Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Our President, Mr. Tough as Nails

“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.” Frank Pogue, July 30, 2009.

“You’ve got to change people’s behavior or you’ve got to fire them.” Wayne Watson, May 4, 2009.

“It’s no wonder that Dr. Watson is not the most beloved man on campus, though respected throughout the educational community . . . He courageously corrected institutional wrongs and mishaps that had history as long as 20 years.” Emil Jones, March 7, 2013.

Wayne Watson, a stand up, courageous leader, our President Tough as Nails. Does the behavior of President Nails match that profile? Why not take a look?

A “true leader” takes responsibility for the thinks that occur on her/his watch. How does President Nails measure up here?

Audit findings tripled during his first full year. They continue at levels far in excess of those experienced by previous administrations. Watson’s response: it is some else’s fault. That is “true” leadership?

His meddling in the curriculum includes no paper trail that leads back to him. Although he mandated curriculum changes, he did it through willing subordinates. That is “true” leadership?

The three separate attempts this administration has made to stifle expression on campus, the Human Resources “Policy Manual” of 2009, and the “Computer Usage Policy” and “Communications Policy” in 2012, came from highly placed members of his administrative team. Other than calling the latter policy a “mistake” that “we fixed,” President Nails takes no responsibility for those abominations. Does anyone on campus think any of the three came out without his knowledge or approval? That is “true” leadership?

The unqualified and apparently inept cronies he hired to run Enrollment Management continue to oversee plunging enrollment. A leader might be expected to come to the conclusion that a change at the top might be in order. President Nails’ response? Do nothing. That is “true” leadership?

He has attacked tenure through the DAC process. President Nails’ participation in the process became impossible to hide. He responded with an almost laughable set of responses to individual DACs, while trampling the union contract underfoot. Involving deans, chairs, outside evaluators, the Provost in the process demonstrated his contempt for both faculty and the CSU-UPI contract. That is “true” leadership?

He violated his own university’s own administrative policy by orchestrating a search for new faculty to ensure that two of your cronies get highly-paid faculty positions. He hid behind the deans and the chair who constituted the entirely improper “search committee.” That is “true” leadership?

He has raised no funds for campus except for the $300,000 that came late 2012 or early 2013, $200,000 from his political mentor, Emil Jones. In an environment in which the state of Illinois contributes only 27 percent of our operating revenues, his failure to raise money for the school is nothing short of scandalous. That is “true” leadership?

He has alienated faculty with his high-handed and uninformed forays into various academic areas in which he possesses no expertise. There is hardly any need to describe his relations with the mainstream media, they are simply antagonistic, something that surely hurts the university’s public image. That is “true” leadership?

In the recent fiasco over his continued employment at Chicago State, President Nails could not defend himself without the assistance of political allies who rallied to his support. He could not muster any substantive reasons for retaining his position. Instead, as he is wont to do, he hid behind his attorney (the husband of the Vice President of Enrollment Management), political poo-bahs like Emil Jones, a coterie of South Side ministers and Chicago politicians. Their praise stemmed from President Nails’ efforts to move the university “forward,” and “trying to create a culture of change.” That is heady stuff. Clearly the strategy to defend President Nails revolved around obscuring the real issues with a smokescreen of bullshit. Along the way, the university suffered another public relations disaster. That is “true” leadership?

During this opera bouffe, President Nails revealed his character to anyone who cared to examine it. His undated and unsigned memorandum to the “CSU Board of Trustees,” written in a desperate and unprincipled tone, uses any vile means necessary to muddy the waters by engaging in innuendo and character assassination. When directly confronted about the letter, President Nails courageously denied authorship, although he never corrected newspaper reports attributing the letter to him. His commitment to the university clearly includes a desire to destroy the institution, if necessary. That is “true” leadership?

Now that Governor Quinn has thrown Chicago State to the wolves, President Nails is free to engage in one of his favorite pastimes: vindictive retaliation. This is the glue that holds his administration together, as slavering loyalty and obsequiousness are requirements for service in the Nails’ administration. Those administrators who point out that President Nails has no clothes are usually shown the door. That is “true” leadership?

Perhaps President Nails is convinced that he has “won” or that somehow that parade of bloviating fools and their political connections provide some kind of validation for his toxic administration. Far from it. He may well find that his victory here is Pyrrhic, that his vindication is fleeting. Indeed, I think that his behavior during the past few weeks demonstrates that, along with his already proven inability to do the job here, he does not possess the requisite integrity to occupy any position of leadership.

1 comment:

  1. The latest slap in the collective faces of students, faculty, and staff at CSU by Governor Quinn is one slap too many. As a student at Chicago State, I simply have to raise my voice in anger. Anger at the Governor. Anger at the useless and corrupt President of the University, Wayne Watson. Anger at south side politicians like Emil Jones. Chicago State University is not SUPPOSED to be about getting politically connected flunkies and girlfriends jobs for which they are not qualified, but because of the people listed above, that is, in fact, what my school IS about. Damn them to hell for endangering my investment, and the investment of every other student, by destroying the reputation of the school, and thereby lessening the value of a degree from Chicago State.
    But my anger goes well beyond the puppet master politicians and their henchmen. Where are the tenured members of faculty? So FEW are fighting this travesty. Have you no PRIDE? PRIDE in the school at which you work? PRIDE in your students? Apparently not, for if you DID, that pride would DICTATE you to speak out. Don't you WANT the job you hold to carry the maximum amount of prestige it can? Don't you WANT the degrees your students get to be respected, as opposed to snickered at? Or are you satisfied with the academic equivalent of shoveling shit in Louisiana?
    Furthermore, tenure is a great reward, but it carries with it RESPONSIBILITIES!! I always hear how tenure is necessary, lest the members of faculty be rendered unable to speak ill of administrators and/or give hard truths to them. By being granted tenure, faculty on campus has the RESPONSIBILITY to to speak up and agitate against the corrupt Watson junta and crooked politicians who are ruining the University. If you don't want this RESPONSIBILITY of tenure, then resign your position at the school and make room for someone who will do the WHOLE job of being a tenured member of faculty at a Doctoral degree granting institution.
    The stench of apathy permeates our campus. The vast majority of the student body looks on with bovine indifference as the investment in time and many thousands of dollars we make in ourselves in pursuit of a degree in higher education is frittered away, scandal by hideous reported scandal caused by the incompetence of the current administration at Chicago State. Surely we students bear much of the blame for this indifference and unwillingness to protect our own best interests, but some blame just as surely rests with the tenured faculty, because part of the University experience is SUPPOSED to be about making us not only better educated in our main field of study, but also BETTER CITIZENS, and is not a good citizen an active and informed one?
    The bottomless reserve of excuses on the part of us in the CSU community used to justify inaction is a source that can be accessed no longer with impunity. Urban indifference is why Kitty Genovese was murdered, and the indifference on the part of faculty and students threatens to kill our school. The years of a Neville Chamberlain style policy of appeasement and looking the other way have come to an end. It is HIGH TIME for each of us to put our cards on the table and say who we are. Are we part of the solution or are we Watson enablers and part of the problem?
    Among the efforts being organized against Watson is a sit in scheduled to take place in Watson's gallery on Thursday, April 11 at noon. We need a massive turnout at this event in order to make VERY clear to the politicians that we do not consider the status quo acceptable. "Do they not realize that we will never cease to persevere against them until they, and the world, have been taught a lesson they will never forget?"- Winston Churchill, addressing the US Congress shortly after the Japanese launched the war in the Pacific.

    Gerald Shinn
    Graduate student in History
    Chicago State University