With the re-establishment of the Watson cronies as leaders of doomed Chicago State University, we find ourselves back in Wayne’s wonderland. Plan for nothing and never take responsibility. Hide your ignorance under a cloak of meaningless platitudes and outright bullshit. After all, no one in the state gives a damn.
Here’s Chicago State’s response to yesterday’s Tribune story: "The university continues to focus on improving academic excellence, student experience, increasing enrollment and revenue generation," officials said in the statement. "We plan to rebuild in 2017."
From the memorandum by Cecil Lucy on September 23, 2016: “I am committed to improving our student experience, revenue generation, and bridging the gap among our campus community. . . in the months ahead, we will continue to focus on:
• Student success
• Increasing Enrollment
• Expanding our financial resources”
From the beginning of the Watson administration, the administration bombarded the university community and the public with a succession of vacuous slogans and insipid sound bites in response to concrete problems. For example:
• Audit problems.
• Watson’s response: "incorrect processes (that are) embedded in the culture here — have lasted for years.”
• Financial Aid problems.
• Watson’s response: “the practice of allowing failing students to stay on the rolls began in 2007 as an intentional effort to boost enrollment figures and then continued without the knowledge of current campus leaders.”
• Plummeting enrollment.
• Pick one. “Right-sizing,” or “academic rigor,” or “raising standards.” Here’s Cheri Sidney: "Some of the internal factors that affect our enrollment are our own policies and procedures. These are policies and procedures that we continue to review and address as we align our strategic goals of enrollment with serving the students and adhering to the university standards.” Or, how about this: "Chicago State University is still in the mold (mode?) of right-sizing our enrollment from a decade-plus of enrollment data integrity challenges, policy and procedure standards that were not conducted or executed properly and new federal aid changes to financial aid.”
• Cratering graduation rate for first-time students. This is for the first cohort of students to matriculate and spend their entire college career under the great Wayne Watson and his spectacularly incompetent administration. I can assure you that subsequent graduation rates will be almost as bad and I expect that eventually, our first-time graduation rate will dip below 10 percent.
• Here’s Sabrina Land’s unadulterated nonsense: "The 11 percent graduation rate is a result of the students dropped in spring 2011 for poor academic performance as previously reported by the Chicago Tribune," "This decision was made to preserve the academic integrity of the university."
Readers might notice the absence of substantive solutions to very real problems. We solve everything by doing a rhetorical shuffle that hopefully distracts people from seeing the complete lack of a plan or an idea of how to address these issues that have plagued the school for years. Needless to say, none of the leadership is to blame.
So let’s analyze the most recent gruel spooned out by Mr. Lucy in response to the abysmal numbers recently reported by IER.
We are improving “student success” and the “student experience” by eviscerating the parts of the university that serve our students: advising, admissions, the library, financial aid, information services. In the meantime, we continue to support our bloated administration and pay high salaries to persons who do what exactly?
We plan to “increase enrollment” by getting rid of our fourth V.P. for Enrollment Management since 2013. His replacement will be? We also plan to add students by decimating admissions. When they get here, the will surely be impressed with a library that has so few staff it has been operating on regular business hours, by advising that features interminable waits to see harried advisors who are trying to achieve the impossible task of advising across multiple disciplines and programs.
We plan to “expand our financial resources,” or increase “revenue generation” by making outlandish demands on staff, faculty, and the community. All these groups are supposed to shrug off a kick in the groin and contribute to this corrupt enterprise. All these people are supposed to validate the actions of this execrable board and administration by contributing money. Speaking for myself, to hell with that idea.
Based on what I’ve seen in the past few days, we’re right back in the middle of the Wayne Watson era. A 1984-style worldview that lies are truth and ignorance is strength continues to be the mantra of this administration, enthusiastically supported by the worst board in the country. We truly are nearing the end and only a full-blown purge of the administration and board will save this university.