Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Human Cost of Our Administrative Cruelty

This is an excerpt from an e-mail I received recently. It speaks for itself.

I was told not to show up to work on Monday that they will let me know by Wednesday. When I asked what's next. I was told “I don't know.” No one seems to know anything. It seems like no one cares. I waited yesterday for an answer past my working hours.

The Night of the Long Knives: The Purge of Chicago State University

What can one call the events of Friday, April 29, 2016? A bloodbath? A massacre? A slaughter? A date which will live in infamy (my apologies to FDR)? However one describes yesterday’s bloodletting, a number of things stand out. Perhaps most important, our administration again demonstrated a callous disregard for both the hundreds of men and women whose employment at Chicago State ended yesterday and for the few employees left behind to clean up the abattoir. After weeks of steadfastly refusing to answer basic questions about how much money we needed to save or how many employees we needed to layoff, the senior administrators in charge of steering the university through this crisis concluded that more than 300 employees must be sacrificed, resulting in a purported salary saving of $2 million per month, or $24 million per year. The university apparently notified many surviving employees at the eleventh hour, with some notifications reportedly still to come. Unconscionable.

As detailed in the news media, the stupendous number of employees either laid off or terminated represents better than one-third of the university’s total employee complement. In reality, the actual percentage is higher. If the number is 300 (doubtful since news reports claimed that “more than 300 employees” were laid off), that actually figures out to at least 54.5 percent of the non-instructional staff at Chicago State, and at least 37.2 percent of the school’s full-time employees.

So the numbers are grim. As recently as January 2014, the university employed 670 persons in non-instructional positions. In February 2016, that number stood at 550. After yesterday, the university employs fewer than 250 persons in those same positions, a 63 percent reduction in staff in just over two years. In January 2014, payroll expense for those 670 persons came to $36.9 million. By February 2016, payroll had been reduced to $32.8 million. Given the claims in the media, are we to believe that the university has now reduced the payroll for non-instructional staff to around $9 million a year? Are we to believe that the majority of those cuts were to high-salaried administrators? If they were not, there is simply no way the university could save $2 million a month in salaries. A more accurate figure might be in the neighborhood of $1.2 or $1.3 million per month, certainly a significant reduction in salary expense.

Any reported salary reduction includes a caveat, however. According to Board regulations, terminated administrators are entitled to notice (severance) based on the number of years of university service. With termination notices to administrators being issued February 26, fired administrators would not begin to drop off the payroll until May 26. The next wave of administrators would be paid until August 26, and the most senior administrators (in terms of service) would continue to draw a salary until February 26, 2017. Thus, the full salary saving for the university will not occur until February of next year.

One segment of the recent story on the layoffs contains this: “Then, in a process that began Thursday and will likely continue through the weekend, some employees were ‘recalled,’ or told that their jobs were safe for now. Employees who didn't get notified should understand that their jobs were cut, Calhoun said.” This paragraph nicely encapsulates the problems with the implementation of these layoffs and terminations. For several weeks, the administration’s lack of any plan to address staff reductions or the bigger question of financial exigency has been apparent. Given the tenuous nature of university funding for fiscal 2016, why did our administrators do nothing (other than wring their hands and complain about the possibility of cuts) until early this year? Despite the dissimulation of our administrators, no plan existed to address any of the contingencies created by the budget crisis. Even when it became obvious last Friday that the university would get only a fraction of its funding for fiscal 2016, the “process” of implementing the layoffs and terminations “began Thursday.” Why? Why was this done at the last minute? What the hell was everyone doing?

Finally, our senior administrators put the cherry of inhumanity atop the sundae of misery created by their lack of preparation and empathy. Even though all affected employees are real people who have served this university faithfully for years, they were not entitled to any notification other than their original February 26 layoff notice. Employees not being “recalled” were just to assume their layoff or termination, based on the “understand[ing] that their jobs were cut.” Unbelievable that this university would do that to its employees, particularly after several reminders from faculty and staff that staff reductions should be done humanely, that even though the university could rely upon the original notice, it should not do so. Obviously, those entreaties fell on deaf ears. Personally, I found out about the scope of the layoffs and terminations from a Tribune reporter who called me at home asking for my thoughts on the staff reductions. Please let’s not have any more bullshit about the “Chicago State family.”

Generally, I avoid writing things in anger. However, in this situation, I cannot imagine any other emotion being appropriate. Of course, the faculty’s turn comes next. You can be sure that the same tender mercies shown the non-instructional staff will be lavished on us when the time comes. As many of you know, we have senior administrators who have no love for Chicago State’s faculty. We have a Contract Administrator whose position is always that the administration can do whatever it wants, that it never violates the contract. In fact as we have already seen, the administration violates the contract while it chants the mantra of “we will comply with the contract.” I guess financial exigency makes all things possible. We will clearly fight back and I assume that the next few weeks will be extremely contentious.

The question then becomes will we hang together or hang separately? To my tenured faculty colleagues who make it a point to find their voices to criticize the “tone” of our dissident critiques while remaining silent in the face of various administrative scandals and excesses; to those tenured colleagues who “just want to teach our students” or are otherwise too busy to involve themselves in any kind of opposition; to those tenured colleagues who are unable to see anything but issues that personally affect them, I say this: it’s time to realize where your interests lie and act upon that realization. It is truly time to take seriously the responsibilities of tenure and fight for the continued existence of this university. In my estimation, to do otherwise at this point consigns Chicago State to oblivion.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Tonight: 1/3 of staff laid off

Chicago State lays off a third of its staff
Jodi S. Cohen Contact Reporter Chicago Tribune, April 29, 2016

Chicago State University on Friday said more than 300 employees are being laid off, a dramatic downsizing a week after the school received some long-awaited money from the state, the Tribune has learned.

The layoffs — which equal about one-third of the workforce — are effective immediately.
"It's dreadful. I have spoken to people as they have been packing up their offices," Chicago State President Thomas Calhoun Jr. said in an interview with the Tribune. But, he said: "It is not disheartening for the future of the university. The university has been here 150 years and will continue to be here."

Calhoun Jr. said the cuts will touch every area of the university — from associate vice presidents to police officers, counselors and carpenters — and will reduce the number of non-instructional employees by nearly half. Faculty members were spared during this initial wave of cuts, but are likely to be affected later.

The cuts will save about $2 million a month in payroll costs, Calhoun said. They come after Chicago State and other Illinois schools went nearly the entire academic year without state funds as lawmakers were unable to agree on a budget. Last week, lawmakers approved $20.1 million in emergency funding for Chicago State, part of a larger funding package for public universities, but it proved to be too little, too late.

"It was less than what we needed and later than we needed it, as much as we appreciated getting it," Calhoun Jr. said. "It really is a band aid and not the solution."

As Chicago State ends semester early and some funds OK'd, uncertainty looms
Chicago State employees have been on edge since February when officials sent notices of potential layoffs to all 900 employees. The university said it would not be able to meet payroll costs past April without state funds.

Earlier this month, Calhoun Jr. instructed administrators and civil service employees not to return to work after April 30 unless specifically told otherwise through a recall notice.

Then, in a process that began Thursday and will likely continue through the weekend, some employees were "recalled," or told that their jobs were safe for now. Employees who didn't get notified should understand that their jobs were cut, Calhoun said.

Calhoun also said that employees can be recalled in the future if the university realizes their positions are needed.
"The recall process really is a process," he said. "If we find, for example, that we are short in an area that is creating a bottleneck or a way in which we cannot function ... we will make note of that and recall appropriately.

"We are hoping not to have a dramatic impact on the student experience because we want students to have a fulfilling day every day they come to the campus."
Located on the Far South Side, Chicago State serves about 4,500 mostly minority and low-income students from the city.

It had nearly depleted its cash reserves when the state approved the emergency funding — less than 60 percent of what the university had expected to receive this fiscal year. The funds were part of a $600 million stopgap measure to ensure struggling campuses would stay open through the summer after the longest budget delay in state history.

Of the $600 million, $356 million is for universities, $74 million for community colleges and $170 million for Monetary Award Program scholarships for low-income students. Gov. Bruce Rauner signed the bill Monday.

While the cash influx provided some relief, it was not enough to prevent the layoffs, Calhoun said. Some of the money needs to go toward outstanding vendor bills. The university also has to prepare for a tenuous future, with student enrollment expected to decline this fall and continued questions about if and when the state will approve more funding.

Deep partisan rifts remain over the state budget. Some lawmakers have hinted that last week's funding could be the only state money that universities will receive for the 2015-16 school year, and the uncertainty will likely extend to next fiscal year that begins in July.

Faculty remain in limbo. Calhoun Jr. previously told faculty members to work until May 15, the day their annual contracts end, and he said Friday that those positions are still being evaluated.

"I do expect there is a likelihood that not all faculty will be recalled," he said. He also said the university will close some buildings this summer to reduce utility and maintenance costs and will evaluate academic programs, a routine process that will involve more scrutiny this year due to the fiscal situation.

"Now that we have the financial pinch, we have to consider combining departments" and possibly eliminating some programs, he said. "There are those kinds of tough decisions that certainly will be made as we go through this program review process."

On Friday, Chicago State employees said they were left largely in the dark, not knowing whether they would be laid off or how many of their colleagues would be let go.

"This is a staggering number. It is a lot more than I expected," said Robert Bionaz, president of the faculty union, which represents some academic service professionals who were laid off. "It's profound that you talk about laying off half of your non-instructional staff. I just don't know who is going to do the work."

Other schools also have cut staff this year.

Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago eliminated 65 non-instructional positions. Western Illinois University has cut 147 positions, including 30 faculty jobs, and about 500 employees are taking furlough days and pay cuts this spring. Northern Illinois University avoided layoffs during the budget impasse, but has left 116 jobs unfilled during this academic year.

While all public institutions have suffered this year, Chicago State has been the hardest hit. The semester ended Thursday — two weeks early — to ensure students could graduate before the money ran out.

Still Nothing

It's now 4:30 and still no information about any recalls.

Tick, Tick, Tick

It's just after 1pm and according to several people I have spoken with, no one has heard anything about recalls. Truly, what is wrong with the people in this administration?

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Congratulations to my distinguished faculty colleagues

So I am always thrilled to celebrate publicly the achievements of my colleagues. To wit, the University Faculty Excellence awards were just announced. The following faculty received awards for excellence in research:

* Dr. Crystal Laura, College of Education
* Dr. Rong He, College of Arts & Sciences
* Dr. Moussa Ayyash , College of Education
* Dr. Christine List, College of Arts & Sciences
* Dr. Robert Richter, College of Arts & Sciences

The following faculty were recognized for their excellence in service to the university and the community:

* Dr. Philip Cronce, College of Arts & Sciences
* Dr. Duc Do, College of Pharmacy

Congratulations to all of my colleagues for their continuous hard work during our most recent difficult circumstances. Thank you for what you do for our students, our colleagues and our community.

Monday, April 25, 2016

It's All Better Now Right???

So our intrepid legislators have once again kicked the can down the road and delayed the execution of the condemned until September 2nd. (I know, double metaphor.) Thanks to them for.....??? By my reckoning, cutting the appropriation by more than 50% does not warrant appreciation of this legislative 'achievement'. The struggle to remain viable continues loyal readers. To that end, we must continue to demand full funding for Chicago State University and our students by continuing  to support UPI’s mobilization campaign. As we face this struggle, we will need the help of all UPI members to make this campaign successful. To start, please email Sarah Tarlow, our IFT Field Service Director who works with the CSU-UPI Chapter, the following information: 1) your non-work email address, 2) your cell phone number, 3) your home phone number, 4) your summer availability (partial or complete availability in May, June, July, and August), and 5) a “selfie” (headshot). The picture is so that UPI organizers can recognize you when they are on campus doing organizing stuff. Sarah's email address is Please forward this information at your earliest convenience, but no later than Friday May 6th. Yes, you may have already provided this information in the past, but the Local wants to make sure that you are getting updates. 

Unfortunately this struggle continues and it is up to us to act together and now to ensure that CSU is fully funded and our students served in a way they deserve. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

What's Next?: Will We Ever Get a Budget? Will Social Services Ever Be Funded? Will the State Universities?

Now many of the politicians in our state are busy high-fiving each other over temporarily “saving” the state’s public higher education system. Republican Senate leader Christine Radogno claimed ". . . I do think we deserve some legitimate credit for coming together." Coming together to do what exactly? The Chicago Tribune described the stop-gap funding as a “life preserver.” More like a bone. Obviously something is better than nothing, just ask the providers of social services this state government continues to starve, just ask the hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents dependent upon those services. So things could be worse.

I don’t know how anyone else feels about this theater of the absurd, but watching elected officials in this state turn their collective backs on our young peole and most vulnerable citizens does not make me want to celebrate. In a state notable for its political disgraces, the fiasco that continues to unfold in Springfield must rank right at the top. I think it fair to say that the Illinois state government has become the gold standard for dysfunction in a nation with numerous political systems that have virtually ceased to operate.

Whenever there is a difference between rhetoric and behavior, behavior is the truest indicator of a person’s feelings. Using that yardstick, here are some of the messages I take away from the state’s ongoing budget crisis and yesterday’s action:

First, higher education is not important. Universities and Community Colleges must beg for money because they are filled with undeserving and parasitical employees and students who don’t deserve to be educated (unless, of course, they can afford to go to a private or for-profit college). Remember, a few months ago, our governor famously described one state university’s spending as “throwing money down the toilet.”

Second, since students are not deserving of an education, the message that there is nothing for them in Illinois comes through clearly. Therefore, parents of potential students and students making decisions about where to attend college should consider alternatives to our state universities. I’m sure we’ll see this borne out in the fall.

Third, a number of good, hard-working persons have already or will soon lose their jobs. For no other reason than our state officials failed to do theirs. Legislators, please ask these men and women how they feel about your solution to the ongoing budget crisis, about your “life preserver” or newfound bi-partisan accord. Please ask persons who must take huge pay cuts to retain their jobs the same thing.

Fourth, unless a budget agreement comes soon, all the at-risk universities and their remaining students will be facing the same crisis again in a few months. This time, however, they will have no reserves with which to operate while the legislature and governor twiddle their collective thumbs. The result will obviously be catastrophic.

With the state university system in crisis, our pusillanimous lawmakers came up with a temporary fix that cannot even be called palliative. More like a band-aid on a gunshot wound. If our legislature’s intent is something other than the destruction of the state university system, they had better figure out a way to solve this problem. After all, don’t they get elected to do that?

Friday, April 22, 2016

More Thoughts on Today's Legislation

I’ve done some cursory research and I want to let everyone know what I think happened today in Springfield. Before I get into the data, I will concede that the funding approved today is clearly an improvement over no appropriation. However, the action of the Illinois State Legislature and Governor should spur no celebration. It’s not time to party because public higher education in Illinois is still very much at risk.

In essence, today’s legislation cuts funding for public higher education in the state by 71 percent from 2015 levels. If the legislature does not provide additional appropriations for fiscal 2016, the state universities will have received about $337 million in state appropriations, compared to the $1.175 billion they got in fiscal 2015.

Not surprisingly, Bruce Rauner is delighted with the “bipartisan” compromise that produced this legislation. After all, even the draconian cuts to higher education he proposed in February 2015 totaled around $849 million, a 27.8 percent decrease for fiscal 2016. Simple arithmetic reveals that the legislature funded the state universities at roughly 40 percent of Rauner’s proposed 72 percent funding level. Who wins here? Rauner must be dancing with joy.

Here’s what universities got today compared to what Rauner offered them in February 2015:

Chicago State, $20.17 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $27.06 million.
Governors State, $6.97 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $16.86 million.
Eastern Illinois, $12.46 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $30.1 million.
Western Illinois, $14.9 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $36.07 million.
Northeastern Illinois, $10.695 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $25.86 million.
Northern Illinois, $26.4 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $64.9 million.
Southern Illinois, $57.5 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $140.2 million.
Illinois State, $20.9 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $50.6 million.
University of Illinois, $167.6 million, the Rauner 2015 budget, $458.5 million.

So after cutting off all funds to the state universities for nearly 10 months, forcing them to liquidate their reserves, cut programs, and lay off staff, our Illinois politicians fund the state universities at 29 percent of their previous yearly appropriation. That’s one hell of a pay cut! Of course, it is possible that the legislature and governor will continue to negotiate over additional appropriations for fiscal 2016. Does anyone out there believe that?

This largesse exhibited by our elected officials will permit the most cash-strapped schools to limp into the fall when tuition revenue should provide additional financial resources. How much tuition revenue is anyone’s guess, but it seems likely that the public universities in Illinois will see sharp enrollment declines which will translate into sharp decreases in tuition revenue. As this perfect storm of financial disaster unfolds, there seems little reason to believe that our elected officials will be able to enact a budget for fiscal 2017 anytime soon. Thus, we can go through this farce again as 2016 turns into 2017.

Today’s legislative action has provided a small measure of financial relief—as I said in an earlier post, only a reprieve. None of the state universities have yet been “saved” and will not be until one of two things happen: 1) they are able to become independent of state funding; 2) the state decides to get its financial house in order and appropriately fund higher education. It is a sad state of affairs when the persons running the state fail to to invest in our young people.

Stop-Gap Funding: Obviously Better Than Nothing.

Today the Illinois State Legislature passed legislation that provides about three months of funding to the embattled state public universities. While the infusion of cash is indeed welcome, this timid measure hardly solves the public higher education funding crisis in Illinois. Here are some of the amounts earmarked for various state schools:

CSU gets $20.1 million (2015 appropriation $39.7 million)
GSU gets $6.974 million (2015 approp $23.9 million)
NEIU gets $10.7 million (2015 approp $36.9 million)
EIU gets $12.5 million (2015 approp $42.9 million)
WIU gets $14.9 million (2015 approp $56.8 million)

All the other state universities got similar proportionate appropriation reductions. As you can see, this is nothing more than a reprieve, no one got anywhere near their necessary funding. Although this legislation may provide some temporary relief, the struggle for adequate funding for public higher education in Illinois is hardly over.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Chickens coming home to roost; "colorful" WW is out again, but omg does that mean he needs a job? Even Haki M. weighs in...

Thanks to our colleague "Sorry4CSU" who commented on a recent blog post and alerted us to a month-old article in Diverse Issues in Higher Education. Here is something to chew on--WW is free again, going in a different direction, changing the paradigm, on the loose, ever upward...Haki Madhabuti (remember WW fired him early on in his presidency) chimes in... see the article below.

Controversy Often Accompanies Executive Search Firms
March 13, 2016
by Jamal Abdul-Alim

As one of the newest headhunters in higher education, TM Squared Education Search a fledgling search firm that focuses on finding executive leaders for historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and Predominantly Black Institutions (PBIs)  is fighting an uphill battle.

But at least now it wont have as much baggage as it did when the firm announced its arrival March 1.
After Diverse inquired as to why the biography for former Chicago State University president Wayne Watson one of the firms more colorful founding principals  was conspicuously absent from the search firms website, the firm revealed that Watson who retired from his post at CSU in 2015 amid a series of whistleblower lawsuits had left TM2 for personal reasons.

Although some may question the decision to involve Watson in the first place, his sudden departure means TM2 wont have to answer questions about a recent ethics report that found Watson acted without integrity when he made false allegations against two board members as they tried to foment his ouster. Nor of a recent court ruling that suggested Watson acted with malice and deceit in trying to pressure a university attorney to withhold records about Watson’s employment that a faculty member had sought under Illinois open records law.

His departure leaves John Garland, former president of Central State University; Sidney Ribeau, former President of Howard University; and Dorothy Cowser Yancy, president emerita of Johnson C. Smith University and Shaw University, as the firms three founding principals.

While Garland and Yancy left their presidential posts amid generally favorable reports, Ribeau cannot lay claim to the same. Ribeau stepped down abruptly from Howard University in 2013 after the institutions credit rating was downgraded and its enrollment declined.

Critics had been questioning how two former HBCU presidents who recently had rough exits from their posts could legitimately style themselves as experts in talent recruitment. (CSU is not formally recognized as an HBCU but has been regarded as one.)

Leonard Haynes, III, former executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities and a recently retired senior higher education official at the U.S. Department of Education, said the skeptics concerns are valid.

A number of people who are knowledgeable about higher education have raised questions about whether or not this new firm can in fact do a better job of helping to identify potential candidates than is already being done already, said Haynes, who related that he got several e-mails and phone calls from colleagues who questioned the background of some of TM2s leaders.
That’s a fair question, Haynes said.

But TM2 doesnt see any of its founding principals’ stormy pasts  at least among any of the three who remain  as liabilities. In fact, TM2 believes those rough experiences make their leaders better suited for the job.

Experience navigating controversy adds value to our work, which is part of the reason we offer coaching and mentoring to everyone we place Christopher Braswell, president of TM2, said in a written statement answering a series of questions posed by Diverse.

Braswell said TM2 features leaders that have faced these challenges head on at both majority and minority institutions, which makes our team among the best suited to advise the Black college community in this capacity.

The daunting issues and decisions leaders face in our schools are often met with public scrutiny and controversy, Braswell said. This is a reality across higher education in majority and minority institutions.

But beyond the individual professional histories of the founding principals of TM2, questions remain about the use of search firms in general.

Haynes, the former head of the White House Initiative on HBCUs, admits being torn over the use of search firms, particularly for HBCUs.

"My mind goes back and forth about whether or not this is the right way to use the process or is it better to use an internal process?" Haynes said.

The search firm business in general is problematic as evidenced by the people that the search firms choose overall, Haynes continued. Sometimes they make these commitments to certain individuals that if youre in the pool and you get picked, then my commission goes up.

And, of course, search firms have to bid for business. They are always competing against each other, Haynes said. So It’s a financial issue
When it comes to HBCUs specifically, Haynes said, the search firm business has been notoriously awful.
Why do we know this? Haynes said. Because some of the failed presidencies are the result of people being chosen as a result of having a search firm.

Asked for examples, Haynes pointed to the 2014 resignation of Keith Miller as president Virginia State University; and the 2012 replacement of Joseph Silver as president of Alabama State University, both of whom were hired through search firms.

Haynes was actually passed over for Silver for the post at ASU, according to minutes from the ASU board of trustees.

Silver may not be the best example to bolster Haynes assertion that his was a case of a search firm process that yielded a bad result.

Thats because Silver was actually vindicated by an audit report that alleged fraud, conflict of interest and abuse of public funds by members of ASU’s board of trustees. Silver has maintained that he was terminated because he uncovered questionable and troubling information about the universitys finances.

Such conflict over a given institutional leader is one of the reasons its important to employ search firms to not only find candidates, but to vet them, according to Charlie Nelms, a higher education consultant and former chancellor of North Carolina Central University, an HBCU.

Nelms said vetting is all the more important when news articles and social media postings are easily accessible but may only provide a tiny piece of the overall picture of a given presidents tenure.

Good search firms are able to delve more deeply into the review so they move beyond the headlines of the newspapers and social media,” Nelms said. A search firm can be used not just to talk to the people whose name is given, but they can do second-, third-, fourth- and fifth-tier kind of verification that an institution could benefit from.

Nelms cautioned against relying strictly on news media accounts  be that of Watson, Ribeau, or any presidential candidate as the official indication of whatever situation may have been learned about a given president’s tenure. He said most institutions don’t get into budget difficulty overnight.

Someone will come along and say this institution has a deficit of XYZ and they lost XYZ enrollment,” Nelms said in comments that could be applied to Ribeau’s tenure at Howard. “Most of that was building for years before that president even arrived.”

Even if Watson had remained with TM2, Nelms would have declined to judge Watson based on news publicity of the controversy surrounding his presidency.

“If you look at what’s happening in Chicago now, many of those things were happening long before Watson,” Nelms said. Some of them are unique to the city and some of them are unique to the institution. So I think it would be a mistake to blame everything on a president or a chancellor because there are so many dynamics that are not captured.

Sometimes, those other dynamics may be in the public domain but one has to be resourceful and fortunate enough to find them. For instance, one of Watson’s accusers who alleged that he had pressured her to file false sexual harassment claims against an outspoken professor at CSU is now charged with “numerous felonies” herself.

Asked by Diverse if he had any affiliation with TM2, Nelms said he did not but disclosed that he had had discussions with TM2 about being a part of its team. Nelms said he declined to join the company because he had enough to do with his own consulting business.

Nelms said he has relationships with TM2’s founders and believes they will do well.

I happen to know them,” Nelms said. And they have all worked at PWIs as well, he said, using the higher education lingo for Predominantly White Institutions. “I want to believe that combination of HBCU experience and commitment, combined with their PWI experience and commitment, that will help them do an effective job of search consulting work.

In terms of cost, Nelms said search firms may be well worth it instead of trying to find an executive leader for less by placing ads, delegating the duties in-house to people who already have other duties, and interviewing whoever tosses his or her hat in the ring.

You can do all of that but there are some really good people out there who are not inclined to go and apply just because someone vacates a position,” Nelms said. We need to be a little bit careful not to conclude that all a search firm is asked to do is to identify people.

"A paramount goal is to find a candidate whose skills and interests match the needs of an institution," Nelms said.

In terms of dollars and sense, Nelms said hypothetically if theres an institution with 5000 students and a $100 million budget, and the presidential search costs somewhere from $75,000 to $109,000, “is not that $75,000 or $109,000 a good investment to make sure you get the best qualified and best matched person whos gonna manage an institution with a $100 million budget, whos gonna lead an institution with 5000 students?”

“We have to put the cost in proper perspective,” Nelms said.

One recent case that shows the pitfalls of going it alone is the 2013 firing of Tony Atwater from his post as president of Norfolk State University.

Norfolks Board of Visitors rector moved to revamp its vetting process after concerns were raised about how closely Atwater’s background was checked before hiring him for the post after a vote of no confidence by faculty at his previous job as president of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Nelms final verdict on search firms is that one size does not fit all.”

“Dont assume that a search firm is the answer for all or not for some.” Nelms said.
At the same time, corporate search firms are not the only option.

The Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities, or AGB for short, offers presidential search services through a subsidiary called AGB Search for a flat fee on a sliding scale of between $55,000 and $65,000, said Jamie Ferrare, the founding managing principal at AGB Search.
“We believe strongly that the not-for-profit mentality that we have where there’s a fee but it’s flat and everyone knows what it is up front, it doesn’t carry any baggage with it,” Ferrare said.

About two-thirds of all presidential searches are done through a search firm, Ferrare said.

Rerrare said he had no direct information about how often HBCUs rely on search firms but that he believed about 50 percent do
“And in recent years that number is growing,” Ferrare said.

There’s also a level of transparency with AGB Search that one may or may not find with private search firms.

We post everything we have done on our website,” Ferrare said. You can go there and see all of our past searches.

Indeed, whereas private search firms may list their client institutions, the AGB Search client history website lists their placements in great detail down to the name of person, position and institution where the person was hired. AGB’s clients include several HBCUs, such as UDC, which recently hired Ronald Mason, Jr., as president, and Clark Atlanta University, which recently hired Ronald A. Johnson as president.

Each search firm should have their own statistics,” Ferrare said. Our statistics are about 90 percent where a candidate remains in place after five years. Someone that stays less than five years we wouldn’t think of as a quality search.

By that standard, even though Ribeau left his post at Howard amid controversy, his placement there would be considered a quality one. He began in May 2008 and stepped down in October 2013.
Braswell said TM2 has secured its first clients, “but we are not at liberty to discuss client matters publicly at this time.

Braswell said time will tell if TM2 is adding value to the field.

“We are passionate and committed to the welfare of the Black colleges and the development of minority leaders,” Braswell said. We will make our case and the market will determine whether our message is well received.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Not for the first time--here we are in the NYTimes

The New York Times
Chicago State, a Lifeline for Poor Blacks, Is Under Threat Itself
APRIL 9, 2016

Chicago State University, a predominantly African-American school on the far South Side of the city, faces a crippling budget shortfall that may force it to close. Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times
CHICAGO — The lack of a state budget in Illinois has been dismissed by many here as politics as usual, another protracted ego contest between the Republican governor and the Democrats who rule the Legislature.

It does not feel that way at Chicago State University, a 150-year-old, predominantly African-American school on the city’s far South Side.

Since last July, when the fiscal year began, the university has received zero dollars from the state, though it relies on Illinois for 30 percent of its $105 million budget. If no one swoops in with a rescue plan, the school could shut down, stranding students mid-degree, eliminating hundreds of jobs and shuttering a path forward for a poor and underserved community.

In February, the school declared a financial emergency. Officials canceled spring break and moved commencement up to April 28, rushing to finish the semester before funding goes dry. Last month, members of the faculty and staff were notified that the school was making contingency plans to collect their keys. Reserve funds to pay employees will run out after April 30.

“People are losing their minds,” said Barbara Ameyedowo, 28, a math major who is expecting to graduate in December. “Students are leaving. I’m hopeful that it will be resolved, but I’m so sad. Chicago State is all this part of the South Side has left.”’

Governors and legislatures around the country have made deep cuts to state universities in recent years, leaving the smallest and least prestigious schools financially stressed, as tuition is hardly adequate to sustain many institutions. In Illinois, the absence of a budget means there has been no state financing, straining state universities and prompting some to furlough and lay off employees.

None, though, are in the dire predicament of Chicago State. Many, including the flagship University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have healthy endowments or affluent alumni bases to lean on. Like some other predominantly minority institutions, Chicago State has neither.

Students and supporters of Chicago State gathered outside Illinois state government offices in downtown Chicago to protest funding cuts in February. Credit Phil Velasquez/Chicago Tribune
“We are absolutely in financial disaster,” Thomas J. Calhoun Jr., the university president, said in an interview on Wednesday. “What do you do when your state just zips up the pocketbook and doesn’t give you anything?”

The crisis has left many of the 4,500 students at Chicago State, the vast majority of whom are black and from low-income backgrounds, shaken and angry: Why are they, rather than their peers at more elite state universities, at risk of becoming the first major casualties of the budget stalemate?

“It’s aimed at hurting minorities,” Glenn Weston, 23, a junior who is studying accounting, said of the budget conflict. Though Chicago State University is not a member of the historically black colleges and universities system, he said, “Chicago State is like the H.B.C.U. of Chicago. Other schools here would never close.”

For months, the students have organized in protest, their cries largely directed at Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican. In January, a group of students drew attention to their cause by forming a human chain and shutting down part of a busy expressway. At a rally downtown in February, students marched on sidewalks, chanting “Black education is good for your health” and “Black minds matter.”

Students are fearful that the school could shut down, leaving them with unfinished degrees and few options to transfer nearby.

For many students, the university is a lifeline. Originally founded as a teachers’ college during boom times in the 1860s, the small, austere campus of concrete plazas and low-slung brick buildings now occupies 160 acres of land deep on the South Side of Chicago. It is bordered by an expressway and a residential neighborhood that was once solidly middle-class but has been upended by poverty, gang violence and declining population. Streetlights are marked with dark green banners, the school color, stamped with the Chicago State logo.

“There’s a lot of frustration in the community,” said Phillip Beverly, a political-science professor at Chicago State, who grew up five blocks from the school and whose grandmother and wife are graduates. “You’re closing off an avenue for people to change their lives.”

Melanie Ellis, a nursing student and the junior class president at Chicago State, said the school was one of the most affordable options for students. Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times
Tuition and fees are low at about $12,000 a year, and close to 85 percent of the students qualify for Pell grants, federal aid for poor students.

“This is one of the least expensive schools,” said Melanie Ellis, the junior class president, 34. “You can pay $30,000 a year for U.I.C. or $10,000 a year for Chicago State,” she said, referring to University of Illinois at Chicago. “What do you choose?”

The university attracts untypical college students. The average age is 31; close to half are mothers (70 percent of the student population are women, and most of them have at least one child); and the average ACT score is 18.6 out of 36, compared with the national average of 21.

“We can’t just go to another school,” said Reiko Williamson, a senior who is studying nursing, as she left a class on a rainy afternoon. “This is all we have. This is all we can afford.”

To save money, Chicago State, which has about $50 million in deferred maintenance, has cut about 15 percent of its work force in the last year, frozen all travel expenses and renegotiated contracts.

But that has not been enough, and administrators say that they are waiting for elected officials in Springfield to pass a budget or approve an emergency infusion of cash — two reprieves that do not appear imminent.

The roots of the crisis lie in a stalemate that began last June, when Mr. Rauner vetoed a budget plan sent to him from the Democratic-controlled Legislature that was out of balance by more than $3 billion. With no overall plan in place, he has addressed problems piecemeal — signing a bill to fund K-12 education, for instance. But he did not do the same for higher education, and in his budget plan last year, he proposed a 31 percent funding cut for universities and community colleges.

Christian Reed, right, a computer science major, in the library at Chicago State University, a school in deep financial distress. Credit Joshua Lott for The New York Times
Mr. Rauner recently called the potential closing of Chicago State “an outrage,” but blamed Democratic lawmakers for the crisis. “I believe that the supermajority in the Legislature is using Chicago State and many other service providers in Illinois as leverage to try to force a massive tax hike,” he said. “I believe that’s what’s going on, and that’s wrong.”

Other government programs are also feeling the pressure: Social service agencies are cutting help for the poor and mentally ill, museums are closing and rural hospitals are scaling back services. But for many students, the convenience and accessibility of Chicago State has had a profound impact on their ability to earn a degree — people like Ms. Ellis, for instance, who said that if the school closes, she could lose all of the credits she has already earned in the nursing program, since she was told that they are not transferable.

In the past, Chicago State has been plagued by problems of its own making: In 2011, an audit discovered rampant financial mismanagement, including a failure to bill students for their tuition for an entire semester in 2010. Mr. Calhoun, who took over as president several months ago, said he firmly believes those problems are in the past.

State Senator Emil Jones III, a Democrat who attended Chicago State and whose family has raised money for the university in the past, said that he was pushing for a legislative solution.

“Chicago State has been historically underfunded over the years,” he said. “When a crisis comes up and the funding stops, they will be the first to close.”

Clifton Conrad, a professor of education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said the situation at Chicago State foreshadows what many small universities could experience in the coming years, as state budgets contract and less money is designated for higher education.

“I fear this may have drastic implications,” Professor Conrad said. “You have an institution, a public institution, that is so dependent on state funding. And now you have an ominous threat where students are now wondering, can they invest long term in this institution?”

Other universities in or near Chicago, including Governors State University and the private Roosevelt University, have offered to take in students who may be left stranded. Mr. Calhoun said that he hopes that will not become necessary. But, he said flatly, “any institution, Chicago State included, that has expenses but no revenues, will eventually have to close.”

Friday, April 1, 2016

And What A Rally It Was

So I was only a child in the late 1960s and early 1970s when campus protests were occurring almost daily somewhere in the United States. When I got to college the protests on campus were about American institutions dis-investing in apartheid era South Africa. Now some three decades on, the actions of a novice governor seems to have inspired a new generation of activism. Chicago State was host to a large protest rally and march that led to a larger march downtown today. This event brought together the Chicago Teachers Union, the University Professionals of Illinois, food service workers advocating for a living wage and others concerned about these critical social justice issues. 

Supporters of CSU came from Northeastern Illinois University, Eastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, and the University of Illinois at Springfield. With public education under attack in Illinois, it was a remarkable event that was timed to precede the Illinois House of Representatives coming back into session on Monday. Coming off of significant primary losses last month, will the Governor come to his senses and stop trying to destroy vital public institutions or will he remain fixated on an unattainable political agenda?