @ 1 p.m.). This is no time to wring hands and chant the usual CSU mantra--"that it is only CSU, what can you expect? All I want to do is go in and just teach my classes." If you don't make your voice heard now, there may come a time when you won't be able to do that.

What Happens When Public Universities Like UVA Are Run by Robber Barons”
By Siva Vaidhyanathan Posted Friday, June 15, 2012, at 7:30 PM ET
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012, at 7:30 PM

Strategic Mumblespeak Er, UVA’s Teresa Sullivan was fired for what?

In the 21st century, robber barons try to usurp control of established public universities to impose their will via comical management jargon and massive application of ego and hubris. At least that’s what’s been happening at one of the oldest public universities in the United States—Thomas Jefferson’s dream come true, the University of Virginia.

“The decision of the Board Of Visitors to move in another direction stems from their concern that the governance of the University was not sufficiently tuned to the dramatic changes we all face: funding, Internet, technology advances, the new economic model. These are matters for strategic dynamism rather than strategic planning.” Wait. What? “Strategic dynamism?” That struck many around the university as “strategic neologism.” [Business School Board Chair] Peter Kiernan used the phrase two more times in his short email to supporters.

I have spent the past five years immersed in corporate new-age management talk. For my recent book, The Googlization of Everything—and Why We Should Worry, I immersed myself in the rhetoric of Silicon Valley and the finance culture that supports it. I subjected myself to reading such buzzword-dependent publications as Fast Company. So I had heard about “strategic dynamism” before. I can’t say that I understand it fully. But if my university is going to be governed by a mysterious buzzphrase, I had better try.

Strategic dynamism, or, as it is more commonly called, “strategic dynamics,” seems to be a method of continually altering one's short-term targets and resource allocation depending on relative changes in environment, the costs of inputs, and the price you can charge for outputs. In management it means using dynamic graphs to track goals and outcomes over time, and having the ways and the will to shift resources to satisfy general goals via many consecutive short-term targets. Most management textbooks offer equations one may use to dynamically chart and execute strategy. And for all I know it makes a lot of sense.

…The inappropriateness of applying concepts designed for firms… to a massive and contemplative institution as a university should be clear to anyone who does not run a hedge fund or make too much money. To execute anything like strategic dynamism, one must be able to order people to do things, make quick decisions from the top down, and have a constant view of a wide array of variables. It helps if you understand what counts as an input and an output. Universities have multiple inputs and uncountable and unpredictable outputs. And that’s how we like them. So as tuition peaks and federal support dries up, the only stream still flowing is philanthropy. Our addiction to philanthropy carries great costs as well as benefits to public higher education in America. We are hooked on it because we have no choice. Either we beg people for favors or our research grinds to a halt and we charge students even more. I am complicit in this. I enthusiastically help raise money for the university. And my salary is subsidized by a generous endowment from board member Tim Robertson, son of the Rev. Pat Robertson.

…The reason folks such as [Helen Dragas, another Board Member] and Kiernan get to call the shots at major universities is that they write huge, tax-deductable checks to them. They buy influence and we subsidize their purchases. So too often an institution that is supposed to set its priorities based on the needs of a state or the needs of the planet instead alters its profile and curriculum to reflect the whims of the wealthy. Fortunately this does not happen often, and the vast majority of donors simply want to give back to the institutions that gave them so much. They ask nothing in return and admire the work we do. But it happens often enough to significantly undermine any sense of democratic accountability for public institutions.

The biggest challenge facing higher education is market-based myopia. Wealthy board members, echoing the politicians who appointed them (after massive campaign donations) too often believe that universities should be run like businesses, despite the poor record of most actual businesses in human history.

Universities do not have “business models.” They have complementary missions of teaching, research, and public service. Yet such leaders think of universities as a collection of market transactions, instead of a dynamic (I said it) tapestry of creativity, experimentation, rigorous thought, preservation, recreation, vision, critical debate, contemplative spaces, powerful information sources, invention, and immeasurable human capital.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How education is coming under ruling class control

Several colleagues who write for this blog have criticized our current administration on the grounds that it is turning CSU into a junior college or that the administration lacks experience in a doctoral-granting institution. I disagree with this way of criticizing the administration. I suggest here that if we put what is happening at CSU in the context of changes in Chicago (and other) public schools and in national policies toward education, we get a better understanding. I believe that education is changing, that throughout the system politicians and policy-makers wish to seize greater control of the schools and weaken the powers that have accrued to faculties. This seems to be happening at all levels except perhaps the most prestigious research-1 universities.

Recently the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) published a document “The Schools Chicago Students Deserve” (SCSD), which can be found here: I commend this report to you. What it shows, conclusively to my mind, is that current reforms of public education in Chicago (and much of what is occurring nationally) are not aimed at improving student outcomes. There is considerable research showing what does improve student outcomes: smaller class sizes; strong pre-school and early childhood education, especially for the most disadvantaged; a varied curriculum, including art, music, performing arts, physical education, and recess; strong support services such as school nurses, social workers, psychologists, and counselors to help the most troubled students; and clean, adequate physical facilities. None of what is known to help students is being pursued by the Emmanuel/Brizard administration (nor by the Daley/Duncan administration that preceded it). What is pursued instead is a series of reforms that evidence shows to make no difference or to make things worse: increased charter schools, small schools, and closings and turnarounds. Please read SCSD if you can possibly find the time.

What does it mean when they do not do what is shown to improve student performance and outcomes and instead do what is known not to work? To answer that question I believe we need to ask what difference the changes do make. Charter schools are almost invariably non-union; so they weaken the power of teacher organization. The trend is to eliminate veteran teachers, particularly black teachers, using the stereotype of the time-server who cares only about their salary not the children; this is a racist insult to the many veteran teachers who have devoted their lives to helping the most disadvantaged black children in the neighborhoods with the greatest chaos and dislocation—students who will also not do as well on tests or persist as much in school despite the efforts of these often-highly-dedicated teachers. They replace these veteran (often black) teachers (who are at the higher end of the pay scale) with younger, whiter, greener, teachers who may lack formal credentials and usually lack union protection (and can be pushed around and made to do whatever they are told) and who can be dismissed and blamed when outcomes do not improve. The curriculum comes under ever-tighter administrative control; teachers lose opportunities to experiment and innovate with a curriculum in which they can believe. Instead, with a “scripted curriculum” they are given not only a textbook but day-to-day instructions about what they must teach (“On Wednesday March 3, cover pages 35-47 of the text; explain the events leading up to the Boston Tea Party and its consequences”).

These changes reflect efforts over the past thirty years to bring education under more direct federal control, to establish a national curriculum for the schools, and to fit education into the “strategic objectives” of the United States as a world economic and military power whose world position is under challenge from both Islamic fundamentalism and the rise of new economic powerhouses such as China. The latest of a long series of such reports (I have seen earlier reports but cannot recall them), entitled “U.S. Education Reform and National Security,” was issued recently by the ruling-class Council on Foreign Relations (CFR, publisher of the prestigious Foreign Affairs); the primary directors of the project were Joel Klein and Condoleezza Rice. You know who Rice is, but Klein was in the White House Counsel’s office and then was Assistant Attorney General under Clinton before becoming Chancellor of New York City’s public schools under Bloomberg. So these are both big ruling-class players. Their report can be found at Their policy recommendations continue the trend of taking administrative control of education out the hands of teachers (who, of course, must be incompetent and have no knowledge of the problems).

I think we get a better sense of what is happening at CSU if we put it in the context sketched above. After Sputnik, there was a rush to expand education, especially in engineering and the sciences, but the sixties saw a huge growth of higher education generally. Woodrow Wilson Fellowships and other such programs were hugely expanded to increase the U.S. professoriate, which also accrued greater prestige and pay. This trend ended many years ago and now higher education is under huge financial and other constraints. Like the public schools, there will be an effort to insure that public higher education is providing a “bang for the buck.” This means greater oversight and control from non-academics, particularly at low-prestige places such as CSU. As with public school teachers, it is assumed we don’t know shit about what we are doing, that we are just out for our paychecks and pensions, and that they know best how to help students.

There is a name for the trend that dominates both public schools and CSU: it is fascism. When capitalism is in crisis (does anyone care to deny that one?), capitalist ruling classes seek tighter control of social institutions to advance capitalist economic interests and imperial military power. These twin patriotic goals are assumed in the CFR report. We teachers are in the ruling class’s crosshairs.

You may not agree with this analysis, but I thought it important to add it to the conversation. Where we will agree is the need for more resistance to these changes from faculty, students, and campus workers. La lutte continue.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Quelling A Persistent Rumor & Other Thoughts

So loyal readers many of you have inquired of me as to the veracity of a persistent rumor that our President is taking a leave of absence. The persistence of this rumor characterizes a major institutional dysfunction, namely the absence of an effective communications culture. In organizations where rumors are rampant, you most often see an organization with little effective formal communications channels and no effective informal communications systems, save for the rumor mill. Though the infrastructure may exist, the dysfunction rests with decision makers who intend to not communicate. CSU typifies that type of institution. So as your humble narrator sought to quell this persistent rumor, it occurred to me that something else may be in play. What, you may ask would that be?  
Imagine, for example, that you were an unpopular chief executive who had made numerous mistakes at a troubled institution during your tenure. Imagine further that you were about to implement some particularly odious policy that ran counter to past practice and might even be a contractual violation. To mitigate against resistance from those who would be impacted, you plant a rumor about your impending departure. For those who hold you in low esteem, it is likely that they would be hopeful, thinking they could wait you out and that the damage you would cause wouldn’t be significant because you would be gone. In the bliss of imminent departure, they would likely not pay attention to mounting any opposition to you. You then get what you want without a fight because they have been lulled to sleep by the illusion of your rumored exit. These are, of course, imaginings and I have no data to indicate this is what is happening. Though let me state for the record, that unless a leave of absence is based on medical grounds, it would raise red flags for an accrediting body if the chief executive left within months of the team’s visit. Stability at the top of an organization is critical, especially at an institution that has lost more than 600 students, received more than 30 audit findings and has more interim, acting, provisional or otherwise impermanent appointments than it should in its ranks. 
So, loyal readers, put to rest any illusions that you may have that a change in executive leadership is imminent. It is not. What is changing or not is the level of patronage, intrusion in academic matters and ineptness in the administrative ranks. Unfortunately that change is for the worse.  
The ongoing "discussion" about the Departmental Application of Criteria process is but one of a string of ill thought through, data-less decisions made by an administration with limited or no doctoral degree level university experience. The performance art masquerading as consultation with faculty has been worse than insulting. These perfunctory meetings which result in nothing substantial have long since grown tiresome. It strains credulity to believe that faculty can be wrong 100% of the time about matters that they have the institutional expertise in and responsibility for. So consultation with faculty by the regime is no more than lip service and administrators wonder why faculty don’t wish to be involved in their bureaucratic charade. 
How about we stop the madness, accept that we are actually a university not some high school principal’s personal fiefdom, and act like a university, where faculty tends to faculty business, and administrators stay in their lanes and out of the business in which they have no expertise?

The Contract Means Nothing

Based on the contract recently negotiated between the union and administration, the criteria for DAC formulation includes some interesting language. Section 19.3e (3 is particularly pertinent: (3) By no later than April 1, 2012, the University President shall review proposed statements of Departmental Application of Criteria and shall notify the Department Chair and the department employees in writing of her/his approval or disapproval. If the University President does not approve proposed statements of Departmental Application of Criteria either in whole or in part, she/he shall provide a written statement to the Department Chair and each department employee of the basis for her/his disapproval with any suggested additions, deletions, or modifications of the proposed statement. Approval of the DAC will not be unreasonably withheld. If a department has no approved statement of Departmental Application of Criteria, the University President, after consultation with the Union Chapter President, shall establish a statement of Departmental Application of Criteria for the department. This section raises several troubling questions: First, where is the written statement from the president as to his objections to each DAC? Where is the written statement of his suggested changes? Is the union participating in this process? Obviously, the contract means nothing to this administration. This DAC nonsense is a direct attack on CSU faculty by a president who is clearly unable to govern this university without resorting to the kinds of tactics he has practiced in the past: attempted intimidation, threats and bullying; behavior that cost the City Colleges a considerable sum of money. What, I wonder, will it take for the CSU Board of Trustees to decide that it is time to fire this president? He continues to demonstrate his unfitness for the position he holds. As I detailed in a previous post, Wayne Watson has failed to comply with the terms of his contract in several areas: Enrollment continues to decline, the university has seen no increase in its financial health under his leadership, audit exceptions continue to far exceed those of previous administrations, the president's relationship with the faculty continues to deteriorate (although the administration rationalizes this by expressing the belief that only a few disgruntled faculty cause all the problems). Again, it is simply time for Wayne Watson and his apparatchiks to go.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A New DAC for Chicago State University High School--it's one-size fits all (and you had no voice in the process)

Faculty should be aware that an entirely new DAC (much more rigorous) is being implemented for the fall and it is pretty much non-negotiable. 

Of course faculty are gone for the summer and as one of my colleagues has been known to say, "during the summer the Administration can get up to all kinds of mischief." I am hoping that at least some faculty are aware of this summer's mischief. The more feint-hearted or cynical or the apologists among us might even be stirred when they find out what is in store for them. They might think they are returning to a university in the Fall but in fact will find themselves at CSU High.

I'm not sure what the Administration (the sole arbiters of everything everywhere on campus) is brewing in the DACs of the colleges of Education, Business, Pharmacy, or Health Sciences, but the largest college--that of Arts & Sciences seems to indicate an administrative desire for a complete breakdown of all departmental affiliations. The administration has demanded four DACs from the College of Arts and Sciences. The four DACs are not discipline-specific and broken into: 1. STEM 2. Social Sciences 3. Humanities 4. Performing and Fine Arts. WOW, we are back to where we were in the late 1960s before we were even made a university!

So not only does the Principal of this entity, Dr Watson, who is clearly more comfortable with a community college model, get to determine that we needed a new mission statement, but he gets to determine that we will no longer resemble a traditional university. Is this how it is done at DeVry? No, they would probably make data-driven decisions. Too many of our Administration's decisions (demise of the Grad School) offer no data to support their reasons for doing what they do. Why? Because they can. Top-down Administrative decision making,  minimal push back from campus bodies that should be looking out for faculty interests; it is clear there are no longer any formal or even informal checks and balances at CSU High School. The principal rules, end of story.  Sounds downright un-American to me.

Yet in spite of the move to the high school/community college model, the Administration is DEMANDING the faculty do more research to the tune of 3-5 articles for tenure and 1 national conference and an article every other year for post-tenure review--a clearly arbitrary and in fact stupid requirement for members of some disciplines. In the words of my students, "for real?"--more research with a 4/4 (nearly community college) teaching load?

So please tell me that these issues at least crossed the minds of those mandating our new DACs:
  1. Will the Administration reduce the 4/4 teaching load to 2/3 or even 2/2?
  2. Will faculty be given teaching assistants?
  3. Will the service requirements be lowered--all the ridiculous reports we have to generate that no one reads anyway but give cover to HLC or whatever accrediting body is due to visit--will that come to an end?
  4. Will cues be granted to faculty who take on the advisement of that other Watsonian mandate, the undergrad and M.A. thesis requirements? Has any of this been considered?
  5. Will there be regularly granted sabbaticals, not bogus leaves of absence if you can get your own funding or prove to some arbitrary CTRE committee that your project is worthy of funding over and above some current event topic of the day or something requiring a testube?
  6. Will students be encouraged to learn foreign languages so that they can genuinely participate in the research that some of us conduct that requires translation and real use of non-English material? 
  7. Will there be funding for travel for those of us engaged in research that doesn't just navel-gaze at Chicago's this or that?
  8. Will there be funding for every faculty member to buy books they need for their own research? I believe my colleagues at the U of C get $500-800 annually just to purchase books for their own research.
  9. Will faculty be granted borrowing privileges to the University of Chicago or Northwestern University's libraries--the only real research libraries in the area?
  10. Will our own library be invested in as a true research library that includes access to major online and full-text journals? Will there be money put forth for true collection development in specific areas of faculty research? Will the library be more than just a technology arena and dance hall rental?
And may I remind the Administration that if there is a problem with "faculty productivity" they are the ones to blame. As long as I have been here I have been told that it is the Administration who hires and fires, not the faculty. Remember that faculty here are not even permitted to rank candidates in job searches. What "research" institution's faculty would go along with that nonsense?  It is the Administrators, those Deans/Provosts/Presidents who "hired" or in some cases "placed" their favorites into positions around the university or palmed a crony off to a department who need to be taken to task by the faculty. What mechanism is in place to prevent this kind of thing from happening? We've certainly seen it firsthand in Dr Watson's own administrative "hires" and in his own "hiring" by that rump Board of Trustees, sanctioned by CSU's pal, the pol Emil Jones. It's the Administration who bears the bulk of the responsibility for the construction of the CSU faculty we have on campus. If it is such an unproductive faculty then what sense does it make to let those who made such bad decisions in the first place continue to make further decisions about the faculty let alone how to force them to be productive?  Instead of getting us out of the cycle by permitting more faculty to share in the governance of the university, the Administration wants to perpetuate the problems that had been made by inept Administrators.

So Principal Watson and the Administration feels it can make a virtual one-size fits all DAC and that their Administrative knowledge supercedes those trained in a variety of fields --trained, I might add for years. There is not just an absence of shared governance going on here, our academic integrity is being compromised and along with this academic freedom.

After hearing about all the DAC stuff over the past week, I'm wondering, did Dr. Watson lie to the Board of Trustees? When he made his report to the Board at its May  meeting, he said his office had worked "quite a bit toward shared governance." It seems Dr Watson needs to review the AAUP statement on the definition of shared governance. This was also the same meeting where one student spoke up to remind him that he could not steer the ship alone, CSU needed him to work with the faculty.

Dr Watson and the Administration have certainly changed the past practice of how CSU handled DACs when it was a university. In demolishing departmental DACs it signals the demolition of departments and disciplines, a change in working conditions. No faculty, nor the Union, have been party to these decisions. There is no pretence at all: shared governance is not a priority of this Administration nor will they make a pretence of practicing it. 

What's a faculty to do?  

Well, as my father pointed out to little Corday long ago, when people feel they have no voice or no hope, they do the only thing left to them: they take it to the street.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A New Look

So loyal readers, your humble narrator brings you greetings and a new look for the uncensored voice of the faculty. As I believe the only constant is change, I thought a new presentation would be appropriate. Be forewarned however that a more pleasing aesthetic will not soften the presentation of the state of affairs of the university. To the contrary and more to follow on that score. Be safe in the knowledge that faculty will continue to discuss, deliberate, debate, dissent and disabuse various and sundry of all manner of ill conceived ideas about the nature of the Academy and bring to our discussion resonant themes and ideas consistent with being a doctoral degree granting institution.  
Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Imperial Presidency Strikes Back

Lots of stuff going on the past few weeks on campus and if the faculty and the union don't come together on this then we truly get what we deserve.

Currently a two-day Deans and Chairs DAC workshop is going on yesterday and today which is underscoring our demotion from university to community college to high school.

As we know all DACs were due this spring. President Watson has rejected all the DACs that were submitted this spring - across the university. The workshop is a working meeting to get the DACs in shape to meet Watson's expectations. The Administration feels that faculty merely submitted the first draft (which represents shared governance in their world view) and the administration (in this case Provost, Deans, Chairs) is working on the second draft.

Supposedly there may be a chance for faculty comment but don't expect much to be changed--at other times when faculty have been "consulted" as "advisory" we all know how those comments are brushed aside (demise of the Grad School being a recent case in point).

There are no faculty, no DPC Chairs, no Coordinators, nor the primary authors of the DACs at this meeting. The administration is claiming a management decision to have just Deans and Chairs at the table and they are standing firm on this. So faculty had better hope their deans and chairs are working in their favor.

This is no longer a university this a high school, a Chicago Public High School.  Small surprise considering the influence of educationalists and politicians rather than scholars in the presidential "kitchen cabinet."

Here's what is going to be imposed on the Faculty:
1. Increase standards in Research Productivity
2. Include language in the Teaching/Primary Duties section of the DAC mandating effective communication with students, availability to students, use of available technologies in the classroom, keeping office hours, employing multiple pedagogical tools in the classroom (lectures, discussion, debates, multi-media displays, small groups, worksheets, etc.).
3. Standardize DAC formats across the university.
4. Drop the point system
5. Include graphic tables in DACs for clarity
6. Standardize acceptable Service components.
7. Increase expectations of student involvement in research activities.

How to explain Dr Watson's demand that he be the Decider on all things faculty? Exactly who is he to rule over us in such a way? Isn't a university president supposed to be a fund-raiser first and foremost and the Provost the Chief Academic Officer?

Apparently Dr Watson also now claims the right to interview all candidates from departmental searches. And all in-coming faculty must submit to an in-class writing test because that article they submitted in their application is just not good enough proof as a writing sample. What a high school mentality.

And wait a minute, wasn't Dr Watson the only one of the job candidates for the CSU presidency in 2008 who did not even submit a letter of intention with his "application" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)? What exactly were his intellectual qualifications? I wonder how many Illinois State university presidents have publication records, we know for sure that ours DOES NOT. So he is now the Decider on all things academic by virtue of Emil Jones putting the mantle of Great and Powerful Wizard on him?

Yes Dr Watson is the Decider. Another decision in the past month was to deny retention to 4th & 5th year faculty by sending them essentially a form letter--how contractural is that?

HLC is going to love all this.

Well, maybe all of this overreach is simply Dr Watson's megalomaniacal swan-song in the midst of rumors of his possible departure from the university.

And where does the Union stand on this?  How is the Union going to stand up for us on this and that other ridiculous imposition of the time card punch policy? Why are we following Eastern Illinois University on this and not U of I?

Does Corday hear the drumbeat of Bastille Day?