Saturday, January 30, 2016

Are We a Correctional or an Educational Institution?: A Discussion of Our Horrific Advising Practices

Assuming that the university will continue to operate for the remainder of the school year and into the future, we will have a number of practices left over from the past administration to clean up or eliminate entirely if we are to recover from the precipitous enrollment declines of the past six years.

In my estimation, our recently mandated advising procedures stand right at the top of that list. They are not only a failure, they are a complete disaster. Frankly, as poorly conceived as these practices are, it is a wonder any students continue their studies at Chicago State University. I have already discussed this issue in earlier posts, but I spoke recently with someone (a former CSU employee) who has first-hand and very recent knowledge of what goes on in the Advising Center. Here is the story:

With recent staff departures, the number of advisors working in the Advising Center has been reduced to 6 persons. According to administrative fiat, these persons are supposed to do all the undergraduate academic advising at Chicago State (with the exception of First Year Students). One year earlier, the workload now handled by these 6 people was spread among 40 faculty and staff (excluding administrators) doing undergraduate advising in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, and Health Sciences. Needless to say, the phenomenal reduction in staff has created a number of operational problems (as a caveat, many faculty continue to do advising in spite of the administrative fiats).

Students endure long wait times, up to 5 hours in some cases. Often, advisors are called upon to advise students in programs with which they are unfamiliar. The former employee described the university catalog as the only real source of information available to the poor persons charged with advising our students. When someone becomes an advisor, the training period is negligible, s/he is basically thrown into the water to see if they can swim. The advisors are unable to give students hard copies of their programs or other information because the equipment is broken down. Often students are advised out in open areas, a clear violation of FERPA. The advisors often work long shifts, far in excess of their assigned 7.5 hours and are not compensated with overtime pay. The advising staff is demoralized with predictable results like high absenteeism, putting further strain on other employees.

The consequences for our enrollment should be apparent. How many students have experienced this fiasco and decided to look elsewhere? How many students have been discouraged by the process and just dropped out for a semester? Why on earth are we putting students through this? When the advising staff bring their concerns about the process and its effect on our students up to administrators they are told that “we’re not going back to the old system.” This rigid administrative belief that somehow by force of will these 6 persons can turn this debacle into a functioning system represents a textbook definition of insanity.

Many years ago, when I began my law enforcement career, I worked the 4-12 shift in the intake area of the Alameda County Jail. During the shift, buses arrived constantly from the various Municipal and Superior Courts in the county. Those buses contained both prisoners returning from their court appearances and newly remanded prisoners who had to be processed or “booked,” a procedure that involved placing them into a large holding area, then calling them individually into an area where we typed up a booking sheet, took a photograph, and rolled three fingerprint cards. It was not unusual for 1 or 2 Deputies to process up to 75 new remands in an 8-hour shift. It was not atypical for people remanded to wait for several hours to be processed. Because of the pace of the work, it was highly unusual for me to be able to sleep until around 4am.

Why am I talking about this? Because when I go up to the Advising Center during peak business hours, I am viscerally reminded of the old booking office. Substitute a huge holding cell for the chairs on the fourth floor, long waits to be “processed,” and a separate processing area for the fourth floor offices used by our advising staff and voila! You have the Alameda County Jail of 1971 instead of Chicago State University. Substitute harried and overworked Deputies trying to wade through dozens of tired, hungry people who simply wanted to get a bunk and something to eat for the advising staff trying to provide service to dozens of tired, hungry people waiting to sign up for classes, and again I am reminded of a four-decades old custodial experience.

I am appalled by the way we exploit our advising staff and mistreat our students. Let’s stop treating our advisors and students as if they were staff and prisoners at the local county jail or state prison. Let’s act like we’re running a state university instead of the Stateville Correctional Center or San Quentin State Prison. I realize that these comparisons should not be overdrawn, but I urge everyone to visit the Advising Center and see for themselves the conditions under which our staff and students must function. For the sake of the school, our colleagues, and especially our students, why don’t we scrap this system and come up with something sensible, and dare I say, humane?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What's Our Real Graduation Rate?

As we all know, we get constantly beaten over the head with our poor "graduation rate." As we also all know, that rate is data collected only on students enrolling as full-time Freshmen in their first semester of university attendance. In this post, I will take a look at that group of students, our transfer students, and I'll compare our performance with another urban, public university serving a diverse student body of full- and part-time students: Metropolitan State University in Denver. The cohorts will be from 2005-06 through 2008-09.

First, during that four-year period, our full time Freshmen averaged 7.4 percent of our total undergraduate population. That means that 92.6 percent of our students will never be measured by this standard. In comparison, Metropolitan State reported a percentage of 8.6 percent of full time Freshmen. The graduation rates look like this:

For Chicago State: 20.4 percent of the full time Freshmen graduated within six years.
For Metropolitan State: 24.1 percent of their full time Freshmen graduated within six years.

For Chicago State: 43.9 percent of our transfer students (full- and part-time) graduated within six years.
For Metropolitan State: 39.7 percent of their transfer students (full- and part-time) graduated within six years.

For Chicago State: 33.0 percent of our Freshmen and transfer students graduated within six years.
For Metropolitan State: 32.9 percent of their Freshmen and transfer students graduated within six years.

This morning, there's another story on our former president's ethical problems in the Chicago Tribune. As usual, there a couple of knuckleheads making typical ignorant comments, including one person with the stupid comment about our graduation rate, as if it's all our students. Perhaps people might respond. All the figures I cited come from our 2015 fact book and from Metropolitan State's web site, link here:

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Notes from Today's Meeting With President Calhoun

In an eloquent and sober presentation today before an estimated 400 faculty and staff (standing room) in the Breakey Theater, Dr. Calhoun provided his assessment of the current financial state of our university and discussed possible responses to the financial crisis. This is a brief synopsis of his remarks.

First, he told everyone that the university would not be out of money on March 1, although he could not give an exact date when that might occur. Thus, we will not be going out of business at the beginning of that month. Second, he called on everyone in the Chicago State community to participate in efforts to draw public attention to our situation. Third, he assured everyone that we would complete the current semester, award degrees and function as a university. Fourth, in keeping with his commitment to honor our obligations to our students and staff, Dr. Calhoun said he would "protect the instructional side of the university," and insure the safety and security of the campus. Those endeavors would receive priority.

Dr. Calhoun outlined several possible responses to the crisis, none particularly appealing: they mainly included staff reductions, reduced pay, volunteerism, and reduced or no pay for some work duties that had heretofore been compensated. Needless to say, given the uncertainty surrounding the continuing budget impasse, he was unable to offer an exact course of action in response. Dr. Calhoun also made clear his belief that the state had a responsibility to fund the university and insure that our students continued to receive a quality education. He assured everyone that Chicago State had a bright future and that he was anxious to reveal his vision for the university's renaissance.

As I am not completely sure of the accuracy of my notes, anyone with corrective information, please let me know. Although our situation is dire, I think it fair to say that the attendees left the meeting with at least cautious optimism, an improvement over the despair recent events have brought to the campus. Kudos to Dr. Calhoun for his candor.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Go Green Please!

UPI Staff and Faculty members are asked to wear green at the meeting tomorrow with President Calhoun. 

Financial Exigency?

So loyal readers, one of the terms you are likely to hear in upcoming days is financial exigency. I thought it prudent to prepare you for what financial exigency means in practical terms for the university.

The American Association of University Professors, (AAUP) defines financial exigency in its Recommended Institutional Regulations on Academic Freedom and Tenure (RIR) as an “imminent financial crisis which threatens the survival of the institution as a whole.” In the court case  Lumpert v.University of Dubuque, the court defined financial exigency as “an urgent need to reorder the nature and magnitude of financial obligations in such a way as to restore or preserve the financial ability of the institution... “ In his 1976 Indiana Law Journal article, James Petersen states “However, it must be made clear that an exigency is more than a temporary or minor shortage.”  In practice, it’s the Board of Trustees, upon the recommendation of the President, who declare financial exigency. With this context in mind, several questions must be asked. 

First, what is the role of faculty, especially tenured faculty, in this institutional reordering? It might be assumed that there will be a need to terminate the employment of faculty and staff at an affected institution. The RIR discusses the faculty role in terminations of tenured faculty in cases of financial exigency. If an institution adheres to decades old principles and practices of shared governance then the RIR is the place to start in how to integrate faculty into the decision making process.

Second, are faculty the only group subject to termination? Clearly not. Other non-faculty positions should be considered before faculty terminations. As the faculty constitute the core of the institution they must be preserved to protect the academic enterprise. However, faculty in a unionized environment might be subject to their collective bargaining agreements being voided. That essentially leaves them with no contractual protections, save the beneficence of the administration. CSU has not had an administration in recent memory that could be considered beneficent when it came to faculty. Most recently, nickeling and diming faculty for tenths of a CUE on their year longs when it saved the university no money is but one example of their malevolent intent. Faculty and administrators must beware of what could be lost or damaged and how it would impact the long term viability of the institution. 

Third, faculty should be conscious of the impact of financial exigency on other constituencies. How will the areas that support the academic enterprise be impacted? Will payroll be adequately staffed or will there be interruptions or delays in employees being paid? Will the Registrar’s Office be adequately staffed? For those faculty who have done advising, you might recall the need to contact the Evaluations Office to ensure your students have all of the requirements completed and documented for graduation. In an office already understaffed due to the previous administration’s incompetence, any further cuts would virtually shut down that office.

Because financial exigency must be more than temporary, how would the enrollment management function be reordered? The institution should have some expectation of enrolling new students in the fall semester, yet how would prospective students be processed in an environment of financial exigency. It seems to me that non-essential personnel would need to be let go first. I’m sure loyal readers you can identify who should top that list. But be assured that just because 8-10 overpaid administration holdovers are removed, the savings netted would not be enough to close the budget gap that caused the exigent circumstances. Cuts would need to come from all areas. The unfortunate thing is that those cuts are unlikely to provide long term financial stability and the university would face closure not on March 1st, but May 15th or June 30th. 

Simply put, a declaration of financial exigency could solve a few structural and personnel problems but wouldn’t be a long term fix. Therefore, I would suggest the university forgo such a declaration and its inherent costs, monetary and human, and prepare itself for closure on March 1st, baring financial intervention from the private sector. The governor is prepared to drive the car off the cliff to spite the House Speaker. The sooner we realize that loyal readers, the easier it will be to accept it and plan for the new reality.

Upcoming Meeting

So as this is a university wide crisis, I am imploring all faculty and staff to attend the meeting on Tuesday January 26th in the Breakey Theater at 12:30. Dr. Calhoun has scheduled this in an attempt to communicate with the faculty and staff about the nature of the crisis. I would hope all supervisors will encourage their people to attend this meeting.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

What You Can Do Right Now to Help

To our intrepid readers:

As you are undoubtedly aware, Chicago State is fighting for its life. Please join with us to resist the effort by Governor Rauner to destroy public higher education in Illinois. If you support public higher education, please do these three things:

First, just last night, we created a Facebook page titled “Save CSU.” It can be found here: Please visit the page, join the group and share the page with your friends.

Second, please sign the petition demanding that the Governor pass a budget and restore funding for MAP grants, available here: Please invite your friends to sign this petition.

Third, visit the web site “Fund Our Future,” available here: Please like it and share it with your friends.

Make no mistake, although the front lines are currently in Chicago, none of the Illinois universities are safe from Rauner's destructive anti-education bullshit "reform agenda."

Saturday, January 23, 2016

What Do We Know?

So loyal readers, it is time to play the game, What We Know & What We Don’t Know. Today’s category is the imminent closing of Chicago State University. Here’s what we know so far.

We know Governor Bruce Rauner has no intention of supporting CSU’s continued existence. Two missives published by his Deputy Chief of Staff for Legislative Affairs, Rich Goldberg point to the unmistakable conclusion that CSU is only a pawn in Rauner’s plan for state domination. He has been remarkably transparent in his vision to destroy unions, reduce standards of living, ruin the business climate and demolish educational opportunities for everyone in this state. I don’t believe Rauner has given any thought to closing CSU for any other reason than it advances his “reform agenda.” 
That his tone has been so blatantly racist isn’t surprising either. I am sure Goldberg will issue some statement that the statistics about white student graduation rates were taken out of context and that the governor has two Black friends, he gives money to a local homeless guy and in Trumpesque fashion make some pronouncement about the love Black people have for him. That said, don’t believe for a minute that Rauner will lose one second of sleep on March 1st, when CSU is shuttered.

We also know that Speaker Madigan has at least one questionable member in his caucus, namely Representative Ken Dunkin, who dutifully stood on stage with Rauner this past Tuesday at the announcement of the creation of the Advancing the Development of Minority Entrepreneurship (ADME) program. By his own admission, Dunkin does not work for Speaker Madigan. Nor does it appear that he works for anyone but himself. Obsequiously supporting the Governor while remaining mute on the subject of Chicago State University seems to be par for the course with other local current and former politicians as well. That none of the members of the Legislative Black Caucus have expressed any utterance of outrage at the prospect of a nearly 150 year old institution closing its doors for reasons beyond its control is appalling.

We know that the disgraced, failed ex-president won’t go away like any decent, disgraced ex-president would. Trying to insinuate himself in this crisis only exacerbates the crisis for the university. Dr. Calhoun doesn’t have enough minutes in the day without having to waste one minute on what Baldy knows or thinks he knows. What we do know is that Baldy’s incompetence is partially to blame for the current predicament. A 40% decline in enrollment and no appreciable fund raising along with a cavalcade of scandal made the university a soft target and now it is in a position where it can’t defend itself better. We know that Pat Quinn’s gutless support of Baldy is partly to blame for the university’s current predicament as well.

We know that unions including University Professionals of Illinois Local 4100 are more than deeply concerned and are working diligently to stave off what could constitute the worst public  education catastrophe in state history. We know that UPI 4100, Illinois Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers have this university in the middle of their radar screens.
We know that at Day 211 of this crisis not much time is left to act to save the university and it doesn’t appear that the cavalry is going to arrive or has even been dispatched.

What we don’t know is far more troubling. As this is an unprecedented event, a manmade disaster, without the loss of life, there is no plan to close the university. The following are issues that must be addressed in the closing of the university, if there is any expectation of reopening or serving students. I divided them into academic, administrative and physical plant

First, the physical plant must be secured. That includes winterizing all of the buildings and facilities. All university vehicles should be prepped for storage. All offices must be emptied of personal possessions as a re-entry date is undetermined. All windows must be checked to ensure they are sealed. Will the electricity and water be cut off to all buildings? If so the pipes must be drained of water to avoid rupture from freezing. An inventory of state property should be conducted to account for what might come up missing after the closure. How will the Aquaponics Facility be secured? Will the fish stock be destroyed, sold, transferred? After all buildings have been prepared, buildings must be sealed and doors chained with signs prohibiting entry. As the university would be shuttered, where does liability for injury transfer to? If kids from the neighborhood ride their bikes on campus and get injured, who is responsible?

Second, with no funding, the university would be unable to provide security in the form of its police department. With no patrols on campus would the Chicago Police Department or the Illinois State Police take over policing of the now vacant campus?

Third, what happens to the ongoing capital projects including Rauner’s Ravine, the Robinson University Center and the now abandoned Child Care Center? Will the ravine be finished and restored to its pre-construction state? Will the interior of the RUC be renovated after the building has been closed for ten years? How much will all of that cost? And of course, the much ballyhooed Child Care Center is likely never to be constructed.

Finally, one facility on campus that is likely to suffer irreparable damage is the Library. Libraries, because of their holdings are climate controlled facilities. Many of the documents in the archives  and other special collections are especially sensitive to temperature and humidity changes.  With no electricity, hot or cold water, or ventilation, many of the materials would need to be moved to appropriate facilities for storage of an indeterminate length. The identification of those materials would likely take some time. And with only 35 days left, it is unlikely that task would be accomplished on time. It is unknown who would cover the cost of the storage of these valuable library materials. Would it be the Governor’s office, the Illinois State Library, or Central Management Services?

In terms of academic impacts of suddenly closing the university, consider the following.
Two critical areas that would be affected by the closing of the university are accreditation and degree conferral. 

There are at least two criteria that the university would be in violation of in terms of its accreditation. Criterion 2.C.3 states
    “2.C. The governing board of the institution is sufficiently autonomous to        make decisions in the best interest of the institution and to assure its integrity.
         3. The governing board preserves its independence from undue influence on the part of donors, elected officials, ownership interests, or other external parties when such influence would not be in the best interest of the institution
It appears that the Board would not be sufficiently autonomous to make said decisions especially in the context of Criterion 5.A.1 which states;
    "5.A. The institution’s resource base supports its current educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future.
        1. The institution has the fiscal and human resources and physical and technological infrastructure sufficient to support its operations wherever and however programs are delivered.”
Would the Higher Learning Commission view the state’s political battle as a situation that endangers autonomy and the institution’s financial resources to the point that the university is ineligible for continued accreditation? Have assurances been garnered in writing protecting the institution against future consequences as a result of the budget crisis? Would this ineligibility be extended to other public institutions in Illinois as well who are equally situated financially? 

Secondly, there are students planning on graduating in May 2016. With the university closed they will obviously not matriculate. What recourse do those students have and does the institution have any obligation to ensure that their degrees are conferred? The economic impact on those students could be significant as they may become ineligible for appointment or promotion because of the lack of a degree. What about the College of Pharmacy students due to graduate and pursuing licensure? Would their last semester be waived to allow them to practice without completing the Pharm.D.?

In the area of administrative planning for closure, the university is utterly unprepared, as it should be, to close its doors mid-semester.

First, I have serious concerns about student Financial Aid. Would the university or its students be required to re-pay the federal government for any financial aid received for Spring 2016? Would students receive or be entitled to a refund of tuition and fees from the university? If students had to repay the federal financial aid they received and couldn’t would they be prohibited from receiving federal financial aid in the future? If so, that would likely preclude them from attending college anywhere. Would they likewise be prohibited from receiving financial aid because they didn’t make Satisfactory Academic Progress during the spring semester because of the closure? Are the answers to these questions available in writing and not just some bureaucrat's imagination?

Second, how are new admissions to be processed? Will students admitted be informed that they are un-admitted? Should the admissions process even continue with no resolution of this crisis in sight? Should the Division of Enrollment Management shut down before March 1st as a cost saving measure, as no new students are likely going to attend in the Fall semester?

Third, what is the impact on the university relative to federal grants? Will the federal government extend the timing of the grants because of a delay in the work of the grants? Will the university need to repay indirect cost monies already paid to the university from federal grants? Will more money be provided to move experiments and labs already in use as the buildings will be need to be shuttered.? With no money to pay insurance premiums, the university couldn’t afford to grant entry to faculty and staff research personnel to continue their research.
Fourth, how would employee status be impacted? Would the pension clock stop running for university personnel in the SURS? Would time be lost and employees need to work longer to make up the lost time? What about civil service seniority? Has that been communicated to all the affected employees? How much money would be lost by employees who had planned to retire by June 30th? Would employees be eligible for unemployment compensation? Is the state prepared to handle approximately 900 former state employees all filing for unemployment benefits? Are there to be layoffs, terminations or both? What is the plan for recalling laid off employees? What is the plan for replacing recalled employees who have found other employment? Would job searches need to be conducted? How would the Human Resources enterprise be re-constituted after a potentially lengthy shut down? Would union contracts be voided? If so, how would the university defend itself in ensuing litigation that is bound to follow the university’s shut down?

What about vendor contracts? Would any vendor in their right mind ever extend credit to the university knowing that it was as financially unstable as it is given the political behavior of the governor? Would the university be able to purchase any of the goods and services needed to operate this complex organization both in preparing to shut it down and to ostensibly re-open it at some unknown future date?

What would happen to our international students? My understanding of federal immigration law is that their student visas are no longer valid when they are not in school. Is this considered an inter-session period when they would be allowed to remain legally in the country?. I believe with the university closed with no re-opening date those students could be subject to deportation by the Department of Homeland Security. I would imagine that Dr. Ausaf Sayeed, the Indian Consul General in Chicago, would be very dismayed by dozens of his fellow citizens subject to that type of sanction generated by events beyond their control.

What is the plan for the dormitory residents and our student athletes? Would the athletes lose eligibility or be inadvertently punished by going to another university? Would we be tossed out of the Western Athletic Conference having invested the past few years in building a Division 1 program? Have we missed critical dates to ensure that student athletes can continue their educational pursuits elsewhere? Are dormitory residents going to receive refunds on their room and board?

Another group that must be considered in this Rauner driven fiasco is the bond holders of the bonds issued by the university to build the Student Union and dormitory. I would imagine that with no revenue from the dormitories, the bond holders wouldn’t be paid and CSU’s credit rating for future bond issues would be downgraded so low that the university couldn’t issue bonds beyond junk status. That downgrade on the credit rating would be devastating for future borrowing needs.

Another critical area of the university’s operations is its Information Technology Division. What will the university do with those resources? Will the university web server go off line making the university invisible to the world? With no admissions function, it doesn’t make sense to have a website for potential students when there will be no classes for potential students to attend? Will students staff and faculty have access to university email accounts or will the email server be taken off line? If not, how will they be contacted in the event of the university reopening? Will the telephone services of the university be shut down, meaning voicemail for staff and faculty will be unavailable? Will there be a recorded message stating the university is now closed by the incompetence of Bruce Rauner? How will the administrative computing system, known as Banner, be maintained and updated? Will the physical server be taken off line and put in secure storage and will the data be backed up on some media or in the cloud to be recovered once the university reopens? Can servers just be taken off line with little or no preparation time?

And what of the human costs, much of it not able to be monetized? How will former employees, especially those earning less than $50K per year pay their mortgages and feed their families? What is the psychological toll of a ridiculous personal battle between Rauner and the Democratic super-majority on soon to be former employees?

The cost of closing the university is likely to be far greater than keeping it open. The alleged financial genius of the governor is not on display here nor in most of the other decisions he has made regarding the budget. This crisis will cost the state more than any savings garnered. The degradation of the business climate, the systematic destruction of the state’s educational infrastructure and the potential catastrophe in human terms is unconscionable.

It doesn’t appear that Rauner or his staff have given any consideration to the logistics of closing down the first public university in the country. And the expected deflection that the university should have a plan to close mid-semester is laughable and shows the sheer idiocy of Rauner’s position and knowledge. With 35 days left, I believe it is logistically impossible to close Chicago State University without it significantly exceeding the $42 million that the university should be receiving from the state anyway.

Perhaps a little more consideration of what actually needs to be done and less racist and inaccurate statements from political cut outs like Rich Goldberg could move this process along. 

Hey Bruce, whaddya think, less petulant posturing and more thoughtful governance?

Some Questions for Rauner

Since closing a state university is somewhat more complicated than closing your local convenience store, I have some questions for the Governor:

What is your plan for enabling students who are eligible to graduate to do so?
What is your plan for tuition refunds for students who paid their tuition in good faith, expecting a full semester of classes?
What is your plan for continuing extant federal grants? What is your plan for paying back the unused grant funds?
What is your plan for the current semester’s indebtedness assumed by our students through student loans? Since the university is closing because of your dereliction of duty, are you going to have the state repay the student debt created during this aborted semester?
What is your plan to address the issue of failure to make satisfactory progress for our students and its effect on future student aid?
What is your plan for defending the state against the certain avalanche of lawsuits that will follow Chicago State’s closure?
What is your plan for addressing the long-term damage to the surviving state universities caused by your unconscionable action?

Since there won’t be anyone working at the university after March 1, I’m afraid there won’t be anyone to deal with these issues (and more that I’ve missed in this listing). I’m sure you and your staff will enjoy untangling the mess that you’ve created. I am also sure that in these areas you will prove yourself as unqualified as you are to be Governor.

Now you know the rest of the story...

In September 2014 the State Executive Inspector General weighed in on its investigation of Wayne Watson. Guess what? He violated state's "integrity" policy in 2013... It's just posted on their website now.

Where was Bernetta Bush the university "Ethics Officer" all this time?

What did Anthony Young and the Board of Trustees do when they read the report they received last September?

You know what they did...­inspector­general­report­former­csu­president­violatedintegrity­policy

IG  "Watson Report"

Will We Hear From These People?

Here’s a partial list of persons who spoke up for Wayne Watson in March 2013:

Emil Jones
Larry Vivens, Minister New Beginnings Church (Corey Brooks' Church)
Jonathan Jackson, CSU Lecturer--Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Martin King, CSU Lecturer--Rainbow PUSH Coalition
Conrad Worrill, NEIU Professor
Hermene Hartman, N’Digo Publisher
Reverend Janette Wilson, Executive Director of PUSH Excel

Reverend Leon Finney, former CSU Board of Trustees Chair and Pastor of Metropolitan Apostolic Community Church was quoted by DNAInfo in March 2013: "Despite Chicago State University's board finding that its president,  Wayne Watson, might have violated school policy, the Rev. Finney said he has no regrets about making the decision to hire him four years ago..."

These people defended Wayne Watson in 2013. Will they defend our imperiled Chicago State University in 2016?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dr. Calhoun Responds to the Rauner-Goldberg Attack Memo

Here is the text of Dr. Calhoun's letter to Bruce Rauner:

The letter and comments are available here:

Illinois Politicians and a Host of Others Knew Damn Well What Was Going on at Chicago State: They Chose to Do Nothing

Two days ago, Rauner’s office circulated a memorandum responding to the Thapedi-Jones proposal to provide emergency operating funds for Chicago State. The memorandum offers a laundry list of Chicago State’s “failures” in academics, financial management, and administrative ethics. It also, I think, signals again the willingness of the Rauner regime to punish the innocent for the misdeeds and incompetence of school officials, abetted by an entirely complicit Board of Trustees. While there is plenty of blame to go around for Chicago State’s “failures,” in my estimation, the lion’s share must be laid at the feet of the state’s politicians, all the way up to the Governor’s office.

A look at the various points in the memorandum makes clear that most of its information comes from various public sources: IBHE, the Chicago Tribune, the Illinois Auditor General. While I cannot speak for the accuracy of all the material in the memorandum, much of this material has appeared over the past few years on this forum and will come as no surprise to our readers. Therin lies the problem because nowhere in the memorandum does the Governor’s office assign any blame to the Illinois politicians, the University’s Board of Trustees (selected by politicians) or a news media apparently unwilling to look at the inner workings of the Watson administration at Chicago State. Not surprisingly, the majority of problems cited in the memorandum have occurred since the end of 2009.

Let me briefly catalog the efforts of some Chicago State faculty and students over the past six-plus years to get someone in power to address the administrative misconduct at our school. Obviously, we have used this blog to expose a number of scandals. A number of us have appealed to the IBHE, our Board of Trustees, the Better Government Association, the media, State Representatives and Senators, even the Governor, to step in and save the school from the Watson administration. The response from all these purported watchdog groups: the IBHE totally ignored our letters, the University Board of Trustees did nothing about our concerns. Instead, they consistently acted in the best interests of Wayne Watson to the detriment of Chicago State. The Better Government Association responded with a dismissive “Chicago State is on our radar” e-mail. Various media outlets, print and electronic, showed no interest in a spate of documented incidents of mismanagement and misconduct; the State Representatives and Senators listened politely then said they could do nothing. Of course, the Governor’s office could not be bothered. In our attempt to find someone who might listen and actually act, we spoke to Democrats and Republicans, mainstream and alternative media. The sum total of all these efforts: nothing. Wayne Watson’s political connections enabled him to weather every scandal and his various cronies retained their sinecures. In the final slap in the face to the Chicago State faculty and staff, after his "retirement" this Board granted Watson tenure and allowed him to occupy office space in the library while employing support staff.

Now suddenly, the Illinois Governor is intensely interested in the operational activities of Chicago State. He is deeply concerned about the “waste” of taxpayer dollars. What cynical bullshit! Governor Rauner is shocked! shocked! to find corruption and mismanagement at Chicago State. I suppose there is no institutional memory in the Governor’s office. After all, Rauner is a Republican, not a Democrat, and there’s no reason for him to know that Pat Quinn ignored faculty and staff pleas for his intervention in Watson’s 2009 hiring, while in 2013, he insured Watson’s continued tenure as president by replacing dissident board members with Watson supporters. Neither the Governor nor the Board took any action as multiple scandals plagued the university in 2014. In 2015, Rauner has taken no apparent interest in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees the university spent (and is still spending) to defend itself against multiple lawsuits. Not a peep from the Governor’s office as the CSU Board continued to waste tax dollars on support staff for the “President Emeritus” to ostensibly write his “memoirs.” Now the Governor says: “[t]he General Assembly cannot turn a blind eye to the rampant financial mismanagement inside the university system that hurts academic performance and sends tuition costs skyrocketing.” Now the legislators wring their hands and do nothing. Guess what folks, if you did not create this problem, your inaction exacerbated it and created the current “crisis.”

As I pointed out in my previous post, the students, faculty, and staff at Chicago State are to be punished for the misdeeds of an administration which came to power through the efforts of Illinois politicians and which survived multiple scandals intact thanks to the efforts of Illinois politicians. To the Governor, State Legislators, Board of Trustees and everyone else who contributed materially to the growth of this cancer, thank you for putting us on life support. We tried to tell you but you simply did not want to listen. For anyone wishing to understand the chronology of events that has contributed to this crisis, simply consult this forum. Finally, after six years of contention we are ready to move forward with a new president. Will we get the chance?

Here’s a copy of the memorandum, it's available here:

Monday, January 18, 2016

Rauner Makes Everyone Pay for the Excesses of a Few: Who is Really Responsible For the Kinds of Abuses He Describes?

Those of you who have been following the recent reports on Chicago State’s fiscal woes may have noticed a reference to a recent memo written by Rauner asking what state universities plan to do to cut “waste.” Here is a copy of that memorandum. I have no idea if any of the figures Rauner cites are accurate, but as far as I know, no one at Chicago State has access to a private jet. As for the other accusations, you can decide for yourself to which schools he refers. Of course, if he’s serious about addressing some of these issues, destroying the state’s system of public education seems a somewhat extreme response. After all, the vast majority of faculty, staff and students, for their employment or attendance at the various state schools, will not receive “car and driver services, memberships to multiple country clubs,” or “lavish golden parachutes,” like the “$480,418 in severance after just seven months on the job,” UIUC “gave fired University President Timothy Flanagan,” or the “$400,000” in severance pay UIUC “attempted to pay fired Chancellor Phyllis Wise.” Additionally, the vast majority of faculty, staff and students at the Illinois public universities have no hand in procurement or salary “waste,” or hiring and promotions based on “cronyism.” We have received neither “31.1 percent” salary increases in any seven-year period, nor “627,000” for our lobbying efforts. Nonetheless, we will pay the price for the political posturing of our Governor and legislators.

Just who is responsible for the kinds of abuses Rauner cites? Who hires university presidents? Is it Boards of Trustees who are recommended by legislators and appointed by the Governor? Using our own little university as an example, remember back in March 2013 when we had the opportunity to rid ourselves of our president and his crony-infested administration? Who was that who rode to his rescue by staging a circus at two separate Board meetings? Were there well-known political figures involved in the effort to retain our execrable president? Was it not the Governor of Illinois who failed to re-appoint Board members who favored our former president's removal and replaced them with Watson supporters? Exactly how much of a voice do university faculty, staff and students have in these matters? Of course in this twisted state political system, it makes perfect sense to hold the "little people" accountable for the misdeeds of the powerful.

I had more to say on this topic but it’s time for me to get on Chicago State's private jet and fly to the Bahamas for a nice junket on the taxpayers.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

With the Junior G-Man Out of Office, it's Now Just a Regular Car

Yesterday I noticed something different about the state car driven by the President of Chicago State. You may remember how our former president had the car outfitted with red and blue auxiliary lights in the front. Now the two are simply standard white lights. Looks like no more junior policeman in the president's office.

Monday, January 11, 2016

CSU Faculty Accomplishment--Dr. Lionel Kimble

For critics of our university, here's what our faculty do on a regular basis. This program features my friend and colleague, Dr. Lionel Kimble. Lionel, congratulations on your book!

Editor Still Needed for Our Web Site Material

As if we needed a reminder that some things may be slow to change, this currently appears as the top story on the CSU web site. Someone (preferably an English language speaker) needs to proofread this material before it's posted. This is embarrassing.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Some Observations on Week One

Building on the most recent post from my esteemed colleague, I will make some observations about Dr. Calhoun’s first week and some predictions about the kinds of cultural changes I believe will occur under his administration.

Most important is that Dr. Calhoun begins his term with a clean slate. Changing the masthead on this forum is a sign of the good faith of its contributors and a reflection of our belief that better things are ahead as we see the development and maturation of the reforms we are convinced will come.

Here are some of the things I know Dr. Calhoun did his first week. Taken the first steps toward the creation of a new culture of cooperation and mutual respect between the administration, staff, and faculty by establishing open communication with the leadership of both the Faculty Senate and the UPI 4100 local. Both Dr. Beverly and I had productive and cordial meetings with our new President this past week, an experience that took place almost never during the Watson administration.

Dr. Calhoun also responded quickly to e-mails from the union leadership about pressing personnel matters. In contrast to the Watson administration, his timely replies obviously spurred other senior management personnel to also respond in an appropriate time frame. I have to say that not being ignored by upper level administrators on matters important to our faculty and staff was a refreshing change from the deafening silence of the Watson administration.

Finally, Dr. Calhoun resolved a long-standing issue for me relative to the receipt of important enrollment information from the university administration. Simply, after several months of asking to be included on an e-mail distribution list, one e-mail to the President did the trick. I was added the same day I made the request.

Needless to say, having to appeal to the President for some of the matters I described above should not be necessary in a well administered university. That, of course, is the residue of the Watson administration, where even mundane decisions often required his approval. In my estimation, a seismic cultural shift is underway; it will be interesting to see how fast (or if) some of our holdovers figure out that it’s not business as usual here at Chicago State.

Here are some changes I think we will see in the very near future: No more silence from the administration when important issues are communicated. No more personnel decisions made at the top that benefit one or two persons at the expense of the university at large. Specifically, no more hiring based on personal loyalty or political reliability rather than basic competence, No more micro-managing of things like personnel decisions. No more wasting of faculty time on studies that are completely disregarded by the administration. No more seemingly gratuitous and insouciant violations of contractual deadlines.

This does not mean there will not be disagreement, even vigorous disagreement, in the future. However, at this point, I am content to wait and see how things develop. The stark contrast between the early management styles of our new President and our former President gives me reason for cautious optimism. Like all of us on this campus, I fervently desire that this president succeeds and that our school flourishes. I also believe that those two things are now inextricably linked.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A New Look For A New Year

So loyal readers, you may have noticed the long running graphic of Crony State University has been replaced. Currently the administrators of this humble blog are endeavoring to introduce a new graphic, more consistent with the expected improvements being considered by President Calhoun. This does not mean that the existing cronies are exonerated or departed and it does not mean that we will not continue to keep the community informed on goings on as we have for almost seven years. We do hope to bring you more good news especially about areas that we have reported on. 
Thanks to you loyal readers for your support and we look forward to keeping you as informed as we always have.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Week One Is In The Books

So we have come to the end of the first week of the Calhoun Administration and it is clear a new tone is being set. I have no idea what his plan(s) is/are but I am convinced he has a plan. Morale seems to be improving as long suffering employees welcome 2016. The Faculty Senate Social Committee is hosting a dinner and has invited President Calhoun to attend. This purely social event was the brain child of Dr. Tonya Hall. Her leadership was instrumental in reforming the committee and undertaking a bold event at the beginning of the semester and new year. Thanks in advance to the Social Committee members for all of their work and to the Faculty Senate Vice President, Jason Raynovich for supporting the committee in planning this first of its kind event. 
All competent executives take some time to evaluate the situations that they enter into. Hasty decision making is usually the sign of incompetent leadership. Thoughtful and measured decision making is the opposite. I hope that as President Calhoun evaluates the condition of CSU he realizes that faculty will be supportive of his efforts to repair damage done by the former regime. We eagerly await the results of his assessment and stand ready to support the changes needed to make the university viable again.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Henderson Enrollment Fiasco Continues: Another Semester With Fewer Students Coming Your Way

There is no shame in making a mistake. However, refusing to admit when you’re wrong is either: 1) arrogant, or 2) ignorant. Most important, a stubborn refusal to acknowledge one’s mistakes makes it impossible to learn from them. This dynamic is again on display here at Chicago State as one of the key holdovers from the Watson administration refuses to acknowledge a catastrophic decision that continues to damage the university.

Given the time of year, I can only be referring to our school’s enrollment and the ongoing problems with advising coupled with an utterly stupid decision to cut courses this week. This morning, the university’s enrollment stood at 3624, down more than one thousand from last fall and nearly twelve hundred from last spring. It seems that extending the window for enrollment might be an appropriate response. Not here.

Of course, the poor unfortunates laboring in the Advising Center are currently swamped with students. I have received reports that two hour waits for advising are not uncommon and one student claimed to have waited four hours to see an advisor. Given the problems with the centralized advising system during the fall semester, why have they not been addressed? Why are our students being treated like this? Whose interests does this system serve?

The simple answer to the first two questions is that Angela Henderson, the architect of this system, is unwilling to accept responsibility for its failure. As you may recall, she issued an edict in August directing everyone to do advising in the Advising Center, then followed that up with another fiat in November essentially prohibiting faculty from doing any advising. The result in the fall? A new enrollment low of 4767, down 151 students from the previous spring, off 434 from the previous fall. Undaunted however, Henderson forges ahead with the same system for spring registration. Although the final numbers will not be in until February, I expect us to be in between 4300 and 4400, a unsurprising climax to six-plus years of administrative incompetence and crony hiring.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


So loyal readers, it is with great pleasure I am able to extend my most heartfelt congratulations to my esteemed colleague Dr. Sarah Buck. Dr. Buck was the recipient of an award recently that will have her traveling to Montreal, Canada to accept. Please note the following below.
Much of the work of many of my faculty colleagues goes unnoticed. Thus I am extremely happy to share their work with you as it brings great credit to them and to this university. 
Sarah, well done!!!

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

So loyal readers, it is now official. Dr. Thomas Calhoun is now the president of Chicago State University. Let us all hope that 2016 is the year that that healing and repair of our humble university begins and that Baldy's Gang is invited to pursue other career opportunities.

The countdown is over.