Tuesday, January 31, 2017

We Owe Jim Crowley $4.3 Million. Well Done Wayne Watson, Patrick Cage and Everyone Else Who Contributed to This Travesty

Here's the latest on the Crowley case: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-state-whistleblower-final-payment-20170131-story.html In particular see the idiotic remarks by Sabrina Land, clearly mouthing the administrative line. Unfortunately, as usual, we've learned nothing from this. Part of Land's comments included this: "The University continues to express its disappointment with this 2014 verdict. Our highest priority is to focus on productive and important matters such as our students, staff and university operations." The best way to create productivity on this campus is for Land and the rest of the crony army brought on board by Wayne Watson to immediately terminate their employment at this school. The residual damage from the Watson administration will continue for years.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

From our neighbor on the southside--the real world and the ivory tower

Please see the correspondence below. The recent action against Muslims coming into the U.S.  by President Trump is having immediate repercussions on the academic community. I can only imagine what might become of some of our students and faculty in the next few months. I know we have been so concerned with the future of CSU and we still need to be vigilant about that, but it is important to be aware of how fragile the academic life is becoming. I hope we won't be reporting these stories from CSU.

From: ptnet-request@lists.uchicago.edu on behalf of Will Levine [wslevine@uchicago.edu]
Sent: Sunday, January 29, 2017 1:28 PM
To: ptnet@lists.uchicago.edu
Cc: huq@uchicago.edu; Tara Zahra
Subject: [Ptnet] Important! Please Read: Workshop Discussion of Trump Executive Order & Abizadeh Cancellation

Dear All,
I'm writing to you today to let you know that our scheduled presenter for tomorrow, Arash Abizadeh, will unfortunately not be able to make it due to the Executive Order that Trump issued this Friday. With his permission, I have included his email to the workshop below.

However, in lieu of our scheduled presentation, we will be hosting a discussion on Trump's executive order during our regular time and location (Pick Hall, Room 506, 12:00pm-1:20pm). Joining us will be Aziz Huq of the Law School and Tara Zahra of the History Department. (Prof. Zahra will be arriving slightly later in the session because of a prior engagement.) We are also awaiting word from other guests.

Prof. Huq will be discussing how this order directly and indirects students of the University of Chicago. We encourage anyone interested in this topic or who knows anyone interested in this topic attend our session or contact Prof. Huq. Please circulate this message widely.

If you believe you may need assistance, please contact me at wslevine@uchicago.edu

All our welcome!
The Political Theory Workshop

From: Arash Abizadeh, Prof. [arash.abizadeh@mcgill.ca]

Dear Friends and Colleagues:
As you know, I am in Frankfurt, scheduled to fly tomorrow directly to Chicago, to present a paper at your wonderful political theory workshop.

I write with great sadness to say that I have had to change my travel plans and will not be able to join you for Monday. I have purchased a ticket from Frankfurt to return home to Montreal.

The media is reporting that, as a consequence of the US president's recent directives, US border official have, as of today, refused entry to Canadians of Iranian origin. My city of birth is Shiraz, and all the evidence suggests I would be detained on arrival in Chicago and refused entry on the basis of my birthplace.

I apologize profusely for the great inconvenience my cancellation will cause you. I am sorry for the wasted organizational time, the restaurant booking, the hotel booking, and your purchase of my Chicago to Montreal flight. I hope you will be able to cancel my flight and hotel and obtain some amount of refund. But most of all, I am of course very sorry that I will not be able to enjoy the your wonderful political theory group, to see old friends, and to make new ones.

I hope you understand. I simply do not have the stomach to deal with being held and interrogated for hours after a transatlantic flight only to be refused entry based on directives imposed by a government where neo-Nazis are pulling the strings.

I cannot tell you how sad I am with this turn of events in your country. I think I speak for my Canadian colleagues when I say that we stand with you as you face this difficult hour. Please let us know what you need from us.

In solidarity,


Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Some Random Thoughts

So loyal readers, as we adjust to the new reality of 2017, I found myself reflecting on some issues that I had hoped would have been resolved in 2016 and also played the game of "I Predict" for 2017.

I was heartened to see that one of the unsightly gashes cutting through the campus had been filled and the concrete finished. I hope it has the time to set and cure before the temperature drops this weekend. I would hate to see it need repair within a few months of being laid. Alas, the other gaping canyon remains. In June, it will be two years that this has been in this condition. Rauner's Ravine stands as a testament to Illinois' political dysfunction and CSU's inability to maintain its physical plant. 

What you see below, may look like ordinary office furniture but upon close inspection you will find that the chairs are covered in mold and mildew. Interestingly, they have been in this location and in this condition for several months. I would expect state property, not in use, to be disposed of according to property control regulations, especially if that property is a potential bio-hazard.
I have noticed that the daily enrollment reports have disappeared. What is the enrollment since the university has passed the 10 day mark. How many students down is the university in the 13th consecutive semester of enrollment decline? And how is it that those responsible for this decline are still employed by the university? The enrollment issue is the first issue the newly constituted board of trustees should address. That means that the enrollment infrastructure must be rebuilt, a plan for increasing enrollment developed and disseminated, and those hired to implement that plan be held accountable for its successful implementation. Unfortunately, the university has been burdened by administrators that either lack vision and/or the ability to execute. Sadly, Fall 2017 will likely be the 14th consecutive semester of enrollment decline. This will likely lead to further program and personnel reductions making the university less desirable to prospective students thus driving enrollment down further. I imagine that Fall of 2018 would be the earliest that the university could pull out of its long term enrollment decline.
And with all of that said, the good news of the week was the HLC whitewash that will occur surrounding the university's accreditation. I Predict that the university will remain the longest continuously accredited institution in the the state of Illinois. Monday's dog and pony show, sans evidence, was nothing more than university administrators cheerleading for the institution, rather than providing evidence of assertions made in the university's report. For example, during the last session, which lasted an hour, a single faculty member spoke. The conversation was dominated by administrators who seemed eager to convince the visitation team that all was well and the university has moved through its most recent adversity. The pleading was sad, given that anyone who has spent more than five minutes in the ghost town known as CSU, would know that the institution is completely on autopilot. Faculty, know what to do in their classes, but everything else is all but defunct. Rest assured loyal readers, that the HLC is complicit in this charade. The format of the visit screamed "Don't ask, don't tell." The visitation team wouldn't ask hard questions of constituency groups and members of those groups wouldn't be compelled to tell the truth about the level of dysfunction, which according to a psychologist friend of mine in private practice, is actually pathology and not dysfunction. So the open forum based format allowed administrators to dutifully perpetuate the Keep Calm, Keep Feigning Competence mantra of this administration. I hope that the new board chair, Paul Vallas, knows what he's in for in trying to manage a very broken institution.

The real good news is that now the Governor owns Chicago State University. He has appointed five of the current board members. If they can't fix this mess, it will be on the governor's watch.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

It's All the Media's Fault

We now have a new administrative narrative to address the issue of our dozen-plus semesters of enrollment declines and administrative failures. No, it does not include any culpability on the part of our six-figure administrators, rather it’s a hackneyed resort to conspiracy theory with the ultimate blame going to the media for disseminating “negative” stories about Chicago State.

At the December 9 Board Meeting, Cecil Lucy said, “there appears to be some level of angst regarding past administrative practices and the appearance of any ability to move the university forward. Let me assure you that this also to be, appears to be a concerted effort by a few to continue to destroy the brand and reputation of the university by flooding the media with negative press.”

Anthony Young chipped in with: “all we ever get is such negative press, what are we doing to get . . . positive things out to the public?”

Later, Horace Smith talked about combating the narrative that CSU is closing, “because I think that’s the strategy of those who don’t like this college. They create distractions and things to say, we’re closing.”

Of course, these stalwarts offered no evidence in support of their conspiracy theory. Doesn’t the fact that no evidence exists prove the existence of the conspiracy? Interestingly, it took Tuesday’s press conference by a Republican Governor to generate some positive press for the university. However, even while expressing a belief that Chicago State can indeed come through the current crisis, speakers at the press conference could not avoid mentioning Chicago State’s “mismanagement” its leadership turnover, and its plummeting graduation rate. Just who is responsible for those things Mr. Lucy? The Chicago Tribune?

Now, I won't deny that Chicago State's existence stirs hostile feelings in some quarters, but let’s face it, Chicago State gets negative publicity because its administrators do stupid and sometimes illegal things. However, just for the sake of comparison, we will take a look at recent Tribune stories on other Chicago area schools. These stories come from a google search yesterday.

The Tribune criticized DePaul University in two articles for failing to honor the first amendment by barring a controversial speaker.

The Tribune reported on Northeastern’s recent enrollment decline, its first dormitory, its hiring of a new police chief, and an 84-year-old student’s graduation.

The Tribune reported that at Loyola women had been groped on campus, that the school had a new non- ordained president, recently fired its basketball coach, and that students held rallies to support student protestors at U of Missouri.

The Tribune reported nothing about Governors State.

The Tribune reported on the University of Chicago’s $1 million lawsuit, praised the school for its free speech stance, reported on swastikas found on campus, and did a story on U of C not supporting “trigger warnings” or “safe spaces” for students.

You will note the relative absence of administrative scandals in these stories. Perhaps Mr. Lucy, Mr. Young, and Dr. Smith all believe the newspaper withheld a number of negative stories about those other schools. However, at least seven (7) of the stories could be classified as “negative,” five (5) stories could be classified as “neutral,” while two (2) could be classified as “positive.” Other than the human interest story on the 84-year-old graduating, and on Loyola students rallying, the paper reported no student activity. No faculty activity found its way into print.

During the Board meeting, the Provost mentioned some honor received by a faculty member and declared that it should have been a front-page story. Not so. Universities are responsible for publicizing the accomplishments of their students, faculty, and staff. The news media has no responsibility to serve as a public relations organ of any university. Perhaps the continuing problem at Chicago State is not the “concerted effort by a few” to inundate “the media with negative press.” Perhaps the problem at Chicago State is and has been the mismanagement of our upper administration which creates newsworthy material for the local media to report. Chicago State’s problems emanate from the Cook building and the fourth floor of the New Academic Library, not from the press room at one of the local papers, or the studio at one of the local radio or television outlets. Nonetheless, in the great tradition of previous presidents, Cecil Lucy seeks to avoid administrative responsibility for the university’s problems. The victimization narrative is only convincing for the true believers, everyone else recognizes it for what it is: a ham-handed, self-serving ploy to avoid being held accountable for multiple administrative failures.

With several new Board members, perhaps the university can extricate itself from its current predicament. I certainly hope so. However, the university will not prosper with the current group of administrators in leadership positions. A thorough house cleaning is in order, beginning at the top. It is imperative that the Board bring in a president willing to purge the school of all remnants of the Watson regime: the inept crony hires, the constant instability, the vindictive and paranoid management style, the financial shenanigans, and the almost complete absence of meaningful communication between various levels of the organization. Remember, this university was struggling before the state budget impasse took its toll.

As long as we continue to refuse to look inward, refuse to recognize our responsibility for creating the problems plaguing the university, and continue to blame shadowy conspirators for our multiple failings, I believe our efforts to solve extant difficulties will stall.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Not just new Trustees, CSU also gets an "Advisory Board" responsible to the Governor. Is this what it will take?

News conference this morning at CSU --Gov Rauner takes some action. See article below from the Chicago Tribune. What this means for CSU's students, faculty, and administrators remains to be seen.

Rauner names advisory board to help Chicago State University

Friday, January 13, 2017

The Four Departing Board Members, a Recap

Now that four Chicago State Trustees (Anthony Young, James Joyce, Michael Curtin, and Spencer Leak) are officially departing, it is time to take a look at exactly what these four people did for the university during their tenure as Trustees. Frankly, they did almost nothing but damage to the university while zealously safeguarding the interests of Wayne Watson and his cronies. Their singular “accomplishment” seems to be enabling the Watson disaster to unfold unhindered. Voluminous supporting evidence exists for this assertion.

Joyce and Young appeared on the Board for the first time on December 9, 2011. At the time, Chicago State’s enrollment stood at 6882. Curtin made his Board debut on September 21, 2012, when the school’s enrollment had already dropped to 6107. Spencer Leak’s first Board meeting occurred on May 17, 2013, when the university’s enrollment (Spring 2013) had further sunk to 5821. As these four Trustees depart in January 2017, the university’s enrollment is around 3000 (3578 in Fall 2016).

When these four persons began their Board service, the university’s full-time employee complement stood at more than 950. As they leave, the university employs (full-time) around 550 persons. On June 30, 2011, the Chicago State University Foundation’s net assets totaled $4.612 million. On June 30, 2015, they totaled $5.777 million, an increase of $1.165 million in four calendar years, or an average increase of $291,250 per year.

In 2012, 2014, and 2015, the university’s faculty voted “no confidence” in the President of the University (2012 and 2014) and in the University’s Provost (2014 and 2015). In March 2013, as he fought to keep his own job, Watson fired Vice President of Administration and Finance Glenn Meeks after Meeks reported what he believed were ethical violations on the part of the President. Meeks subsequently sued Watson for wrongful termination and violating the state’s “whistle-blower” law. In October/November 2013, Chicago State faculty discovered and reported lies and misrepresentations on the applications/resumes of Provost Angela Henderson, Associate Vice President Cheri Sidney (Watson’s girl friend at the time), and Associate Director of Financial Aid Tyra Austin. In February 2014, former CSU attorney James Crowley won a $3 million decision against Wayne Watson for unethical and dishonest behavior, wrongful termination, and for violating the state’s “whistle-blower” law. In September 2015, the Executive Inspector General’s Office notified the Board that it had found Wayne Watson committed misconduct and violated university policy by making “numerous false accusations” against former Board members Gary Rozier and “Z” Scott in a February 2013 letter to the Board of Trustees (which at the time included Joyce, Young and Curtin). In December 2016, the university settled the Meeks lawsuit for $1.3 million, bringing the running total for unsuccessful defenses of Watson’s misconduct to over $6 million (the Crowley total is still growing). Along the way, the Board oversaw a dramatic increase in the size of Chicago State’s administrative component, including a number of obvious crony hires, even while university enrollment plummeted.

Presented with a University President who had presided over (and still presides over) a 51 percent drop in enrollment in six years which made the university particularly vulnerable to the budget impasse afflicting the state since early 2015; a President whose incompetent performance eventually resulted in hundreds of employees losing their jobs in 2016; a President who had such a dismal fund-raising record, he barely raised his own salary; a President at the center of a number of highly-publicized scandals and legal problems; a President who obviously condoned lies and misrepresentations by his senior administrators; a President who hired incompetent cronies for key administrative positions; a President whose management “style” created a vindictive, paranoid, and inept management culture, this Board did either nothing, abetted, or even rewarded Watson’s mismanagement and unethical behavior.

In March 2013, Watson nearly lost his job. Despite the three-ring circus surrounding the Board’s (Rozier, Scott, and Butler) completely proper attempt to remove the Watson blight from Chicago State, Anthony Young, Michael Curtin, and James Joyce reportedly voted in favor of retaining Watson, setting the stage for the post-2013 disasters that have befallen the university. Subsequent to surviving the attempted ouster, Watson moved against Meeks and could proceed to hire his incompetent friends and cronies without fear of Board oversight. In May 2013, the Board rewarded him for his incompetence by extending his contract until June 2016. In July 2013, he made an unqualified Angela Henderson Provost, this promotion coming after she had spent two failed years as Vice President of Enrollment Management, another position for which she had no experience or qualifications. When confronted with indisputable evidence of the falsity of applications/resumes of Henderson, Sidney, and Austin, Watson did virtually nothing, the only exception apparently being a one-day suspension meted out to Sidney.

As evidence of Watson’s failure to retain students mounted—one of his contract requirements—the Board swallowed any nonsensical explanations offered by Watson sycophants in Enrollment Management for the continuing enrollment decline. Similarly, the Board did nothing about Watson’s abysmal failure to raise money for the university—another contract requirement. When the jury in the Circuit Court found for Crowley and the trial judge wrote a blistering opinion that revealed that both Watson and Patrick Cage had lied under oath during the depositions/trial, the Board voted to give the Watson administration virtually a blank check to employ outside counsel. As a result, the university has likely spent at least $1 million on defending Watson’s actions and fruitless appeals, including one to the Illinois Supreme Court. Just a few weeks ago, the university’s insurer warned that it felt no legal obligation to cover the damages awarded to Crowley since Watson and Cage acted with “malice” and “deceit”, and that their “reprehensible” and purposeful behavior had created the liability. So, confronted with the demonstrable enrollment decline, and the demonstrable misconduct by Watson and his allies, the Board did absolutely nothing to protect the university and its students.

However, the Board did find its way clear to reward Watson with outrageous and unearned perquisites upon his “retirement” in 2015. They gave him the title of “President Emeritus” which Anthony Young claimed to me was part of his original 2009 contract, In fact, the Board granted Watson that honorary title in a 2014 revised contract, which Young should well have known. Additionally, the Board granted him office space in the new academic library to write his “memoirs,” a laughable endeavor for someone who has not even published a dictionary entry since receiving his Ph.D. in 1972. Finally, the Board granted him tenure in the College of Education, a position for which he is wholly unqualified.

When the Board received the OEIG report citing Watson for misconduct, it determined that he had not had been afforded “due process” even though the university spent $11,000 on Gary Chico to represent Watson in the matter. Confronted with compelling evidence of Watson’s misbehavior and dishonesty, the Board did nothing. Conversely, after hiring a president who would likely take the university in a different direction, thereby threatening the Watson holdovers, the Board moved quickly to remove Thomas Calhoun from his position, therefore protecting the Watson cronies still running the university.

Personal relationships likely played a major role in the disastrous decisions made by the Board of Trustees over the past few years. Anthony Young and Watson reportedly meet for breakfast once a week, and Angela Henderson is reportedly friends with Nikki Zollar who apparently told Thomas Calhoun that she didn’t want to see Henderson “hurt,” which in translation meant she was providing Henderson protection from the new President.

Because of the Board’s failure to protect the university, we are in our current predicament. One of the most interesting things about the Board’s decisions over the past several years is their unanimity. Every important decision has been unanimous. No one thought any of the actions I have described above were problematic. In fact, no one thought any of those actions even warranted a public discussion. Most important, the decisions made by this Board were not just bad, they were arguably the worst possible choices they could have made. As a result, Chicago State stands on the brink of destruction, while the persons responsible for our plight continue to earn hefty salaries for continued incompetence or enjoy the retirement benefits derived from decades of mismanagement and corruption.

Anthony Young, James Joyce, Michael Curtin, and Spencer Leak disgraced themselves over the past several years. They consistently protected the interests of a small group of people at the expense of the university and its students. Their appalling performance provides a model for how not to do university governance. I think it important for the incoming members of the Chicago State Board to understand the recent history of Board governance at this school in order to avoid the kinds of disasters visited on the university by these four former Board members. I also think it important that the incoming Board members are able to recognize the self-serving appeals likely to be made by holdover members of the Board as well as holdover members of the university’s senior administration. If this school is to be saved, someone needs to take a hatchet to our upper administration.

We will soon see whether or not the new Board members desire to hear the concerns of Chicago State’s staff or if they will choose to listen only to the administration. As staff members, we know we are not always right, but we certainly cannot be 100 percent wrong 100 percent of the time. If there is any hope for this university’s renaissance, we offer our services in that effort. As for the four departing Board members, good riddance, you deserve nothing but scorn for your awful performance.

Governor Rauner Names Four New Chicago State Board Members.

The Governor has named four new trustees to the Chicago State Board. Tribune article is here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-chicago-state-vallas-new-trustees-20170112-story.html

Monday, January 9, 2017

Still in the Grip of Wayne Watson and His Crony Army

One year ago today, a group of faculty met for dinner with new President Thomas Calhoun. I think it fair to say that at that time, the staff and students of Chicago State felt a sense of hope and optimism that we would begin to repair the damage done by Wayne Watson and his incompetent cronies. Unfortunately, as we now know, the combination of a group of senior administrators concerned solely with their own interests and a horrible Board of Trustees concerned only about taking care of the former president and his friends—even to the point of putting the university’s existence in jeopardy—derailed the Calhoun administration almost before it began. As a result, the university continues to operate under the control of Watson and his sycophants.

The magnitude of the damage done by the Watson administration becomes clearer as the days, weeks, and months pass. Just last week, the university settled a costly lawsuit, giving Chicago State another hefty portion of negative publicity. Of course, we are still on the hook for the damages in the Crowley matter, the full amount of that damage will be clear after an upcoming hearing in the Circuit Court. Since the judge in that matter is James McCarthy, who eviscerated the university in his August 2014 opinion, I would not expect much mercy for the defendants.

Obviously, the university is struggling to retain enough students to remain afloat. I expect the Spring enrollment to come in around 3000, perhaps even fewer. Again, neither our senior administrators nor our Board gives a damn about the students here. Frankly, it’s a wonder that any students remain. Their experience includes waiting for hours in the asinine “advising” center (if they can get an appointment), where they are served by a miniscule number of harried advisers, advising across multiple disciplines and colleges. Then, after putting together a class schedule which frequently balances school, work, and family needs, the university’s academic affairs people slash their courses, sometimes taking the student from full-time to nothing. Then our students have to reconstruct their schedules from scratch. Frequently, the administration cancels courses necessary for graduation, putting our students at risk of timely completion of their studies. To add to their pleasure, they then must address the financial side of their university attendance. No surprise that our enrollment is cratering. Just how bad is it actually? Just how poorly does the Watson administration perform?

The University’s 2015 Fact Book is now available on the CSU website. Its numbers offer a unique look at the trajectory of failure over the past six-plus years.

Gone is the Wayne Watson hagiography. Gone is the self-serving and cynical discussion of “right-sizing” to explain the university’s enrollment woes. Instead, readers are simply confronted with the arithmetical evidence of a university struggling to retain enough students to remain financially and academically viable. Some examples:

Page 6 details the grim enrollment numbers as they declined from 6262 in Spring 2012 to 4767 in Fall 2015. The Fact Book reveals seven straight semesters of overall enrollment drops as well as the decline in first-time students and transfer students, the lifeblood of the university. Remember, these drops occurred before the state’s financial crisis took full effect. Of course, we already know that for Fall 2016, our enrollment dropped to 3578. That represents the twelfth consecutive drop in CSU enrollment from Fall 2010. Who is accountable? Wayne Watson still has an office on campus, now in Douglas Hall we are told, the Provost remains in place with her retinue, although her former kingdom of Enrollment Management has been decimated. Most important, Chicago State has three Associate Provosts and a gaggle of other administrative types “working” for six-figure salaries.

Just who is responsible for the enrollment decline? Watson and his followers harp about the students expelled for poor scholarship in 2011 as a reason for the drop in enrollment. They cite “increased standards,” invoke the bullshit of “right-sizing,” and now, of course, the state’s budget impasse offers a convenient excuse for enrollment decline. However, in a non-dysfunctional system, the kind of failure achieved by Watson and his cronies would be rewarded with termination. Here, however, they are rewarded, promoted, given raises. All the while they oversee the destruction of an urban public university.

Although it is not a particularly fair way to judge Chicago State’s performance, the university’s graduation rate for first-year students continues to cause it grief and continues to generate negative publicity. Last year’s pathetic 11 percent figure represents the worst graduation performance by Chicago State since at least the 1997 first-year cohort. Most important, the 2009-2015 cohort spent almost its entire academic career in an institution run by Watson and his cronies.

You might remember a few years ago, the Watson administration trumpeted its 50 percent increase in Chicago State’s graduation rate. For three years, 2010-11 through 2012-13, Chicago State’s graduation rate exceeded 20 percent, albeit barely. The figures are: 2010-11 (2005 cohort), 20.9 percent; 2011-12 (2006 cohort), 20.9 percent; 2012-13 (2007 cohort), 20.7 percent. Is this performance attributable to the Watson administration? Let’s take a look behind the numbers at how graduation rates emerge.

First, from the 1997 cohort through the 2010 cohort (graduation years 2003, 2016), Chicago State’s overall graduation rate has been 15.6 percent (1005 graduates out of 6423 students matriculating as first-year, full-time students). From 1998 through 2009, admissions decisions were made by employees of the Elnora Daniel administration (the sabbatical year 2007-08 and interim year of Frank Pogue in 2008-09 are included). Beginning with the admits in Fall 2010, personnel working under the direction of Wayne Watson made admissions decisions.

In deciding which cohorts to assign to the Watson administration, I determined that the first full Watson year of 2010-11, should be the point of departure for his administration. I credited the Watson administration with students matriculating after 2006-07 (graduation year 2013), since those students had already spent 4 years at Chicago State by the time the Watson administration took full force. Because the Watson administration arguably still runs the school, first-year cohorts matriculating since 2007-08 are part of my calculations (graduation year 2014).

Compared to the overall 15.6 percent rate, the Watson administration from the 2007 through 2010 cohorts, graduates 15.3 percent of first-year students (289 out of 1883). The rates are: 2007 cohort, 20.7 percent; 2008 cohort, 19.2 percent; 2009 cohort, 11.0 percent; 2010 cohort (unreleased at this time) 13.5 percent. What can we expect in the days and years to come?

First, we will be beaten up again over the 2011cohort’s graduation rate. Based on the numbers I see, we’re going to receive criticism for our graduation rates as long as the Watson regime stays in power. The reason is simple. Students abandon the school in droves after their first year.

Retention statistics are available back to the 2007 first-year cohort. In terms of second-year retention, the Watson administration has performed in 2009-16 slightly worse than prior administrations did in 2007-09. Watson’s administration retained 54.9 first-year students for a second year compared to 56.6 percent second-year retention achieved by the Daniel/Pogue administrations. Alarming, however, is the precipitous drop in students between second and third year, a drop far more pronounced under Watson than his predecessors. For students matriculating in 2007 and 2008, 43 percent returned for a third year. Under Watson from 2009-15 (the 2015 cohort has not reached its third year), the percentage drops to 33.3. Expressed another way, in third year, the Daniel/Pogue lost 24 percent of students who enrolled for their second year, while the Watson administration lost 39.3 percent of second-year students.

The 40-plus percent third-year retention eventually resulted in final graduation rates of 20.7 and 19.2 percent in 2013 and 2014. The 36 percent third-year retention of the 2009 cohort resulted in a final graduation rate of 11.0 percent (2015), while the 32.5 percent third-year retention rate of the 2010 cohort has resulted in a graduation rate of 13.5 percent for 2016. The figures for the succeeding cohorts look similarly grim. For the 2011 cohort, the third-year retention percentage is 34.3 percent. Currently, the graduation rate for that cohort is 10.2 percent, with what I estimate to be 20 additional students likely graduating within the six-year time frame and another 7 long shots. An additional 20 students would bring the rate to 14.8 percent, with 27 more resulting in a 16.5 percent final rate. It seems doubtful that all 27 students (or even 20) will graduate before Summer 2017, so I project that graduation rate to be around 15 percent.

The remaining cohorts in the pipeline look problematic also. The 2012 cohort had a third-retention rate of 30 percent; 2013, 31.3 percent; 2014, 32.1 percent. It looks like we’ll have graduation rates below 15 percent for the near future.

I apologize for all the numbers in this post, but I think for those of us who are drawn to that kind of data, it all spells failure on a monumental scale. These numbers represent nothing less than a betrayal of our students by persons whose interests do not seem to include the welfare of Chicago State University. Obviously, persons in leadership positions should be held accountable for this kind of abominable performance. That, of course, has not been done. At this point, there is no basis for the belief that it will soon be done. Therefore, even at this eleventh hour, we have our senior administrators playing at running a university. It’s really time to stop pretending these people have any legitimacy.

Welcome to 2017

I somehow deleted this post from my esteemed colleague Dr. Beverly. I repost it with my apologies.

So as you loyal readers have supported this humble effort at transparency, I think it only right to thank you for the one million page views we have received since going live March 2009. I didn't think in 2009 when I started the blog that it would have lasted this long and been of such benefit to so many who believe in Chicago State University and want to see it thrive.

Unfortunately for the believers among us, 2016 could well have been the coup de grace for CSU. The senior administration and the Board actively conspired to do their very best to ruin not just the reputation but the ability of the university to recover from years of appallingly bad management, much of which has been documented here. And instead of having the decency to resign en masse for their collective failure, we are still saddled with board members who have demonstrated nothing but contempt for the institution specifically and the academy in general. And the failed former president, who doesn't have the good sense to just go away, continues to hang about for some unknown reason. I suspect he is conspiring to co-opt and undermine the new trustees if there is any inkling that they might park the #CSUclowncar and send the cronies packing.

So what might 2017 bring? There are three things we know are certain. First, the Higher Learning Commission will be visiting shortly. Maybe they will be provided with the plan that shows how to get out and stay out of financial exigency. Second, enrollment is down, somewhere near 2,800 students, making the Fall semester a bit iffy. That makes 13 consecutive semesters of enrollment decline. Third, four new board members will be named by the Governor, possibly as early as this week. These appointments will show how the Governor values CSU. Does the university end up with more trustees who know nothing about higher education and are willing to enable, accept and condone administrative failure or does the university get someone better? Governor Rauner will own what happens from here with these appointments. And going into an election cycle, he desperately needs a win somewhere.

Beyond those three things, who knows what 2017 has in store for CSU. As ever, we will endeavor to remain as transparent as possible and bring you the news as best we can.

Thank you again for all of your support.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

What the Meeks Settlement Tells Us About Chicago State's Administrative Culture

Any hope this university has of continuing to exist beyond the next few months depends upon the dismissal of almost the entire upper administrative staff. This is a belief I have articulated on this blog on several occasions, and yesterday’s Tribune story truly underscores the necessity of such a purge.

Read carefully the article on the Meeks settlement. The narrative provides a look at much that is wrong with the administrative culture here at Chicago State. Here are some of the highlights:
• “The latest $1.3 million settlement marks the second time in recent years that the university has either lost or settled costly disputes by former employees who claimed they were fired after reporting alleged misconduct by the school's former president, Wayne Watson."
• “The settlement is another stain on Watson's legacy and the reputation of Chicago State, which already faces rising damages in another whistleblower case. In that case, a jury awarded more than $3 million to former university attorney James Crowley, who alleged he was fired for reporting questionable contracts and refusing to withhold records pertaining to Watson's employment in response to a public records request.”
• “With interest and additional fees, Crowley could be owed more than $5 million.”
• “Crowley's attorney, Anthony Pinelli, criticized Chicago State's board of trustees for not holding Watson accountable, instead making him president emeritus after he stepped down last year. ‘Nothing seems to have gotten through to them. ... Does it ever end the money they are willing to spend? Doesn't anyone say ‘Enough is enough. We have to fix this,'"
• “A Chicago State spokeswoman did not respond to requests for comment but later issued a news release announcing the settlement. The university did not admit any liability and said it resolved the case to minimize costs and distractions at the school, which has been beset by financial woes and low enrollment.”
• “’CSU believes that many individuals faced unfair, public criticism as this case worked its way through the process, including our employees and the Board of Trustees,’ according to the statement. ‘The University and these individuals have handled the situation with integrity and patience.’"
• “The parties continued to clash for several weeks, however, as the university demanded as a condition of the settlement that Meeks provide a sworn affidavit with the names of employees who provided him documents during the lawsuit.”

So what do these excerpts tell us about the administrative culture at Chicago State? First, nothing has changed. The Chicago State administration’s first response is to lie and cover up. That is apparent from its failure to admit any culpability in this matter. After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to private legal firms, we suddenly settle? We settle because we are completely blameless? It is my understanding that our deductible is somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000. We spent this amount, plus attorney costs on a case we ultimately settled? Why?
Second, the administration’s continual attempts to portray its members as victims are becoming laughable. The testimony collected during the various court proceedings, demonstrates the character of the Watson administration—paranoid, vindictive, incompetent, extracting absolute loyalty from its members on pain of expulsion and potential destruction. The victims here are the students and staff at Chicago State. However, the mewling comment in the press release about the “unfair, public criticism” faced by Chicago State “employees” along with that execrable Board of Trustees demonstrates the contempt with which the university’s upper administration views our students and staff. Neither the “employees” nor the Board members are victims in this scenario. By the way, doesn't the Board have to vote in open session to approve this settlement?

Third, why in the world does the university want the names of the employees who provided information to the Meeks legal effort? Given the history of this administration, it seems likely that more retaliation is forthcoming.

Finally, the reason our school is in such dire straits has nothing to do with the Chicago Tribune’s reporting. Neither the Tribune nor any of the other Chicago news media outlets are supposed to function as a public relations arm of Chicago State University. The argument that the media only reports negative stories holds no water. If our administration and Board simply stop doing stupid, newsworthy things, there won’t be anything negative to report. The problem here lies in our administrative behavior, not in the news coverage. In fact, by adopting the self-serving garrison mentality displayed by the Watson and subsequent administrations, we continue to alienate the press. University spokespersons lie, stretch the truth, or in this current case, simply don’t respond to press inquiries. No way to build a relationship with the media.

As the debacles continue to unfold, the administration steadfastly refuses to accept any responsibility for its myriad and continuing failures. It refuses to provide an honest accounting of all the malfeasance and unethical behavior under Watson that continues to occur at this school. The President refuses to discharge the persons who have been responsible for the succession of disasters that have befallen Chicago State. To echo Anthony Pinelli, our administration really doesn’t get it. Unfortunately, in its current iteration, it never will.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Another Case, Another Loss: Meeks Settles for $1.3 Million

The Tribune is reporting the settlement in the Meeks case as $1.3 million, $847,000 to Meeks, $453,000 to his attorneys. Another loss for Wayne Watson, Patrick Cage, and the rest of the Cook building clowns. Special thanks to the Board of Trustees, especially Michael Curtin, Anthony Young, and James Joyce for voting to retain Watson in 2013. None of this would be possible without their vile incompetence and political dishonesty. They consistently ignored the interests of the university to reward Watson and his various cronies for destroying the school. Here's the story http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-chicago-state-meeks-whistleblower-lawsuit-met-20170104-story.html

Nobody Reads the Blog

Yesterday, the CSU Faculty Voice recorded its one-millionth page view.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Chicago State Settles With Glenn Meeks

At the end of 2016, the university apparently decided to settle the Glenn Meeks lawsuit. At this point, details of the settlement are not available, but it's certainly not a victory for the administration of Wayne Watson. Since Chicago State may be responsible for paying the damages in the Crowley case, it seems likely that the university wanted to make sure that insurance would cover the costs associated with the Meeks matter. Probably more than $500,000 spent to defend Watson for behavior that should be indefensible. Even though insurance apparently covers the bulk of the costs associated with this lawsuit, the university is still responsible for a deductible amount, somewhere around $150,000 I believe. More money down the drain.