Friday, February 6, 2015

Sun Times Today: "Wayne Watson to retire"--in 16 months. This is news? No, this is a P.R. campaign

Well you gotta give our Prez politician his due--he knows when to plant a story.

On the morning of a big emergency CSU Board of Trustees meeting, the Sun Times screams that WW is retiring from CSU. See the link below, but don't get your hopes up.  Maudlyne Ihejirka (is this Tom Wogan's nom de plume?) who sees, hears, and writes no evil about Wayne Watson and Angela Henderson "reports" that Watson is retiring--but not until June 30 of 2016. Yeah 2016. He is staying on campus until his contract runs out in 16 months. This is what passes for news at the Sun Times? No, this is what is clearly a public relations piece. Perhaps it is a preemptive strike. Don't let any board of trustees tell you when you are leaving, you tell them.

God only knows what this clueless board of trustees is doing today at their emergency meeting on campus to discuss personnel matters and lawsuits. Maybe they finally grew a spine and decided they were not just an extension of the prezvost office. Maybe their political bosses have decided CSU needs a change before new republican governor Rauner's team gets wind of CSU shenangans as patronage and money pit. But this is anyone's guess. All I can say is that an article that is a paean to the glories of Wayne Watson's "leadership" at CSU and the world including a paragraph of the trials and tribulations of the poor plagiarist provost Angela Henderson tossed in for good measure is a sad statement on how the Watson party narrative has to continue to be told and embroidered. (Funny how just a few faculty members who are such insignificant losers are important enough to be mentioned in this story as the nemeses with whom Watson has had to contend).

So WW in the Sun Times today has laid down the gauntlet to the Trustees, the pols, and to CSU.  He is leaving when his contract runs out and not before. He will continue business as usual until then and more. He has 16 months to ensure that his loyal supporters get as much out of CSU as they can pillage, and so will he. More than this, he wants to be around to make sure the plagiarist protege of his becomes the next president.

The Sun Times says that Wayne Watson says he is retiring in 16 months. So I guess we are all just going to have to go about our business as if nothing has happened. And, in fact, nothing has happened.
Wayne Watson, who took the helm of Chicago’s only university serving a predominantly minority student population, after making his mark at the city’s community college system, will retire as president of Chicago State University when his contract expires next year, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Watson, 69, who became CSU’s 19th president in October 2009, before that capped a 30-year tenure at Community Colleges of Chicago by serving as its chancellor from 1998 to 2009.
The colorful and charismatic college head will leave behind a legacy of concrete accomplishments, including a 10-year reaccreditation by the Higher Learning Commission, a top seal of approval, and a stronger athletic department.
His reform agenda streamlined operations, enhanced academic standards, accountability and transparency, and renewed engagement with the surrounding African-American communities.
His accomplishments were often obscured by controversy, as a faction of his faculty made it a mission to fight him tooth and nail.
Watson will announce his retirement at Friday’s monthly meeting of the CSU Board of Trustees, triggering a national search for the next leader of the South Side institution at 95th & State.
“There are many reasons why now is the right time. The university has made significant progress in its academic, athletic and administrative capacities, and we’ve accomplished much of what we set out to achieve in terms of right-sizing the ship and putting the university in a position to succeed moving forward,” Watson said in a statement.
“It’s time to play,” he said. “I have four wonderful grandchildren between 10 years of age and four months, and I want to take time to enjoy them, plus appreciate and embrace ‘the solitude of the land.’ ”
The longest serving African-American in Illinois higher education, Watson last year received an extension of his contract through June 30, 2016. He plans to exit before or at the end of the 2015-2016 school year.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we sincerely thank Dr. Watson for his commitment, passion and devotion to the success of CSU. Dr. Watson and his team have played a significant role in making CSU a quality university,” Anthony Young, chairman of the school’s Board of Trustees, said.
“I look forward to continuing to work with him as we move towards a comprehensive search to find the next leader who is best prepared to maximize the university’s potential and continue the progress.”
A committee of faculty, staff, students, community leaders and other stakeholders will begin its search for a replacement immediately.
Watson, who earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in teaching at Northwestern University, was one of the first African-Americans to receive a Ph.D. at that university, where he later served several years on the board of trustees.
He began his career in higher education at Malcolm X College in 1978. He was appointed interim president of Harold Washington College in 1993; president of Kennedy-King College in 1994; and chancellor of the entire system in 1998.
He has headed or served on the boards of many of the nation’s national education organizations, and said research shows he has served over 2.5 million minority students, with more than 197,000 degrees and certificates conferred under his leadership.
At CSU, he is credited with an overhaul of the then flagging university’s standards and policies. But controversy has also dogged CSU under his tenure.
Soon after taking the reins, CSU lost literary and civil rights icon Haki Madhubuti who resigned, complaining Watson demoted him for speaking out against the search process that brought Watson in. Watson denied it. He would soon find himself at battle with a segment of the faculty that criticized his every move.
Then 3 ½ years in, Watson was accused of an unspecified breach of school policy, with the board considering his termination, then later voting to retain him.
Last year brought still more controversy, as a former CSU employee won a nearly $3 million verdict in a whistleblower lawsuit against the school, and officials including Watson, after alleging he was fired in retaliation for reporting university improprieties to Illinois’ attorney general.
Then Watson’s appointed provost was falsely accused of plagiarism in her University of Illinois at Chicago dissertation by his faculty nemesis, leading to the provost suing UIC; UIC clearing the provost of the plagiarism charges; and a top UIC official stepping down in the wake of the incident.
Already drawing an annual pension of $140,000 from City Colleges, Watson stands to walk away with a healthy nest egg once his CSU pension is computed.
“I look forward to writing a book with regards to my journey through higher education. Serving as president of Chicago State University has been both a challenging and fulfilling experience, and I am appreciative of the faith that has been placed in me by the Board of Trustees, staff, faculty, students and the CSU family,” said Watson. “I am eternally grateful to the CSU family, of which I will always proudly call myself a member.”

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