Thursday, October 15, 2015

A Big Difference Between 2009 and 2015: Chicago State's Board Selects a New President

“It is with heavy heart that we will say goodbye to [our departing president].. . Our new president will have to utilize all those talents as he comes in to a situation that is not ideal.” Nikki Zollar, Anthony Young, October 8, 2015.

Some random thoughts on last Thursday’s selection: First, I found striking the difference between the university community’s response to Thomas Calhoun’s selection as president in 2015 and the 2009 fiasco. Enthusiasm and optimism seemed to reign last Thursday, a sharp contrast with the feelings of anger and betrayal that marked the 2009 search process.

Second, the university community clearly favored Thomas Calhoun over the two other finalists. Whether or not one finds the process itself satisfactory, clearly this time the Board listened to the various constituencies at Chicago State and chose accordingly. In my estimation, the almost uniformly positive response to Calhoun’s selection reflects the belief of students, staff and faculty that the Board, rather than ramming an unpopular candidate down our throats, took seriously our concerns.

Third, we have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us to undo the damage done the past six years. Most important, several persons most responsible for our school’s decline remain in key administrative positions. The toxic administrative culture these persons have created must be eradicated in order for the university to realize what all of us hope will be a new beginning here at Chicago State. For the past several months, the administration has basically ground to a halt, failing to meet even their most basic responsibilities (like paying people their earnings for instance). The propensity for micro-management and concentration of power into one central location we have watched unfold since 2009 has not served us well. The alternative seems simple: empower various constituencies in a decentralized and mutually supportive structure in which the expertise of different persons or groups is utilized for the well-being of the entire university. This school must use its resources to the fullest.

We must never again witness the kind of behavior that brought us this:

(Page 81 of our 2015 Ethics Training).

Can we do this? I believe so. January 1 cannot come soon enough.

Listen to the tide slowly turning
Wash all our heartaches away
We're part of the fire that is burning
And from the ashes we can build another day

Moody Blues “The Story in Your Eyes” 1971


  1. But I'm frightened for the children
    That the life that we are living is in vain
    And the sunshine we've been waiting for
    Will turn to rain

    Cautious optimism is all we can have. If the new prez can relieve CSU from its role as a local patronage pit for the pols who seem to think the university is their's to exploit than he will have achieved something. Will he be able to walk that fine line? We'll see.

  2. Question --- Does Watson's retirement package allow for double dipping ( City College and Chicago State) and, a golden parachute? "Say it isn't so Joe." He should not be rewarded for sub par performance, especially since the state is looking for ways to save money and balance the budget, if so, only in government not in the private sector.