Sunday, March 24, 2013

Look Who's Talking...And Saying what?

Even though we have fallen off the pages of the Chicago Sun Times and the Tribune--it seems CSU can be found in a few news venues.

After all these months the old pol Rev. Leon Finney, former trustee and wannbe CSU prez, appeared in a March 17th/18th article by Wendell Hutson. See below.

Hutson_Finney defends hiring of Wayne Watson Chicago –March 18, 2013
Ex-Chicago State University Board Chairman Defends Hiring of Wayne Watson
by Wendell Hutson

He said based on what the board knew about Watson, the longtime chancellor at City Colleges of Chicago before he was hired at Chicago State, he was the best candidate.

But he acknowledged the decision wasn't popular on campus.

"I had to push his candidacy through," he said.

Finney claimed the faculty opposed the appointment because "The faculty made it clear they wanted one of their own elevated to the position."

But many faculty and campus leaders thought the school should have opened the process to national candidates.

The faculty even took the unprecedented step of sending Gov. Pat Quinn a letter asking him to remove the trustees and bar them from appointing a president. Quinn declined to do so.

Finney is lying when he says that the Faculty had a candidate that they were trying to promote or push through. No such person existed (we were not even allowed to review all the cv’s that were submitted). We wanted a voice, we wanted the Trustees to hear our concerns, we wanted transparency of process. Reverend Finney’s reign of terror as Chair of the Trustees has subjected CSU to some lawsuits that have cost the university and a few are still pending. Interesting how this article admits that CSU’s  power structures are controlled by the likes of Finney and Jones. Dr Watson was the “best candidate” from among their cronies.

Dan Kelly in the online rag called the Chicago Observer takes a fairly critical look at WW referencing his days at City Colleges. Lots of connections there. Tit for tat between Emil Jones and WW did not begin at CSU. And Kelly refers to the conflict in leadership in the African American community--the old guard of Jackson, Jones, Finney, Watson vs. a younger set of which Gary Rozier probably represents and some of our own on campus though many are keeping low profiles.  So check out this article at:can-chicago-state-university-rebound-from-current-administration?

Chicago Daily Observer, March 13, 2014
“Can Chicago State University Rebound from Current Administration?”
Daniel J. Kelly

Kelly writes:
Former Illinois State Senate President Emil Jones succeeded in making the university into his personal bailiwick. His enduring monument to himself, the 7,000 seat “Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center,” a multipurpose, taxpayer funded arena, would make Roland “Tombstone” Burris envious. Jones has come out of retirement to defend Watson in the current crisis.

What makes the media circus so interesting is that it appears to be an intergenerational struggle between Chicago’s long established African American political elites and ambitious newcomers. Old Guard allies of Reverend Jesse Jackson are backing Watson, while their youthful rivals favor his prompt removal.

And an interesting comment on this article from CSU Supporter:

Dr. Watson has made several positive changes at CSU. For example, he has helped open the campus to the community with a wide range of campus events, and he has worked to improve athletics on campus and to support the academic achievement of student athletes. However, he has not been able to help the University develop, distribute and follow the policies that are needed to allow the employees to effectively and efficiently do the day to day business of the University. He likes to call numerous meetings with little to no notice which is disruptive to people who have other scheduled meetings with students or colleagues. He is also very skilled at addressing the specific issues of an individual – he often steps in to help a student or employee with a specific issue – but he does not work to fit the underlying problem. I also believe that Dr. Watson is committed to increasing standards at CSU, but he has never been willing to approach faculty members as allies in this process. He generally begins from a position that assumes conflict and opposition. He then skips over the process of seeking input before enacting new plans and agendas. When these poorly planned efforts fail, he blames those that he did not consult at the beginning of the process.

Well said.

Last but definitely not least is the southside's own Hermene Hartman (remember when Finney gave her that nice public relations contract for a few months at CSU in the summer of 2009?) she's as thick as thieves with the old guard so there is a retch-warning issued when you read her article in N'Digo.

N'Digo_Governor Quinn Must Step in (March 14, 2013)
Hermene Hartman
Hartman's shilling for WW in "Quinn Must Step In" is a mediocre investigation of cobbled-together half-truths, twisted statistics, wishful thinking, and bombastic self-righteousness befitting her subject. It might play on parts of the southside but not on 95th and King Drive. In her telling WW stepped in to save an all but falling down CSU whose accreditation was hanging by a thread. But for his efforts and blah blah blah we survived. Had she just been reading Walt Whitman's O Captain! My Captain! before she wrote it?...Did Dr Watson invent sliced bread too?  And more interesting, is Hartman tipping the hand of the Watson party with the plaintive cry for Gov Quinn to intervene? Ironic that the Watson party is trying to get Quinn to do for them what he wouldn't do for the Search Advisory Committee and Faculty Senate in 2009 in face of Leon Finney and Emil Jones' shenanigans that served CSU up to Dr Watson with that trumped up "search." Quinn wouldn't intervene in the travesty of that search process even though there were actual vacant seats needing to be filled (WW was brought in via a rump board of trustees to use a Cromwellian image). Will he take out the offending trustees Rozier and Scott and stuff some other FOWayne or FOEmil up there? No doubt Emil and the alderman and the ministers are sending a barrage of messages to hizzoner. No doubt so and so will talk to so and so who will talk to so and so who may get to talk to the big cheese. The nexus of cronyism is broad and deep in the state of ILL. They'll get to him eventually.

Back to N'Digo. Read it, but don't bother trying to post a comment on Hartman's article. Either she is not taking criticism (sounds like others we know) or it has been too long and no one over there is minding the store vetting the comments. Seems odd that not one single comment since March 14th has appeared.  Was she ever accepting them in the first place? At any rate,  I'm posting below the counterpoint to Ms Hartman's propaganda that one of our CSU colleagues tried unsuccessfully to post this week. (Why do they even bother giving a place for comments on the N'Digo site if they won't take them?)

From a CSU faculty member to Ms Hartman:

There are a number of problematic comments in this article, which is essentially a pro-Watson propaganda piece. First, audit findings in Fiscal 2011 more than tripled from the previous administration, to 41 from 13. Notably, the University of Illinois system, with three campuses and better than 76,000 students had 43. In fiscal 2012, audit findings dropped slightly, to 34. In the same period of time, the University of Illinois system had 37. These figures are not positives for the Watson administration.

Second, your claim that “One of every five African Americans who receive a college degree in the State of Illinois earned it from CSU,” is simply incorrect, as a look at the Illinois Board of Higher Education Website reveals. Unfortunately, the most recent graduation figures on their website come from 2010. At that point, Chicago State granted 3.4 percent of all degrees conferred upon black students in the state of Illinois. What is true is that Chicago State confers upon black students just over 18 percent of all degrees granted by public universities in Illinois. However, these numbers have been steadily declining, with the percentage of black graduates from Chicago State dropping each year from 5.9 percent of the state total in 2001 to 3.4 percent in 2010. All this information is easily obtainable, if one takes the time to look for it.

Third, Chicago State University’s accreditation was never at risk. The assertion that the university “was on the verge of losing its accreditation” until Wayne Watson saved it is nonsense. What is true is that the university received a “focused visit” in 2010 that addressed some specific issues, primarily administrative. The faculty are obviously pleased with the Higher Learning Commission’s report, but there are continuing problems cited in the report: notably communication and enrollment management issues. In any event, it seems likely that the people who work at the school have a better feel for its internal workings than a group of people who spend two days (mainly with administrators) at the school every few years.

Fourth, in the article’s eighth paragraph, you use a quote taken out of context to support your implication that the Board of Trustees are a problem, specifically with their overreach. You claim that the CSU Board goes: “beyond routine Board governance activities.” Here’s the entire quote directly from the HLC report: “The Team believes that the current level of Board involvement is beyond routine Board governance activities, and the ongoing turnaround situation of the University may justify it.”

Fifth, your assertion that a “small group of faculty members gave Watson a vote of no confidence because “He has invaded their workspace with responsibility and accountability with the establishment of post tenure evaluation,” is a complete distortion of reality. In truth, the contract containing the post-tenure evaluation passed with better than 80 percent faculty support. Few faculty disagree with some form of evaluation for persons who have tenure and we do not think everyone at the school discharges their responsibilities competently. The Academic Senate is a representative body elected by all tenured and tenure-track faculty on campus. Prior to the no-confidence vote, senators polled their departmental faculty and received an overwhelming endorsement of the no-confidence motion. In addition, university staff were able to cast their votes for or against a no-confidence motion through a website. The web voting resulted in 86 percent in favor of a no-confidence motion. Your generalizations about “responsibility and accountability,” are meaningless. To what, specifically, are you referring? These kind of sound bite lines may fool uninformed readers but they are no substitute for substantive evidence.

To summarize, I hardly expect everyone to agree with our position that Wayne Watson should not continue as president of Chicago State. That said, the argument that Governor Quinn should suddenly replace certain Trustees would be far more compelling if any of Wayne Watson’s supporters had made the same argument in 2009, when a Board with numerous vacancies hired him as president of the school. Nonetheless, if I were a friend of Wayne Watson, I would certainly be vocal in my support for his presidency. However, if you are going to use evidence to support your position, it should at least be presented in a forthright manner. At least try to get some of your facts correct.

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