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?"

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