Apparently someone on the Chicago State Board of Trustees refers to Phil Beverly and me as “troublemakers,” implying that most of the problems at Chicago State are our responsibility. Since we’ve obviously been unmasked by that eagle-eyed guardian of Chicago State’s welfare, I suppose it is time to admit what the Chicago State Board already knows: Phil and I (particularly Phil) run Chicago State and have for years. What follows is our confession.
As you have undoubtedly observed, there is a misalignment of power here at Chicago State. Phil and I hold all the governing power, with the administration functioning solely at our command. The proof of that is everywhere, particularly in the various depredations suffered by our poor administrators—those unfortunate blameless victims. Here is what Phil and I have done over the years to create this untenable situation:
When we took over the school in 2009, we were determined to drive it into the ground. To that end, we thought it necessary to hire people who would assist us in that effort. We did not have to look far for likely candidates. Right here in Chicago we found all the ineptitude we needed. First, for our figurehead president, we selected Wayne Watson from the City Colleges. This career political hack and administrative mediocrity (at best) perfectly blended zero academic achievement with a divisive, vindictive and paranoid management style. He would be perfect!
Installing Watson as our figurehead was easy, we just got his pal Leon Finney to ramrod his appointment through the Board while our colleagues who were not in on the fix wailed at the unfairness of the whole process. We got a good laugh out of that one, imagine those fools thinking they had any input into the process for selecting a president. After all, we had jobs and contracts for our pals at stake. We needed a local empty suit to provide cover for our schemes.
Next, we proceeded to hire some top-level administrators who had little or no experience in four-year universities, or in any academic setting for that matter. Always working through our stooge Wayne Watson, we orchestrated the hiring of a new chief legal mind, a new Human Resources Director, a new police chief, two from the City Colleges, all with no experience in four-year schools. As a reward for a good beginning, we let Watson hire his girlfriend into a shiny new senior administrative position we created just for her. We also made sure she falsified her degree credentials and work experience so she looked like a viable candidate when, in fact, she possessed no qualifications for such a lofty position. Her performance in a variety of administrative positions has long since validated our assessment of her worth. More on her later.
Getting a good start in the administrative ranks was only one strategy we employed. In 2010, we gave Watson his head and allowed him to arbitrarily decide that the “standards” at Chicago State needed raising. As a result, Watson mandated two curriculum and degree changes without going through the appropriate curriculum process. Even though he had no data suggesting the necessity of such changes, his intuition told him that both changes would be useful.
Also in 2010, we determined that Watson needed to fire one of the university’s legal counsels, James (Jim) Crowley. We knew that Jim was causing a lot of trouble with his insistence that Watson release records under the Freedom of Information Act. Full disclosure of this information might threaten Watson’s pension and jeopardize the contracts we were already starting to award to our cronies. Although Watson agreed with Crowley that the university should release the relevant records, we forced him to take a hard line, threaten Crowley, fire him and ultimately try to destroy him through spurious ethical complaints. We were not going to allow this guy to jeopardize what we were building—we squashed him like a bug.
Also in 2010, we moved Watson’s girlfriend into another, higher-paying administrative job in which she could do even more damage, this one in Enrollment Management. We gave her a nice raise after only a few months at Chicago State and watched in admiration as she set about her task. Of course, we created this position just for her and eliminated her previous position; after all, it was no longer necessary. Finally, in our crowning achievement, we forced Watson to fire Chicago State’s most visible employee, the iconic Haki Madhubuti. He had been critical of Watson’s selection and his academic credentials and Madhubuti's body of work made our president’s meager (read nonexistent) scholarly credentials pale in comparison. We simply could not have that guy shooting off his big mouth and embarrassing Watson. He had to go.
Unfortunately, our strategy for destroying the school had not borne fruit. Our enrollment actually increased in Fall 2010, to 7362. We needed to make some additional moves to insure that we would begin to shed students. In 2011, just to stir up chaos, we made Watson reorganize the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Education. Ultimately this spurred the Faculty Senate to take steps to protect faculty governance on campus, a result we were able to use against that body later.
Our key move in 2011 was the hiring of Angela Henderson as the Vice President of Enrollment Management. First, we rigged a search and wrote a job description so tepid that almost anyone with a modicum of administrative experience anywhere would qualify for the position. Unfortunately, Henderson’s qualifications still did not fit, she had no experience in enrollment management and only a limited amount of the kind of upper management experience expected of a person at this level of responsibility in a university. She also had degrees in business and nursing, with the Master’s degree being her highest achievement. We encouraged her to falsify her application by claiming she would receive a Ph.D. (in nursing) in June 2011, even though she had apparently not even begun research on her project. Since we had concerns that members of the search committee might figure our that we were trying to foist another crony hire on the university, we opened the position for only a short time, generating an inadequate list of candidates. In this group, Henderson looked like the best of a bad lot so her application got through and we were ultimately able to force Watson—who to his credit kept insisting that she was not qualified for the job—to hire her even though he argued that she should not be hired because of their long-standing personal relationship and the fact that her husband was Watson’s personal attorney. Despite Watson’s objections, by July 1, 2011, we were able to hire Henderson.
Soon after bringing Henderson into the Chicago State “family” (for a model, see the Corleones), we had to manage a financial aid scandal. Of course financial aid fell under Enrollment Management, which, until Henderson’s hiring, was run by our old friend Cheri Sidney. This public embarrassment to the university gave us scant pause, however, we just told Watson (who wanted to take full responsibility for the fiasco since it happened nearly two years into his watch) to deny any responsibility and blame the problems on previous administrations. Reluctantly, he did so. When we hired Henderson, we again forced Watson to promote Sidney, this time to a Vice President’s position, which she still holds. When the Fall 2011 enrollment figures came out, we were relieved to see that we had lost 480 students, to 6882. It looked like our strategy was working. Now that we had the major pieces of our destructive “team” in place, we turned to other items, one perceptually important.
At the beginning of 2012, Phil (as Chicago State’s Svengali) and me (as his chief road dog and sidekick) had to make sure people didn’t connect us with all the negative things going on at Chicago State. Some administrators had already noticed Phil’s hold over people and how he managed to attract almost mindless followers. The answer: we would have to be critical of the Watson administration. However, because we knew how attentive people on the Board of Trustees and in Springfield were to the goings-on at Chicago State, we would have to do something to guarantee that our criticisms were blunted.
As a result, we decided on a strategy of infringement of free expression. We had to squash dissent lest it thwart our plans. In quick succession, we forced an unwilling administration to create and disseminate two ridiculous policies: the computer usage and communications policies of 2012. Although both were masterpieces, succinct and elegantly written, they encountered stiff resistance from the faculty. In addition, the communications policy generated national ridicule for its obvious attempt to silence criticism. Secure in our knowledge that we had averted the crisis, we turned to other matters, although it would be necessary to occasionally refresh our dissenting credentials.
In Fall 2012, the enrollment took another plunge, to 6107. Although Wayne Watson frantically urged us to change course before Chicago State suffered further damage, we ordered him to stay the course and continue with the destruction of the school. We also insisted that he interfere in the DAC drafting process across the university, again in the guise of “raising standards.” Regretably, in November, we ramrodded a vote of no-confidence through the Senate which barely passed by a 28-2 margin.
And, of course, we manipulated Watson into taking the heat for what ultimately became our nefarious pride and joy, the rigged Criminal Justice search of 2012—the hiring of two unqualified candidates into full-time tenure-track positions—which took place with virtually no faculty involvement in contravention of university policy.
In March of 2013, that horrible Board of Trustees attempted to victimize Wayne Watson by removing him as president. We could not allow that bunch of crusading morons to ruin what we had carefully built. Thus, we had to mobilize the “community” to support our figurehead and we also had to put pressure on the Illinois Governor not to re-appoint those troublesome naysayers on the Board. Thankfully it all worked out and Watson emerged from the crisis seemingly stronger than ever. The effort to destroy Chicago State could proceed as planned. The governor ultimately appointed a Board that would rubber-stamp anything Watson (and we) wanted.
In July 2013, we forced Watson—again contrary to his wishes as he pointed out how ludicrous the appointment of a Provost without even entry-level qualifications would look—to make Angela Henderson the Interim Provost. We were gratified to see the Enrollment plunge again for Fall 2013, this time to 5701, a testimonial to the performance of the two top persons in that unit—Angela Henderson and Cheri Sidney.
As the 2013-14 school year began, it became apparent that we would have to do something about that pesky Faculty Senate. There were several troublesome individuals in that body who obviously opposed the Watson regime and the direction in which it was taking the school. In order to avoid suspicion, we had to go along with their complaints. The only solution: get rid of the Senate. We started out innocuously enough with informal conversations between the executive committee and university officials. At the end of October, we told Henderson to send a memorandum threatening the Senate with irrelavence if it did not adhere to its 2011 constitution. However, in January 2014, things went horribly wrong, which forced us to escalate our attack on the Senate.
When Henderson came to work for Chicago State, it was our intention to eventually make her provost, then even possibly president (once Watson had reached the end of his usefulness). Needless to say, having someone with an M.B.A. or M.S. in Nursing would simply not do, she needed a Ph.D. Fortunately, she was languishing in a Ph.D. program at UIC. We determined that all she needed to complete the degree was a dissertation, which Phil and I wrote for her. Unfortunately, we were not particularly conversant with academic standards in nursing so we missed a few quotation marks and references here and there. This created no problem during the process at UIC since we had created a completely ridiculous committee including Watson and the other primary researcher in Henderson’s project. However, some anonymous person discovered the obvious plagiarism and reported it to UIC, while claiming to be one of us.
While this was an embarrassment, we were not worried about the consequences since we had ordered Watson to take no action (he wanted to fire Henderson because of the obvious discredit her plagiarism brought to the university) and we knew that the Board would stand up for cheating and academic fraud by one of the school’s top administrators. Nonetheless, because we believed the source of the plagiarism report to be a member of the Faculty Senate, we redoubled our efforts to destroy that body. By early 2014, we had forced the Senate into holding an election that we immediately discredited. As it stands today, the Senate is not recognized as the Board stepped up and did our bidding. Hopefully, we have heard the last of that bunch of malcontents.
In February 2014, we achieved the pinnacle of success with the jury verdict in favor of James Crowley. While the original decision cost the school over $3 million, the total is quickly approaching $4 million. During the proceedings, we ordered both Watson and Patrick Cage to be dishonest under oath and Watson took the blame for our vindictive and retaliatory firing of Crowley in 2010. Of course, even though the case is a loser, we will not permit acknowledgement of that fact, we are continuing to force the university to throw good money after bad in a purported appeal attempt. Even though we were unable to destroy Crowley’s life, the final, albeit unintended, result exceeded our wildest dreams.
As another school year starts, we look back with pride at our efforts to destroy this school. Enrollment has dropped to 5211 with no signs that the decrease will be stopped. The administration is riven by our cronies and we are still forcing Watson to do our bidding in terms of interference in places he simply does not belong. We have used our considerable political and media influence to plant unflattering stories about Chicago State in local and national outlets, further discrediting the school and damaging its reputation. Most assuredly, we will continue to use our powerful positions to take the school down the road to perdition. That is our confession.