Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another Day's Sailing on the Ship of Fools

“The public be damned.” Quote attributed to William H. Vanderbilt, son of Cornelius “Commodore” Vanderbilt.,2294710

Right under the noses of Illinois legislators and taxpayers, Wayne Watson is building a monument to himself here on the South Side of Chicago. He is in the final stages of constructing an administrative behemoth at Chicago State University; a colossus that ensures scores of people jobs with lofty titles and high salaries. These are the highlights.

Since 2008-09--the last year before the beginning of the disastrous Watson era--to 2013-14, the university’s appropriations for salaries have grown 14.1 percent, from just under $56.6 million to nearly $63.2 million. Of course, the largest portion of the appropriation came from salaries for instruction, which rose 3.0 percent during that period. Predictably, the most explosive growth in salaries has taken place in the upper administrative ranks. Specifically, in the positions categorized as Assistant Director (or equivalent positions) and above. Here are the figures:

In 2008-09, the president’s office employed 12 upper-level administrators, in 2013-14, 18. A 50 percent increase. In 2008-09, the salary of those 12 employees totaled just over $1 million. In 2013-14, the 18 employees earned $1.7 million, an increase of 71.4 percent.

In 2008-09, the financial operations of the university included 9 upper-level administrators earning just over $800,000. In 2013-14, the number had risen to 13, a 44 percent increase, and their aggregate salaries had grown to 1.3 million, an advance of 59 percent.

For the same time period, Enrollment Management more than tripled in size, growing by 318 percent from 11 upper level administrators to 35. Their salaries rose 332 percent, from a total of $775,000 to nearly $2.6 million.

Finally, Academic upper level jobs decreased by 3.7 percent from 54 to 52 during the past five years although the aggregate salary rose 9.6 percent from just under $4.5 million to $4.9 million. During this time period, enrollment declined by 16.6 percent, from 6820 in 2008 to 5701 in 2013.

Overall, the figures are:

Total upper-level administrative positions 19.2 percent increase (99 to 118)
Total upper-level administrative salaries 30.7 percent increase
$8million to $10.5million
Total salary appropriation 11.6 percent increase
$56.6million to $63.2million
Enrollment -16.6 percent (6820 to 5701)

Even more striking, if you remove the academic upper-level positions, the figures look like this:

Total upper-level administrative positions 46.7 percent increase (45 to 66)
Total upper-level salaries 57.5 percent increase
$3.5million to $5.6million

Underscoring the administration’s commitment to increasing the number of upper-level administrators, hiring during the past fiscal year included: two new attorneys at $100,008 apiece; an Assistant Provost at $110,004; two Directors at $142,004; a Controller for $130,008; a Dean at $135,000. Altogether, the new administrators cost the university $717,032, an average of $102,433.14. At the same time, the university hired seven new Assistant Professors. (All this material is available in the FY 2009 and FY 2014 Internal Operating Budgets of Chicago State University)

In addition, the Watson administration is exhibiting a garrison mentality. In tandem with his efforts to increase the upper administrative ranks, Watson’s obsession with loyalty has resulted in the “rebranding” of Chicago State as the newest city college. A look at the university’s most recent organizational chart reveals that of the eleven administrative positions reporting directly to the president, six are now filled by former City College administrators or close friends of Watson. In fact, five of the six have either long-standing professional or personal ties to Watson. The six include: Farah Muscadin, who worked at City Colleges after Watson departed, who holds two positions—Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and Interim Dean of Students; the plagiarizing Provost Angela Henderson, a long-time Watson crony; our stellar General Counsel Patrick Cage, a man who apparently never met a free expression he did not want to stamp out—a man whose malaprops and legal nonsense have subjected the university to national ridicule; the Ethics Officer Bernetta Bush, a long-time Watson supporter; the newly appointed Interim Internal Auditor Michael Mayo, who served as the “audit partner” between his firm and City Colleges during Watson’s tenure as Chancellor; the new Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management, our old friend Cheri Sidney who lies on her application with apparent impunity and who has finally ascended to that coveted position after LaShondra Peebles went on leave; and Police Chief Ronnie Watson, a long-time Watson colleague who more than likely played a role in providing Wayne Watson with his pseudo-police car. To be sure, it is a group of administrators who have distinguished themselves by bringing the school to the brink of disaster. (This material available on the university website in the 2015 ISL Forms).

Truly, that group has given us an administration akin to a hole in the ground into which we throw the taxpayers’ money. The welfare of the university, and the public, be damned.

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