Despite our efforts to work with the administration, specifically the Provost, it has become apparent that her vision for the university differs sharply from ours. Rather than the “we’re all in this together” stance that the administration has occasionally spouted publicly, she behaves in a way that demonstrates her antipathy to CSU faculty and staff. Frankly, Angela Henderson seems determined to make the faculty and staff bear the brunt of the damage done to the university by the current fiscal crisis. As the number of bad decisions coming out of her office increases, consider the following and the implications for our school:
The preparation for the large (hopefully) on-campus rally to save Chicago State that will happen this Friday has run up against some administrative obstructions. About two weeks ago, I made requests for space. I followed those requests on March 25 by requesting the following from the President’s office: 1) a waiver of parking fees for that day; 2) a commitment that CSU employees would be able to attend the rally without having to use accrued time; 3) dissemination using university resources of a flier or message about the rally. The President responded as follows: “I am sure we can grant most if not all the requests. Best wishes, and thanks for your efforts on behalf of CSU.” Apparently acting on the President’s wishes, Renee Barnes, a member of the President’s staff wrote: “Please send the information to me that you would want the President’s office to disseminate to the campus community; flyer or memo form.” I did so. Then this Monday I received a late afternoon telephone call from Ms. Barnes (just the messenger to be sure) indicating that some of my requests were problematic. What happened between Friday, when the administration was poised to offer its support for the rally to save our school and Monday, when the administration began putting up roadblocks and making objections to a number of my requests? Simply, the Provost got involved.
First, there were problems with the space requests. Ms. Barnes told me I should have spoken to the Provost about them, something I have never done before when making space requests for various events. However, I complied with Ms. Barnes's request and left a message for the Provost asking her to call me about the rally and requested spaces. At this point, I have had no response. However, someone in the administration decided to move the space requests forward and we now actually have “approval” to hold this event on campus. Second, there was a problem with the parking waiver. Although I have noticed the entry gates raised on a number of occasions, apparently people attending the rally to save Chicago State should pay the $5 parking fee. Ms. Barnes confirmed the Provost’s stance on this issue yesterday, informing me that the parking fee would not be waived. Third, the flier for the event became a real problem. Ms. Barnes began by misstating the flier’s contents, writing that it referred to “JCC (Jones Convocation Center)” as the approved indoor site rather than “JDC (Dickens Center).” She told me on the telephone that since the flier contained inaccuracies about the event’s location, “it would not go out.” I checked the flier and confirmed that there was no reference whatsoever to anything other than the Rotunda, at which point I contacted Ms. Barnes. She advised me that in order to have the university disseminate the flier, I would have to contact either “Mr. Wogan or Ms. Land” for approval. Despite the Provost’s obstructionism, the rally is going with or without the support of our administration.
So the administration is not supporting our efforts to save the school (and their jobs). Unfortunately, given the dysfunction of our upper administration and the fact that some of our senior administrators are engaged in an effort to undermine the president, I am not surprised by any of this. Today, the University Advisory Committee is meeting jointly with the Management Action Committee and I plan to bring these items up at that meeting. I’ll report the results.
The level of administrative incompetence displayed by Angela Henderson is breathtaking. Faced with the monumental task of responding to this crisis, the university’s senior administrator focuses on key confiscation, micro-managing faculty teaching loads, and collecting parking fees. The utter lack of crisis planning by our administration, a lack of planning that goes back at least a year, makes it obvious that if the school is to be saved, it will be in spite of, not because of, the efforts of administrators who are paid so much and accomplish so little.