Comedy acts often feature a “straight man” feeding lines to the comedian who then gets the laughs. Historically, some of the most famous “straight men” include: Desi Arnaz of I Love Lucy fame, Bud Abbott of Abbott and Costello, Dean Martin who paired with Jerry Lewis, Bing Crosby for Bob Hope, George Burns with Gracie Allen and Dan Rowan of Rowan and Martin. Although I realize the comparison is not precise, in the farcical 2009 hiring of Wayne Watson, those notable writers, the Hollins Group and Leon Finney, expanded the idea of the comedic “straight man” to include a comedic “straight woman”, Carol Adams, of the duo of Adams and Watson.
Now we have the Hollins Group hard at it again, this time with an assist from Wayne Watson. Rather than the $75,000 Hollins received for the 2009 search, they are getting $100,000 for the 2014 search for Chicago State’s Provost. Somewhat surprisingly, they have generated a pool of four candidates, three of whom actually appear to be well qualified for the position. Of course, we all know that these three persons, Carol A. Blackshire-Belay, Said Sewell and (I believe) James E. Payne are only in the field to provide laugh lines to the anointed candidate, that tower of academic integrity, teaching experience and scholarly accomplishments, Angela Henderson.
First, a comparison between the achievements of the foils and Henderson makes one wonder how in the world any group assessing applicant qualifications for a job like this would construct a group including Henderson. Blackshire-Belay holds a Ph.D. in German Linguistics from Princeton University. She has extensive teaching and administrative experience at universities like Ohio State, Indiana State, Temple, Fayetteville State, Wisconsin-Green Bay and Sonoma State. She has published more than 30 books and articles.
Said Sewell received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Clark Atlanta University. He has nearly a decade of university teaching experience and has served as Dean of Undergraduate Studies and Assistant Provost (current position) at Kent State University. Sewell is the author of several articles and co-authored/edited three books and is currently at work on two more.
James E. Payne (I believe this is the candidate, the university’s announcement included no middle initial) holds a Ph.D. in Economics from Florida State University. He has extensive teaching and administrative experience at Oakland University in Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, Illinois State and the University of New Orleans. Payne has dozens of publications to his credit.
In comparison, here are Angela Henderson’s credentials: Administrative positions at Olive Harvey College and at the Chicago City Colleges District Office under Wayne Watson and Cheryl Hyman. Arguably unsuccessful (based on enrollment statistics) tenure as Vice President of Enrollment Management at Chicago State. She is the recipient of nursing and business degrees from University of Illinois at Chicago. Henderson received her Ph.D. in nursing from UIC on August 11, 2013. Her teaching experience includes a few years at Olive Harvey from 1994 to 1998. As for her scholarly production, that is simply non-existent, although she does have an extensively plagiarized dissertation to her credit.
So, how will Wayne Watson manage to slide her into the provost’s position against formidable opposition? Easy, give extra points for their long-standing personal and professional relationship and then rely on the ridiculous job announcement produced by the university. The job announcement is replete with problematic material. On page 5, under “Knowledge, Skills and Abilities,” one passage reads: “The Provost must have the confidence and competence to speak on behalf of and represent the President to internal and external constituencies . . .” Really, a university provost is supposed to represent its president’s interests? What about the interests of the faculty? What about the interests of the students? Now listen to this set of requirements for the top academic official at Chicago State: “To be successful, the Provost should hold an earned terminal degree and have a level of administrative experience that will add value to CSU’s continuous efforts to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the institution’s human, fiscal and technological resources, required by its academic and co-curricular programs.” Who wrote that bullshit?
As I noted in a previous post on this topic, the requirements are ludicrous, designed to fit the particular experience of Angela Henderson while they provide cover for that other towering academic in the Cook building to reward his long-time crony for her loyal service. As this stupid tableau plays out against the backdrop of an empty campus, it seems inevitable that Wayne Watson will deliver another “screw you” to the students, staff, faculty, administrators and alumni of Chicago State. Is an insatiable desire to practice vindictiveness the only reason he stays on here?