Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cronyism Remains Alive and Well at Chicago State

As the university continues its stall toward oblivion, the new members of the CSU Board have not yet begun the task of reconstructing the school, an endeavor necessitated by the seemingly never-ending grasp of Watson cronies on our administration. Recently, I received current salary data from Human Resources. Combining that with forays into our web site and a peek at the most recent organizational chart, I am able to provide a glimpse at how our administration continues to operate. It ain’t pretty folks.

We are still engaged in crony hiring and promotional practices. In the past, the administration doled out its favors to the “friends of Wayne.” Now we take care of “friends of Angela.” I will focus on several administrative employees and their positions. I wish to emphasize that I don’t fault them for trying to hang on to lucrative positions. I also have no idea what their work performance is like so I will refrain from editorial comments in that area. Frankly, I have no idea what some of them even do. The overarching theme here is the disjuncture between falling enrollment numbers, falling first-year student numbers, our abysmal public image, massive layoffs in key areas, and the continued employment, even promotions of persons who work for, and/or are friends with the Provost.

First, a reminder that our 2016-17 enrollment dropped to 3255 this spring. Contributing to this drop is the miniscule number of new students admitted in Fall 2016 (297), which included the reported 86 first-year students enrolling at Chicago State for this academic year.

Second, I hardly need remind anyone of the succession of bad news stories appearing in local and national media outlets. I also need not remind anyone that since the beginning of this fiscal crisis in mid-2015, our marketing and communications people have been unable to counter the prevailing belief that the university teeters on the brink of imminent closure.

Third, based on information from Human Resources, Chicago State employed 773 full-time employees (administrators, faculty, and staff. Excluding athletic department employees) in late February 2016. One year later, the full-time employees in the same categories stand at 531.

Fourth, while the administration has slashed to the bone staff in offices providing services to prospective and current students, the Provost (actually the real president of CSU) insured that her staff and friends were protected. In this effort, she received assistance from at least two holdover Board members. In Student Affairs and First Year Experience, high-level administrative positions actually increased, due to the creation of two brand new positions. All this against the backdrop of plummeting enrollment.

In the Provost’s Office, one employee works as an “Assistant to the Provost.” Of course, this person has City Colleges experience, being named District Director in the Chancellor’s Office (Wayne Watson) on November 2, 1998, at a salary of $82,817. This person apparently lets anyone within earshot know that she’s friends with Nikki Zollar. On June 14, 2014, Angela Henderson hired her as a contract employee to provide “Crisis Communications Consulting Services on behalf of the University, including matters of reputation management, media and message management, internal communication and litigation.” On November 3, 2014, she landed her current job, at a salary of $85,008. Given the spate of articles degrading our “reputation,” and our continually ham-handed crisis response, what does this person actually do?

Another person who works for the Provost is an “Outreach Director.” I don’t know who she is supposed to be reaching, but there’s a link on our web site to download an “outreach participation” request. It’s dead. I can only assume this position has something to do with enrollment or recruitment. Given our miserable performance in both those areas, what does this person actually do?

We also have two newly-minted high-level administrators. An Associate Dean of Student Affairs, and a Director of Student Activities. Both are apparently part of that laughable “internal mobility” bullshit put out by the administration. The new Associate Dean, reportedly a close friend of the Provost, needed a new gig after the grant funding for her previous administrative position expired. Voila! Resurrect an old Deanlet position and put her in it. She had worked for a number of years for our current Provost at City Colleges, until her termination on January 24, 2011. Soon after Henderson arrived at CSU, Watson hired that person into a nearly $95,000 job.

Finally, the new First Year Director of Student Activities moved from another campus position. She apparently spent most of her time holed up in her office, but she is now one of the 4 upper-level administrators gracing the Student Activities/First Year component of the University. The former Director of Student Activities has become the new “Director” of First Year Experience. The new Student Activities person earns $85,000/year. The positions of Associate Dean of Student Affairs appeared in the fiscal 2015 budget, at a salary of $40,000, while the Director of First Year Experience is a position just created. With our undergraduate and first-year enrollment plunging, how do we justify these two new administrative positions?

While the Provost’s realm fairly bursts with high salaried administrators, the situation in Enrollment Management is somewhat bleak. The new Interim Associate Vice President (a downgrade from the previous position of Vice President of Enrollment Management) splits those duties with her previous job of Director of Institutional Research. The administration eviscerated Admissions, and significantly reduced staff in Financial Aid. Clearly our administrators believe their friends are entitled to retain their positions while the university’s students are left to deal with sharply degraded levels of service (if they can even get into the school that is). I, for one, would like to know just what the justification is for those decisions.


  1. Replies
    1. Yes, that personal connection is all you need to land a high-paying administrative job at CSU.