Sunday, February 28, 2016

Taking a Closer Look at the Layoffs: An Estimate of Who Gets What

Apparently, those layoff notices that went out Friday had a number of effective dates. While I do not know the date of each individual notice, I can make some estimates based on the dates I do know about. Please remember that these figures are estimates.

I think staff and faculty layoff dates are probably all either April 30 or August 15. The dates for administrators, however, vary and some apparently extend until February 2017. The reason for this variance can be found in the Board of Trustees Regulations which provide notification for employees who “serve at the pleasure of the President,” and whose terminations are “without cause.” First, the notices received by those administrators should be notices of termination, not layoff, since the Board Regulations contain no language about administrative layoffs. Here are the Board Regulations:

The regulations specify that the University President is entitled to 6 months notification in her/his first and second years, a full year after that time.

For other “at-will” administrators, three months notification is required during the first year of employment, six months notification during years two through five, and one year notification for any administrator with more than five years.

Now what does this mean, exactly? The “notification” is a terminal period of employment, with full pay, based on years of employment. So, how much is it going to cost to pay the salaries of the various employee classifications from March 1 through their separation dates? Since I do not have specific dates for each employee, I am making my best guess for those persons in administrative categories. I am going to use May 1, 2016, as the date the university runs out of money. For the purposes of this analysis, I am going to place the Deans and Chairs into the same category as faculty, using a separation date of August 15, 2016. Here are the dates of the various employee categories:

For staff, I will use April 30, 2016 as the effective date.
For faculty and academic administrators, I will use August 15, 2016 as the effective date.
For all other administrators, I will use May 30, 2016, August 30, 2016, and February 28, 2017 as the effective dates.

Finally, I will break down the salaries into two categories: paid between March 1 and April 30, 2016, and paid after April 30, 2016. Here are the estimated totals:

I am not sure if the Board will treat every one of the scores of administrators blighting the place as "at will" employees subject to notification provisions, but it seems fair to say that at least the senior administrators are looking at a nice terminal employment package. While after April 30, all other university employees get either nothing (staff), or only payment for work already performed (faculty), our Board regulations take very good care of our administrative employees. I do not blame the administrators, but here are some of the lucky recipients of the university's generosity:

The Provost is apparently entitled to six months' notice. That comes to $75,000 after April 30.
The Vice President and General Counsel is apparently entitled to one year's notice. That comes to $129,170 after April 30.
The Vice President of Human Resources is apparently entitled to one year's notice. That comes to $120,830 after April 30.
The Associate Vice President of Enrollment Management is apparently entitled to one year's notice. That comes to $94,420 after April 30.
The Associate Vice President of Student Affairs is apparently entitled to six months' notice. That comes to $41,667 after April 30.
The Associate Vice President of Equal Opportunity is apparently entitled to one year's notice. That comes to $91,670 after April 30.
The Associate Vice President of Administration and Finance is apparently entitled to six months' notice. That comes to $39,480 after April 30.
The Associate Vice President of Athletics is apparently entitled to three months' notice. That comes to $10,417 after April 30.
The Vice President of Administration and Finance is apparently entitled to three months' notice. That comes to an estimated $13,333 after April 30.

I could go on, but you get the idea. After the first layoffs occur on April 30, and after the university ceases to be able to make payroll after that date, these 9 persons will be entitled to $615,987 in compensation. Of course, with the staff laid off after April 30 and faculty all laid off after August 15, it seems unclear what these administrators are going to administer. I guess that's OK in this state. In any event, these layoffs are going to be damned expensive for someone in Illinois.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

It's Business as Usual at Chicago State

It is hard to imagine how a situation calling for tact, delicacy, and consideration—something like sending 900 people layoff notices for example—could have been handled with less consideration for the unfortunate employees of Chicago State University. Yesterday’s layoff debacle does not auger well for the university’s future handling of this ongoing financial crisis.

Yesterday hewed to the administrative playbook of the former President: unwarranted secrecy, poor or non-existent communication with contradictory messages, and the inexcusable press conference before the affected employees had even been notified. The predictable result? An angry and confused work force at the university. Here’s my view of the chronological progression of yesterday’s events.

About 6:30am, Thursday morning, one of the television stations reported that Chicago State would be announcing layoffs later that day. Of course, I had heard nothing, either as the President of the University’s largest union, or as one of the employees affected by the layoffs. A few hours later, an article appeared on the University’s web site that began: “Chicago State University announced on Friday that all faculty, staff and administrators will receive a notice of potential layoffs in the event that the State of Illinois continues to fail to fund public universities.” Since anyone paying attention to the events of the past year knew, given the absence of state appropriations, staff reductions were a definite possibility. There was nothing in the press release about an effective date for the layoffs. Shortly after the press release went up on our web site, the Chicago Tribune reported on the layoffs. In the first iteration of the story, the Tribune indicated that no layoff dates had been announced.

During the day, I received phone calls and e-mails from faculty asking what the notices contained. Of course, I had to tell people I simply did not know, that I had neither seen nor heard anything official. Late in the afternoon, I began to hear that the letters received by staff and faculty were, in fact, quite specific. Here’s what they said:

So, the university held a press conference prior to officially notifying any of its employees (I assume) that they would be laid off beginning either April 30 (the date as I understand it for staff and administrators, I do not know about our Lecturers), or August 15 for Unit A faculty. The university also apparently failed to provide specifics of its layoff decision to either readers of the web site, the media, or, of course, affected employees.

Make no mistake, this responsibility for this fiasco belongs at the feet of the university’s Board of Trustees, complicit in the previous administration’s excesses, and the driving force behind the declaration of “financial exigency” and the creators of the “Management Action Committee” and the “University Advisory Committee,” which includes leaders from various campus unions. That committee met the day before yesterday’s announcement and was told nothing.

We have just endured six long years of the kind of management shenanigans on display yesterday. The staff of this university deserves better treatment. We deserve to be told what administrative decisions have been made that will affect our futures and we deserve to be given that information before it is disseminated publicly.

Although we have a new President who deserves the opportunity to succeed, I believe yesterday’s fiasco underscored the consequences of the continued toxic presence of a Board and holdover members of a crony--riven administration that have literally brought this university to its knees.To be sure, dramatic cuts to this university’s bloated administrative positions and salaries must occur. Our first salary reductions should come from those high-salaried administrators who have done so much damage to this school.

Shame on you Anthony Young, Nikki Zollar, Michael Curtin, Marshall Hatch, James Joyce, Spencer Leak, Horace Smith. Proud of yourselves now?

So this is what it has come to. After years of propping up the failed presidency of Wayne Watson, covering for him, acting as his apologist, on February 4th you, the CSU Board of Trustees, had to declare  CSU financially exigent. Now, today you tell 900 CSU employees of all ranks that they may be out of a job in April or August. Well done Anthony Young. Well done CSU Board of Trustees.
After years of hearing from us here and in other venues that the CSU house was on fire, treating us as if we were outsiders with no stake or interest or commitment to the university--you just stopped up your ears and swallowed the pablum, the snake oil that HRH your friend and pol Wayne Watson pedaled. And you even went on record time and time again about your support of Watson and his vanities. Well done. Great management of a state institution you were entrusted to protect.

Ok, so Gov. Rauner has put all the state universities into circumstances that are beyond their individual control. But let's face it, without WW's lawsuits and all the legal fees incurred by the university, all his whims and extravagances, his running of CSU as a jobs for friends political ward--lovingly detailed here in these blog posts, not to mention his and your board's failure to fund raise (nice touch by the way, caving into Watson's desire to blame it all on the old beleaguered Foundation and then dismantle them), you have to admit that you really did not do your due diligence. You did not attend to the falling enrollment of which you were reminded at every Board meeting. You let Wayne and his "team" off the hook time and time again. You even extended the megalomaniac's contract. Then, for some reason, who knows why, last fall you decided to hire a new president to clean up the mess or help shut us down as the case may be. You wanted the new president to start in January, but you still kept WW on campus in  university-supported office space. Your blind support of the failure of the Watson presidency has helped our undoing immensely. It is cold comfort to think that among all the pink slips you have to sign, one must now bear Watson's name. Three years too late.

So bravo CSU Board of Trustees. 

If Rauner were truly interested in cleaning up the corruption of the state he would have disbanded the CSU Board long ago. But we know the dance is all about Rauner vs Madigan. We know that at a place like CSU we are all pawns in a much bigger game. Too bad, however, you could not have provided us with a higher ground on which to endure the assault from outside.
Shame on you all.  

Monday, February 22, 2016

What Employee Class at the University Has Grown Dramatically Since 2009? Take a Guess

Although the residual damage done by the last President of Chicago State will take years to fully emerge, it is possible to examine his performance since Fall 2009. Here are some of the enrollment “highlights”:

• Total enrollment decreased from 7235 in Fall 2009 to 4442 in Spring 2016, a drop of 2793 students, or 38.6 percent.
• Undergraduate enrollment decreased from 5398 in Fall 2009 to 3143 in Spring 2016, a drop of 2255 students, or 41.8 percent
• Graduate enrollment decreased from 1837 in Fall 2009 to 1299 in Spring 2016, a drop of 538 students or 29.3 percent
• Except for Pharmacy, all of the Colleges lost students between Fall 2009 and Spring 2016
• Undergraduate enrollment decreased in every category (Colleges, no college, Special Programs) between Fall 2009 and Spring 2016
• University enrollment decrease 11 consecutive semesters beginning in Spring 2011

Against this backdrop of plunging enrollments, the former President increased the number of University Administrators, while athletics and full-time lecturers remained stable, and every other employee category decreased.

• University Administrators increased from 91 to 115 (26.4 percent)
• Total Administrators increased from 203 to 225 (10.8 percent)
• Athletics remained the same at 22
• Full-time Lecturers remained the same at 70
• Academic Administrators decreased from 112 to 110 (-1.8 percent)
• Staff decreased from 390 to 304 (-22.1 percent)
• Total Faculty positions decreased from 312 to 250 (-19.9 percent)
• Unit A Faculty decreased from 242 to 180 (-25.6 percent)
• Total positions decreased from 927 to 801 (-13.6 percent)

Aggregate salaries increased for Staff, University Administrators, Full-Time Lecturers, and Athletics. Salaries decreased for Academic Administrators and Unit A Faculty.

• University Administrators salaries increased $2.97 million (46.8 percent)
• Athletic salaries increased $222,945 (25.2 percent)
• Salaries for Full-Time Lecturers increased $312,460 (11.4 percent)
• Total Administrative salaries increased $2.78 million (7.2 percent)
• Total Staff salaries increased $298,506 (2.1 percent)
• Academic Administrator salaries decreased $190,748 (2.3 percent)
• Unit A Faculty salaries decreased $1.14 million (9.3 percent)

A few things to finish. After the February 4 Board meeting, a senior administrator said “we have to get to the tenured faculty,” meaning that layoffs must come in the Fall for tenured faculty. Does that mean the university will continue to protect high-salaried administrators by sacrificing staff and faculty? Given that administrative positions have grown while faculty/staff positions have decreased, that seems to be their goal. We’ll see about that. Finally, I have a pretty fair idea where the first cuts should come. What do you think?

Here are the figures:

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

You should have been there. Really, you should have.

We should all be proud of the CSU students who made the trip down to Springfield to protest at Governor Rauner’s Budget Address. It was their moment and it was gratifying to see them join with students from many of the other state institutions—Northern, Northeastern, Eastern (“EI-EI-EI-U”—what a cute little cheer). They made the effort, they filled two floors of the State Capital Building, they booed Rauner as he came out of the assembly rooms after his address. They tried to impress the pols with a simple message that for all its troubles, CSU means something and has made a difference in many lives.

You would have been proud of them. Prez Calhoun was there and he seemed pretty pleased with the effort.

Thirty or forty faculty and other CSU supporters joined the protest in Springfield, but one of the Republican legislators who stopped by to talk to the students on the way out told all of us that while this gathering was ok, it would have been far more impressive if we filled the floors of the capital building, if there were many many more people there. So, next time let's bring out the bodies. For whatever it is worth, whether the die is already cast for the future of CSU, we still need to show up. Next time and there will be a next time, we can’t let them say that there weren’t enough of us.

Well done students. Impressive leadership, great spirit.    

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Get Down to Springfield

I just got word from Farah Muscadin that the student bus is full. There is still room on the UPI bus, but slots are limited. If you want to go, let me know ASAP. If there is an overload, I anticipate that there will be people driving to Springfield in carpool fashion. The boarding time tomorrow is 7am in the parking lot behind SUB between the Robinson Center and the dorm.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Let's Support DePaul Students

Students from DePaul University are rallying for MAP grants this Tuesday, February 16, 11:30-12:30 at the Thompson Center. They've asked for support from our students and staff. Any of you who are able to do so, please attend. DePaul has nearly 5,000 students who receive MAP grants.

Friday, February 12, 2016

On the Road to Springfield


Last night I sent to all UPI members an a-mail about the upcoming bus trip to Springfield on February 17. Our students have organized two buses to make the trip and UPI is providing one for UPI members. I think it important that we have a presence in Springfield and I ask all our members who could possibly make the trip to do so. I realize that many of us have other commitments, but I think in this instance, if you can exercise discretion in rearranging schedules (personal and professional), making the trip downstate would be an excellent use of your time. Please let me know as soon as possible if you're willing to take a road trip with us.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Chicago State Makes a List For Top 50 Grad Schools in the U.S.

Chicago State's graduate school has been listed as one of the 50 top graduate schools in America by a web site called GradSchoolHub. I am not familiar with this web site or the organization(s) doing the ratings but it was good enough for Northwestern University:

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Rauner Foundation: Why an Excessive Focus on Lobbying Rauner to End the Budget Stalemate is a Waste of Time

The budget impasse created by Bruce Rauner is a predictable outcome of his anti-union and anti public education history. At the last Board of Trustees meeting, my colleague Dr. Beverly commented that he thought appeals to Rauner to end the budget deadlock were a waste of time and energy (or words to that effect). I have to agree. After all, we know that Rauner does not like unions and we know that he has no regard for our public institutions of higher education.

I believe Dr. Beverly’s comment stems from his understanding that Rauner is not a politician, that no appeal for reasonable compromise will sway him on the budget issue. I agree. He hates unions and he does not give a damn for public higher education. These sentiments are not politically expedient positions, they are part of his core belief system. Although this seems patently obvious, Rauner is an ideologue, unfortunately for the people of Illinois, one wealthy enough to get him elected to the state’s highest executive position.

To this point, I have said nothing we do not already know. However, the analysis of his intransigence and its motivations comes from observation and interpretation. There is a more tangible way to understand the depth of his convictions—he puts his money where his mouth is.

Rauner and his wife administer a charitable organization, The Rauner Family Foundation. An examination of the charity's tax returns going back to 2007 enables us to get a firms sense of the personal commitment he has to his current attacks on faculty unions and public higher education. As you would expect from persons with the fabulous wealth of the Rauners, the foundation is flush with money. As of late 2014, its assets totaled $51 million. Since 2007, its contributions to various charitable causes total $18.4 million.

The Rauner Foundation’s contributions to “education” charities since 2007 total $11.3 million, or 61 percent the charity’s total contributions. Of that total, $7.59 million went to private/charter K-12 schools, elite projects designed to “transform” K-12 education, private universities, and virulently anti-union organizations. In contrast, the Rauner Foundation contributed $1.3 million to public K-12 systems, public universities, and the Chicago Public Library.

In the last two years, the Rauner Foundation’s contributions have skewed even more toward the public/charter schools and private higher education. The charity has disbursed just under $9.5 million in total contributions, with $4.8 million (51 percent) going to education. The Foundation contributed $4.1 million to the private/charter K-12 schools, private universities, “transformational” efforts, and anti-union organizations. Conversely, during the same time period, the Foundation contributed $230,000 to a public university and the Chicago Public Library.

Looking at the Rauner Foundation’s contributions in greater detail sharpens the picture of its pro-privatization, anti-union focus. Five organizations have received over $750,000 since 2007. The largest single recipient of the Foundation’s largesse is the Noble Network of Charter Schools in Chicago. The Rauner Foundation has given the Noble Network $1.55 million since 2007, with $850,000 in the past two years. In fact, the $800,000 contribution by the Foundation to the Noble Network in 2012 is the largest single contribution by the charity since 2007. Next on the list is Teach For America, an organization devoted to taking graduates from the country’s most elite institutions and placing them in “low performing” urban schools. The Rauner Foundation has contributed $1.15 million to Teach For America. A public school organization, the Chicago Public Schools Fund For Children is next, receiving $872,000 from the Rauner Foundation. Notably, the Foundation has contributed nothing to this organization in the past two years. Dartmouth College follows closely with $850,000 in contributions from the Rauner Foundation. The last of the top five, The Academy of Communications and Technology in Chicago, received $770,560 from the Rauners.

Seven additional organizations have received between $400,000 and $750,000 from the Foundation. Heading the list is the Chicago Public Education Fund, $682,000; followed by The Stand For Children Leadership Center and the Academy For Urban School Leadership at $600,000 apiece. Next come the Chicago International Charter School at $575,000, and Yale University with $500,000. Rounding out the group are National Louis University and Education Reform Now at $450,000. These 12 groups account for just over $9 million of the Rauner Foundation’s $11.3 million education contributions.

An examination of some of these groups reveals what the Rauner Foundation gets for its money. The Noble Network includes 18 charter schools in Chicago. Teach For America’s purpose includes taking the “best and brightest” students from top universities and placing them in urban public schools, primarily in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. This organization spends millions on marketing and has drawn intense criticism for its failure—many from its alums. Articles in the Washington Post and Slate detail some of the critiques. A former Teach For America participant said: “TFA members do not work in service of public education . . . They work in service of a corporate reform agenda that rids communities of veteran teachers, privatizes public schools, and forces a corporatized, data-driven culture upon unique low-income communities with unique dynamics and unique challenges.”

The criticisms also describe the program’s performance and retention problems, its questionable teacher placements, and adverse effects on existing faculty: “its teachers are largely unprepared and fare no better than regular educators. It has a high drop-out rate . . . TFA sends its volunteer teachers to school districts in Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, places now facing teacher layoffs and hiring freezes. Some school districts have even rescinded contracts with TFA, citing teachers’ lack of preparation and low retention rates.”

Criticism of the Chicago Public Education Fund, linked to the recent scandal involving the SUPES Academy and Barbara Byrd-Bennett, characterized the Fund as part of the elite agenda to “transform” public education by applying corporate principles. “Remember all the talk during the April 7 mayoral runoff of the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent? It would be difficult to assemble a board that screams 1 percent louder than CPEF’s—from the schools its members attended to jobs held to marriages made.” And, “That CPEF’s board is much heavier with finance titans than educators shouldn’t surprise anyone. CPEF is designed to mimic a private equity or a venture capital firm in the way it raises money.” The Chicago Public Education Fund’s links to Bruce Rauner and Teach For America also came under scrutiny: “CPEF’s current board chairman, Brian Simmons, a managing partner at Shorehill Capital, told me when I interviewed him about his friendship with Bruce Rauner.” Simmons went on to talk about “CPEF’s role in raising money to bring Teach for America to Chicago. (CPEF’s President and CEO, Heather Anichini, is a TFA alum.)”

The Stand For Children Leadership Center is an anti-union group that claims “inexperienced teachers are just as good if not better than experienced teachers.” Its anti-union stance and focus on standardized testing aims “to put an end not only to teachers’ unions but to the teaching profession. They want teachers to be evaluated by test scores.” Major funding for the group came from the Walton and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundations.

The Rauner Foundation has not contributed anything to the Academy of Community and Technology Charter High School since 2012. Perhaps charter school’s performance has something to do with their withdrawal of support, as one web site that rates schools by their test scores graded it as an “F” performing school, writing: “The overall school rating shows that Academy of Communications & Technology Charter High School performed on average much worse than most other schools across the state on ISAT and PSAE state exams” in Math, Reading, and Science. However, the Rauner Foundation continues to support the Charter International Charter School despite its “D” grade on the same web site. Perhaps their days are numbered.

Finally, the Rauner Foundation supports Education Reform Now, run by 4 hedge fund managers and a charter school devotee. An investigative piece on the group from 2013 discovered its connections to various conservative causes: “Education Reform Now, whose PAC, Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), shelled out $1 million to attack the Chicago Teachers Union.” Further, “DFER worked with the Koch brothers and ALEC to push Proposition 32, which if passed, would have blocked labor unions from using automatic payroll deductions for political purposes.”

So there is Bruce Rauner’s “vision” for Illinois education reflected in his Foundation’s contributions to groups that villify unions, worship at the altar of standardized testing, and embrace the corporate dream of a privatized system in which only the deserving receive a real education. While I think we should express our displeasure to Rauner, I believe that we must pressure the vulnerable members of the Republican party to break the deadlock that exists in Springfield. It is my view that the only way this stalemate will end is through legal action (injunctions and court orders to fund higher education and social services), or when enough Republicans join with Democrats to create a real veto-proof majority. The damage being done to the state is enormous and someone needs to start governing.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Another Thing We Now Know

So as previously reported here, the Board of Trustees declared financial exigency on Thursday. On the list of the worst things that can happen to a university, I rank financial exigency declarations at number 2 just behind, permanently closing the institution. It can be regarded as an indication of significant failure on the part of university’s president and governing body. The assumption is that the chief executive and the body with fiduciary responsibility for the institution were incapable of or derelict in performing their duties. The current situation presents a bit of twist. The current president has been operating in his capacity for 37 days and could hardly be held responsible for creating the conditions of the exigency. However, his predecessor is clearly culpable in his numerous documented failings, most glaringly his inability to raise substantial sums of money or create new or maintain current revenue streams. The full cost of the past presidency is to be computed at a later time. Suffice it to say, loyal readers of this humble blog will be familiar with the story of the university since March 2009. The Board minus two members is fully responsible as they had the opportunity in February 2013 to change the trajectory of the university. Instead of putting the institution first, they doubled down on failure and three years later CSU finds itself with the most capable president it has had in decades who now has his hands tied by external forces beyond his control exacerbated by internal forces who were obviously complicit in reaching this point.

I will speak to one of the external forces. Long time readers might recall a lengthy post from January 23rd, where I posited that it would be logistically impossible to close the university by March 1st or May 15th for that matter without it costing more than the appropriation voted on by the Illinois legislature that was vetoed by the Governor. That appropriation included a 6% budget cut which the university likely could have weathered without necessity of a financial exigency declaration. In that post I indicated that I didn’t know, but was concerned about the accreditation implications of this budget impasse. The question underlying the concern was answered definitively by the letter from the Higher Learning Commission posted below.

First a reminder about CSU and accreditation. Chicago State University is a fully accredited institution having received a ten year accreditation after the HLC visit in November 2012. CSU was NEVER at risk of losing its accreditation contrary to incorrect statements made by the former president reported in the press. With that said the HLC’s letter is very troubling as it affects all Illinois public institutions. This communication is not just about Chicago State. Though the University of Illinois has more of a cushion it can’t survive indefinitely without state appropriations. The HLC is very clear about the consequences of this continued deprivation of state funds. It has requested that all public universities submit a plan “that if they believe they will have to suspend operations or close in the next several months” what will they do to insure their students’ educational continuity.

The three options presented by HLC are reasonable.

"HLC’s analysis of that plan about the college or university’s viability in the weeks ahead could result in 1) a review of the college or university’s compliance with HLC’s Criteria for Accreditation, 2) a sanction – in which the college or university would have two years or fewer to demonstrate corrective action, or 3) withdrawal of accreditation."

I believe the President will submit a plan that results in Door #1 being opened. Doors #2 & 3 would only further damage the institution’s reputation at a time when it is poised to emerge from the wreckage of the past administration. The best thing at this point is for the President to be given the widest possible latitude with no interference from the Board that helped put the university in this situation in the first place. Ostensibly, the Board would always act in the best interest of the university. I believe its best interest now is to let the President do his job and salvage whatever is recoverable from the mess created by his predecessor.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Our Graduation Statistics Redux: The Antidote for Rauner's Lies

Are you as tired as I am of intellectually lazy, ignorant, and mendacious Neanderthals (like the Governor of Illinois and his aide) bloviating about a “graduation rate” that fails to include 93 percent of our students? Here is some data we can use to mitigate that bullshit. All this information comes from the IBHE data base.

For our school, the most important piece of information on that site is that Chicago State in every single year between fiscal 1996 and 2014 (every year available on the IBHE site) graduated more Black students than any other four-year institution, public and private NFP (not-for-profit), in the state of Illinois. Think about that. The smallest school in the Illinois system, the school that our critics claim never graduates anyone awards more degrees to Black students than the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, or UIC. More degrees to Black students than DePaul, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, Northern Illinois, Eastern Illinois, Western Illinois, Northeastern Illinois, Southern Illinois-Carbondale and –Edwardsville, UI Springfield, Illinois State, and Governors State.

Here is what the money we “throw down the toilet” produces:

• Every single year since 1996, Chicago State led all other four-year institutions in Illinois in awarding degrees to Black students. That includes the 12 public universities in Illinois plus DePaul, Northwestern, and the University of Chicago
• In 2014, Chicago State University’s enrollment represented 2.8 percent of the enrollment in all Illinois public universities
• Between fiscal 1996 and fiscal 2014 , Chicago State awarded 20,318 degrees (Baccalaureate and advanced)
• During the same time period, Black students at Chicago State earned 15,987 degrees, by far the most of any four-year institution in Illinois
• The degrees awarded to Black students represent 19.5 percent of the total degrees earned by Black students between 1996-2014
• In second place for degrees awarded to Black students is Southern Illinois-Carbondale, with 12,210. Third is Urbana-Champaign with 9320

I would be delighted to discuss this with Rauner and his aide or anyone else who wishes to make the claim that Chicago State graduates no one. I challenge our critics to incorporate this information into their critiques of this university. I suppose they believe that the 20,318 graduates of this school simply did not deserve an education.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

The Board of Trustees declared CSU financially exigent today

Very sad day at the Board meeting. See the link to the story in the Chicago Tribune.

Chicago State University declares financial crisis due to state budget mess
Jodi S. CohenContact Reporter
Chicago Tribune

Chicago State University declared a financial crisis Thursday, laying the groundwork for a plan that could include major cuts at the South Side public institution.

By claiming financial exigency, the university also is sending a message to Springfield, where a budget impasse since July has meant colleges have gone without state funding for seven months. Chicago State officials had previously said there would not be enough money to pay employees come March, but new President Thomas Calhoun Jr. on Thursday declined to lay out a "doomsday" scenario.

With a notably quiet and somber crowd watching, trustees unanimously approved a motion to declare the school in "a universitywide state of financial exigency," the term used in academia to declare a financial emergency.

Under that definition, a university generally has an easier time bypassing contracts to lay off employees, including tenured professors. The American Association of University Professors defines financial exigency as an "imminent financial crisis which threatens the survival of the institution as a whole," and one that "cannot be alleviated by less drastic means" than firing faculty.

The board also named a committee of administrators who will "decide all employment actions, including layoffs, reductions in compensation, terminations and significant position modifications."

Officials are looking at other ways to cut expenses, such as closing a building or consolidating classroom spaces to save on utility costs.

The university, with about 4,500 students, plans to find a way to finish the semester. Many faculty and students wore "CSU" pins and wore green — the school color — to show their support of the school.

"We will, as the president said, come through this semester together," said Trustee Nikki Zollar. "We will stand as one body, we will have graduates, we will be CSU as we always have been. We will stand strong and we do love each of you."

About 30 percent of the university's funding — approximately $36 million a year — comes from the state.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Board of Trustees Meeting Tomorrow-- what will they do? what will you do?

At the Faculty Senate/UPI meeting yesterday representatives from our UPI chapter leadership urged ALL UPI members to show up at the Board of Trustees meeting tomorrow. Show that Board that you are concerned about what they are doing to get Chicago State University through the close-down crisis.

This is a special session of the Board to deal with the university's financial crisis. They begin at 8.30 am but there is no telling whether they will go into executive session and if they do, when they will come out of it. If there is anything to vote on they must do it publicly. After that there will be some public comment. As the UPI stressed, it is important to show up. It is important to impress on them that you care about what they do. Even if you can only come for an hour or so. Do it. Faculty who are teaching tomorrow have been encouraged to bring their classes--make this a teaching moment for them.

We in higher education are part of a state-wide crisis. CSU is not alone, but we have one month to make ourselves visible at protests, phone calling, letter writing, rallies, etc. etc.  Governor Rauner is intent on bringing education to its knees. He wants to bring down unions as well. Our board of trustees are one of the links we have with the state authorities. They are appointed by the governor. They need to see you.

Show up tomorrow.
Wear a UPI green t-shirt if you can.

As others have said, if you don't have time now  to join in these actions, you will have plenty of time after March 1st.

Monday, February 1, 2016

The Cost of Rauner's Folly: How Much Will the SURS System Pay in Retirement Refunds?

In our earlier discussions about the problems closure of this or other universities would cause, the refund of pensions and retirement contributions has been absent. In an attempt to roughly calculate the amount of money the SURS system would have to pay out I looked at five universities: ours, Eastern Illinois, Governors State, Northeastern Illinois, and Western Illinois. These are the five smallest schools in the Illinois state system, have the fewest employee complements, and pay the lowest salaries.

For persons who do not know how our retirement system works, a brief description might be useful. We pay 8 percent of our total compensation into the Illinois State Universities Retirement System (SURS). The state contributes nothing. As we go from year-to-year, the only funds in our retirement accounts are our contributions and their accrued interest. To be eligible for a retirement pension, a SURS member must: have reached the age of 62 with 5 years of service; reached the age of 60 with 8 years of service; or worked for 30 years. In the event a member leaves her/his employment prior to retirement eligibility, the entire contributions plus a majority of the accrued interest must be refunded to the former employee in a lump-sum payment. After all, it's our money.

Obviously, the vast majority of employees in these five institutions are not eligible to retire. Therefore, I devised a rough formula to calculate the projected retirement payout in the event that these schools cease operations. My estimate is that SURS would pay at least $300 million in cash payouts for persons leaving the system as a result of school closings. For Chicago State alone, I estimate the cost to SURS to be around $30 million (I think both these figures are conservative). Certainly, some CSU members would be able to retire, albeit before a time of their choosing, but the price tag for these retirement refunds would be enormous. According to the financial audit, SURS pays around $110 million per year system-wide for refunds. Add the larger schools to the mix, and the price tag increases to over $1 billion.

The cost of retirement refunds would have to be added to the unknown costs mentioned in previous posts. Altogether, tuition refunds, financial aid paybacks and ancillary costs associated with the school’s closing would likely approach $50 million. It seems cheaper to simply fund us, no?