As all of us who follow events at Chicago State know, the university does not have money to pay for a great number of things. We do not have money to retain our hard-working staff or lecturers; we do not have money to pay for faculty to take sabbaticals; we cannot afford to let any faculty go, even on unpaid leave; we do not have money to pay CUE overloads for faculty; we do not have money to sustain necessary operations in admissions, advising, teacher certification, the library, or even Information Technology. We do not have money to sustain any kind of normal five-day operation on the university level. Take a walk around the campus this summer, it’s a ghost town.
So what do we have money for? We have money to keep reported friends of Angela Henderson employed. Take the case of Jasmika Cook, the Executive Director for Project Counseling (whatever that means). Ms. Cook, as are so many of our senior administrators, came to Chicago State from the City Colleges, where she served under Interim Provost Angela Starks (Henderson) after her October 5, 2009, promotion to Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Workforce Development. The promotion carried a hefty raise, since Cook was apparently making $65,117 as the Assistant Dean of Student Service at Olive-Harvey prior to October 2009. On January 24, 2011, City Colleges apparently terminated Ms. Cook’s employment (possibly as part of the “Reinvention” initiative). However, soon after Henderson landed the job as Vice President of Enrollment Management at Chicago State in June 2011, Cook appeared as the newly minted Executive Director of Project Counseling.
Now I am not saying that the only reason Cook has a job here is her purported friendship with the Provost, but consider this. As Wayne Watson did for Cheri Sidney, creating management positions out of thin air for her to fill, so he did for Cook. Some quick reshuffling in Enrollment Management changed Organization number 0259 in fiscal 2012 from the Executive Director for Enrollment to the new 0259 in 2013—Enrollment Related Services. This new budget subdivision included only one employee, Jasmika Cook in a newly created employee classification (still the only such classification in the entire university budget)
We also have money to throw away on the defense of Wayne Watson’s inappropriate administrative behavior. According to records received from the university, through mid-2015, Chicago State had spent at least $1.8 million for contract legal services since fiscal 2010, with $1.6 million of that amount coming between July 1, 2011, and June 30, 2015. At least $1.1 million has gone toward either defending Watson or for legal actions investigating or threatening faculty. A number of firms and individuals have received large sums of money from the university: Pugh, Jones and Johnson got $286,000 for its unsuccessful defense of Watson in the Crowley case; Smith Amundsen got $200,000 for its unsuccessful appeal of the judgment in the Crowley case; Fisher Phillips has received $200,000 for representing Watson in two on-going suits, and Husch Blackwell has received $82,000 for its defense of Watson in another action. Important, however, is the price for the last two firms is going to increase dramatically since many of the invoices predated things like discovery, with costly potential trials still a distinct possibility. Given the cost of legal services, it seems likely that the total price for Watson’s defense will be far in excess of $2 million. Certainly money we should be spending.
Recently, a new law firm entered the picture. Apparently an attorney named Patrick Rocks of Jackson Lewis, P.C., has been retained (with the Board’s approval I assume) to defend Watson against at least two of the ongoing suits. Thus, Watson’s defense will be handled by a separate law firm. How much money do we have to spend on this guy? While we remain stuck in “financial exigency,” our Board refuses to cut the university’s losses, while it lavishes money on a proven liar and administrative miscreant. Seriously, only here in Illinois would this theater of the absurd continue to play. It’s obviously time for another FOIA request to discover how much money the university has actually thrown away defending the indefensible behavior of its former President.