Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get to know him...

We know about the vote of no confidence and strike in at the City Colleges. Check out some other articles related to the next CSU president. (And feel free to add any others you know of to this blog).

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our Victory Today

So after all of the shouts, recriminations, tears etc., I finally got it. We won! Today was a victory. It was a victory for the campus community. This single event has galvanized the university in a way that no other events have in the last twenty years. Of course our adversaries will choose to believe that the summer will blunt the sharpness of the faculty and students. My warning to us is to not let the summer pass without our activity. More will follow about what we are doing, what is needed and what is possible. You may be as disappointed as I am AND I am inspired to fight for this university and what it can become. I am ready to continue to create the diamond that is CSU with all of the heat and pressure that can be brought to bear.

We Should Be Proud

The main thing that happened at the BOT meeting was that students and faculty asserted themselves with a strong voice. I believe we may be changing the culture of CSU in a positive way. We may be putting an end to a mentality of doing as we are told which has dominated the campus since I have been here (22 years). When their decision to appoint Watson was greeted with a chorus of boos and angry shouts, I was proud of all of us.

I did disagree with Phillip's speech which restored order. I thought the disorder was positive and presented a teaching moment. If we continue to disrupt the BOT's "order," what can the BOT do in the face of united faculty, students, and even administrators? Have the campus cops eject us? It would have been interesting to see them try to do that. Or they might have been forced to call Chicago cops. That would have been excellent. It would have made a profound point about political power (I write this as a political philosopher and as a communist activist). In state-level class societies based on exploitation of the working classes, the rulers' power in the end rests on the power of police, on their ability to organize force. When, as happened at that meeting, they have no support from their "constituents," that is all they have going for them. So they must use the police. A very positive lesson that--when push comes to shove--this is what capitalist "democracy" really is!!

Finally, I did think it was important to call the BOT racist. Some have said to me that the word is inflammatory. I believe that the word is accurate. White students would almost certainly not be similarly disrespected nor would their school be treated as a patronage pit. The fact that the BOT members are also almost all identified as black is irrelevant. Their only hope is that we are fooled by racial identities to think they can't be racist because they are black. They are the racists, and we should say so. We should demand that our students and our school be treated with the same respect as others: there should be UPass; the bookstore should be open to students to get their texts; the financial aid should be organized to eliminate the long lines; the classrooms should be maintained.

We have begun to stand up and fight. Let us continue.

Chicago State Community College

R.I.P. Chicago State University.

It did feel very much like a funeral this morning on the fourth floor of the New Academic Library just before CSU's five-member Board of Trustees (two with expired terms) announced its decision to hand over the leadership to their much favored local candidate Wayne Watson. Dr. Yan Searcy even used the word "funeral" in his very eloquent statement to the Board of Trustees.

And like most funerals, dirty little secrets start to come out. After being abjured by name by several members of the campus community, Reverend Finney finally let loose at the end of the morning with the reporters. If anyone was playing the race card here, he said, "it was the white-controlled media." Other comments going around town are painting the protests to the search process at CSU as fostered by a few disgruntled "white faculty." Hmmm. I wonder where those ideas started?

Most distressingly absent at the funeral this morning was the new alleged "reformer" Governor Quinn who could not muster up the courage to send a condolence card to the CSU Faculty Senate in response to their plea for the Governor's intervention in the entirely flawed presidential search process. Reverend Finney has obviously been very busy the past few weeks and according to a few of the commentators this morning "got" to the Governor. With what? Promises of southside (i.e. black) votes? At any rate, there are many southsiders and others on campus who do not vote with their skin, Governor Quinn. You might want to consider just whom you did alienate. I believe Governor Quinn needs to hear from us again, let him know that he's not fooling anyone with pious statements of integrity unless he acts. If you have supported the actions of the faculty, staff and students who have called the hiring of Wayne Watson a farce that is essentially going to make Chicago State the crown jewel in Watson's community college system, voice your opinion. The Governor's Office info:

And stay posted. There is more to come...

Sprint to mediocrity

So today was a memorable day. There was shouting, anger, tears, disbelief and finally an admission by the bored trustees that the process was fixed. The candidate whose name emerged a year and a half ago was officially named. The meeting could be summarized by the words of the University President, oh I mean Board Chairman, Leon Finney. This is “not a choice between two great options but a choice between two lesser options.” No truer words have ever been spoken. The search process notwithstanding, the university is now in a headlong sprint to mediocrity. The decision of the bored trustees signals the death knell for this institution. Of course the optimists and apologists will shout 'give him a chance' and some faculty will go into exile and others into hibernation. Other faculty will resist this sprint to mediocrity which includes the risk of losing our NCA accreditation due to the BOT's incompetence and ineptness. When I see students shedding tears about the Board's choice to appoint a political insider, I am angry. Our students have invested so much in changing their lives and to have the thieves on the BOT act with the petulance and impunity that they have displayed is galling. The theft that I refer to is the stealing of dreams and aspirations. This university needed a leader not a political hack of the Daley machine. When the post mortem is done on this chapter of our university history, I am sure there will be enough blame to go around for the institution's demise. Through all of this I got the briefest of glimpses into the South African liberation struggle against apartheid. My South African friends who lived through this have tried to convey what it meant. I am beginning to understand at the most rudimentary level what that oppression cost and the lives that were devastated by the oppression. The army has not been mobilized yet. And we, the faculty, are the army. It is time to mobilize and do the next right thing which is protect the academic integrity of this institution. We owe that to our students, the community and ourselves.

Monday, April 27, 2009

The next chapter....

So it seems the squeaky wheel will get the grease and I will be squeaking for a while longer. I am going to be as squeaky as the BOT is arrogant in ignoring the wishes for collaboration of the university community. We must be working in some bizzaro world where a group of grossly incompetent and malfeasant Blago appointees can single handedly ruin the reputation of the university. The truly sad part is that after the board members offer a five year contract to one of the applicants, we will watch the university become open admission with less than a 5% graduation rate. Maybe we will have been downgraded to a junior college by then. There will be complaints and memory loss because no one will remember that something could have and should have been done today. The truly sad part is that this grossly incompetent board will single handedly devalue the degree of every graduate of this university by violating their own regulations and governing policy around shared participation. Their flawed process led to unqualified political insiders who need their sycophants to speak to how wonderful they are because their records are so threadbare. If there was ever a need for real leadership, which neither of these two candidates displayed, it is now. Faculty and students displayed leadership. Now it's time for the state's chief executive to lead. Or we will be led down a path that we won't want to visit. And this is what it has come down to.

What Do We Hope to Accomplish?

The answer to my question may seem obvious: we want a better environment in which to teach and in which our students can learn. The quality of our leadership, it may seem, is the most important determinant of the quality of the learning and teaching environments.

I disagree. I believe that what most improves our learning and teaching environments is our fight to make these better. For, as one of us suggested about last Wednesday's rally, when we fight against the trustees' turning CSU into a patronage warehouse for Chicago insiders, we teach the most important lessons. When our students engage in the same struggle, they teach us. That is, I disagree with the spirit (as I understand it) or Steve's last post and also, I believe, with some of what Phillip and Corday have written. The important thing is less what the governor does than what we do.

I do not believe that better leadership from either the BOT or from the administration is what we should be fighting for. These leadership groups will operate from the imperatives which are built into the meaning of operating a university in the current social and political environment. An example may help. Several years ago I was involved, along with other members of Progressive Labor Party and many community activists, in a struggle centered on the Chicago Public Schools, particularly the increasing segregation within the schools, the turning of all-black public high schools into punitive warehouses with diminishing opportunity for students, and the obvious racism of these trends. I asked a CSU administrator to join me in publicizing a forum at Chicago State where we would discuss and expose these problems in the CPS and the role of the Vallas leadership in creating them. The administrator declined, saying that the university depended on a cordial relationship with the CPS leadership to enhance teaching opportunities for our graduates.

Note the implications of that reply. First, that administrator meant well, trying to do the best by the students in the current social and educational climate. But that climate was increasingly racist for black and latin students in the schools. So in pursuing the interests of our students in obtaining jobs in an increasingly racist public school system, the administrator would not challenge that growing racial segregation and racial disadvantage and injustice. Langston Hughes noted exactly the same phenomenon in the HBCs he visited in the South in the 1930s.

The point of this apparent digression is that our struggle must be a broader struggle for social justice. The current political leadership in the city and state will not advance that struggle. That job is our job and our students' job. We are the leadership we need.

Bring the Pressure

As several posts here have mentioned, Gov. Quinn will only likely act if he feels pressure to do so. As Yan Searcy pointed out at the rally, CSU is a STATE university, so we need to make our voices heard in as many locations of state government as possible. To that end, I would encourage all faculty, staff, and students to contact their state representatives and their state senators (after you have contacted the governor’s office). If you don’t know who your state rep or state senator is, there’s an online tool called “civic footprint” that will give you the names of each with links to their websites, based on your home address. If you do know your state rep and state senator’s names, then you can get their contact information on the Illinois state government website – for state reps go here, for state senators go here.

Now, what should we do when we contact our state reps and state senators? Well, the first thing I would say is talk with them about the current situation at Chicago State and what you would like to see done. From my perspective, I plan to ask my state rep and state senator to contact Gov. Quinn’s office on my behalf and request that he act upon the letter that was submitted by the CSU Faculty Senate which requested that the governor: (1) remove all members of the current Board of Trustees, (2) implement a campus wide process to suggest future Board members to the governor for his consideration, and (3) enjoin the existing Board of Trustees from executing any contract relating to the hiring of a university president until such time as a new Board of Trustees be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Illinois State Senate.

We need to make it clear to all of our state-wide elected officials that this is an issue that affects the entire state -- again, we are a state university. If any state official has a CSU faculty member, staff member, or student in her/his district, then this is their problem too. We need to enlist as many allies in state government as we can to encourage Gov. Quinn to act quickly. Remember, the Board of Trustees will be meeting on Wednesday morning to vote on one of the two “candidates” (or should we say “heirs apparent”). Please contact the Governor’s office, your state senator, and your state representative on Monday or Tuesday.

Steve Rowe

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A bit of hope

So it looks like the Tribune editorial board is the wind behind us. Check out their editorial in today's print and online editions. Here is a link to March to Mediocrity. If you support the actions of the faculty, staff and students, call the Governor's office and voice your opinion. More to follow.

Measuring the Board of Trustees by their own standards

A friend of mine happens to be the president of a college on the west coast and put me on to the website of an organization known as the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges It provides good reading for anyone interested in what trustees at public institutions should strive to be. I've excerpted a few sections here.

The complaints over the past two months about Chicago State's Board of Trustees are not without foundation. If you are still unconvinced by the arguments that have been put forward in this blog or by the students and the more vocal members on campus or by the resignation of the Search Advisory Committee or the petitions by the faculty and the resolution by the Faculty Senate, try applying some of these qualities outlined by the AGB to our current Trustees. See how they measure up by these outside objective standards.

Re: "Public institutions" [note to the BOT: you do not "own" Chicago State University, it is not yours to give away to friends or political allies who think they are entitled to it].

Public trustees serve colleges and universities that are “owned” by citizens (not government bodies or officials); they are responsible for acting on behalf of the public as their individual consciences and judgment dictate. The citizen board--regardless of whether its members are appointed or elected--has emerged as the best alternative to governmental control of higher education. Public institution trustees stand at the center of a system of checks and balances that permits them to delegate their authority--but not their responsibility--to their chief executives, faculty, and students “Public Institutions”

Regarding "Governance at Public Institutions" [n.b. consultation]
Trustees should understand three important values and traditions within the academy: academic freedom, institutional independence, and consultation with affected parties in institutional decision making. It ultimately is the responsibility of the trustees, with the help of their chief executive and other academic leaders, to define each value or tradition as it applies to their institution in contemporary society. "Governance at Public Institutions"

Apply the following points from the AGB's discussion on "The Commitment of Trusteeship" to CSU's Board of Trustees. Do you think they measure up? Have they scrupulously put aside conflicts of interest (like friendships with the 2 presidential candidates?) Have they led the university with large contributions of money? Most notably, look at item #6. Have they truly consulted the university constituencies in their conduct of campus business? Have they understood the idea emphasized here that a university is not a corporation that can be ruled in a heavy-handed, top-down, authoritarian manner, like a business corporation?

The following questions have been adapted from “The Commitment to Trusteeship," an essay written for AGB in 1990 by governance expert and retired college president John W. Nason.

3. Have you any conflicts of interest? Trusteeship today is more vulnerable to potential conflicts of interest than in the past. Boards have ways of addressing and resolving conflicts of interest—chiefly by recording them in advance and by allowing individual trustees to excuse themselves from decisions that may present potential conflicts of interest. Such conflicts may lend themselves to misinterpretation. Prospective trustees must calculate all risks.

4. Are you prepared financially to support the institution, and are you prepared to ask others to give money? This is a double-barreled question: Trustees must be prepared to carry out both tasks effectively. The board must provide leadership in fund-raising. Independent college and university trustees should give according to their financial means. Capital campaigns especially must begin with the generous donations of board members.

5. Are you prepared to be a public advocate for the institution? Sooner or later, a chief executive will need the public support of his or her board; trustees must be prepared to defend their institutions. Trustees must support controversial or unpopular policies, decisions, or actions. Institutions must be free to decide what and how to teach; who will teach; whom to admit; what research to conduct; and what values the institution embraces. Trustees must be prepared to use their personal status and goodwill to defend their institution’s integrity and reputation.

6. Are you prepared to work within the conventional framework of academic governance? The academic world differs from the corporate world in several important respects. Most notably, important policy decisions are the result of consultation among the board, the chief executive, and the faculty, among others. This process can be unsettling to executives who are accustomed to unilateral decision making. Nevertheless, most institutions operate under some rubric of shared governance, and trustees must learn to accommodate decentralized decision making.

Additionally, presidents have less authority than the business CEOs. Rather than dictating orders, academic presidents often lead by persuading others to follow. Trustees need to recognize the importance of the president’s role as mediator and provide sufficient support. Further, boards of trustees remain more actively engaged in the institution than boards of most for-profit enterprises. Trustees must ask questions, challenge recommendations, and explore alternatives.

Finally, trustees must be prepared to accept group decisions, even when they disagree with them. And while trustees should not shy away from voicing strong convictions and independent judgments, once a group decision has been made a good trustee will support it. If not, he or she should be prepared to resign.

7. Do you understand the full range of college or university trusteeship?In general, three personal qualities identify the successful trustee. First, a trustee should be curious about every aspect of the institution’s operations and be willing to ask questions. Second, a trustee must tolerate ambiguity and be able to function effectively in an environment where complex questions preclude simple answers. Third, a trustee must have a sense of humor—that is, a sense of proportion and perspective, and a realistic view of one’s own limitations. It’s a great job.

So, at the most basic level, by the standards of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, do you think CSU's Board of Trustees understands what a public institution of higher learning is and their role in it? Or, have they failed? Call or write Governor Quinn and let him know.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

An update

So the battle for the future of CSU continues. The faculty-student-staff unity rally held yesterday at noon received local television attention. The letter from the Faculty Senate to Governor Quinn requesting the removal of the Board of Trustees was delivered at 2PM on Wednesday, the full text of which will be posted here. The rumors abound about what the Governor will do now. We can continue to pressure the Governor with telephone calls, emails and faxes asking him to remove the Board of Trustees and prevent them from hiring a new president. Elected officials often respond to public pressure and if you value what happens here you will bring some pressure to bear. Unfortunately, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The Board of Trustees has posted their agenda for the April 29th meeting. They plan on voting on one of the two applicants toward the end of the meeting. I have to say, it is pretty arrogant given the ineptness they have demonstrated over the past five years. And what’s worse is that the Board Chair and one of the applicants are scheduled to appear together at a university function on Monday. Who was the administrator that didn’t realize this was completely inappropriate? In the private sector people who make those types of mistakes get fired. Not at CSU though. They just seem to get promoted and allowed to make bigger mistakes.

One fear expressed to me recently was that the Board was simply trying wait out the faculty and students by not making a decision until the summer when no one is around to watch what they are doing. So much of what goes on is done in the shadows and what the faculty and students have done is shine a light on processes that have yielded bad results. Vigilance is what is required. The university operates year round and even if we don’t teach during the summer, we should still be paying attention especially with a Board of Trustees we can’t trust to do the right thing.

Finally, it is rumored that the second applicant plans on bringing two bus loads of City Colleges students to our campus as a show of support for his candidacy. I hope he doesn’t bring the daughter who assaulted one of our students while he was confronting your humble blogger during his campus visit. Two confrontations in two weeks is too many.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's time for action

So on Wednesday, April 22 at 12 noon, the university community is invited to a faculty, staff, student unity rally at the Cordell Reed Student Union Building Rotunda. If you have a 12 o'clock class, please feel free to bring your students to this event. Important announcements will be made so you don't want to miss hearing from students and faculty about the future of our university.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday thoughts

So don’t forget to vote in our online poll on the BOT positioned to the right of this posting. Let your voice be heard.
I found out what a small world this really is today. One of our students was recording a post interview encounter with the second candidate and your humble narrator on Tuesday when a woman believed to be the applicant’s daughter snatched the cell phone from the student’s hand. No, I couldn’t believe that someone would have the audacity to do that to one of our students. Upon further investigation I discovered that the unnamed woman is believed to be an employee of ComEd in the Media Relations department. She also was the point of contact for a news release touting the awarding of a $115 million bond sale to Loop Capital Markets whose CEO and Chairman is none other than James Reynolds of the CSU Board of Trustees. The daughter of an applicant for President happens to be working with the CEO of a company managed by a board member. These sorts of linkages are not accidents and should be revealed just so everybody knows who everybody knows.

Come out Wednesday, April 22 at 12PM to the CRSUB Rotunda for a faculty, student, staff unity rally. If you have a class at that time, please consider bringing your class for this event. I believe it will be historic.
Since taking over as the Faculty Athletics Representative, I have been getting up to speed on the byzantine rules that are codified in the NCAA Division 1 manual. One of the more interesting set of rules is around recruiting; when can you contact a recruit; how can you contact a recruit etc. Recruiting is critical to building strong programs in the long term. Solid programs do their recruiting and really stay on top of finding the best student-athletes for their institutions. So I was excited that a recruiting period was coming up and CSU planned on attending the recruiting event. My excitement turned to disappointment when I found out that our coaches didn’t attend the recruiting event and possibly missed out on bringing an outstanding student athlete to CSU. How often do we miss out on recruiting a great student to our university? How did we come up short again? Was it a coaching issue where a coach simply didn't go? Was it an administration problem where the paperwork wasn't submitted on time? Was it a money issue that precluded our participation? When will we stop speaking of CSU in potential terms and start actualizing our potential? When will we stop missing out on being the best CSU possible?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Who are they? Why do we have to listen to them?

On Friday, April 17, all but two members of the Search Advisory Committee resigned from the Trustees' presidential search process. This action was predicated on a document placed in their hands at the beginning of that meeting that stated, in no uncertain terms, that the BOT did not have to be bound by anything the advisory committee could say to them.

And yet, the BOT decided very early on to bind themselves to an "expert advisor" by the name of Rita Bornstein, Ph.D. and President Emerita & Cornell Professor of Philanthropy and Leadership at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida and to the "advice" of their legal counsel, Mr. Mark Dunn.

At the beginning of the executive session on Friday, the Search Advisory Committee (alternately known as the "Campus Advisory Committee" depending on which document you follow) was given a 7-page document from Mark Dunn largely repeating information he had written to them in January 2009. Certain portions of this text are pertinent to repeat here to answer the question I posed above. Who are these people? and why do we have to listen to them?

"I have been told that there is a possibility that Campus Advisory Committee may soon recommend that the Presidential search process currently underway should be scrapped and the process should start again. I have been asked whether the Presidential Search Committee of the Board of Trustees is obligated to follow, or abide by, such a recommendation. ..

"Last year Rita Bornstein, Ph.D. and President Emerita & Cornell Professor of Philanthropy & Leadership at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida was selected as an expert advisor on matters related to the proper methods to follow in conducting searches for college and university presidents. Dr. Bornstein met with the Presidential Search Committee members and other representatives of University constituencies to lay out the general process that should be followed in CSU's search for a new president.

Dr. Bornstein laid out the following steps that should be followed and presented these steps to all of those assembled for her presentation. I have added check marks before the steps she laid out to indicate the parts of the process that have been completed to date...

Whoever these "other representatives of University constituencies" were who met with the BOT and Dr Bornstein, I do not know and frankly, I doubt their existence. I wonder how much Bornstein's "expert advice" cost the university?

Dunn's text continues with an outline of the process. He emphasizes throughout the document the "advisory" capacity of Search/Campus Advisory Committee. Six pages later, he concludes:
From all of the foregoing, it seems clear to me that the Campus Advisory Committee is supposed to "help and advise" that committee. The Campus Advisory Committee has no role that allows it to veto or call for the termination of the search process. Such a recommendation is outside the scope of the Charge to that committee. Of course, any group of people (whether or not constituted for a particular purpose) has a right to state their collective opinions on a matter of public concern. Clearly, the selection of a new CSU President is a matter of public concern. However, such a recommendation is not properly considered to be within the scope of the Charge to the Campus Advisory Committee and has no "official" force or binding effect.

Until February 2009, the Search Advisory Committee did not question the BOT's right to be the last voice in choosing the president of Chicago State University. But since the start of this process the BOT has chosen to listen to outsiders rather than the CSU community itself, notably the so-called "expert adviser" of this process Rita Bornstein and their own lawyer, Mark Dunn. The BOT chose to ignore the general will of the CSU community that was expressed in Dr. Yan Searcy's letter to President Tolliver last year and even now, one year later, chooses to ignore the overwhelming display of dissatisfaction with the search process that occurred last Monday and Tuesday on campus.

Last year on April 7, 2008 Dr Searcy wrote:
On Friday April 4, 2008 I attended the Council of Illinois University Senates spring 2008 meeting at Illinois State University. I inquired about presidential search process dynamics at the other state universities that were represented. Northeastern Illinois University's Board of Trustees utilized an advisory board. However, the board had no vote and also did not sit in for the first round of interviews. It was noted as a very closed process that promoted a strained campus environment.

Illinois State University and Southern Illinois University, for example utilized advisory committees that allowed substantial participation and provided members with the ability to put forth the names of desired candidates through voting at the committee level. SIU's advisory committee also participated in "airport" interviews. From the reports of other faculty senate presidents at the meeting, open processes served the campus, candidates, and community well...

Because of the closed meeting [of March 27th 2008] and because members of the Advisory Committee do not have a vote, the process appears neither transparent nor collaborative. In addition because the meetings are open to the public, and the public do not have votes, it seems that there is no reason to have an advisory commitee if they have no actual role in the selection since they are no more participants in the process than the general public.

I am bringing this to your attention at this early juncture in the process so that it can be addressed and rectified to avoid contention and controversy...

Suffice it to say, Dr Searcy was much more prescient about the search process than the so-called "expert" on presidential searches, Rita Bornstein.

The Search Advisory Committee was not rash in its decision to resign on Friday from the farce that has played out over the past few months known as the CSU presidential search. It was the BOT, not the Search Advisory Committee, that drew the line in the sand. There has been no communication in this process, no transparency, no collaboration, there has not even been the nod of respect to have a word of conversation between a member of the BOT and a member of the Search Advisory Board. Dr Tolliver made it clear in his response last year to Dr Searcy that Dr Westbrooks would be the spokesperson for the Search Advisory Committee and any communication with the BOT must go through her. On Friday, not one member of the BOT, could speak the words in person that their lawyer had written. The lawyer told them that the Board did not have to listen to Search Advisory Commitee, nor, apparently, did they have to say anything to them. And that was the last straw. The resolution to resign that the Search Advisory Committee presented to the BOT was completed ahead of time, but it did not have to be presented. The BOT, however, could not see it any other way.

The questions we should be asking now: who are these people who listen to so-called expert advice from a woman from Florida, but reject precedent and real-life Illinois experience and advice from the community's own Faculty Senate President? Who are these members of the BOT and why should we listen to them? What expertise do they bring to our institution that we should value what they have to say? To my knowledge none of them has managed a university. So we should listen to them because they hold their politically-appointed trustee office from a governor who is now indicted? I would really like to know, why do we have to listen to them?

Saturday, April 18, 2009

News and notes

So I wanted to pass on a couple of pieces to you. First, a reminder to contact Governor Quinn's office via his website, fax, telephone or personal visit. Tell him what you think he needs to do relative to CSU. Second, an audience member at the BOT meeting yesterday recorded the Public comments and posted it to YouTube. Finally, there is an unscientific survey posted next to the postings. If you are interested, please vote.

A statement read at the BOT meeting

The following is the text of the statement that I read during Public/Employee Comment period during the April 17th board meeting.

"In the event you hadn’t been paying attention, momentous and unprecedented events have occurred at this university this week. First, students organized and said NO to business as usual. They said NO to not being substantively included in the future of their university.

Second, faculty said NO to the status quo. Faculty demanded more of a president than one with an online degree and limited experience in higher education during the last 20 years. Faculty demanded more of a candidate who did little more than recount stories unrelated to the pertinent and important questions asked of him. This applicant was asked directly about the veracity of his reputation and responded that it was unfounded and then demonstrated unequivocally that his reputation for retaliation was, in fact, not unfounded. You may have invited them to this campus believing they would visit without incident. The university community said resoundingly NOT WITHOUT INCIDENT!

Third, the press reported extensively about these events and your institutional behavior and functioning. Their reporting, both print and broadcast, as I interpret it shows you lacking in the performance of your fiduciary responsibilities.

I took some time to read the etymology of fiduciary. It’s from the Latin fi-du-cia-rius of something held in trust which is from fi-du-cia meaning trust. Your conduct in this presidential search process has irrevocably breached the trust of this community. Your ability to fulfill your fiduciary responsibility is now impossible.

You had the opportunity at this meeting to begin to restore the trust that has been broken and missed that opportunity. You could have conducted an open discussion of the two applicants in the full view of the university. 5 ILCS 120 Section 2 states “The exceptions authorize but do not require the holding of a closed meeting to discuss a subject included within an enumerated exception.” Therefore this body could have had an open discussion of this matter and chose not to, either because of not understanding the Open Meetings Act or a continued desire to conceal the functioning of the Board .

This body has on more than one occasion violated its own governing policy. Article 1, Section 1 of your governing policies states “Although the Board is responsible for assuring that its policies and regulations are followed, it shall not participate in the details of institutional management, which are hereby delegated to the university administration.” And should you attempt to refute this statement, I would suggest reconsideration, especially when the Office of Executive Inspector General could initiate an investigation into those claims.

The university demands more of the Board now. It is calling for you to truthfully examine your honor, your motivations, and personal agendas before you continue with whatever ill conceived plan you have to foist one of these grossly unqualified applicants on this university. If you are honorable you will acknowledge that it would be a horrendous injury to this university to appoint either of these feckless candidates. If you are not honorable, if you are driven by your own selfish motivations or are consumed by some unsatiated thirst for power, pursuing Machiavellian agendas that do not serve the higher ideals and aspirations of this institution, I guarantee you will find that path strewn with obstacles you can’t yet begin to imagine.

The university has said NEITHER! Neither of these candidates is fit or deserving to lead this university. Neither of these candidates should be given a minutes more consideration. The university has said NEITHER! Ignore that message at your own peril.

I do not purport to speak for the university, the students, or the faculty. And if they believe my words to be true they will support me in whatever way they believe is appropriate, either by word or deed. "

The saga that is a presidential search

So the BOT met yesterday to discuss Monday and Tuesday’s on campus visits with the applicants. They were briefed by the consultants on the feedback. They expected the Search Advisory Committee to request that the search be re-opened. What they got was very different. After some discussion in closed session, the Presidential Search Advisory Committee resigned en masse. Below is the text of their resolution. I am emboldened by their courage to renounce a process that the Board of Trustees is clearly unwilling to listen to the university. The ostrich maneuver by the board, hiding its head in the sand hoping students and faculty will go away will not change this situation.

"Whereas the Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee has never had an opportunity to review the resumes of the entire candidate pool for the position of Chicago State University President, and

Whereas the Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee was not allowed to provide input into the selection of the 12 quarter finalists for the position, and

Whereas the Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee was not allowed to dialog with the Search Committee or each other in the selection of the five semi-finalists for the position, and

Whereas the Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee was not allowed to participate in the interviews of the five semi-finalists or to provide any input into the selection of the two finalists for the position, and

Whereas, the Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee was denied an opportunity to carry out the responsibilities that were outlined in Trustee, Reverend Dr. Richard L. Tolliver's letter of April 16, 2008 to Dr. Yan Dominic Searcy, Faculty Senate President, that states, "After the Presidential Search Committee has narrowed the search to the finalists for the position, the Campus Advisory Committee shall assume the responsibility for arranging on campus meetings and interviews with the finalist(s) so that the major campus constituencies have an opportunity to interact with the finalist(s) and so that there is at least one meeting with each candidate open to all members of the campus community." and

Whereas we feel it would be inappropriate to legitimize a less than transparent or participatory process by recommending either of the two finalists for the position of Chicago State University President, therefore be it resolved that

We the undersigned members of the Advisory Committee to the Presidential Search Committee do hereby tender our resignation from the committee. "

More to follow....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

What's next???

So what happens next? Before we ask that question maybe I should recap. Two candidates visited the campus on Monday and Tuesday. They received a rousing rendition of “Hit the Road Jack” in the form of intense questioning by students, faculty and staff. Neither of these candidates demonstrated the experience, temperament or leadership ability to be appointed CSU President. One candidate received a PhD from an online university and hasn’t been in an academic institution in 20 years. The other candidate has never been an administrator in a university and spent time on Tuesday equating making pastries to leading a doctoral degree granting university. Neither of the candidates had published in a peer reviewed journal. One had a faculty strike and vote of no confidence and the other had a sexual harassment scandal since being appointed by the now impeached and indicted governor. Their unpreparedness is emblematic of the incompetence of the bored trustees. Sorry, Board of Trustees.

It has become clear that much of the dysfunction this university experiences and has experienced is a direct result of the Board of Trustees. Whether it was audit reports, copier gate, furniture gate, interference with the daily operations of the university and finally the fictitious presidential search, I believe the Board has lost the trust and confidence of the university community. The Board will, of course, ignore the university community and forge ahead with its ill conceived plan to appoint one of the two grossly unqualified candidates as the next president. It is then, left to us. Faculty showed up at both sessions, questioned, listened and decided. Now it is time for faculty to speak clearly and decisively. We have talked too long about realizing our potential and being more than we can be. Now is the time to do it.

The Board is meeting on Friday to decide in executive session which of the two they want. They then have to vote in open session, probably on April 29th, on the candidate. Show up to the meetings and tell them NEITHER! Neither of the candidates is acceptable, qualified or appropriate. Neither of the candidates will serve the higher aspirations or ideals of this institution. Attend the meetings and tell the board by your attendance their time is up. They haven’t done the job we need done. It is time for them to serve elsewhere. Honorable people in such a position would resign, in service to the institution. Their choices in the next few days will demonstrate their honor and what they think of the university and its community. The real battle has yet to be waged and the clock is ticking. Continue to do what you did this week. Remember, faculty are the core of this university. If you don’t believe that, I ask you why do you stay?

Click on the link and contact the Governor’s office via his website and tell him what you want him to do. I want him to remove the board and put an end to the farce that is the management of this institution. Now the choice is yours.

One thing is certain; doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Watson and city college teachers

At the student session I asked a student to question Watson about the dismissal of non-tenured teachers who participated in the strike. Watson quarreled with the wording "non-tenured teachers" but admitted that got rid of emeritus faculty who were teaching and temporary faculty.

Later he talked about how he had resolved the strike issues by working out a contract with the union chief. Don't miss what he said. He said that the key to the process was to exclude teachers from any negotiations, to do it all behind close doors with the union boss. Is that our idea of "shared governance"?

The truth is that our union too has some problems with democratic inclusion.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Hooray for students and faculty, particularly students

I was very encouraged today by the participation of students and faculty in the Watson interview. I was particularly happy to see the students take such sharp leadership. One of the most encouraging things was their rudeness to Watson, which, for reasons unknown to me, was much greater than their rudeness to Adams. I am not being facetious; I am completely serious. People in authority tend to make us fearful of asserting ourselves. Part of their control is a deeply ingrained fear of challenging authority. The rudeness is helpful because it takes a step toward overcoming that fear. Of course, it was only for a couple of days, but it give hope for the future.

I do not believe that a new president or even a new board will change the (racist) culture at Chicago State (I believe that this board would be replaced by another set of hacks). But the activism of students, faculty, and campus workers could make the campus very different.

The last time I saw such a display of student initiative and challenge to authority was in the spring of 1994, when, after the administration cancelled a SGA election after the party they favored had been disqualified by the panel responsible for monitoring conformity with election rules, about 25 students, including SGA leadership, got together to plan a protest rally, ordered microphones, and reserved a space in the Robinson University Center. Then the Cross leadership started to pressure people to drop out, making various threats and offers of reward for cooperation. The SGA president and all but four other students dropped out. At the time of the rally's scheduled beginning those four got up on the stage to begin. A campus cop told them that the space had been reserved for SGA, which was no longer holding the rally, that they could not use the sound system, and that if they tried to rally anyway they would be arrested. Two students got down from the stage. Then the third started to leave. The fourth said to the third, if you leave this stage I am going to f--- you up. He stayed, and they began to speak of the problems at CSU that motivated their calling the rally. Then the other two joined them, and many students gathered around to listen and support their speeches. After about twenty minutes the SGA president took the microphone (which they had not been allowed to use), thanked them, and said that she would like to offer Chernoh Sesay, the provost, the opportunity to respond. One student then gave a speech protesting this attempt to stop their rally, and the students, and some faculty, stomped, hollered, shouted, and clapped, but would not allow Sesay to speak. In my experiences with students at CSU, that one ranks #1, but the experience today was a good #2.

Dr. Watson

After attending that excruciating meeting, all I can say is that Wayne Watson is an appalling candidate. There is simply nothing about this man that qualifies him for a leadership position at this or any other university.


Well done faculty, well done students!

I for one was very proud of the turn out for yesterday's interviews of the Trustees' candidate Carol Adams. I never thought I would see the day at CSU when students and faculty would come together in such a great display. Row after row of black suits and skirts, shirts, socks, and stockings even especially in the sessions for students and faculty and in the open session. Don't think this sea of black mixed in with the students' own brand of green tee-shirts was lost on the administration. It's one thing for a group of faculty to protest, or when a group of students protest, but when the two come together over an issue, that's when the university administration takes notice.

The Trustees have probably already chosen who the next President of CSU will be in spite of the fiction of the paper forms being passed out at the end of each interview session requesting our "feedback." Our power is not in the forms that you turn in, it's in your presence at these meetings with the candidates. Let's give Dr Watson, the same kind of reception we gave Dr. Adams. I for one have lots of black in my closet to wear.

Bravo faculty and students.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Campus visit thoughts...

So this is the best the board of trustees can provide us. A candidate who has never published in a peer reviewed journal, who hasn't taught a class in twenty years, who by her own admission has only made one mistake (understanding budgeting) while DHS secretary, who downplays being a political insider, who suggested a corporate model of governance and later in the day rejected the model she suggested, who didn't know that CSU students can actually register for classes online, who wants to market the university, as if no one else here wants to market the university. The board provides a candidate who wouldn't tender her resignation if the board had all new board members. This is a candidate who during the campus visit appeared to lack introspection and self-reflection. This candidate patronizingly accepted the green T-shirts that the students have been wearing all day, telling all to hear how much she appreciates their protest to her candidacy. It appeared a bit disingenuous. Have we heard all of the right words before? Thankfully, the board in their own opaque way have found a candidate who will save us, because we all know we have never tried any of what the Secretary suggested today.

This just in.... Update

So Paul, you are correct. The press will be here today. Will faculty be here????

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This just in later...

Apparently the board has reversed itself and will now allow reporters. According to Peter Sachs Chi-Town Daily News Higher Education Reporter "The administration reversed course when we challenged them and will allow reporters." Phillip, you may wish to add more.


This just in.....

So this just in. The university’s public affairs officer has notified the press that they cannot attend the “open” meetings when the board selected candidates visit campus on Monday and Tuesday. My curiosity is piqued now and I have some questions. First, if I read the President’s organization chart right, the PAO works for a Vice President who works for the President. Did the President approve of an employee being directed by a member of the board of trustees? If not, that is a problem. The board has their own attorney and if they wish to operate contravening their own operating instructions about the number of employees they directly manage, then they should hire their own PAO and stop burdening the university’s employees with their business. Second, the “executive session” provision they are attempting demonstrates an ineptness that is dangerous for any oversight body. Public business cannot be hidden at public institutions by gubernatorial appointees. The ‘executive session’ provision only applies when it is a meeting of the public body. If there wasn’t proper notice given then the public body is out of compliance with the OMA and subject to civil suit. Third, what possible benefit could there be to telling members of the press, who have not been sympathetic to this institution anyway, that they cannot attend a function at a public institution? The board continues to demonstrate something to the university. You can decide for yourselves what that something is.

Various and sundry thoughts

So how did we get to this chapter in our history? How did we get to the last three university presidents “leaving under a cloud” and the next one “entering under a cloud?” How did we get to “wear black in solidarity?” How did we get the media attention that has damaged our reputation and made it difficult to recruit the types of students that will improve our graduation rate? When do we get to work at a place without drama? Creative tension and workplace conflict in the academy is often a good thing. Drama isn’t! When will we be able to close the chapter of incompetence, malfeasance, and absence of leadership and begin the chapter that transforms the university into what many of us believe it can be??? Can we start that chapter tomorrow by addressing the Board selected candidates and letting the Board know that by selecting these two they have violated their fiduciary responsibility to the university community. Come to the on campus visits, wear black, ask the hard questions, and show who is the core of the university.


I bet there are a lot of you who have been working here, doing things and getting no additional CUEs, bonuses or compensation. I know this isn’t AIG where you would get a bonus for running the company into the ground but don’t we deserve some compensation for the additional things we do? I think I found a way. You may know that this blog is a “Rumor Central” of sorts and when rumors are floated, we give people who would know them to be true can post a response and refute the rumor.

Many of us know about the Peter Principle, people being promoted to the level of their own incompetence. So what if we all went to the President wanting say a $17K pay raise, and when the President turns us down (as he should), we go to the Board and get our pay increase over the objection of the President? How many of you are in? Oh, the only snag is that you have to be able to repay the favor later by, maybe hiring someone that a board member wants hired. If you are willing to do that, then maybe we are on to something here. Forget about collective bargaining. Overstepping the chain of command works better.


Thirty-two American universities are currently engaged in campaigns to raise $1billion or more within the next six years. If CSU were able to mount a fund raising campaign of $100million by 2015, that would be a significant accomplishment. The interest on an amount that large could fund many scholarships for our students, enabling us to attract different students from farther a field. The interest could provide the university with enough money to reduce our teaching loads for a couple of years. The interest on that amount could begin to help us make a dent in some of the critical deferred maintenance issues we have. I will be asking some questions in upcoming weeks about university fund raising in advance of the family campaign which starts soon. I would like to know why we can’t be like other universities and set large goals and achieve them. More to follow......


So a colleague recently asked me about consultation as outlined in the Collective Bargaining Agreement and I decided to review our contract and see what constitutes consultation. The contract states in Article 2 that”...employees who have supervisory responsibilities must have regular personnel meetings with employees who report to them to discuss and clearly communicate job-related tasks and responsibilities.” For faculty that usually means what and when are we going to teach. There are other duties like department service that I suspect there is consultation about. The language of Article 2 is a surprisingly vague provision that leaves much to the imagination. Does an email from a department chair constitute consultation? What about a voice mail message or a Post It Note® left in a departmental mailbox or a text message sent to a cell phone? Does any personal contact need to occur to satisfy the contractual requirement for consultation, especially when the administrative out is “programmatic need.”

Why consult if in the end, it is all about programmatic need and that trumps a faculty member’s want? It seems like it was a good idea and then the practicality of it got lost because the contract doesn’t have teeth. Maybe consultation was a concession arrived at in the collective bargaining process but like much of our contract where the rubber meets the road there is no consequence to the administration for violating our contractual rights. So what if the university had to pay a faculty member one month’s salary for each violation to their rights? Would that be enough of an incentive to read and follow the contract. Of the grievances filed by faculty, the UPI seems to win most of them. That is unproductive to the university. Time is wasted by both administrators and faculty in filing grievances. Hard feelings build up especially after multiple incidents. The workplace atmosphere becomes tainted. And there is no consequence for creating that situation.

I suggest the UPI begin to bargain to put some teeth into our contract. I believe that even the most anti-faculty administrator, one who would force a faculty strike for example, would not be willing to pay faculty more money for administrative mistakes made in executing the contract.


Finally, congratulations to our students who attended the BOT Academic and Student Affairs Committee meeting Thursday. They came prepared to express their displeasure at being left out of the conversations about the selection of the next President. They were respectful, unflappable, and represented themselves well. Faculty could take a page out of their book and attend BOT meetings and have our voices heard as well.

The Academy or not?

In response to the two most recent posts I think this week is the week for the CSU faculty to basically put up or shut up. I am amazed at both the actions and attitudes of the Board of Trustees. I have seen a more inclusive selection process used in para-military organizations and Corday's characterization of the Board as "insulting and condescending" is spot on as is Philip's discussion of the responsibilities of tenure.

As faculty, we are partly to blame for the paternalistic culture that pervades this institution. This week, we have the opportunity to express our displeasure with a process that has been outrageous at best. We must show up and give voice to our concerns or we run the risk of losing whatever influence we retain at this institution. Are we committed to the ideals of debate, free inquiry and argument or will we be good little soldiers and march to the orders of our wonderful and glorious leaders?


Friday, April 10, 2009

Don't believe them

In the countries that the Soviet Union liberated from the Nazis and then occupied at the end of World War II, Joseph Stalin promised “free elections.” What the peoples of Eastern Europe found was that the Soviet definition of “free elections” differed from that of democratic nations. In Soviet-occupied Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc., Stalin claimed that “free elections” did take place. These peoples were free to elect any Communist they wished…

I thought of this as I read the protestations from the Board of Trustees’ urgent memo issued late yesterday afternoon proclaiming the presidential search process to have been “completely transparent.” Like the Soviet view of “free elections,” it is all in the eye of the beholder.

If as the Trustees claim, “the search advisory committee had access to information about each of the 34 applicants in the pool,” that is news to them. The BOT and the Hollins Group never involved the Search Advisory Committee in the process of winnowing down the 34 candidates to 12. At no time did the Search Advisory Committee ever see, let alone, discuss the 34 portfolios with each other or with the BOT. In fact, the first time anyone from the Search Advisory Committee saw the entire list of 34 was when they reviewed the 12 portfolios that had been selected.

“The search advisory committee was directly involved in the process until the candidate pool was reduced to 12 semi-finalists.”

So, what does “direct involvement” mean to the BOT?

The Search Advisory Committee was permitted to review the portfolios of the 12 pre-selected candidates. Members spent a lot of time reviewing these, making extensive notes in some cases, and filling out a numeric evaluation of them. Unfortunately, no one really understood what the numeric calculations meant because this was never discussed, nor were they part of the process that developed the numeric scoring. At the next meeting of the entire presidential search committee and the Hollins Group, Dr Tolliver moved the meeting into executive session before any discussion of the candidates could take place. When the Search Advisory Committee registered their complaints about this through Dr. Westbrooks, the complaint was acknowledged, but never rectified. Make no mistake, at no point in this search process did the Search Advisory Committee, the BOT search committee and the Hollins Group ever sit down together to discuss the pluses and minuses of each candidate, not the 34, not the 12, not the 5.

"From there, the trustees’ search committee took every precaution to protect the confidentiality of the semi-finalists, all of whom could have jeopardized their current positions if their names were made public."

And herein lies the heart of the matter. The BOT does not trust its faculty, administrators, staff, and students. They admit that the faculty, alumni, administrators, civil servants, and student representatives of Chicago State could not protect the confidentiality of the presidential candidates. What an insulting and condescending thing to say. The members of the Search Advisory Committee are professional and academic people. All of them are adults; almost all were experienced in university-level job hires. Yet these faculty, administrators, staff, and students could not be trusted. This is the clearest example of the top-down administrative authoritarianism that many people last year thought could be changed. Yet here it is in black and white proclaimed publicly. There was no collaboration or transparency in this search process because the Search Advisory Committee could not be trusted.

And what members of the Search Advisory Committee remember clearly is how they were reminded at virtually every meeting, in no uncertain terms, that the final decision would be made by the BOT, and that the Search Advisory Committee would not participate in a vote at any part of the process. The BOT did the hiring and the BOT did the firing. Trustee Finney reiterated this at Thursday’s BOT meeting.

From the start of this process, the BOT chose to distance themselves from the members of the Search Advisory Committee. In his spring 2008 response to the Senate President Yan Searcy’s plea that the process should be truly collaborative and participatory by allowing the Search Advisory Committee a vote, Dr Tolliver said no. Dr. Tolliver reminded the Senate President that Dr. Westbrooks was the chair of the advisory committee, meaning, that the members of the Search Advisory Committee were not to communicate with the BOT except through Dr. Westbrooks. “She is responsible for the management and oversight of the work of the Campus Advisory Search Committee and she is the person who is to report to the Presidential Search Committee on the status of the search process. As stated in the charge, generally, all communications from the Campus Advisory Committee should come from its chair. I am making a special exception to that charge because you have signed your letter as President of the CSU Faculty Senate.” (Tolliver to Searcy, April 16, 2008). The BOT used Dr. Westbrooks' role as chair and the Hollins Group search firm as buffers between itself and the Search Advisory Committee. Add a lack of colleagiality to the criticism of this process.

"The trustees’ search committee, equipped with feedback from all of the constituents, ultimately reduced the applicant pool to five. Next, the trustees’ search committee interviewed each of these five individuals; following these interviews, two individuals emerged as finalists."

If this statement is true, then why did the Trustees have no comment to make at Thursday’s meeting when one member of the Search Advisory Committee told the board that he had polled the other members of the Advisory Committee and found that not one of them had recommended Drs. Watson or Adams for the presidency? What exactly was it that the Search Advisory Committee contributed to this process? Clearly, the BOT chose to ignore any “advice” that was submitted in the handwritten comments. And of course none of the candidates were ever discussed by the BOT and the constituencies represented by the Advisory Committee.

Most damning in all of this process is that there is really no way of knowing just how the BOT ultimately carried out the most important stages of the search process. Since the Search Advisory Committee was not permitted to attend any interviews of the five candidates chosen by the BOT, no one can know for sure what took place at those interviews. The Search Advisory Committee was never informed who these five candidates were. There was no oversight by any body on campus. How were these interviews conducted? How many Trustees attended? What did they ask the potential candidates? At the very least, the Search Advisory Committee could have been utilized as a witness to ensure that the BOT followed their own rules. It was not.

Do not kid yourself. Drs. Watson and Adams are the candidates of the Trustees. There was no meaningful contribution to the presidential search process by the Search Advisory Committee. As far as the BOT are now concerned, the Search Advisory Committee and the university as a whole are now free to interview, free to accept whomever the Trustees have already chosen. This is collaboration? This is transparency? This is what we call freedom in the academy or is it just at CSU?

Thursday, April 9, 2009

For whom does the university exist?

The Board of Trustees treats the university as if it were a place for political patronage jobs for their friends or political allies. The primary losers in the process are the students and the faculty committed to serving students. The Board is indifferent to the task of educating the students, overwhelmingly relatively disadvantaged black and a few latin students. It really is racism, a culture of indifference or insult to the students' needs that can be seen from the financial aid office (the memorable "CSU students are ghetto" as an explanation of why students apply at the last minute for financial aid) to the dirty "smart" boards in our classrooms, to the failure to approve UPASS for the students, to the policy of not letting students retrieve their own books from the bookstore, to the poor condition of so many physical facilities, including bathrooms. Of course, it starts at the top, with inadequate funding of the university. It is made worse by the racist society that creates so many needs, particularly financial ones, for students. What we see most clearly is the manifestations of this indifference or insult locally in policies that needlessly ignore important student needs and interests. Faculty suffer along with students because our ambition to teach and be useful is made more difficult.

That said, I must congratulate Phillip for starting this blog and for stating so clearly how wrong this search process has been. I agree with him that the students seem to be taking up the struggle, and this is good. Faculty should do what we can to help students to learn how to fight for themselves, and we should learn from their energy and initiative. Let's all wear black Monday and Tuesday and inform our students of the protest.

Can we hold up signs at the interviews? I have some ideas. I'll bet you do too.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

From the Senate

I just received this notice from my Faculty Senator, a statement passed at yesterday's Senate meeting. It's time for the rest of the faculty to support the Senate on this matter. Wear black on Monday and Tuesday during the on-campus "interviews" of the Trustee's two candidates to show that your voice was not heard in the presidential search process and that the process should be re-opened.


The Faculty Senate of Chicago State University expresses by this letter its grave concern regarding the process and conduct of the Board of Trustees in the search for a new university president. Contrary to the protestations of board members about the openness of the process, this body is unsatisfied with the transparency of the search process and consequently the candidates garnered therefrom.

The Senate files this letter as an official statement prior to the selection of the president with the expectation that the Board of Trustees will reopen the search process with collaboration and consultation of the university community.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Who is leading whom???

So has anybody felt the rumbling of our students besides me? For the first time since I have been here (August 1991) students are expressing their discontent. Wow! Various folks around campus have asked me where the Factoids have come from, and what are the petitions about and who started the CSU Student Voice blog and what is SESOP. I shrug my shoulders and tell them that maybe we have done a good job teaching our students critical thinking and problem solving skills and instilled a sense of the history of student activism in this country. Maybe our students can see through the disingenuous protestations of board members about the transparency of the now concluded search process.

Like many folks on campus our students have grown tired of seeing the reputation of their university degraded by scandal and mismanagement. If I were a student planning on graduating I would want my degree to have value. The value of a degree is comprised of two elements; academic rigor and institutional reputation. By all accounts our rigor is comparable to similar institutions yet our reputation has been severely damaged in the past few years and recent events have done little to restore it. That means for our students their degrees a devalued because we faculty haven’t demonstrated the will to change the situation we find ourselves facing. If the rumblings are more than rumblings, then our students are leading us. They are doing what it takes to be heard. They are printing Factoids, which means they are doing their homework. I only wish all of my faculty colleagues would do the same.

As a graduate student many years ago a professor of mine explained tenure to me. I got that tenure imparts a special responsibility to the holder to become a servant leader in a university and speak to the best interests of the university and protect the values of the institution from assault from within and without. It is a gross dereliction for a tenured faculty member at this university not to know anything about the two political insiders selected by the board to lead this university. I believe it is unconscionable for faculty not to participate in the life of this university beyond teaching their classes. To put self interest above the common good speaks to a selfishness that degrades our university and its reputation. How dare we abdicate our responsibility for being the core of this institution. It is time to stand up, do whatever takes to protect this institution, its academic reputation and get the leadership we need. Our students seem to be leading the way.

Now is the time for faculty to lead!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Whose responsible for enrollment???

So the Interim Vice President for Student Affairs spoke at the recent Presidential Faculty meeting. He told us that his job was enrollment, enrollment, enrollment.’ In the current economic environment, that job would be quite a challenge. It got me thinking about what can the university do to increase its enrollment without compromising the academic quality that faculty have been fighting for during the past few years.

I asked a staff member familiar with budgets what the university budget is for marketing. What do we spend to let the world know we are open for business?I was told the university has no marketing budget. How could we possibly expect our enrollment to increase if we aren’t willing to spend any money on marketing? It then made sense why I never see advertisements in the Sunday education sections of the major newspapers and why I see no advertising on heavily trafficked billboards or on CTA buses and trains.

If we are not going to spend money what ways can we announce ourselves to world? A couple of methods come to mind. What if we produced a weekly news program, This Week at CSU, and had that aired on cable access in the city and suburbs. A locally produced program that highlights activities and personalities at the university. Why aren’t we talking about our faculty who get so little attention outside of departments or colleges? Why don’t we show what we are doing here at the university? Why don’t we introduce our students to the world and show potential students what’s possible if they come to CSU? Why don’t we highlight our athletics program and the potential that has for enrollment? I have never produced a 30 minute weekly television program and yet I know it’s possible. We have the resources here to take some responsibility for our enrollment and now is the time to act.

Another way to increase our enrollment is to increase our support for our athletics program. If we are going to be an NCAA Division 1 program, then we have to act like it, not just talk about it. We need external sponsorship, summer sports camps, and university support in order to reach tournaments that would give us national recognition and in the minds of some potential students, validation as a major university. Having the name of our university scroll across the bottom of the screen on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN, Fox Sports, and Comcast Sportsnet could reach several million people, more than we could spend money on to reach.

What better way to introduce the university to potential students than invite lawmakers and other elected officials to our classes. Why don’t we show off our university, with all its physical blemishes, and show off our students to people of influence. If you are teaching education policy, why not invite the Chairman of the Senate Education committee to talk about the agenda the legislature has for K-12 education? If you are teaching about the environment, why not invite the House Environment & Energy Committee chairman, Thomas Holbrook, to your class. If your are teaching about budgets or finance, why not invite the Alderman Ed Burke, chairman of the Chicago City Council Committee on Finance to talk about how the city spends our tax dollars. These influence makers would then have CSU in their consciousness and we never know how many people they would talk to about CSU. It doesn’t cost us anything and we could just get more students of the quality that we want here.

If Dr. Johnson’s job is enrollment, enrollment, enrollment, isn’t it everybody’s job too?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

CSU in the news again???

So I see our non-searching search process has made the news. Apparently there are some who believe that the election of Barack Obama ushered in a new era of doing the public’s business in an open and transparent way. There are some who believe that being a political insider could be a liability in some situations, like being picked to be the next president of this university months before the previous president announced her leaving. Leaving the university community out of the process in any substantive way is an indicator that the BOT didn’t get the memo about politics as usual.

Let’s recap, shall we. After a contentious contract negotiation several years ago, the Faculty Senate voted no-confidence in the leadership of the president. The BOT was notified and never responded to the faculty concerns. Then we had copier gate, audit gate, audit gate part deux, furniture gate, International Studies gate and other minor incidents demonstrating a lack of board oversight. We fast forward ahead to the Presidential Search and the BOT spends $75,000 to find two finalists who live down the street, literally. I am beginning to wonder if the search process and the two candidates discovered as a result of it are indicators of a larger problem that the university community should really consider.

It looks like a message has been delivered to the BOT because they are going to be busy on Thursday April 9th. The Board has two scheduled committee meetings at 7:30 AM and 9:30 AM. They have also included a special meeting of the full board at 8:30 AM. I hope they don’t rush through these meetings as careful and deliberate consideration of university business is critical. Included in that is hearing what the community has to say and I imagine the community has much to say, especially about the appearance of politics as usual in the selection of the two finalists in the presidential search.

So what would happen if by magic neither of the two candidates were selected to be the next president? Would that preclude future insider dealing? Would that guarantee a more open, inclusive process the next time? Would that encourage the interim president to stay longer, perhaps another year as he was invited by a high ranking Illinois House representative? Or does real resolution of this situation reside at a higher level perhaps beyond the friendly confines of 95th & King Drive?

I welcome your thoughts.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Bagolee's Comments

We have an anonymous someone calling her/himself "Bagolee" posting: ostensibly in defense of the two candidates for the CSU presidency, but in reality attacking faculty who are criticizing the choices. It seems unfortunate that someone would take the opportunity to spew unsubstantiated anti-faculty invective during a conversation over such an important issue.

I wonder if this person has anything substantive to contribute to the discussion or if: "I. see people living in glass houses throwing stones at the Board and the candidates."


"I've been watching the blasting of two amazing candidates for the job - one who runs a $5.5 billion annual budget and another who manages 7 colleges and 10 satellite campuses with 8,000 employees and a budget five times that of CSU. Many of the people who are doing the blasting have never been able to complete their PhD's or publish or administer research grants. Talk about hyprocrisy. I guess that amusing one's self like this during the idle time between classes generates a feeling of superiority."

Are the best you have to offer?

Bob Bionaz

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interesting Reading

In case you missed this information about one of CSU’s potential presidents check this out as well as past articles from the Chicago Tribune of that time.

Chronicle of Higher Education, April 8, 2005
In Chicago, a Chancellor Pushes 2-Year Colleges to Change Their Ways
Faculty members voted no confidence in Wayne Watson; others praise his innovations By JAMILAH EVELYN

The following article brought to our attention by one of our blog commentators makes for a nice contrast.

Inside Higher Ed, April 1, 2009
Lessons of 33 Years as a President By Richard S. Meyers