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.

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