Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Rigged Presidential Search Begins in Earnest: Nikki Zollar Flips Us the Bird

Silly us in the Faculty Senate. When we received the March memorandum from Nikki Zollar “inviting” us to provide 12 names (two from each college) to serve as members on the Presidential Search Committee, we took it at face value. It seemed a sincere response to the concerns we enumerated in our late February letter to Trustee Zollar. Accordingly, we moved quickly to hold elections in each of the university’s colleges and on March 31, submitted the names of 14 faculty members selected by their peers. Frankly, we were pleased that at least one member of the Board of Trustees seemed interested in faculty concerns. Some of use even dared hope that this search would be different from business as usual at Chicago State.

Today we received the Board’s response. Rather than creating a viable search committee consisting of properly selected faculty members, the Committee Chair extends her middle finger to Chicago State’s faculty in a heartfelt “fuck you.” Here is what the newly conceptualized “search committee” will look like: As a sop to our original concerns, the committee will include 8 faculty members. Originally conceived to consist of 5 faculty, 2 “nominated” by the Faculty Senate and 3 chosen by some other undisclosed method, we now have 8 faculty, four chosen by Chicago State’s faculty, and 4 others apparently to be selected by a person or persons unknown.

Also interesting are the colleges the Committee Chair chose to exclude even though their nominees had been selected in a democratic process. Zollar’s memorandum reveals that the “committee” has chosen one non-tenured Clinical Professor from Pharmacy, one tenured Professor from Education and two tenured Professors from the Library/Counseling Center. Of course, all of these persons were included in the list of nominees selected by their peers (see the list below), but there is no representation at all from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, and Health Sciences. Perhaps persons from these colleges will be chosen by an anonymous person or persons based on secret criteria.

We have no problem with the four faculty selected since they were all products of a faculty-driven process--although Zollar chose two from the library/counseling component while ignoring three other colleges altogether--but at this point in the “search” process, 128 of the 181 tenured/tenure-track faculty at Chicago State have no representation on the purported “search committee.” That’s 70.7 percent of the tenured/tenure-track faculty at this school. Regardless of the committee’s final composition, 70.7 percent of the university’s tenured/tenure-track faculty will not have a representative democratically elected by her/his peers. They will be hand-picked, undoubtedly by the Chicago State administration.

Of the total complement of 276 full-time faculty at Chicago State (including Clinical/Research unit A and full-time unit B faculty), 202 (73.2 percent) will not have a democratically selected representative on this bullshit committee. Here is the list of nominees submitted by the Faculty Senate and Zollar’s memorandum of April 8, 2014:

It seems obvious that we are going to witness another farcical and corrupt search for another hack to lead Chicago State University. This search process is now hopelessly flawed and no committee containing the majority of its members hand-picked by this failed administration will have any viability. Perhaps there is more at play than just a bogus presidential search. Does anyone see possible retaliation here? After all, by not selecting anyone from Arts and Sciences, Zollar insured that the most prominent source of disaffection with the Watson administration would have no democratically elected member on her committee. She also insured that the Faculty Senate President would not serve on the committee.

For me, this fiasco raises a number of questions. First and foremost, since the faculty is not involved, who is selecting the four other faculty members to serve on this committee? Second, what is the criteria for selection? Third, how have the other members of the committee been selected and by whom? According to the Board, we were to know the identity of the non-faculty members of this committee on March 6. It is now April 9 and still no information seems forthcoming. This search already stinks to high heaven.


  1. This is entirely unacceptable, and this result needs to be transmitted to the faculty, the IBHE, the Governor's Office, the media (including the Tribune, the Sun-Times, and The Chronicle of Higher Education). It should also be transmitted to the NCA and other relevant accrediting bodies.

    There is no excuse for this behavior. The the stench of corruption is not just palpable, it is as thick as gelatin. The idea of hiring of a yet another search firm for a University of this size (especially given the prior track record) is laughable, as the past two Presidents and the current Provost can possibly demonstrate. A committee of University professors could (and would) do a more effective job and only spend money on interviews. Let's tell the Governor to put THAT in his pipe and smoke it.

  2. Agreed!! Pres,of faculty senate belongs on search committee first. He is the principal. Faculty elected him to be their voice because they trust and can count on him. He has no ill will nor malice towards anyone. I challenge admins to change attitudes, break open celebrate support outstanding faculty and leader on search committee....take this one step in right direction.