Friday, September 19, 2014

One Reason Why Anthony Young, James Joyce, Michael Curtin, Spencer Leak, Horace Smith, Nikki Zollar and Wayne Watson cannot understand the CSU Faculty of the 21st century.

I was having lunch today with a retired CSU faculty member and mentioned the stupid and irresponsible action Anthony Young and his Bored of Trustees took this week in refusing to recognize the CSU Faculty Senate. Her response: “They really don’t know how to run a university, do they?”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

It is too overwhelming to parse through all the details and the wrongheadedness of their action right now--they have chosen to listen only to the Wayne Watson account of things--or the other thing that happened at today’s BOT meeting that will further limit free speech on campus. But one thing I have noted before is that the CSU faculty is not the same as when I came to the place in 1996. As constituted since the 1990s, the faculty represents a racially, gender and age diverse, national, and international body. When I first came to CSU a great number of full-time tenured faculty did not have Ph.D. degrees and those that did obtained them largely from “local” midwest or Illinois schools. Many, many faculty were not just originally from the Midwest, but from Chicago itself. Chicago State was a local school in all senses of the word.

If anyone like the HLC or the ridiculous governor Quinn, thought about it, or had any honest interest in helping CSU become all it could be, they would recognize that the CSU faculty has long ago outgrown the governance of the place as a local institution presided over by the likes of Anthony Young, James Joyce, Michael Curtin, Spencer Leak, Horace Smith, and Nikki Zollar and Wayne Watson, all of them local, politically-connected, and inbred. For heaven’s sake, what is the average age of this bored of mostly men? Nikki Zollar is the only woman on the current bored at a school that has more women than men.

The faculty is diverse, the product of years of hirings under Elnora Daniel when faculty had the responsibility for hiring in their discipline, but the administration and the bored of Trustees is not. The faculty do not all come from the neighborhoods of Chicago, do not buy into the passive acceptance of “it’s only Chicago State, what do you expect?”  The faculty have seen how things are done differently and successfully at other institutions and want CSU to be run differently and successfully.

Right, right, right, the great fear of the southside pols and community "leaders" and ministers who trickle down the fear to their "constitutencies" is that the school will slip out of their hands and (gasp) into the hands of white politicians. I realize how naive this sounds, but why does a state university have to be in any politician’s hands to begin with? 

So we have this disconnect. The politicians, the administration, and BOT wants to run the place like some half-baked community center/community college/job corp complete with uniformity of belief and action. Like a church they want conformity,  no criticism,  and no free discussion among students or faculty especially when the big daddies in the Cook Bldg have made their pronouncements. Shared governance? Feh! The ruling model is not that of a university but a political ward.

CSU’s sloganeering claims we transform lives locally and globally (or something like that), but you cannot claim to want a university that is global in representation and outlook and run the place like a provincial, local, patronage pit. The 1970s are over. We need a board and an administration that represents a global and diverse perspective to match what we have in our faculty. The university might then get the unity we need, though not the uniformity that the administration is so insistent on imposing.

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