Saturday, August 23, 2014

Welcome to the New School Year and Back to Business as Usual: The Administration Threatens Staff and Faculty and Screws the Students

As we all know, the problem at Chicago State is that a “small group” of "disgruntled" faculty oppose the Watson administration. As Angela Henderson’s recent complaint alleged, this benighted group neither recognizes the greatness of Watson and his various cronies, nor endorses any of the “positive educational advances and changes” this fabulous administration has visited upon our humble school. Now that a new school year is beginning, we again see how masterfully our wonderful administration operates and what deep regard they have for the faculty, staff and students here at Chicago State.

First, we have the recent communication from the kingdom of Human Resources. This ridiculous e-mail includes standard administrative/Human Resources fare: threats to withhold paychecks, threats to discontinue calculating accrued leave balances, and threats to discipline employees and/or supervisors. The offense: not filling out your electronic timesheet! Imagine that! An administration that ignores lies and cheating on applications/resumes/dissertations by high-level administrators threatens to discipline its employees, those ubiquitous “little people,” for not submitting a form.

The threat to withhold paychecks seems to contravene Illinois law, which says nothing about a paycheck being contingent upon filling out a form:

The threat to refuse to calculate benefits seems to violate the CSU-UPI Contract, which says nothing about sick leave accrual being contingent upon filling out a form:

I have e-mailed Renee Mitchell and asked for clarification on this matter. I will let you know how (or if) she responds.

Second, we just went through another bloodbath as the administration cut courses with its usual steely resolve. Here are the guidelines for chairs to use in creating their course defenses. You’ll note the highlighted part, essentially a comment about putting asses in seats. Is this the pit into which we have descended? Are we now a totally for-profit, bottom-line kind of organization? I was struck by the absence in this memorandum of any reference to the humanity of our students and faculty. As a result, I will endeavor to put a human face on the bean-counting calculations used by the administration to cull our courses.

In our department, we had a number of courses cut. In several cases, the enrollment made the cuts inevitable. Altogether, it appears that of the six faculty (the administration granted, through the grievance process, one of our faculty members a sabbatical just a few days before the beginning of the semester) who are teaching in the Fall, four had at least one course eliminated, with one of our faculty dropping from four courses to two, or a part-time load. Two course cuts, however, were extremely problematic. One survey class contained 8 students. Typically, we get an influx of students into courses immediately after the cut sessions. I believe that the enrollment in this course would have reached between 12 and 14, based on historical trends. For 4 of the 8 students enrolled in the class, its cancellation resulted in a drop in their credit hours from 12 to 9, making them part-time students and creating potential financial aid difficulties. Three of these students are First-time full-time Freshmen, the basis for the calculation of our graduation rate.

While the loss of this course presents obvious problems for students dependent upon financial aid, the administration’s elimination of the second is unfathomable. That course is offered once a year and is a requirement for all undergraduate majors. It contained 6 students with at least one other student planning to register for the class. This student is graduating in December and needs the course to fulfill the requirements for his degree. The department chair made the best argument he could for the retention of this class but the powers-that-be decided they knew best. The decision to cut this class resulted in 5 of the 7 students being reduced to 9 credit hour course schedules. I suppose that making it more difficult for students to complete their degrees by cutting required courses is one of the “positive educational advances and changes” I fail to recognize.

Who in this administration knows how to run a university?


  1. CSU is organized for a select few politically-connected individuals in the city of Chicago and State of ILL. The overseers: the Governor, the Board of Trustees, HLC do not care how the place is run. It is a political ward masquerading as a university. Students rank third or fourth in administrative consideration as you point out here and as our enrollment in the last 4 years has reflected. Sorry to say, no relief in sight. No one really cares.

    Of course I am just a "nay-sayer," "disgruntled" faculty member…

  2. Ugh! I am always upbeat, excited, even, to start a new semester. I have felt the anticipation of a new semester of learning every semester including summers for the past 27 years as student and faculty member. I'm reviewing my assignments, reading myriad things related to my Fall 2014 courses, placing information on moodle and the like in anticipation of the new year's academic endeavor. This type of information just deflated me. Nonetheless, I, like all of my faculty and staff colleagues, will give our all throughout the semester beginning Monday.

    What are Watson, Henderson and Cage doing? I imagine them in a dungeon rubbing their slimy hands together and cackling maniacally concocting the next disaster.