In the past two years, university employees with close ties to Wayne Watson have benefitted materially from those ties. The four administrative employees Watson brought on board in late 2009, Police Chief Ronnie Watson, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management Cheri Sidney, General Counsel Patrick Cage and Human Resources Director Renee Mitchell have received raises averaging 19.9 percent over the past two years. During that time, the salaries of these four have risen from an average of $114,928 to $137,804.
These four persons are part of an eight person group who either worked with Watson at City Colleges of Chicago, have a close personal relationship with him or have demonstrated unwavering loyalty to Watson for the past few years. The others in this group: Associate Vice President of Finance Maricela Aranda, Vice President of Sponsored Programs Yvonne Harris, Executive Director of Project Counseling (TRIO) Jasmika Cook and of course, newly-minted PhD (according to Human Resources--that information is yet to be verified independently) and Provost Angela Henderson. The average raise for these eight persons in the past two years: 17.65 percent.
The overall salary increase for all full-time employees at Chicago State for the past two years has been 8.4 percent or an average of 4.2 percent per year. In comparison with the eight persons above, the three Deans who have retained their positions for the past two years have seen their salaries increase 6.7 percent (3.35 percent per year), while the nine chairs have enjoyed a 4.7 percent (2.35 percent/year) raise. In addition, in 2011, the salary difference between the 8 Watson-connected administrators and the 12 deans and chairs stood at 10 percent. Following the raises Watson awarded to his most valued administrators, the difference now stands at 23 percent.
As far as individuals are concerned, the biggest raises have gone to persons who are part of the Watson group of eight. Leading the way is the new Provost Angela Henderson with a promotion and a likely salary increase of 38.7 percent, (this is an estimate based on the most recent raise that put the Provost at a higher salary than the Dean of the College of Pharmacy). Given Henderson’s abysmal performance as Vice President of Enrollment Management (university enrollment down better than 21 percent for the past three years, including 15.8 percent since she came to Chicago State, retention rate down), it is amazing that she still has a job, particularly in light of the president’s much ballyhooed (cynical?) focus on “responsibility and accountability.” Of course, Henderson possesses other qualifications: she is a long-time Watson crony, having worked for him and been the recipient of his benevolence at City Colleges. And let us not forget the sterling performance of her husband, Victor Henderson, defending Watson valiantly against the "scurrilous" accusations hurled against him in March.
Not surprisingly, second place on the list of individual raises goes to Human Resources Director Renee Mitchell (25.0 percent). Mitchell produced that amazingly contradictory whitewash of the Criminal Justice hirings in 2012. Third place belongs to Watson’s girlfriend, Cheri Sidney, who has enjoyed at least one promotion and a salary increase of 19.3 percent. Sidney’s lack of qualifications are well-documented, an on-line Bachelor’s degree from DePaul when she was hired with no significant upper administrative experience and no administrative experience whatsoever in institutions of higher education. Sidney, who has seen her salary increase 25.9 percent since her hiring in 2009, now has a Master’s Degree in Applied Professional Studies from the DePaul School for New Learning (awarded June 14, 2013). Anyone wishing to explore the rigor of that particular degree program can simply log on to the School for New Learning website. Since coming to Chicago State, Sidney has been an integral part of the failures of the Enrollment Management colossus.
Fourth place belongs to Police Chief Ronnie Watson with an 18.9 percent increase. Watson, who has additional duties related to buildings and grounds, physical facilities and parking, now makes $137,916 and has the responsibility for a staff of 109, including 26 badge personnel (according to the Chicago State directory). Watson’s salary is comparable to the lower salary range of a Chicago Police Commander who is responsible for one of the city’s twenty-plus police districts and hundreds of employees.
Rounding out the top five is Patrick Cage at a 17.4 percent raise since 2011. We all know Mr. Cage from his several forays into censorship and his nonsensical 2012 comments about Chicago State’s loss of a first amendment case that eventually cost the university over $200,000 in court costs and legal fees, as actually a “win” for the university. Although it should be noted that the first amendment violation did not occur on Wayne Watson’s watch, Cage’s statements exposed the university to additional ridicule.
When Watson awarded huge raises to three administrators at the beginning of the year, university spokesperson Thomas Wogan claimed that the raises were based on “merit and performance” and that “competitive salaries are needed to retain talented employees.” For at least two of Watson’s favorites, their “merit and performance” should have earned them termination. For the others, when compared to some of their fellow administrators, their connections to Wayne Watson appear to be an important factor in determining their worth. Compared to these generous pay increases, how have you fared?