Thursday, March 28, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... retaliation for some and big salaries for others (but we already knew that)

Check out today's Chicago Tribune. Doubtful that the citizens of Illinois and certainly not Chicago either northside or southside will care very much about this outrageous situation. I can hear the collective "ho hum" from the shores of Lake Michigan to the banks of the Mississippi, "everyone does it, what do you expect?", "it's the Chicago way," "when they do it at UIC/UofC/Western/Eastern/Northern/SIU/UIUC/Harvard/SUNY/CUNY/UCLA/NYU/BU/IU/Oxford/theSorbonne... no one criticizes them, but when we do it..." It all puts me in mind of a conversation I heard between two CSU students back in the mists of time when I was a mild-mannered un-tenured assistant professor and the then President Dolores Cross was on her way to being ousted and various nefarious schemes and misdeeds were being attached to her administration as well as herself.
Student #1: "Yeah, she really got away with a lot here and made a lot of money off this place..."
Student #2: "She sure did."
Student #1: "But I'd probably do the same thing if I had the chance..."

And the seasons they go round and round...

So when Cross's group is in power they get the CSU spoils.
When Daniel's group is in power they get the CSU spoils.
No surprise then that when Watson's group is in power...well, you know how to finish the sentence.

Thanks again Emil for the living political science experiment you've been nurturing here for so long. And I love the explanation Dr W. gives for raising salaries so high--administrators have taken on a lot more duties that warrants "double-digit" raises. I bet all those department chairs who had to take on extra faculty, what with all the "reorganization" in combining departments to cut back on the number of dept. chairs, are next in line to get their double-digit raises, not to mention the university's service workers, janitorial staff whose numbers have been cut back--I bet we'll be hearing about that group's double-digit salary increase soon. Or were those cutbacks where the money came from in the first place to give out these big salary increases? Got it.

Oh who cares. "I'd probably do the same thing if I had the chance..."

For those of you who haven't found your excuse for not being outraged, read below for Part II of the politician's playbook: when you are on the defensive throw out bold defiant moves--screw integrity defiantly, fire some high-ranking figure just to show that you can (papa Emil has you covered) and pay off your loyal soldiers royally.

Chicago Tribune, Jodi Cohen
Embattled CSU president authorizes big salary hikes for administrators

Chicago State University President Wayne Watson, who is fighting to keep his job, approved double-digit salary increases for several high-ranking administrators this year, according to newly released records.

In another personnel move, Watson dismissed his vice president of administration and finance, Glenn Meeks, who said he was fired this week in retaliation after raising questions about the salary increases and other decisions by Watson.

Trustees of the South Side public institution indicated last month that they wanted new leadership and said Watson would be taking a yearlong sabbatical. But Watson and his political supporters fought back, and the board decided he would remain in office while they investigated him over an unspecified allegation that he violated university policy. They promised a decision on his employment by June 30.

Then on Friday, the terms expired for two trustees who had supported a change in leadership — board Chairman Gary Rozier and Vice Chairwoman Zaldwaynaka "Z" Scott — lending further doubt to whether Watson will be replaced. Four of the seven board positions appointed by the governor are now vacant.

In the wake of the board members' terms ending, Watson on Tuesday fired Meeks.

"It is clear to me that it is retaliatory because of the position I took in support of terminating (Watson)," Meeks said Wednesday. "He has been found guilty by the board of violating university policy, and he is still there. And I have done nothing wrong, and he is allowed to dismiss me."
A university spokesman declined to comment on Meeks' termination.

Meeks said that, among other issues, he had questioned Watson's decision to give raises to select administrators.

The administrators who received the salary boosts include general counsel Patrick Cage, who got a 17.4 percent increase, to $155,004; Renee Mitchell, the associate vice president of human resources, who got a 21.4 percent increase, to $144,996; and Provost Sandra Westbrooks, who received an 18.8 percent increase, to $208,092.

Two executive assistants in Watson's office also received increases of about 20 percent after they were promoted, university spokesman Thomas Wogan said. All of the increases took effect Jan. 1.
In a statement, Wogan said decisions about pay are based on "merit and performance" and that competitive salaries are needed to retain talented employees. He said Cage and Mitchell took on increased responsibilities and that neither received a salary increase in the two prior years. He said Westbrooks' salary had been lower than that of a dean who reported to her.

Watson approved the raises at a time when hundreds of employees had no salary increases from 2012 to this year, and faculty members generally received a 2.25 percent hike.

"I find it disturbing we would have administrators that would get double-digit raises while faculty this year got a 21/4 percent raise," said faculty senate President Phillip Beverly, a political science professor. "It should be a little more equitable."

The Tribune received the salary information from Chicago State after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

On Wednesday, Watson provided an update to a state Senate appropriations committee. He said he expects the university soon will get a favorable report from its accrediting body, and he highlighted new tutoring and advising programs for students and a new performance evaluation system for tenured faculty members.

Lawmakers discussed an audit report expected to be released Thursday that will show 29 financial problems, down from 41 in 2011.

Since 2009, when Watson took over, overall student enrollment has dropped 16 percent, according to an internal university report.

Watson acknowledged to the committee that enrollment is down to 6,100 students.
"We made a decision to go for quality versus quantity," he said.

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