Saturday, February 21, 2015

What Wayne Watson May Ask of His Administrators: A Study in Pathological Leadership

Job announcements for administrative positions at Chicago State include typical boilerplate statements about specific qualifications and requirements. Ostensibly, these qualifications and requirements represent the sum total of what an applicant must possess to be able to land an administrative job here. However, Wayne Watson has his own set of qualifications and requirements. Documentary evidence uncovered over the past several years enables me to offer this assessment of these Watsonian criteria for administrative employment. While not all administrators can expect to be called upon to perform the duties enumerated below, a number have demonstrated their loyalty to Watson by participating in one or more of these activities. Altogether, these distinct and unspoken requirements paint a portrait of a purported university administration that can best be described as pathological.

The most important criterion Watson considers is political reliability. This overshadows all other considerations, especially competence. A cursory glance at the top-level administrators at Chicago State reveals the large number of well-positioned personal friends and cronies in the Watson regime. Watson expects constant acquiescence to his demands and pronouncements, no matter how unethical or how much they might contravene established policy or even law. Watson describes the willingness of his flunkies to unquestionably do his bidding as “integrity,” which means that anyone who opposes his edicts acts without integrity. There are a number of actions Watson may call upon his subordinates to undertake on his behalf:

First, when called upon to do so, he expects his administrators to lie and cover-up administrative incompetence or malfeasance, regardless of the potential damage to their reputations or the risk to their positions. For a specific example of this kind of Watsonian behavior refer to the James Crowley case or the earlier case of Maria Moore.

Second, when called upon to do so, he expects his administrators to participate in the efforts of the Watson slime machine to not only discredit, but destroy his critics and perceived “enemies.” See again, Watson’s dealings with James Crowley and Maria Moore along with the administration’s treatment of Willie Preston.

Third, when called upon to do so, he expects his administrators to take the full blame for Watson’s failures, despite the consequences for their own careers. A number of people have been victimized by this pathology, including to name just a few: Lois Davis, Carnice Hill and Mary Butler. The layoffs and staff reductions coming soon will likely produce a new crop of victims of this pathology.

Fourth, as a companion piece to Watson’s long demonstrated propensity to blame others for his failures, when called upon to do so, Watson expects his administrators to remain silent while Watson takes the credit for accomplishments he essentially has little to do with. The resplendent examples of this pathology abound. This deadly leadership quality is neatly summarized by Mike Myatt in Forbes Magazine: “Real leaders are accountable. They don’t blame others, don’t claim credit for the success of their team, but always accept responsibility for failures that occur on their watch.”

Fifth, before and after Watson’s scandals come to light, he expects his administrators to maintain strict silence in order to protect him from scrutiny. Ths pathology falls under the rubric of “not airing our dirty linen in public,” as if this place were some kind of fiefdom. Most important, Watson’s constant huffing and puffing about “transparency” is dishonest and designed to cover for an administrative culture that is anything but transparent. This pathology includes the university administration’s consistent refusal to respond to requests for information filed under FOIA.

Obviously, there are a number of honest, hard-working administrators at Chicago State. However, enough administrators have been willing to enable or even actively assist Watson as he sets about the task of destroying this institution. As I have said previously, Chicago State is not managed like an educational institution. We are plagued with a crony-riven administration that has demonstrated both its vindictiveness and its incompetence. Watson and his cronies have driven the school to the brink of extinction and unless we experience some kind of deus ex machina, it seems likely this situation will become more and more intolerable.


  1. SO TRUE. Let's not forget unnamed scores of previous administrators, profs, and students driven out of CSU positions/ deprived of careers ONLY because they were not willing to silently go along with wrong decisions I.e.,misconduct and egregious violations of ethics passed by this administration; and couldn't jeopardize life savings fighting case in federal court.

    Administrators who sit silently and who do nothing to call out capricious and arbitrary unjust wrong decisions committed on others are NO longer neutral objective professionals. WHERE is the outrage by every "good" administrator at CSU? Those who sit silently are PART OF COVERUP. We all know Martin Luther King's words about those who "sit in silence".

    1. I have to take issue with your assertion that staff and administrators who sit silently (to your eyes) are “part of (the) coverup”.
      What recourse is there for non-union staff/administration in an at-will employment state? What would you have competent staff members do when faced with the daily incompetence of this administration? While the blog leadership have done a commendable job of outlining the most egregious offenses and negative impacts to this leadership, those that you brand co-conspirators are forced to carry out Henderson, Watson, Sidney policy on a daily basis… silence. We.are.outraged.
      Staff cannot take a stand as there are children to feed and mortgages to pay. The result of opposition for a staff/administrator is termination, post haste. We find ourselves asking the same question of faculty – why aren’t the faculty standing up and doing more? When will a strike occur? The protections of tenure give (some) faculty the freedom to voice opposition; why do so few use a luxury none of the rest of us have?
      I learned last week that full-time enrollment is somewhere around 3500 students (the 4800 headcount being published includes revenue negative/neutral part-time students). I also learned that Watson has brought in a consulting group to recruit part-time senior citizens just to get a number in a seat. We’re firing good employees left and right, but employing a consulting company for a couple hundred thousand dollars to recruit from nursing homes….that’s their current plan?
      Don’t forget that we’re in this together – if there is a university left after these idiots, we’re going to have to work together (staff, administrator, and faculty) to recover.

    2. To Esse Videri: Please understand I do not judge you nor any Non-union entity needing to survive. I suggest every single concerned party send anonymous letters to legislators, govt.offices, and media requesting untenable situation be addressed. We know HLC and ISBE failed to step up,but don't you think if they receive 150 anonymous letters,it's far more likely to be addressed than if they receive 2 or 3? Did not Rauner last week state main goal "eliminate Educational bureaucracy"? If everyone sends letters to Office of Gov requesting full investigation including search firm scam, falsified resumes & cutting good decent workers while those willing to lie and coverup malfeasance given 18-22% raises, office of Gov.might do something right. We all have to try, even anonymous requests.

  2. With respect to the point you make about no tenured members being vulnerable to retaliation from the Watson regime I conquer and empathize. Also, the question you raise about tenured faculty in response to their deafening silence I think those are very reasonable questions. Moreover, I think the co-conspirator title fits those individuals perfectly. On top of that, I believe you are right yet again as you state "Don't forget we're all in this together," yet I think you miscalculate when you perceive the time to work together to be after a few good men and woman sacrifice exclusively for the sake of the whole. As a student I consciencely decided to speak out in opposition to the disgrace that the Watson/ Henderson administration has unarguably brought upon Chicago State University. I am not in any way suggesting that others follow in path, that is a decision, people will make for themselves. However, following your logic if we don't work together to remove the Watson/Henderson administration now, how will the mortgages get paid and the children get fed? In addition, if we don't work together now, what will remain of a vulnerable community already over - exploited when there is no University to bridge the gap between a middle class life and the life of an uneducated supservient class that continues down the path of poverty and destruction, ceaselessly? The time has come long ago that in each one in the community affirms where they stand with respect to the Watson / Henderson administration for the sake of the University. Some might go as far and say either you are part of the solution or you are part of the problem. Looking at the state of the University, who can blame them?

  3. We agree that tenured faculty cannot be harmed directly.

    However, the chairs are afraid that vocal faculty could bring harm to their departments.

    One might also fear the connections of certain board members: