Thursday, October 31, 2013

Burning down the House --and Senate-- Greeetings from the Interim Provost

Well we knew it was coming. 
He got rid of the Trustees who offended him by thinking they actually had the power to dismiss a CSU President. He got rid of Glenn Meeks, V.P. for Finance who put one of the bugs in BOT Chairman Rozier's ear that the president's mismanagement of the university and his desire to raise administrator's salaries 21% and more should be stopped. Provost Westbrooks is gone. And now it's payback time for the Faculty Senate.
You remember the Faculty Senate, the body that finally had the gumption to stand up and call that trumped up presidential search that delivered Emil Jones' friend the job of president for what it was? The body that has been the most activist (albeit not the most polite at times) of any Senate in recent memory? This evening Dr Watson via his Interim Provost (and heir-apparent) Angela Henderson sent a series of pdf files in his first volley to neutralize and take down the Faculty Senate. This is payback isn't it for that vote of no confidence last fall that actually got the Trustees to notice and act against him?
The letter below was sent to the Chicago State University Faculty by Provost Henderson. Why Dr Watson needs to keep up the pretense that there is a need for a provost when he has been centralizing power --grant money, student money, job hiring, curriculum matters in his hands for the past three years is now beyond me. He should just combine the offices of President and Provost and stop the charade. Like the marionettes sitting on the Board of Trustees, the Provost cannot act independently of the President let alone as any check on his power. In her letter which relies far too much on the passive voice she enjoins the CSU faculty to "take the necessary steps" to see that the Senate operates as a "properly constituted University organization" and "to address the issue regarding the organization of the current Faculty Senate."
Like the grand puppeteer that he now is--and as one administrator quoted to me--"to the victor go the spoils"-- Dr Watson pulls all the strings on his dancing marionettes: from administrators high and low to deans to the single-year-how-is-that-different-from-interim dept chairs. Will we let him do to CSU faculty and its Senate what he has done to our Board of Trustees and Administrators? 
Read the letter below and fasten your seat belts...
it's going to be a bumpy ride.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where Does the Money Go? The Metastatic Growth of our Administration

I do not think it a coincidence that the president and his various sycophants want to talk about a non-issue like the Faculty Senate. If they can whip up some faux outrage over the alleged abuses of that body, the real problems of the university might be forgotten. Things like declining enrollments, continuing fiscal irregularities, inadequate fund raising, faculty disaffection and abysmal media relations really do not matter now that the administration has finally discovered that the Senate has reorganized itself.

One issue that has received inadequate attention is the one about money here at Chicago State. To what is the Watson administration committed? Where has it spent the university’s money? What segments of the university have grown? How much?

Just in case you do not feel like wading through the following statistics, I will summarize my findings for you: During a period in which Chicago State’s enrollment declined 15.6 percent and faculty positions remained basically stable, Wayne Watson increased the administrative ranks by 21 percent, and the upper administrative ranks (Assistant VP and above) by 44 percent. The share of administrative salaries rose from 25 percent of the total to 29 percent during that time and the average salary of upper administrators increased over 31 percent.

The Chicago State Internal Operating Budget provides evidence of how the university allocates and spends funds. A comparison between the salary expenditures for fiscal 2008-09 and fiscal 2012-13 provides a focused picture of Wayne Watson’s spending and offers a view of an administration committed to expanding its own ranks.

This look at salaries reveals that the Watson administration, between 2009 and 2013, dramatically increased the number of administrative positions, and spent 21 percent more on administrative salaries than its predecessor. At the beginning of Watson’s presidency in 2009, the administration spent $56.3 million for salaries in the school’s four major budget divisions: President, Academic Affairs, Finance, and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. In 2012-13, that figure had risen to nearly $58.7 million, a modest 4.3 percent increase. The expenditures broke down as follows: in 2009, 195 budgeted administrative positions cost nearly $14 million; 307 budgeted positions for teaching faculty (234 tenure or tenure-track) cost $19.8 million, and the university spent $21.8 million on salaries for staff. In July 2013, the numbers looked like this: 236 administrative positions cost nearly $17.1 million, 312 faculty positions (233 tenure or tenure-track) cost $20.7 million, while staff salaries cost $20.3 million. Overall, between 2009 and 2013, the number of administrative positions increased 21 percent while the cost for administrative salaries rose 21 percent. Faculty numbers increased 1.6 percent, with an aggregate salary increase of 4.5 percent, while aggregate staff salaries decreased 6.9 percent. In 2009, administrative salaries represented nearly 25 percent of the total salary expenditures, with faculty at 35.4 percent and staff at 38.9 percent. By 2013, the administrative percentage of total salaries had risen to 29 percent while faculty dropped slightly to 35.3 percent and staff had declined to 34.6 percent.

The total number of administrators outside Academic Affairs has increased substantially. In 2009, 119 of the 195 total administrative positions (61 percent) existed in Academic Affairs. By 2013, the 124 administrative positions in Academic Affairs represented 52.5 percent of the total of 236 administrative positions. Thus, the number of administrative jobs in non-academic areas increased to 112 in 2013, up from 76 in 2009, a gain of 47.4 percent. The changes in the number of administrative positions demonstrate how the university is beefing up its administrative ranks. Between 2009 and 2013, the President’s office increased from 31 positions to 40, Academic Affairs from 119 to 124, Administration and Finance from 15 to 16, and Enrollment Management and Student Affairs from 30 to 56. The aggregate salary changes are also marked: The President’s Office from $2.6 to $3.4 million, Academic Affairs from $8.8 million to $8.9 million, Administration and Finance from $1.1 million to $1.3 million, and Enrollment Management from nearly $1.6 million to $3.4 million.

An increase in upper administrative positions came along with the overall increase in administrative jobs. At the beginning of Watson’s presidency, the university possessed 76 positions at or above the rank of assistant director (or its equivalent). In the latest iteration of the budget book, that number has risen to 87, an increase of 14.5 percent. In addition, the number of positions at or above the level of assistant vice president has grown from 9 to 13, a 44.4 percent growth rate. The average salary of these upper-level administrators has also grown dramatically. In 2009, the 9 assistant vice presidents and above earned an average of $104,004 per year. Four years later, that average had risen 31.3 percent, to $136,511.

As I noted earlier, this administrative expansion occurs against a backdrop of disastrous declines in the university’s enrollment. Most notable is the increase in size of the Enrollment Management portion of the university. Despite expanding its personnel by nearly 100 percent and more than doubling its salary expenditures between 2009 and 2013, the office and its enrollment managers have been unable to stem the exodus of students from Chicago State. On August 20, 1940, Winston Churchill paid homage to the British Royal Air Force and its heroic defense of Great Britain by saying “never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” With apologies to Mr. Churchill, at Chicago State, it seems fair to say of our upper administration that never have so many been paid so much to achieve so little.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's the Faculty's Fault! No, really it is.

So I think I have finally discovered what really ails this university. It is none other than the Faculty Senate, a body that I have the privilege to represent and preside over. 
Yes, loyal readers, it is the Faculty Senate that earned the university more than 100 audit findings in three years. It is the Faculty Senate that is responsible for the largest decrease in enrollment in Illinois public universities. It is the Faculty Senate that has not increased the size of the university endowment through its fund raising efforts. It is the Faculty Senate that has single handedly damaged the reputation of the university by hiring administrators who have falsified their job applications. It is the Faculty Senate that has needed to appoint three Vice Presidents of Enrollment Management in four years. It was the Faculty Senate that appointed an interim provost, who possessed neither the credentials nor qualifications, including no terminal degree, not possessing tenure or rank of full professor at the time of appointment. It is the Faculty Senate that continues to conduct fruitless searches ensuring interim appointments in key areas. It is the Faculty Senate that generated an undeniably unconstitutional communications policy that it later had to embarrassingly rescind. It was the Faculty Senate that foisted a ridiculous computer usage policy on the university that it also had to embarrassingly rescind. It was the Faculty Senate that hired unqualified applicants at exorbitant salaries without the use of faculty search committees. It was the Faculty Senate that directed college deans to violate the faculty contract and write Departmental Application of Criteria documents for departments in their colleges. Those would be the same departments, many of which were reorganized by the Faculty Senate without consulting the faculty on the impact of those reorganizations. It is the Faculty Senate that has not provided an annual university organization chart to the university community per the directive of Board of Trustees governance documents. It was the Faculty Senate that eliminated the Graduate College in order to remove the Dean of the College. It was the Faculty Senate that has introduced chaos into the tenure of academic department chairs by either not appointing the faculty selected chairs and reducing terms from three years to one year; this done despite the fact that chairs serve at the pleasure of the Faculty Senate and can be removed at any time. It was the Faculty Senate that has hired more attorneys than any administration in the university’s history. It was the Faculty Senate that gave top administrators $20,000 plus raises in the face of marginal performance. It was the Faculty Senate that called on a ‘political godfather’ to prevent it from being disbanded for all of its failures. It was the Faculty Senate that imposed on academic departments a mandatory Senior Thesis without discussion or consultation with or consideration of the expertise of faculty within their respective disciplines. It was the Faculty Senate who fired the former Vice President for Administration after he put the university in the best cash position for the last two decades. It was the Faculty Senate that fired the Director of Institutional Research after he had the audacity to work with faculty.
What is that you ask loyal readers? Has your humble narrator erred in his assessment of responsibility? My apologies, loyal readers, I believe I have mis-spoken. It actually wasn’t the Faculty Senate that was responsible for the litany of aforementioned failures. It was the university’s president. That would be the same president who received a resounding vote of no-confidence from the Faculty Senate for his nearly complete and utter failure as president of Chicago State University. It is the same Faculty Senate that is under attack from the regime for its audacity to question his incompetence and his administration’s general ineptitude. It is the same Faculty Senate that was forced to reorganize after an ill-conceived and poorly executed reorganization of two of the university’s colleges. And now it is that president who is challenging how the faculty of this university organize themselves. Presenting himself as a champion for egalitarianism, he is seeking to unilaterally change the structure of the Senate and failing that convince the Board of Trustees to disband the Faculty Senate. Your humble narrator is unaware of the statistical representativeness of the Senate. If any of my distinguished colleagues have data on the representativeness of the Faculty Senate, please feel free to weigh in and disabuse me of whatever misconceptions I appear to hold.
The irony of the most recent assault on the faculty is that administrators at this university have never been able to create culture change or even get the most basic functions consistently performed and now this president is presenting himself as a paragon of adherence to established process. It is laughable on its face that such a contention would be publicly uttered. This, of course would be a first for a president who has managed to make a mess of just about every aspect of the university since his arrival. Let’s be clear, this university has never functioned along the lines of any other university so it is disingenuous to now proclaim adherence to established procedures when none of those procedures have ever been followed. I expect the same treatment of all university committees. I expect examination of meeting minutes and Board approval of governance documents. That in and of itself would be an accomplishment given that two of three Board governance documents have not been revised or approved in thirteen years. The hypocrisy of this president is astounding and yet I trust you loyal readers will not be bamboozled by any of the ridiculous rhetoric emanating from the third floor of the administration building.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Academic Lies and Misrepresentations Part 2: The Administration's Culpability

Various arms of the Watson administration have either abetted and endorsed these falsehoods or actively participated in creating their own serial misrepresentations, which seem to be designed to provide some kind of imprimatur of legitimacy for their mendacious colleagues.

Since the start of Watson’s presidency, his administration has often operated in secret, mysterious ways. Beginning in 2010, the educational qualifications of Chicago State administrators disappeared from the University Catalog. A look at the 2012-14 catalog reveals that there is only one reference to Angela Henderson and none to Cheri Sidney. Neither have their educational credentials described in the catalog. In the context of questionable behaviors by the members of the Watson administration, these omissions seem purposeful. The lack of transparency in the catalog certainly creates the impression that the administration has something to hide in terms of the academic qualifications of at least some of its members.

Frankly, the stench of this scandal emanates from the top administrative offices of the university. For example, how in the world does someone get away with misrepresenting their educational credentials? Should not Human Resources have identified the lies told by Cheri Sidney and Tyra Austin? Wayne Watson signed the hiring form for Cheri Sidney that contained an outright lie. Did he know this? If he did, why did he hire her? If he did not know it, why not? Why was Tyra Austin hired into a position she was unqualified to hold? Who signed off on her hiring, contravening the job announcement’s minimum qualifications in the process? Why was Angela Henderson hired for a Vice President’s position for which she did not have the requisite enrollment management experience? Given Watson’s demonstrated propensity for micro management, he is clearly responsible for these hirings and for failing to exercise due diligence in not validating the academic credentials of Sidney and Austin.

In fact, rather than safeguarding the academic integrity of the institution, the Watson administration actively participated in these scams. They did this in a variety of ways including: 1) posting position openings for a short period of time, generating a small list of applicants; 2) ignoring minimum stated qualifications in making hiring decisions; 3) creating a false sense of urgency and a short period for conducting candidate searches; 4) failing to validate credentials. First, in the case of the Vice President for Enrollment Management, the job posting apparently appeared in early February. The posting closed fairly quickly, generating a small list of applicants that at least two members of the search committee believed were completely unqualified. Ultimately, Henderson emerged as the best of a poor group of candidates and was hired by Watson. Henderson actually applied for the position on March 18, 2011, and was hired around May 11, 2011, the date of her resignation from City Colleges. Henderson began at Chicago State on June 15, 2011.

For Cheri Sidney’s original job at Chicago State, the job announcement indicated that the review of applications would begin on August 17, 2009 and would continue until the position was filled. I am unable to determine when Sidney applied for the position, but she had been hired and the budget line had been created by October 13, 2009. Sidney started as Associate Director of Human Resources on November 9, 2009. For her subsequent promotions, there is no indication that any other applicants were considered, that any kind of search took place.

As for Tyra Austin, the job posting appeared on June 18, 2012, with a tentative starting date of July 1. She applied on June 25 and was subsequently hired shortly thereafter with a starting date of August 16, 2012. In each one of these cases, the elapsed time from application to hiring was quite short, less than two months for Henderson and Austin. When I spoke to one administrative employee about Tyra Austin’s hiring, the individual described it as “a typical CSU hire, it had to be done right away.”

Following the hiring of these persons, rather than looking into their backgrounds, the Watson administration has ignored questions raised on this forum about the academic qualifications of Sidney and Austin. As far as Henderson is concerned, the Watson administration has engaged in a systematic pattern of deception to create the impression that she, in fact, held a Ph.D. On the university’s website, a number of misrepresentations of Henderson’s academic credentials have appeared. Examples include: 1) a November 27, 2012 Enrollment Management Organizational Chart that shows “Dr. Angela Henderson” as the Vice President; 2) A news release in early 2013 that refers to “Dr. Angela Henderson”; 3) the description of “Angela Henderson, Ph.D.” on Wayne Watson’s “Operations Team,” on the Chicago State website. This has been replaced with a new version but the copy I have I downloaded from the website on July 8, 2013, more than a month before “Dr. Henderson” actually received her Ph.D.; 4) multiple references to “Dr. Angela Henderson” in the Chicago State Board of Trustees meeting minutes and agendas in December 2012, March and May 2013. For an administration that so frequently invokes “transparency, accountability and responsibility” as administrative articles of faith, these serial lies about Henderson’s academic credentials represent none of those qualities. Given the Watson administration’s demonstrated indifference to the academic qualifications of these administrators, perhaps these multiple falsehoods are entirely in character.

This fraudulent nonsense is continuing on the current much-ballyhooed Watson “listening tour” of various departments. In an Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy type of vignette, Watson has apparently brought Henderson with him to ensure that everyone knows that she, in fact, has a Ph.D. Practical considerations and the consequences of misstating a person’s academic credentials are simply ignored in a ridiculous cascade of verbiage designed to validate the end justifies the means behavior Watson often demonstrates.

The three administrators I have discussed occupy key positions in the university and at least two of them are responsible for the enrollment dilemma currently facing Chicago State. Based on the documented falsehoods surrounding these three persons, what should the university’s response be? There are procedures in place to cover this situation. Section II.6.3 of Chicago State’s university policy reads (April 1, 2001): “Applications for University employment must be fully, accurately and honestly completed. Any misrepresentation or omission of facts in the application or other University records may be cause for rejection of the application, or may be sufficient grounds for termination of employment at any time thereafter.” The employment application is quite explicit on this point. It includes a “Certification of Truthfulness” that advises prospective employees that “the statements made herein may be investigated and, if found to be false, will be sufficient reason for not being employed, or if employed, will be cause for dismissal, when discovered.”

Human Resources is responsible for conducting background checks on prospective employees. The Human Resources policy manual (2010) asserts that “All job offers are contingent upon satisfactory completion of the University’s background check process, including employment history, education . . .and any other data that may be necessary to analyze a candidate’s qualifications for a position at Chicago State University.” In addition, the manual claims that “Background checks are required for all employees in full-time, part-time, and temporary positions. Background checks must be run on all candidates prior to beginning employment.” Obviously, this policy needs to be tightened up. Finally, the Human Resources manual specifically discusses the importance of workplace integrity and lists “falsification of employment application, official academic transcripts, degrees or other records,” as the first example of behavior that demonstrates a lack of integrity.

The cases of Sidney and Austin are clear-cut. They both falsified their résumés when they originally applied for employment. In Austin’s case, she still has not even the bare minimum qualifications for her position. Henderson’s situation is considerably more opaque. She certainly did not falsify her degree information, although the assertion on her application that her Ph.D. was imminent can be read as misleading. Surely, Henderson must have known about the inaccuracies on the university website. Thus, the numerous false and uncorrected references to her as “Dr. Henderson” when she in fact held no degree that justified anyone applying the title to her are certainly examples of a “lack of integrity” as defined by the university’s Human Resources manual.

For those of you who were unsure, this is what crony hiring looks like. What will Wayne Watson do about this situation? Do we deserve an honest, dare I say it? a transparent, accountable and responsible administration? Or is this tapestry of lies the best we can expect from our upper administration? I know what I would do if I were president. We will soon see how our president really feels about honesty and academic integrity. This school deserves so much more than this.

Lies and Misrepresentations on Administrative Résumés

At the risk of offending my more sensitive colleagues, I feel it my duty–in an old-time serial format–to provide for the Chicago State community a look at how several of our administrators secured their lucrative positions. For the past four years, Wayne Watson and his various mouthpieces have sanctimoniously sounded the somewhat opaque themes of “responsibility and accountability” as a necessity for successful university governance. However, as we have previously seen, “responsibility and accountability,” apply only to faculty and staff, not to our top-level administrators. What follows offers concrete evidence that the Watson administration engages in the crony hiring of unqualified administrators. Given our recent enrollment declines, the deleterious effects on the university of this kind of hiring seem apparent.

The most egregious crony hire of the Watson regime remains Cheri Sidney. Watson hired Sidney, with whom he is apparently involved in a romantic relationship, as Associate Director of Human Resources, a newly created position, on November 9, 2009. Prior to July 1, 2010, Watson promoted Sidney to another newly created position: the Director of Enrollment Management. By July 1, 2012, Watson had promoted Sidney to another new position: Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, the position she continues to occupy. Along the way, Watson raised Sidney’s salary from $90,000 to $113,004. In order to ensure that Sidney had a path to promotion and raises, the Watson administration created three new positions, two of which were apparently just for her since they ceased to exist after Sidney’s occupancy. For the positions of Director of Enrollment Management and Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management, no job announcements exist, suggesting that no legitimate job search ever occurred for either of these two administrative jobs and raising the question of insider (crony) hiring.

The university set the bar quite low in terms of qualifications for the Associate Director of Human Resources, requiring only a Bachelor’s degree and five years of “human resource experience.” The résumé Sidney submitted in 2009 delineated qualifications far above the minimum requirements for the position. Unfortunately, much of the information Sidney supplied in her résumé is simply false.

First, Sidney claimed to have “seven years of Human Resources management” experience, although her résumé listed nearly nine years experience: some six years in the private sector with CNA Insurance and three additional years with “American Tax & Business Services.” According to a Human Resources administrator I spoke with at CNA, the position Sidney occupied there is not a management position. Thus, Sidney had to pump up her résumé to meet the minimum qualifications for the Associate Director’s position. At best, this is an exaggeration.

Second, Sidney listed on her résumé a position (2007-09) at Harold Washington College as “Director of Student Retention.” There is no record of her employment with City Colleges during those years, or for any other year, and the Harold Washington Organizational Chart lists no such administrative position. The absence of any verification of either the existence of this position or Sidney’s employment with City Colleges makes her claim simply untrue.

Finally, Sidney blatantly lied about her educational credentials. On her 2009 résumé she claimed to hold a Master’s degree from DePaul in “HR Management.” In fact, Sidney neither held nor currently holds a Master's degree in HR Management. She received a Bachelor’s Degree from DePaul on June 9, 2006, with a major in “School For New Learning Degree Program.” On June 14, 2013, Sidney received a Master’s Degree from DePaul’s School for New Learning in “Applied Professional Studies.” The false degree information Sidney supplied on her résumé also appears on her 2009 administrative hiring form.

Sidney is not the only administrator who has lied on a résumé or application. In August 2012, the Watson administration hired Tyra Austin as the Assistant Director of Financial Aid. The job announcement for this position was explicit as to the required minimum educational qualifications: “A bachelor’s degree is required and a Master’s in Business, Accounting, Public Administration or Student Personnel or related field is preferred.” On her résumé Austin claimed to hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Howard University. Oddly, she indicated a degree date of May 2013 on the résumé. Also curious is the fact that Howard does not offer a Bachelor of Science in Political Science, the degree conferred is a Bachelor of Arts. Even though Austin clearly failed to meet the minimum qualifications for the position, the Watson administration hired her. To this date, she has still not earned any kind of Bachelor’s degree and remains devoid of the minimum educational qualifications for the position she occupies.

Both Sidney and Austin work under the direction of the Vice President of Enrollment Management, until July 1, 2013, a position occupied by Angela Henderson, the current interim Provost. Although Henderson’s 2011 résumé and application contain no blatant lies, there are a number of representations and omissions that are noteworthy. First, Henderson did not meet the minimum qualifications in the job announcement for the Vice President’s position. Included among them: “Currently VP of Enrollment Management for a college or university with a record of outstanding growth and student retention.” At City Colleges, Henderson had not worked in such a position, and nothing in the job description for the positions she had occupied describe any kind of enrollment management component.

Although Henderson did not lie about her educational qualifications, her résumé indicates that she expected to receive her Ph.D. on June 30, 2011, a strange statement given that she apparently did not successfully defend her dissertation until spring 2013, receiving her Ph.D. on August 11. It seems unlikely that she was on the verge of finishing her program in early 2011.

Henderson’s résumé also contains at least one major factual omission: She details her work experience at City Colleges as a continuous succession of administrative jobs, beginning in August 1998 when she became Chair of the Nursing Department at Olive-Harvey College, until 2011, when she had reached the level of Provost. In particular, Henderson claimed that she had been the Dean of Instruction at Olive-Harvey from August 2000 until December 2002, an assertion that is simply untrue. On August 19, 2002, Henderson (then known as Angela Starks) was apparently demoted from her administrative position at Olive-Harvey and returned to teaching. Along with her occupational change, Henderson suffered a 31.6 percent reduction in salary (from $77,353 to $52,873). While there is no reason given for the change, it seems possible that someone at Olive-Harvey was not particularly pleased with Henderson’s performance. Fortunately, Wayne Watson soon rescued Henderson as on January 3, 2003, she was again reassigned, this time to the District Office as Executive Director Career and Technical Education. Along with her promotion came a healthy salary increase to $77,250, virtually the same salary she had been receiving at Olive-Harvey. Henderson never again worked anywhere but the District Office. Henderson neglected to mention the break in her administrative service in her résumé. It is hard to believe that someone would forget that kind of an experience.

To summarize the credentials of the three administrators I have just discussed: in 2009 Sidney lied on her application about her educational qualifications, while likely lying about her apparent non-existent human resource experience at City Colleges and embellishing her human resource experience at CNA. Tyra Austin lied about her educational qualifications, describing her possession of a non-existent degree from Howard University. Austin did not and does not now meet the minimum educational qualifications for the administrative job she holds. Angela Henderson misrepresented the date of her Ph.D. on her 2011 résumé, she failed to meet the minimum experiential qualifications for her position and she omitted information from her résumé that would have changed her work history, albeit marginally. I will continue this discussion in the next post.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Faculty Town Hall Meeting this week--Big Yawn...

So Faculty are invited to another one of Dr Watson's "town hall" meetings this week. (BTW is anyone else as tired as I am of that overused phrase? It's right up there with "moving forward"--count how many times you hear that at a meeting these days). This Town Hall is subtitled "we are here to listen and offer solutions..." Cynical platitudes. We all know that there is an HLC monitoring report due in June 2014 in which Dr W has to show he has "communicated" with the faculty and I guess "shared governance" with them--hence the great number of departmental "listening tours" this semester and now this big faculty fest. Take that HLC and go away...

So why would any faculty member today think that Dr Watson is truly madly deeply interested in "listening" when his actions since 2009 and especially since Gov Quinn stepped in in March to save his you know what when the Board of Trustees was on the brink of firing him have proved that his interest is primarily to feather the nests of himself, Emil Jones, and his loyal cohort? It's not that he doesn't mouth the words that we --and especially outsiders like the HLC-- want to hear i.e. how we are "all about the students" and of course some of the feathers do trickle down to them and the university, but in a patronage pit that is a secondary consideration. Notice how jobs on campus since 2009 are created and then disappear (Cheri Sydney's climb up the ladder is an example) or how jobs get shuffled around and are placed under Enrollment Management or get made redundant then reappear in the guise of some other "right-sizing" or are made to fit some individual or another who came out of nowhere with none or limited qualifications (Criminal Justice anyone?) but do have the right political connections or need a stepping stone (that's us!) to some other place and just keep getting promoted (mark my words, just as she was positioned to become provost, Angela Henderson is being positioned to take over the presidency if WW ever really leaves this place) -- "will no one rid me of these pols?" 

So go to the Faculty Town Hall, WW needs to show HLC in June that he is "listening and offering solutions." The fact is that he has been unresponsive to faculty complaints in the past--review past blogs if you want to be reminded of this litany --that he cannot share power with the Board of Trustees and he will certainly not share governance with the faculty. Look at the the pre-2010 university hiring  policy where faculty's role in hiring their own candidates was unilaterally changed so that our supposedly very busy university president can now interview virtually all candidates for campus jobs, and veto ALL selections.  Just like a political ward (and remember that's where his real support is) it's all about the jobs and the contracts one can dole out.

And we're all part of the cynical game of waiting out this regime now that the Board of Trustees has voted to extend his contract for 2 years (rumor is WW asked for 5) so let's see, that means we have to hold our breath (and noses) for all of this year, 2014 and 2015.  So vis a vis the Town Hall what should we do having lost so many rights as faculty on this campus? Paste a smile on your face, bobble your head, and tell him what he wants to hear? Speak your mind and risk being tarred as part of the cadre of "disgruntled white faculty?" Or, don't go? After all, in the words of many who came before me, "it's only CSU what do you expect?"

Monday, October 7, 2013

Is it a Machiavellian or Orwellian world at CSU?

It's always gratifying to find that the upper administration's plaint that but for "a few disgruntled faculty" (read "white" depending on their audience) the majority of the university community is ok with the leadership is complete hogwash. Late last week someone had taken the time to leave this article from the Chronicle of Higher Education in my office. I'm posting it here  below because I think it is worth sharing and it may have been anonymous' intent. The original is at:

Dr. Watson's "listening" tours (sic) --especially to departments laden with adjuncts or faculties who are still hoping that if they keep quiet he will favor them with some kind of advantages personal or departmental--allow him to believe his own rhetoric. Any administrator in this Orwellian world of newspeak and doublespeak who has the guts  to speak honestly finds themselves a non-person--disappeared into the shadow of firing (this notably happens to the ones who are really effective--see Meeks, Hines, Butler as examples). The City Colleges "team" that now rules over us are well paid for their participation in the Orwellian world. In spite of a bellicose faculty senate meeting in September in which representatives from around campus complained about the great waste of time and money that they and their colleges spent on last year's faculty searches that reaped NOTHING but vetoes at the Presidential hand, Provost Henderson could say with a straight face to this same body at its October meeting that she had not heard any complaints from the departments about the hiring decisions (or lack thereof)...

Well, whoever is heading up the university's side of the monitoring report to the HLC on communication and shared governance has their work cut out for them. The situation does not simply remain unchanged from last year on this campus, it has gotten worse--more voices than the usual cadre are starting to speak out. Before it can do anything effective, the university's ad hoc administratively-driven shared governance committee needs to explain where and how shared governance exists on a campus where the President will not even share power with the Board of Trustees and Emil Jones holds the governor by the you know what?

So, in the article below my vote is that nos. 4-9 really sound like us, but nos. 4-12 identify us very well with the camp of a public university that is unravelling.

Thanks again to anonymous who left this for me to read. Below my picks is the whole article.

(4) Install new public-management tactics borrowed from public-interest theory to wrestle control from faculty governance systems. However, to quell widespread discontent, keep university senates in place as giant, irrelevant “suggestion boxes.” Be sure to talk a lot about the importance of shared governance as these tactics are introduced. Label the faculty cynicism that will undoubtedly emerge as “consensus.”

(5) Put into place various “oversight instruments,” such as quality-assessment exercises, “outcome matrices,” or auditing mechanisms, to assure “transparency” and “accountability” to “stakeholders.” You might try using research-assessment exercises such as those in Britainor Australia, or cheaper and cruder measures like Texas A&M’s, by simply publishing a cost/benefit analysis of faculty members. If you run out of ideas, just contact the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

(6) Increase the reliance on part-time faculty members and one-year contracts to teach most courses. Those faculty members are more vulnerable and amenable to administrative control (you should also drastically increase the number of administrators in order to manage those disempowered professionals). Afterward, criticize the quality of college graduates. This will enable even more managerial oversight and assessment.
(7) Scream about the high cost of higher education and increases in tuition. Blame the increases on greedy, overpaid professors rather than on the withdrawal of state support, the techno-gadget mania promoted by edu-businesses, or the administrative bloat caused by increased auditing practices and assessment.

(8) Promote narrow vocationalism and STEM areas to show that you are in tune with the demands of the new “knowledge economy” and will no longer tolerate puffy and useless subjects like history or literature. If students are interested in those subjects, they can do Civil War re-enactments or join a book club. Such areas are superfluous in the new, pragmatic age of economic determinism and global competition.

(9) Limit the contractual rights of faculty members. They still “cling to the collective” and need to be forced to face the dawn of a new day. In the end, they will thank you for the liberty, freedom, and opportunity you have brought them.

A Machiavellian Guide to Destroying Public Universities in 12 Easy Steps

Chronicle of Higher Education, October 2, 2013, 1:24 pm

As a general rule those who wish to win favor with a prince offer him the things they most value and in which they see that he will take most pleasure; so it is often seen that rulers receive presents of horses, arms, pieces of cloth of gold, precious stones, and similar ornaments worthy of their station. So, in my desire to offer myself to Your Magnificence, with some proof of my obligation to you, I have found nothing among my possessions that I cherish more or value higher than I do my knowledge of the actions of great men, gained from long experiences in modern affairs and continual reading on ancient ones. Having for a long time thought over and examined these matters with great diligence, I have finally put them into a little volume, which I send to Your Magnificence.

—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

In order to destroy public universities, it is important to:

(1) Denigrate public education, and public institutions in general, as drains on private wealth and “job makers” to the point that no one would dare ask for increased support. This will assure that public universities are relegated to second-rate status with inferior facilities and loads of part-time faculty members, and will forever have a negative stigma placed on them relative to private universities.

(2) Take advantage of economic downturns to instigate “taxpayer outrage” in order to remove support from public universities so that they must either raise tuition or cut back on their programs. Afterward, condemn those institutions for raising tuition in order to support lazy, socialist professors teaching irrelevant subjects like anthropology and philosophy.

(3) As state support recedes, encourage a student-loan system that will create a “market for higher education.” Saddling students with lots of debt will make them enterprising and rational consumers of educational products and will encourage them to safeguard their economic interests. Refer to these changes as “empowering students.”

(4) Install new public-management tactics borrowed from public-interest theory to wrestle control from faculty governance systems. However, to quell widespread discontent, keep university senates in place as giant, irrelevant “suggestion boxes.” Be sure to talk a lot about the importance of shared governance as these tactics are introduced. Label the faculty cynicism that will undoubtedly emerge as “consensus.”

(5) Put into place various “oversight instruments,” such as quality-assessment exercises, “outcome matrices,” or auditing mechanisms, to assure “transparency” and “accountability” to “stakeholders.” You might try using research-assessment exercises such as those in Britain or Australia, or cheaper and cruder measures like Texas A&M’s, by simply publishing a cost/benefit analysis of faculty members. If you run out of ideas, just contact the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

(6) Increase the reliance on part-time faculty members and one-year contracts to teach most courses. Those faculty members are more vulnerable and amenable to administrative control (you should also drastically increase the number of administrators in order to manage those disempowered professionals). Afterward, criticize the quality of college graduates. This will enable even more managerial oversight and assessment.

(7) Scream about the high cost of higher education and increases in tuition. Blame the increases on greedy, overpaid professors rather than on the withdrawal of state support, the techno-gadget mania promoted by edu-businesses, or the administrative bloat caused by increased auditing practices and assessment.

(8) Promote narrow vocationalism and STEM areas to show that you are in tune with the demands of the new “knowledge economy” and will no longer tolerate puffy and useless subjects like history or literature. If students are interested in those subjects, they can do Civil War re-enactments or join a book club. Such areas are superfluous in the new, pragmatic age of economic determinism and global competition.

(9) Limit the contractual rights of faculty members. They still “cling to the collective” and need to be forced to face the dawn of a new day. In the end, they will thank you for the liberty, freedom, and opportunity you have brought them.

(10) Bring in outside consultants such as Bain & Company or McKinsey & Company to convince boards and administrators of the urgent need for “disruptive innovation” or other ideas championed by Harvard Business School gurus. Those may be slogans without substance, but no one will pay much attention, particularly if the consultants have a colorful PowerPoint presentation.

(11) Introduce a “competency based” education model that allows students to bypass many of the traditional requirements of the university. The old-school liberal-arts requirements get in the way of the “on the go,” cellphone-laden student consumer of today. If professors protest, simply state that no one could possibly resist competency except the incompetent.

(12) Finally, use public-relations and advertising campaigns to divert attention from the nasty consequences of all of those reforms. A Web site showing happy people doing great things goes a long way here. This is, after all, a postmodern age. Spectacle and simulacrum trump substance.

And if, from the lofty summit on which you stand, Your Magnificence will sometimes turn your eyes to these low places, you will perceive how undeservedly I endure the great and continual malice of Fortune.

—The Prince

Steven Ward is a professor of sociology at Western Connecticut State University. He is the author of Neoliberalism and the Global Restructuring of Knowledge and Education (Routledge, 2012).


Friday, October 4, 2013

Add these to your fall reading list...

So I try to stay current with trends and issues in the academy especially those relating to faculty. Two recent books, both of which I am currently reading, have caught my attention. This review of Presidencies Derailed from this week's Inside Higher Ed provides a very good take on failed presidencies. The second book, College (Un)Bound, by Jeffrey J. Selingo is a cautionary tale for higher education institutions which are unwilling to evolve to a new fiscal, technological and socio-political reality. Might CSU be one of those that is actually devolving? More conversation on this to follow.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

How about this???

So loyal readers, I am sure you are acutely aware of the incredibly shrinking university (in terms of enrollment, not numbers of administrators) and the horribly damaged reputation of CSU. I am sure many of you are saddened by the Board of Trustees doing the same thing and expecting a different result. I believe we need to capitalize on every opportunity to improve the institution's reputation. And like it or not, appearance on television is often one way to validate a university's position in the recruiting hierarchy. Our current Athletics Director had planned to have CSU on television for ten games of men's basketball this upcoming season. The buzz that would be generated in a city that is purported to have six of the top fifty high school players in the country would be palpable. CSU would be showcased as it makes it first voyage in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Imagine how that recognition could translate into admissions and more importantly, registered students. Imagine being able to turn around the failure of the past three years in Enrollment Management. Thus imagine my shock when I questioned the AD about the new season. He informed me that he was forced to cut $500,000 from his budget, already the smallest budget in the WAC, and yes CSU would have no television games this season. I asked if there were any other cuts that could be made instead of the TV package and he explained that the basics of managing the department were needed and television wasn't. I, of course, disagreed and then it dawned on me to ask, how much the television package would cost. He told me CSU was to be broadcast on Comcast Sports Net for $170,000, or $17K per game. I cannot describe the feeling that such a paltry sum stood in the way of the university being able to begin repairing its reputation. For an administration that has wasted tens of thousands of dollars on various and sundry as it has overseen an unprecedented decline in enrollment to not have $170,000 is unbelievable. 
How about this? How about taking a really close look at the area responsible for enrollment and determining the necessity of the continued employment of those responsible, then use the cost savings from administrators who have obviously failed the university to help improve the university's prospects for remaining viable. Given the cancerous growth of that area, a clean sweep of six figure administrators might just be what the doctor ordered.

What Kind of University Do Our Students Deserve? Do We Deserve?

Over the past two years, I believe I have made the case that our university needs a change in leadership in order to realize its potential. Although I continue to believe that, I want to offer some rudimentary proposals that might contribute to building a university that truly works for our students, staff, faculty and administrators. Although I believe that some, if not many, of my colleagues likely share these views, I speak here only for myself.

First, there must be stability in the upper ranks of the administration. Chicago State’s senior management currently features an interim Provost, an interim Vice President for Enrollment Management, an Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (for the third straight year), an interim Dean of the Honors College and an interim Dean of Health Sciences. I believe that searches for permanent occupants of these positions should commence immediately.

These searches should not include some of the problematic elements of previous administrative searches: the positions must be advertised for a suitable period, long enough to generate a list of qualified candidates. The position descriptions should be precise as to required qualifications. For example, the industry standard for provost includes not just an earned doctorate, but a strong record in scholarship and teaching. Of the twenty-four job announcements for provost currently online, fourteen require an academic and teaching record that qualifies for appointment as a full professor. To summarize, the position is for a senior scholar-administrator, a person with a proven record of research, successful teaching and administrative experience. A look at the four other old Board of Governors' universities reveals that the qualifications of the provosts at Western and Eastern Illinois exceed industry standards, while the provosts at Governors State and Northeastern Illinois meet them. Does Chicago State University deserve less? I hardly think so.

Current job announcements for The Vice President of Enrollment Management require less academic training as they tend to emphasize successful experience in enrollment management. However, the industry standard is at least a Master’s Degree, with 4-10 years of experience in enrollment management. For this important position, the incumbents at Eastern, Western and Northeastern exceed that standard as they all hold the PhD. Again, does Chicago State University deserve less?

The people who constitute the Chicago State University community deserve the best upper management team that can be assembled. Getting the best, most qualified people requires careful attention to writing the job description, a thorough search that generates a strong applicant pool, and an ultimate selection that adheres to the posted job requirements. Does anyone think this cannot be done here? Does anyone think that we, as faculty should not insist on an upper administrative team with qualifications at least as strong as our sister institutions? Finally, let us fill these other interim positions with permanent occupants. This kind of instability simply does not serve out institution.

I also have some modest proposals to improve faculty-administrative relations and to ease the needless tension that surfaces too often around academic issues. I propose that programmatic and curricular changes should emanate from the faculty and that faculty expertise must be the prime consideration when evaluating and creating curriculum and degree requirements, and in the areas of hiring, retention and tenure. I submit that faculty are the authorities in their particular fields and that their judgment should, except in rare circumstances, hold sway in those areas in which they are experts. In return, faculty must take their tenure obligations seriously, especially in the areas of academic rigor, hiring, retention and tenure. I certainly have no desire to administer this university. I only want to have my judgment valued in areas I know something about.

In my estimation, the university has reached a critical stage. With our student population standing at 5700, we cannot afford any more enrollment declines. Chicago State has not had this few students enrolled since the 1960s. Should we continue on the same path? Or is it time to consider alternative strategies? I think the future of this university depends on how we answer those questions.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hey CSU Board of Trustees, Hey CSU Deans---take a look at Howard University

In case you missed the article in the Washington Post--Howard University's president stepped down. Guess why? Among other things--weak fundraising and student enrollment. Obviously things have been boiling over for months in a tense situation among the members of their Board of Trustees, but what is interesting is that the deans at Howard actually spoke out...

I know, I know, we are not Howard University...heavy sigh.

Howard Univ President Steps Down
Howard University President Ribeau retires
By Nick Anderson, Published: October 1 Washington Post

Howard University President Sidney A. Ribeau abruptly stepped down Tuesday after months of internal debate over the management and financial health of one of the nation’s premier historically black universities.

Ribeau, in office for five years, announced his retirement “from our beloved institution” after a tense three-day Board of Trustees meeting at the Northwest Washington campus that ended Saturday. He said he would officially leave the presidency at the end of December.

His departure follows two developments last month that many Howard boosters found dispiriting: a drop for the university in a major national ranking, and a downgrade in its credit rating. It also came a year after enrollment at the university suddenly fell 5 percent.

Ribeau, 65, had just this summer signed a contract extension to serve through June 2015, but he said Tuesday that he was not forced out.

“This is the time, this is the season, for me to retire from the presidency,” he told The Washington Post. He said the university had made progress on an ambitious agenda in a challenging economic time. “We’re focused, we’re back on track and the momentum is building.”

Ribeau declined to discuss what the university will pay to buy out his contract. He earned $759,340 in total compensation in the fiscal year that ended in June 2012, according to the university’s federal tax return.

The announcement, several weeks into the fall term, took some on campus by surprise.“I was quite astonished,” said Lorenzo Morris, a political science professor who chairs the Faculty Senate. He called Ribeau a “solid president” but said the transition could prove positive as the university shows that it is taking “a new direction in leadership.” But several older students and alumni who milled around the campus’s famed yard Tuesday evening said they saw Ribeau’s resignation coming. Tia Parchman, 20, a junior from Inglewood, Calif., said she hoped a change at the top will help fix longstanding administrative problems.“This may be a good thing for Howard,” she said of Ribeau’s retirement. “Hopefully somebody can come in and improve” relations with students. “Oftentimes, our requests are ignored.”

The board appointed Wayne A.I. Frederick, 42, Howard’s provost since June 2012, as interim president. Frederick, a professor of surgery and a cancer specialist at Howard’s College of Medicine, holds three Howard degrees.

The announcement of Ribeau’s exit came nearly four months after a rupture between the board’s two top leaders emerged, sending shock waves through the university community.

In a letter to trustees in April, disclosed in a June 7 published report, board Vice Chairwoman Renee Higginbotham-Brooks warned that Howard “is in genuine trouble.” The Texas attorney, a Howard graduate, cited concerns about fundraising, university hospital expenses and student enrollment, calling Ribeau’s job performance “lackluster.”

Board Chairman Addison Barry Rand, who is chief executive of AARP, replied on June 10 that Howard “remains academically, financially and operationally strong.” He said the vice chairwoman’s letter had painted “an unduly alarming picture of the university’s condition.”

The board rift put intense pressure on Ribeau and his administration.

Amid the turmoil, university officials have sought to reassure students, faculty and alumni. They described a cut this year of about 75 staff positions, including dozens of layoffs, as part of a retrenchment to improve efficiency. They pointed out that construction is underway on two new student residence halls on Fourth Street NW and an interdisciplinary research building on Georgia Avenue NW. Officials said the school’s endowment stood at $525 million in May, recovering from a steep drop after the 2008 national financial crisis.

Last week, the university welcomed its second-largest freshman class in 15 years and said that enrollment had risen 3 percent to more than 10,330, partially recovering from the previous plunge.

But the university’s image took a double blow in September.

First, its ranking on the U.S. News & World Report list of national universities continued a several-year slide, falling 22 places to 142nd. As recently as the 2009-2010 school year, Howard stood at 96th. Critics say the U.S. News rankings are arbitrary and misleading, but they remain influential as a gauge of prestige.

Second, Howard’s credit rating was downgraded on Sept. 24, from A3 to Baa1, in a pessimistic report from Wall Street analysts. Moody’s Investors Service cited “weak” fundraising, a university hospital with a “remarkably weak profile,” student enrollment fluctuations, deep federal budget cuts and questions about whether management can follow through on plans to cut costs.

Such developments raised alarms among loyalists of a school that the Fiske guidebook calls “the flagship university of black America.”

“We’re very upset,” said Marrel Foushee, of Chapel Hill, N.C. He said he earned a bachelor’s degree from Howard in 1974 and a master’s in 1977. “It’s terrible. The university is putting out propaganda. The real question from alumni is, what’s the real truth?”

Howard occupies a central place in the constellation of historically black colleges and universities. Founded in 1867 under a federal charter, the university counts the 19th-century abolitionist and social reformer Frederick Douglass among its early trustees and the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall among its alumni.

With schools of law, medicine and dentistry, Howard is a leading producer of advanced degrees for African Americans. The private institution also has a rare level of public support.

Congress has long approved special appropriations for Howard that far exceed federal funding for other historically black institutions. Howard’s line items in the federal budget have totaled as much as $234 million a year, or more than a quarter of the university’s annual spending plan in recent years. This year, that sum was cut to $222 million under the federal budget sequester, and it is unclear whether it will return to the previous level. University officials say the impact will hit hard.

Ribeau, a communications scholar who came to Howard after 13 years as president of Bowling Green State University in Ohio, pushed to overhaul Howard’s academic offerings. He engineered a phaseout of certain programs, such as a bachelor’s degree in fashion merchandising, in an effort to concentrate on core fields such as science, technology, engineering and math.

Ribeau also sought to streamline administration in a drive for efficiency and cost controls. He cited a string of balanced budgets as evidence of progress.

In June, Howard’s academic deans charged that “fiscal mismanagement is doing irreparable harm” to the university a charge Ribeau strongly denied.

The deans urged the dismissal of Howard’s chief financial officer, Robert M. Tarola, who is an independent contractor. They alleged that the university was making staff cuts based on “inaccurate, misleading” data, and they raised questions about why PricewaterhouseCoopers this year terminated its work for Howard after serving as its external auditor for seven years. In October 2012, the firm reported “certain deficiencies in internal control over financial reporting” at Howard that it considered “material weaknesses.”

Staff writer Michael Livingston contributed to this report.

© The Washington Post Company