Tuesday, October 21, 2014

More Inexplicable Reorganizations, This Time at the Top

As always, Chicago State’s Internal Operating Budget offers interesting insights into the operation of our university. While the fiscal information is, as usual, enlightening, I want to focus on the various reorganizations that have taken place since last fiscal year. Two things immediately stand out: 1) The administration has apparently acknowledged the various Enrollment Management failures by removing a number of functions from the control of that kingdom. 2) Not surprisingly, the President has increased the size and scope of his office’s operations. Here are the details:

In my September 26, 2014, post, I noted that Angela Henderson said at the September 19 Board meeting that “Retention is not Enrollment Management.” Since the 2011 establishment of the budget sub-unit of “Improve Retention and Graduation Rates (Org. Code 434 in your budget book), that office has resided in Enrollment Management. Suddenly in 2015, it appears under Academic Affairs. Possibly cognizant of this fact, Henderson went on to blame the Faculty, Chairs and Deans for Chicago State’s never-ending enrollment decline. As she told the Board: “We have metrics and we have goals, and some programs met their goals, and some programs did not.” So, beginning in July 2014, the administration will be able to pass the blame for enrollment losses on to the academic side of the university. After all, we are the people who are unable to (or unwilling to) recognize the honor Wayne Watson has bestowed upon us by “raising standards.” Additionally, the administration has removed the Offices of Academic Support and Graduate Admissions from the Enrollment Management unit and placed them into the university’s Academic Affairs component. So Enrollment Management now washes its hands of the graduate programs, academic support, and most important, student retention—at least in terms of culpability for the additional enrollment declines sure to come.

In one of the highlights of the the September 19 meeting, Watson, as usual, blew smoke up the Board’s collective behinds. Here’s what he said in his president’s report about the enrollment decline (Watson’s comments begin at the 9 minute mark of the first recorded segment):

Since we are at the start of the academic year, I’d like to take a moment to address enrollment. Institutions across the country are experiencing a deline in enrollment, including CSU, however, CSU has set enrollment goals and implemented strategies to increase its enrollment. We will have a more in-depth report later. What you’re going to hear is that we exceeded our new Freshman goals, ah, but you’re also going to hear that there’s certain areas, HSI and male goals that we have achieved, but overall, we have had a decline in enrollment, and that is a reality, and we are disaggregating it, studying it, and try to make sure that we understand what is happening. Um, we’re coming up with strategies, ah, we, ah, we’re working with our faculty, our staff . . .” What does any of that mean except that this man has no idea what to do? Even more important, he is incapable of acknowledging that the major problems currently plaguing Chicago State reside side-by-side in offices 313 and 314 in the Cook Building.

Nonetheless, Watson and the president’s office have reorganized a number of other components out of Enrollment Management. The Latino and African American Male Resource Centers are now under the presidential umbrella, along with the Counseling Center and the Abilities Office. Finally, the president’s office has assumed control of the Dean of Students Office and the Office of Student Affairs. While the first four moves seem somewhat baffling, the last two make perfect sense given the administration’s propensity to meddle in student affairs and rig their elections. Wayne Watson also now has is own personal spokesperson. Tom Wogan no longer works in Marketing, he works directly for the president.

The majority of these organizational changes defy logic, something hardly new to the Watson administration. In addition, they are consistent with previous arbitrary administrative practices and possess the character of moves made out of desperation, or downright panic. As perhaps even some members of Watson’s inner circle are beginning to realize, the great man is simply not up to the task of being a university president, frankly he never was. We have a president who is drowning—although neither our Board or any Illinois power brokers seem to want to acknowledg his situation—our challenge is to avoid being pulled under the water with him.

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