Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Watson Follies Play Again at the Board of Trustees Meeting: It is Time to Blame the Foundation and Faculty for Wayne Watson's Multiple Failures

I have to admit that my earlier post on the penury of Chicago State’s Board and President contained some arithmetical errors. Spencer Leak’s contributions must be reduced from $525 to $225, bringing the aggregate of individual contributions from all the Board members and the President to $18,395 in six years, with the contributions of Board members totaling $14,995, an average of $2499.17/year.

I understand that at yesterday’s Board meeting, the Board mindlessly approved a measure charging Wayne Watson with forming a 501c(3) organization to handle fund-raising for the university. The “contract” with the existing CSU Foundation will apparently be terminated within 90 days. Why? Because Wayne Watson blames the Foundation for failing to raise money for the university. In addition, I understand that Wayne Watson told the Board that Chicago State’s enrollment decline is because of: a) increased academic rigor, or b) problems with academic programs. He apparently did not elaborate on these seemingly contradictory explanations.

As I noted in my post on the contributions to Chicago State by Board members and the President since 2008, I am pleased to say that I have acquired some earlier CSU President’s Reports that enable me to compare the financial commitment demonstrated by our current group of leaders with the previous president and board members. While exact figures are not given in the President’s Reports, a minimum and maximum range for contributions provides an opportunity to gauge the extent of financial support given the institution by specific individuals. Here is the comparison:

For the available years (1998 through 2003 and 2005-06), Elnora Daniel contributed a minimum of $16,000 to Chicago State with individual Board members contributing at least an additional minimum $36,850. The maximum possible contribution from Daniel comes to $32,493, with the maximum contribution from Board members being $55,982. On a yearly basis, the former President of CSU and former CSU Board members contributed an average ranging from $8808 to $14,745.83 per year.

In addition to individual contributions from current Board members, corporations and organizations they head have contributed $36,700 since 2008. In contrast, corporations and organizations associated with former Board members contributed a minimum of $160,000 from 1998-2003 and 2006. These contributions bring the aggregate of current Board members and the President’s contrbutions to $55,095 compared with a mimimum of $215,982 contributed by Watson and the gang’s predecessors. Even though exact figures are not available, it seems reasonable to conclude that in the six years with extant records, that the Board and University President contributed at least $250,000 to the school.

Of course, Wayne Watson needs the money, after all, he’s only made (between salary and double-dipping pension) somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 million since coming to Chicago State. Who could expect him to contribute any more than the $3400 he has so generously donated to the school he leads. In contrast, he’s contributed $3095 to politicians during the time he’s been at CSU. Obviously, those contributions have had some effect.

Wayne Watson specializes in blaming other persons for his failures. Plunging enrollment? It’s the faculty’s fault. No fund-raising? Blame the Foundation. The reality is that Watson has so sullied Chicago State’s reputation that it may not be salvageable (see the City Colleges “reinvention” initiative to get an idea what an educational system must do after Watson’s “reforms” have damaged it). The reality of fund-raising is that Watson simply cannot raise money. Can you imagine any reputable donor contributing to the school after listening to Watson’s sales pitch? Can you imagine any reputable donor even speaking with Watson after checking out the school’s reputation and his performance?

Thanks again to our Board of Trustees. They do not support the school financially, they enable this waste of taxpayer money to continue as President. They enable this President to destroy the school and they will do anything Watson wants them to do. Anthony Young, Michael Curtin, Nikki Zollar, Spencer Leak, Horace Smith and James Joyce are about as far from an independent Board of Trustees as it is possible to be. Shame on them for abrogating their responsibility to the taxpayers of the state and to the staff and students of Chicago State University.

Finally, I also understand that Watson's girl friend, when asked specific questions about Chicago State's enrollment responded that the administration "hoped" enrollment would not drop below 5,000 in the Spring and "hoped" that the enrollment decline would be halted soon. That is quite a strategy for dealing with this university's most pressing problem.

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