Friday, August 21, 2015

Wayne Watson to the Governor and Illinois Taxpayers: Screw You!

Bruce Rauner unveiled his draconian higher education budget in February of this year. Given the scope of the proposed cuts, it might seem politically prudent for universities to throttle back on the effort to increase their administrative ranks while reducing faculty and support staff. Here at Chicago State, we have no such concerns. In fact, in the face of looming budget decreases, Wayne Watson and his crew are continuing to increase the school’s administrative footprint, an increase evident in the explosion of university Vice Presidents, Associate Vice Presidents and Assistant Provosts. Much of this effort has been discussed on this forum but, against the backdrop of summer layoffs and other administrative fiscal nonsense, it seems advisable to again sketch the contours of our administration’s continued disregard for the financial consequences of a mushrooming administrative staff.

The administration Watson inherited in 2009 included 9 senior administrators: 4 Vice Presidents (including the Provost), 2 Associate Vice Presidents, 1 Assistant Vice President, and 2 Assistant Provosts. The Watson administration’s fiscal 2015 Internal Operating Budget includes lines for 11 senior administrators: 4 Vice Presidents (including the Provost), 6 Associate Vice Presidents (including the president’s girlfriend), and 1 Assistant Provost. This represents a 22.2 percent increase in senior staff for a university that lost 28 percent of its enrollment from fall 2009 to fall 2014.

Astoundingly however, since the beginning of the just completed fiscal year, in complete disregard of the budget problems the university administration uses so selectively, here is what has happened. Watson has upgraded three positions: the Athletic Director has become an Associate Vice President as has the Dean of Students; the Director of Assesment is now an Assistant Provost position. In addition, we’ve hired a new Vice President of Enrollment Management, filling a position that has been vacant since July 1, 2013. Finally, the Watson administration has resurrected the position of Contract Administrator (which I believe will carry an Associate Vice President’s title). All four of these reclassifications/new hires have occurred since Rauner's budget announcement in February 2015.

As we flip the bird to the taxpayers of Illinois and to the state’s governor, it seems notable that the number of senior administrators at Chicago State has increased now to 15: 4 Vice Presidents (including the Provost), 9 Associate Vice Presidents and 2 Assistant Provosts. In addition, the position of Vice President of Development (unfilled as of this date) appears on the university’s most recent organizational chart. This would bring our senior administrative total to 16 with 5 Vice Presidents, 9 Associate Vice Presidents and 2 Assistant Provosts.

The expansion of our senior administrative ranks represents a 66.7 percent increase since 2009. All this for a school that has seen its enrollment decrease 33.5 percent since that fondly remembered year. I would be interested to know how our administration justifies this irresponsible fiscal behavior (not to mention the demonstrable damage many of the incumbents in these positions have done to Chicago State). Of course, here at Chicago State, nothing has to be justified because no one ever asks. Will there be any cost for this provocative conduct?

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