Sunday, September 25, 2016

#Fallguy, Next Steps and What's At Risk

So when the indescribably inept #CSUclowncar needs to cover its tracks, it will need someone to take the blame for its failures. Enter #Fallguy. I would imagine that given the attention generated by the #CSUclowncar in the past week, legislators are trying to figure out their next steps which might include hearings on the #CSUclowncar's worst decision, the financial exigency declaration. 

Legislative hearings would be an opportunity to examine in a thoughtful way how public universities should proceed in times of extreme financial distress. As CSU is the only public institution in the United States to declare exigency, it is the only available case study to provide data on what to do and not do in situations of severe financial distress. I would imagine that the Higher Learning Commission, Illinois Board of Higher Education, US Department of Education, a plethora of other lettered agencies and other public universities would want to examine in exquisite detail 1) how the university's board came to the decision to declare exigency, 2) how and when the university administration planned for the exigency declaration, 3) how the exigency plan was implemented, 4) how the university terminated exigency and returned to normal operations. Within these four areas there should be a voluminous amount of data, evidence, correspondence etc. to provide a clear picture of what happened and who was responsible. Given that the university was willing to spend more than $800,000 for nine months service of its former president, the scrutiny of legislative hearings is more than warranted. 

Your humble narrator posits that after these questions are answered, there will be demands from various sectors, not least of which the state legislature, for accountability from the university. That could be interpreted as looking for a #Fallguy. Who, loyal readers, would you imagine is cast perfectly for that role? Might the #Fallguy be the Board of Trustees who have built, equipped, fueled and driven the #CSUclowncar for years? Would it be Baldy, who demonstrably failed to plan starting in February 2015 when it was apparent to anyone with a pulse that a financial storm was coming? Would it be Calhoun, who quickly tired of the #CSUclowncar after being shackled after 30 days on the the job and retreated to friendlier climes? Or might it be the current office holder, Cecil Lucy?  Given the proclivity of senior administrators at this university to undermine the chief executive, I would caution him to be wary of those around him, lest he suffer the same fate as his predecessor. He is in the most vulnerable position because he is an interim, a placeholder and the former chief financial officer. If there are any questions of money mismanagement, he would be the first to answer, right??? And that would make him the first to shoulder blame.

The reality of the situation is that the university board and administration have incompetently overseen this institution for several years, ostensibly carrying on a tradition of mismanagement. The bill is now due and the economic environment is significantly changed. The historic legislative protectors of the university should be prepared to adjust to a new reality of hard questions being asked and a new expectation of accountability being demanded. The continued viability of the university hangs in the balance. Without those hard questions being asked and answered, the university doesn't stand a chance of implementing the change that it needs to pull itself from the morass of ineptitude.

Part of that accountability may include the university being subjected to a forensic audit, a subject which I will explore in some detail in a future post. For now, let's encourage in whatever way we can, to get hearings on the exigency held, questions asked and answered, and a course plotted that doesn't have the #CSUclowncar at the controls.


  1. How about investigating the lack of action on the part of the OEIG?

  2. OEIG = Office of Executive Inspector General