Thursday, September 12, 2013

Who is Tyra Austin and Why is She an Assistant Director of Anything at Chicago State?

"These students also deserve a university that is run like a university, not a patronage machine . . ." Emil Jones, talking about Chicago State on March 7, 2013.

"It’s also part of my job to clean up any existence or any potential, ah, any potential of patronage existing under my watch.” Wayne Watson speaking on "Chicago Tonight," March 7, 2013.

I recently submitted a FOIA request for the educational credentials of various administrators since they are not available any longer in the Chicago State catalog. When I received the response, someone named Tyra Austin, the Assistant Director of Financial Aid, appeared on the list with the notation that she possessed a B.S. from Howard University. However, there was no date of degree listed, a piece of requested information which had been provided for virtually everyone else on the list of administrators. When I checked with the degree verification service used by Howard University, the response was that Austin had no bachelor's degree of any kind. I realize that degrees can sometimes be delayed for various reasons, but here's the problem: The university hired Austin (apparently with her high school diploma in hand) as the Assistant Director on August 16, 2012, at a salary of $55,000 per year, with a boost in pay at some point during the fiscal year to $66,000. Interestingly, the Financial Aid Counselors who work for Austin make far less than that and they are apparently required to have at least a Bachelor's Degree.

Now I don't have incontrovertible evidence that Austin was a crony hire, but if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's likely a duck. What do you think?

This is an update on September 13 2013: According to the National Student Clearinghouse, Austin's last date of attendance at Howard was August 11, 2012, five days prior to her being hired at Chicago State.


  1. The reason most universities publish the academic credentials of their faculty and staff is to celebrate an institutional commitment to and achievement of high academic and professional standards. It isn't surprising that many current administrators at CSU prefer to keep their credentials, or lack of them, a secret. This way they can avoid the potential humiliation of comparisons with their qualified peers at other institutions of higher learning.

    1. I don't understand. If there are people in positions who are unqualified and lack the academic credentials and experience that people in similar positions at other universities have, my question is "Why?" Are the standards different here? Are the industry standards not adhered to at CSU? If not, what in the rules and regulations governing CSU allows for this?