Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Systemic Failure in Human Resources/Payroll

Have you been paid over the past year? Were you paid the correct amount? If you can answer yes to both of these questions, then it appears you can count yourself lucky. Since July 2012 there have been the following fiascos related to Payroll, which is part of the Department of Human Resources:

1. Failure to pay raises to Academic Support Professionals at the contractually-mandated time, which is July 1.

2. Late payment of Unit B (temporary and part-time) faculty, in some cases by several pay periods when faculty were teaching but not being paid.

3. Inaccurate calculation of contractually-mandated raises for several faculty members.

4. Late deduction of union dues from UPI members’ paychecks, followed by a series of negotiations between UPI and the University over the amount of dues paid, ending in the University unilaterally deciding that it had overpaid UPI (without properly documenting this overpayment) and then remitting almost no dues at all to UPI for the pay periods ending April 15, April 30, and May 15, 2013 (despite that union dues were deducted from members’ paychecks for those pay periods).

5. Late payment of salary to most employees for the pay period ending March 31, 2013 (you remember, this was right after Glenn Meeks was fired).

6. Allegedly “overpaying” several, possibly all, Academic Support Professionals starting with the pay period ending March 31 (interesting date) by allegedly giving them the raises for “administrators”, not realizing that raises for Academic Support Professionals should have already been applied on July 1 (see number 1 above).

7. Unilaterally deducting pay from paychecks for Academic Support Professionals in the situation outlined in point 6 above, without negotiating a reasonable repayment schedule with UPI or even documenting that such repayment needed to occur.

8. Failure to pay summer salary and inaccurate payment of summer salary (in some cases with an alleged “overpayment” similar to that described in points 6 & 7 above) for some faculty members.

Now, we could follow the description of these egregious situations with the usual series of sarcastic comments about the incompetence and unprofessionalism of some administrators at the University, particularly those who were given substantial raises in January like the Directory of Human Resources. However, it seems that another approach is warranted. These are not just individual acts of singular incompetence over the past year, but instead they appear to be part of a pattern – a systemic problem, not merely a series of individual ones.

If they are a systemic pattern, then perhaps we should ask a few questions: Who is hurt most by such a system? Who or what could possibly benefit from such a system? Why is this system, with its apparently built-in failures and crises, tolerated? These questions point to the political dynamics of the systemic failures in Payroll and Human Resources, and if we can answer these questions the most important question is then what can be done?

Many grievances and Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) have been filed related to all of those items above, but those grievances and ULPs only address the specifics of each situation. The broader systemic problem appears to require some other solution.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Crony as Provost

The mystery surrounding Angela Henderson’s education is finally solved. She does not, in fact, “hold a PhD,” as the recent announcement from our administration claims. Official records at the University of Illinois-Chicago indicate that her degree is “pending.” Thus, she is not entitled to use the title “Doctor” until the university actually awards her the degree. It seems interesting that faculty have to provide verification of their degree status prior to employment but administrators apparently do not. Any references to Angela Henderson as “Doctor Henderson,” are dishonest and even fraudulent. Her appointment as interim Provost represents another slap in the face to the students, administrators, faculty, staff and alumni at Chicago State and continues the patronage awards that have marked the Watson administration. She is not fit for this position either by educational qualifications or by administrative experience, particularly since her tenure as the Vice President of Enrollment Management has been disastrous: a precipitous decline in the university’s enrollment.

Thus, Chicago State remains the laughing stock of Illinois higher education. We are the only one of the five Illinois public institutions: Eastern, Northeastern, Western Illinois, Governor’s State and Illinois State (no need to discuss the University of Illinois System) to have an appointed provost with only a master’s degree, as Ms. Henderson received an MBA and a Master’s in Nursing from UIC in 1992. The provosts of the other four institutions all have extensive university administrative experience, a significant record of scholarly achievement, and PhD’s earned in the 1980s or 1990s. As a university’s senior administrative position, the provost is typically expected to meet requirements for full professorship, not so at Chicago State. Here, someone without a terminal degree, with no publication record, and with a proven track record of administrative failure can parlay a personal relationship with Wayne Watson into a lucrative job as the University’s Senior Academic Officer. Of course, given the nonexistent scholarly production of our president, it seems perfectly consistent for him to disregard the basic tenets of the academy in making his most important appointments. Awarding Angela Henderson this plum is simply a disgrace.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Does She or Doesn't She? (and other buzz)

On my way off campus last week I ran into a colleague (no, not one of the "cadre," no, not one of the "disgruntled white faculty" for that matter), but a colleague whom I can only describe as "incensed" over the recent news of appointments that day both interim and others at the administrative level. "She does not even have her Ph.D. .." She, being the newly named, but no big surprise, interim provost.

Well, technically, I guess, at least I think "she" does, I mean no one would be styling themself  "Dr" in all those memoranda since February if they had not actually acquired a Ph.D. in hand, right? What would happen if someone tried to ask directly for information? Someone should try.

And let's not forget where we are. The rules that apply to faculty don't apply to administrators and anything that applies at other universities, does not necessarily apply here... Faculty are usually required to have a Ph.D. in hand upon taking up employment (unless of course you are given the job by the president outside of proper faculty searches). But who really cares about these technicalities? My colleague of last week was fuming about lots more than just a provost without a Ph.D. or experience at anything more than the 7 City Colleges (CSU of course could now simply qualify as the 8th).

Interim this, interim that.
The Grand Master, the Puppet Master of us all has been using his power over the Trustees and the coattails of Emil to do anything now. And nearly everything is an interim position these days . In case you hadn't heard, there are no chairs appointed for anything but what is now an interim one-year position. The same person has been hired as Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences for the third year in a row! What a joke.

Everyone is interim unless you are in the legal department. Two new lawyers added just today--wonder if they are 6-figure salaries or just $90K? Well, why hire faculty when CSU is really now less an institution of higher learning than a truly, madly, deeply political patronage hiring machine?   A number of time-consuming searches in departments and deans offices netted NOTHING in some places (again) this year. The Prez is "not impressed" with the calibre of candidates brought to his desk (again at any other university besides a patronage pit, the Deans and Provosts are the last approval, the prez is too busy raising money to interfere). And you've heard the stories about how at City Colleges he turned back searches because there were no women/"minorities" (depending on his audience) in a particular the department. Uhm excuse me, I thought quotas were illegal? Tell me Dr W. is not cloaking himself in quota hiring? You've got enough lawyers on staff, better figure out a way to square that with EOE. Or is the intention something else? No more outsiders need apply (read that any way you want DWF). And after the Prez's interference in the retention and tenure processes over the past two years one could construe a pattern of just eliminating tenure altogether (except for those administrators whose contracts he wants to rewrite and place in tenured positions in departments of course).

Other Buzz...a  retirement in CJ last month--will we see yet another lawyer friend (or 2 or 3) given the tenure-track job?

Napoleon Moses, where are you?????