Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Chicago State Board Screws the Students and Drives Another Nail Into Chicago State's Coffin: That Dynamic Fund-Raiser Wayne Watson Gets to Form His Own Foundation

If you had an investment that continued to lose money, would you pour more money into it? If you had an employee who had proven her or his utter incompetence, would you give her/him increasing power and responsibility? Well that is what our feckless Board of Trustees did Friday. They took steps to sever the university’s relationship with the Chicago State Foundation and charged Wayne Watson with forming another organization to raise funds for the university, an endeavor at which he has been a spectacular failure.

Of course, spectacular failure is Wayne Watson’s stock-in-trade, his metier if you will. He is a Ph.D. with no scholarly contributions to any field, no significant teaching experience and no previous university experience before someone handed him this job. As he did at City Colleges, his performance here has been a debacle. City Colleges shed at least 27,000 students during his reign of error, Chicago State has lost over 2100. Of course, his higher education “leadership” history is marked by factious relationships with faculty, multiple scandals, costly lawsuits and excuses for everything. When he was interviewing for his current position in 2009, a number of observers called him a “political hack.” Since he has kept his job by dint of his political connections (certainly not by even competent performance or any scholarly achievements), it seems difficult to argue with that 2009 assessment. Nonetheless, our Board handed him even more responsibility Friday, one of the worst in a long line of terrible decisions made by that group.

What is the real reason for this unfathomable move? In my estimation, it is all about Katey Assem and the independent nature of the Chicago State Foundation. Watson could not fire Assem, he could not control the foundation and he certainly could not control that organization’s Board of Directors. So, he had to convince a complicit Board to dissolve the contract between the university and the foundation. In truth, the problems with Chicago State’s fund-raising potential are mainly attributable to Wayne Watson. Nonetheless, the Board addressed an issue that needed “reform” far less than does the leadership of this school. Again, shame on this Board for doing Watson’s bidding and for failing in their basic responsibilities to the staff and students of Chicago State and to the taxpayers of Illinois.

Here is the transcript of the Board resolution from the most recent Board of Trustees meeting. Most important, the Board voted to sever the university’s relationship with the Chicago State Foundation. Wayne Watson’s recent self-serving and cynical bullshit memorandum claimed the Board decided to take that action “after a thorough review and assessment.” All done in secret, of course. Clearly, this Board decision came at Wayne Watson’s insistence. In fact, the Board’s attorney took great pains to say twice that the resolution was a “referral” from the “legal (or law) department.”

The reading of the resolution begins at 5:46 of segment two of the meeting recording. The transcript:

Attorney: “Upon the referral from the legal department, ah, there is a resolution to be considered by the board, um, which, um, states as follows: be it resolved that the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University, do you want me to read the entire resolution Mr. Chairman?

Anthonyh Young: “Yes, please.

Attorney: “I’ll read the entire resolution.

Resolution to invoke the 90 day notice of termination provision contained in the University’s contract with the Chicago State University Foundation.

Whereas, the current economic climate has forced the university to assume a significantly larger portion of its operating expenses, including student financial aid and, wheras give the reduction in state and federal financial aid, the university needs to provide additional support options to students, and;
Whereas, the economic climate has likewise forced the university to reexamine all of its contractual relationships, and;
Whereas, the examination has forced the university to conclude that it must restructure and realign a portion of its fund-raising system, and;
Whereas, the university is thankful and appreciative of the Foundation’s efforts over the years in support of its mission to provide student scholarship and various other forms of kind.. various other forms of financial support and whereas fiscal realities demand that the university receive an even more robust return in its investment dollar and;
Whereas, the university has begun the process of establishing a new foundation and is exploring the development of a new foundation which will be more closely aligned with the needs of the university.

Now therefore, be it resolved that the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University does hereby direct that a 90 day notice to terminate its contract with the Chicago State University Foundation Board, effective June 30, 2015, be issued immediately. That the University President be directed to take immediate steps to establish a new foundation board with a 501(3) status immediately. That is the motion upon the referral from the law department.

I am sure that Wayne Watson will find some crony to reward with a high-paying job as the head of his “new” foundation. As usual, the losers will be the staff and students of Chicago State, Watson will walk away from this job with a cushy pension, leaving behind a university in shambles (if it exists at all). You really cannot make this stuff up.

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