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.


  1. How much of the administration is anticipated to be on the chopping block? Hopefully the administrators that the board has assigned to making the "decisions" aren't the ones that in fact should probably go themselves - Watson leftovers. Faculty should be the last resort when it comes to lay offs. Saddening and sickening that it has come to this.

    1. It does seem odd that faculty would not participate in decisions regarding faculty layoffs.

    2. I found the last line interesting (and wonder if there's any truth to it) in this excerpt from press release on it sites: "In addition to declaring exigency, the Board established a Management Action Committee, which is chaired by the President of the University and includes senior members of the administration, who will continue the ongoing task of thoroughly reviewing all aspects of University spending and make recommendations on where additional cost saving measurers can be found. Lastly, the Board created an Advisory Committee, which will have faculty, staff and student representation and will give input to the Management Action Committee." Was there a call for volunteers for the Advisory committee or is the administration picking and choosing those that it can puppeteer?

  2. According to the AAUP data, CSU seems to be continuing the long tradition of failed colleges and universities. All of the ones that failed seemed to have negligible to zero faculty input at all stages of the process.

    What this inept board needs to be educated in (and, more importantly, the State as a whole), is the consequences of their malfeasance, which is ENTIRELY due their total lack of regard for faculty input. The AAUP also recognized that the strongest universities have the greatest faculty input. THAT failure has been manifest for decades. The lack of a faculty member on the Board has long shown their disregard and the Presidents that they have inflicted upon us have shown their contempt for the faculty.

    We should go to the people of the State. Demand that Rauner address why he has allowed this institution that he labels as corrupt and inept continue with this BOT, when he alone has the power to appoint and remove them. It's not like we faculty have not tried to rid ourselves of these parasites.

  3. Some pertinent quotes from Hermene Hartman:

    "Wouldn't you like to work for full salary and work only three hours a week. Wow. What job."

    "What's so wrong with teaching a full course load."

    "But Watson is the president with a board of directors and taxpayers to account to."

    "Chicago State University is not a villa for cultural icons; it's an institution of higher learning."

    "The best thing any distinguished professor/cultural icon could do is to roll up his sleeves and engage students. In doing so, he would join the ranks of distinguished professors who have taught and authored books."

    Where is Hermene Hartman now that we are in financial exigency?

    "Dr. Wayne Watson, the President of Chicago State University, and I were Vice Chancellors of City Colleges together, he is my friend."

    Are we going to lay off library faculty and staff while he is collecting a president's salary and occupying an office in the very same building?

    Terminating Wayne Watson should be the first response. I welcome the boost to morale on campus.