Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year In Review

So, like many in the popular culture, this is the time of year to do a year in review. This has been a year, “not without incident.” Where should we begin?
January brought us the Computer Usage Policy. I am sure we all remember that monstrosity of a policy, one that didn’t just infringe on that inconvenient detail called the First Amendment but obliterated it. After much shuffling about and some clearly post facto negotiation the Computer Usage Policy was re-written, or was it.
In February we learned that sick days at the Chicago City Colleges are far more valuable than here at CSU. For example, the former chancellor, amongst others, cashed out $300K for sick days accrued during his service there. It’s great work if you can get it.
March brought us all the delight of the university’s  Communications and Media Relations Policy. That completely incompetent and abhorrent statement actually garnered the university some publicity which resulted in it being rescinded shortly thereafter. It became evident to your humble narrator by the Spring that the university was incapable as currently manned, of creating policy that was Constitutional much less functional. This institutional inability would continue unabated through the rest of the year.
Maybe April would be brighter, but alas it was revealed that 34 audit findings would be reported for the previous fiscal year, bringing the President’s two year total to 75. It took his predecessor nine years to reach that level. Work continued in April on preparation for the Higher Learning Commission visit.
May brought the university a major personnel addition, namely a new Athletics Director. After a yeoman’s effort by an attorney for Labor & Legal Affairs, CSU launched itself into a new level of professionalism. May also saw a huge outreach effort to employees to complete the Noel Levitz Employee Satisfaction Survey as participation flagged a bit.
The summer, should have been uneventful but alas, faculty became roiled as several probationary faculty received extra-contractual do overs on retention and a completely illegitimate DAC process was foisted upon the faculty. Of course the administrative spin was that neither of these events happened except for the fact that they did happen and faculty was incensed by clear violations of the faculty contract. We also witnessed many of the lowest paid workers at the university not being paid and the fallout from the Web Time Entry implementation process.
The fall opened in September with word that enrollment was down for the second straight year and there appeared to be no plan in sight for correcting the decline. The community also learned that the hiring process for tenure track faculty was badly flawed and as a result hirings were conducted that had the appearance of cronyism, a charge vigorously denied by the university’s President. The university continued to diligently prepare for the impending HLC visit and congratulations for the preparation effort go out to faculty and staff who contributed countless hours to what should have been a successful accreditation visit.
November welcomed the HLC team but not before the Faculty Senate voted in favor of a motion of No Confidence in the President. Two, rather lengthy documents outlining the faculty’s concern were considered by the Senate and the motion overwhelmingly passed. Much discussion was had with the HLC team about the faculty concerns and lo and behold a new more expansive model of shared governance emerged from the administration. The month also saw the passing of Steven Moore, a faculty member who brought energy, enthusiasm and wisdom to teaching our students.
December ushered in the end of the Fall semester and the calendar year. The university presented the happiest of events, the Fall Commencement Ceremony and received the sad news of the passing of a long serving faculty colleague, Atha Hunt. The university also chose to join the Western Athletic Conference after a brief foray in the Great Western Conference. The Board of Trustees met for the last time in 2012 and faculty spoke about the break down in policy adherence during a faculty search process at the BOT meeting.
Perhaps the most memorable and sobering event was the shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut. It reminded me the lesson I learned September 11th, 2001, namely that at the end of the day, the only thing I really have are my relationships. So my commitment is to work on those relationships, personal and professional during 2013.
For your humble narrator, this event chastened me about my critique of the dysfunction of the university and reminds me to keep my eye on the highest ideals of the institution. I invite all in the community to do the same.

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