Thursday, February 27, 2014

And the others chime in

So loyal readers, it wasn't just the Chicago Tribune, but now three other news outlets that are reporting on our soon to be returned colleague, Jim Crowley. Links to the stories are here: Chicago Sun Times, Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.
Reading these stories gave me pause as I began to consider several unanswered questions. For example, where would Mr. Crowley work? I find it highly unlikely he would work in the Legal Department as they have more than enough attorneys tending to the university's mounting legal needs. Might he find himself in Auxillary Operations? Well that would be unlikely as well since that does not exist and I don't know if Jim could co-exist, in an ethical context, working with an Associate Vice President who lied on her employment application with no consequence. Does that leave the academic department flush with attorneys known as the Criminal Justice, Political Science and Philosophy department as his new work place. Yes loyal readers, I would ask you refresh your memory about the illegitimate hiring orchestrated by the university's president in August of 2012. No, you say. Surely academic departments are held above petty administrative machinations? Sadly, not at Crony State University, where we hire our friends and re-hire those we fired unjustly. 
Sources close to Mr. Crowley indicate he is ready to return to the university and assume duties commensurate with his education and experience. And given that administrators have received pay increases in the past four years he is likely to earn more than the salary he was being paid when he was terminated. 
Welcome back Jim.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You mean we scooped the Tribune

So it seems our humble efforts to keep the community informed have been of some modest benefit. The Chicago Tribune has now reported on this unfortunate misstep for the university, namely a multimillion dollar judgement in a landmark decision. The irony is not lost on me that the university would be found responsible in an Ethics Act case. Even the presence of the first Executive Inspector General, Z Scott, on the CSU Board of Trustees could not prevent this misstep. Luckily for us though the current board has complete confidence in the President or the university might really be in trouble. 
Several loyal readers have asked about details of this case. I will work to provide some insights in this forum for those interested in the anatomy of a $3 million judgement. Look in the upcoming weeks to several posts about this case as I believe it is the first of many to come.

Chicago State's $2.5 Million Man Makes the News Again: More Good Press for Chicago State and its "Educator of the Year" President Wayne Watson

Here's a link to a story on the Watson Clown Show's latest ethical, fiscal and public relations disaster: The somewhat embarrassing loss of the Crowley lawsuit. I particularly like the university's attorney claiming that Crowley's firing was proper because he engaged in "preferential treatment" for himself and a friend. Certainly none of that here at Chicago State! I guess Wayne Watson cannot order a university attorney to violate state and federal law without at least incurring some monetary consequences. Of course, it's only the Chicago Tribune. Time for one of Watson's friends to give him another award for being "the finest educator of our time," or some other such nonsense. Time again for the Watson administration to blame the faculty for the bad publicity. How much will this guy eventually cost this school and the taxpayers of the state of Illinois? Anyway, you can read about the $2.5 million man's folly here:,0,6922446.story

Actual Vote in Recent Balloting

At the request of someone commenting on another post, here are the actual vote totals. The vote was previously presented by percentage because that is the determining factor in whether the amendment passes or not, (2/3 of the vote remitted).

Wayne Watson Apparently Has Some Questions About the Recent Senate Balloting

It did not take long for the administration to respond to the results of the recently conducted balloting on the amendments to the Faculty Senate Constitution.

You might remember the original memorandum, sent from Watson to several hundred members of the university community on January 28, 2014. In his memorandum, Watson expresses his great concern for the failure of the faculty senate to follow established processes for amending its constitution. In particular, Watson's memorandum quotes article IX of the senate's 2011 constitution which specifies the procedure for amending the document. Watson believes that "it is important the status of this issue to the general faculty body of CSU." Hence, the mass e-mail. In his January 28 communication, Watson gives the faculty senate until February 26, 2014 to "follow the process above to make amendments as prescribed in the Faculty Senate's 2011 Constitution." If the senate fails to follow Watson's demand, the university would then ask the "faculty-at-large to make a determination as to how it wishes to participate in the governance of the university." Watson then waxes enthusiastically about the Faculty Senate, claiming that "the work of the Faculty Senate is of great value to the University," adding a strange and somewhat opaque qualifier "since it is a mechanism that should promote inclusiveness and shared governance." Finally, Watson expresses his optimism that "by working together we can overcome these hurdles." Unfortunately, Watson neglects to mention to which hurdles he refers.

Since it is often impossible to know what motivates someone's behavior, I will refrain from speculating as to the actual meaning of Watson's January 28 memorandum. What can be said with some degree of certainty is that it constitutes a threat to the existence of the Chicago State University Faculty Senate. Watson will eliminate the body unless the processes and timetable outlined in the memorandum are followed. Personally, I am on the record as agreeing with the administration's position that the changes to the Constitution do constitute amendments and that the appropriate procedure should, indeed, be followed.

In response to Watson's memorandum, the Faculty Senate moved to properly amend its constitution. The proposed amendments went out in writing to members of the Senate with more than the required period of notification between the dissemination of the information and the next regularly scheduled meeting. At that meeting, a quorum of senators voted unanimously (with four abstentions) to approve the amendments and send them to the unit A faculty for a vote. The voting took place between February 11 and 18, 2014, and resulted in an overwhelming affirmation of the changes in the Senate's constitution. The Senate president communicated the results of that balloting to Watson on February 24, 2014.

On February 25, 2014, Watson sent another memorandum, this time not distributed to the university generally. This memorandum, directed to the Faculty Senate president and copied to a number of administrators, requests clarification on six specific points, none of which appeared in Watson's memorandum of January 28, 2014. They are: 1) the dates of the election; 2) "a description of how the election was conducted"; 3) an opportunity to "view" the "originals of all ballots"; 4) "a list of persons responsible for counting the ballots"; 5) a copy of the original Constitution with "highlighted" changes; 6) the method used to determine "which faculty were eligible to vote." Watson's memorandum demands (he does say "please") that the senate provide this information no later than the end of the day on Thursday, February 27, 2014.

Again, I will not speculate as to the motive(s) behind this memorandum as I prefer to allow the reader to draw her/his own conclusions. I will, however, ask why the administration feels this information is necessary? Why does it need it immediately? It is simple enough to provide a response to the six requests, but there is nothing in the 2011 Faculty Senate Constitution that requires that body to seek approval from the Chicago State administration for the conduct of an election. The only requirement in article III is that the election be by "ballot," which is unspecified as to form. The constitution describes no specific procedure, something that the administration must (or should) know. Really, all the administration needs to know is the final result of the balloting. In the case of the recent balloting on the Faculty Senate Constitution, that result was virtually unanimous approval. I find it interesting that an administration so concerned about the senate following its procedures apparently wants to evaluate the actions of that body, an incursion into the realm of faculty governance that seems both unnecessary and unwarranted. I have attached both memorandums for your perusal.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Final Results: Faculty Senate Amendments


Here are the official results of the balloting conducted February 11-18, for the Faculty Senate Amendments: The threshold for approval is 2/3 or 66.7 percent.

Amendment 1--Shared Governance Language: 99 percent approval.
Amendment 2--Qualifications: 100 percent approval.
Amendment 3--Representation: 98 percent approval.
Amendment 4--Faculty Defined: 100 percent approval.
Amendment 5--Excom Emergency Authority: 99 percent approval.
Amendment 6--Period for Presidential Response: 99 percent approval.
Amendment 7--Eliminate Presidential Approval: 96.9 percent approval.
Amendment 8--Senate Review of Constitution: 99 percent approval.
Amendment 9--Ratification: 100 percent approval.

Thanks to all of you who participated in the election. Obviously, all nine amendments won overwhelming approval. Faculty Senate Beverly communicated the official results to Wayne Watson and the CSU administration on Monday, February 24, 2014.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Money For Day Care or Money to Pay for the Damage Caused by the Unconsionable Behavior of Chicago State's Bully-In-Chief?

I am posting this at the request of one of Chicago State's Students:

NEIU, NU, NIU, UIC, and Governors State all provide Day Care for the children of their students. CSU does not, despite the fact 49% of CSU students are women with children. This failure by the corrupt Watson administration has undoubtedly contributed to the disastrous drop in enrollment that threatens the very future of Chicago State University.

The money to provide Day Care, despite the claims to the contrary by the administration, is certainly available. Consider:

1. The $2.5 million judgment against Wayne Watson and the CSU Board of Trustees could have been used to provide Day Care for 87 kids for seven years.

2. The money paid in salaries to the three liars, Sidney, Henderson, and Austin, is equal to the amount NEIU spends to provide Day Care for 87 kids.

3. Just the INCREASE in the budget for the department of enrollment management since 2010 is enough to provide Day Care for a stupefying 407 kids indefinitely.

Two student organizations, Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and Students for Justice (S4J), are organizing a student protest to demand the administration reallocate money in order to provide Day Care for the children of CSU students by no later than the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester. This protest is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 1230 pm in the quad between the student union and Cook Admin buildings.

We students ask not for faculty to fight our fight for us. We ask only for your support as we fight for what is right, for what we have paid for and need, for what everyone else already has, and for what will help sustain our school.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

From The Heavy

So this shout out, courtesy of The Heavy, goes to former and now returned? Associate General Counsel Jim Crowley from those who prayed justice would be served and it was by the jury 14-0:
And now the floodgates are open.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guess Who Won the Lawsuit Filed by James Crowley?: Chicago State Hammered at the Cost of Millions of Dollars. Congratulations to Wayne Watson!

Remember James Crowley? Our tough-guy president, Wayne Watson, fired him in 2010 for complying with Freedom of Information Act requests. According to Crowley, Watson "pushed him to withhold [documents] from faculty and the Chicago Tribune about Watson's employment at the school." In a conversation with Crowley about the documents, Watson grabbed his wrist and said: "If you read this my way you are my friend. If you read it the other way, you are my enemy." So, in this instance, the man his attorney called "genteel" in March 2013, acted like some kind of character out of a Mario Puzo novel. For his part, Patrick Cage "called Crowley's allegations 'unfounded' and the lawsuit 'meritless'". For the quotes, see:

Recently, the university informed the Illinois State Legislature that it "expected to prevail" in the Crowley suit. You can see the university's statement here:

The jury in the Cook County Circuit Court was apparently unimpressed. Here's the result:

That means that Jim Crowley won. Of course, after a judgement for a plaintiff, the question of monetary award must be decided. Juries typically award nominal damages of they feel the offense is not too serious or substantial awards if they find the defendant's behavior egregious. This jury apparently found Wayne Watson's behavior somewhat problematic, judging from the amount of the damages awarded to the plaintiff:

This looks like $2,480,000 to me. I am not sure if that includes other various and sundry costs like attorney fees and court costs. If not, the actual cost to Chicago State will be considerably more than $2.5 million. Here are the participants who suffered the loss in this somewhat expensive case:

So a hearty congratulations to Wayne Watson, whose disregard for the law and failure to act like a responsible adult has cost the university dearly. I wonder if the Board of Trustees should convene another special meeting to again express their support for this utter failure and his cynical "vision" for Chicago State. Truly, if Watson had been charged with the destruction of this university, he could do no better than he has done. Anyone interested in looking at the entire case docket can find it here:

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Last Day to Vote!

The balloting for the Faculty Senate amendments ends tonight at midnight. For those who have not yet voted, if you want your voice heard, please return your ballot by that time. I urge everyone to vote on these important amendments.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Responsibility, Transparency and Accountability in the Watson Regime at Chicago State: In a Laughable FOIA Response, CSU Legal Team Claims the University Actually Spends More than $400 million on an $84 million budget.

You really cannot make this stuff up. We have all seen how some of our upper-level administrators lie, cheat and plagiarize to acquire and hold their lucrative positions. We have become familiar with Orwellian rhetoric and outright mendacity from administrative mouthpieces trying to justify the various misbehaviors of this execrable regime. In particular, the Watson cabal dislikes having its ethical lapses and questionable practices publicly exposed. Stonewalling, something that has been too little explored on this forum, plays an important part in the Watson administration’s strategy for preventing its actions from being exposed to the light. In order to accomplish this, the administration uses its crack legal team to crank out all number of ridiculous rationales for its contemptible conduct.

However, the stonewalling sometimes becomes untenable given the fact that state oversight agencies are able to order Chicago State to cease its laughable behavior. In that case, the university administration’s options are somewhat limited. One possible response is a shift into its attack the messenger mode, attempting to discredit the perceived source of its embarrassment: the disloyalty of some member of the “CSU family” who dares to bring administrative irregularities to light. I believe this is the dynamic at work in at least one of the recent judicial affairs attacks on a CSU student.

Another student filed the aforementioned judicial affairs complaint against the alleged offender on February 11, 2014. This complaint alleged “harassment” and indicated that this offense had taken place on January 15, 2014. Why wait nearly a month to file a complaint if the alleged offender’s behavior was so egregious? A possible explanation lies in a letter sent to the Chicago State legal team by the Illinois Public Access Counselor on February 5, 2014. Allow me to explain:

On November 18, 2013, the student who is currently under judicial affairs scrutiny filed an “amended” Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) with Chicago State University. Responding to the university’s claim that his original FOIA request had been too broad, the student asked for all invoices over $2500 from specific sub-accounts for student activities funds. The student also requested copies of all contracts relative to expenditures from the specific sub-accounts. Although this information should be readily available in any contemporary accounting program, the time necessary to copy the material might warrant the university requesting a five-day extension as provided by FOIA requirements. However, the administration flatly denied this FOIA request and provided this rationale: “the request . . . would unduly burden the operations of the University . . . [which] processes hundreds of thousands of invoices and the overwhelming majority of invoices are greater than $2500.” The university’s response continued with: “Compliance with your request would require University personnel to expend hundreds of hours to research, locate and copy the large number of documents that would fall within the scope of your request.” Given this allegedly impossible task, the university denied the request.

Of course, even in a state as corrupt as Illinois, there are sometimes higher authorities than the administration of Chicago State University. The student submitted the original FOIA request and the university’s letter of denial to the Illinois Public Access Counselor and asked for a review of Chicago State’s actions. The Public Access Counselor seems none too impressed with Chicago State’s response. The Public Access Counselor informs Chicago State that: “We have determined that further inquiry is warranted.” The Public Access Counselor then requires Chicago State to “provide us with a detailed explanation of its legal and factual basis for asserting that compliance with . . . [the] revised FOIA request would unduly burden CSUs daily operations.” Finally, the Public Access Counselor orders Chicago State to “clarify how and why the burden of complying with the revised FOIA request outweighs the public interest in the requested information.”

Given Chicago State’s track record of legal arguments in opposition to FOIA requests (see Public Access Counselor opinions 13-009 and 12-003 for examples of the legal team’s stellar work), it seems highly likely that the Public Access Counselor is going to order the university to release the pertinent records. The argument that Chicago State advanced in this case seems ridiculous. Asserting that the university processes “hundreds of thousands” of invoices suggests that the university deals with at least 200,000 invoices yearly. If the “overwhelming majority” are in excess of $2500, I take that to mean that perhaps 135,000 of those alleged invoices exceed $2500 (remember these are minimum figures based on the university’s assertions). Thus the Chicago State administration claims that the school’s yearly expenditures on various invoices is a minimum of $337,500,000.

Please forgive the descent into numerical geekdom here, but there is an objective way to verify the university’s claims, which do not quite stand up to close scrutiny. For example, the total projected expenditures for all university operations in fiscal year 2014 amounted to nearly $84 million. Of that total, $71 million are fixed costs, leaving the university with almost $13 million to spend on a discretionary basis. Even more important, the Student Activities budget amounted to $585,500 for Fiscal 2014. The discretionary budget included $168,000 for contractual services, another $9,200 for travel, and $78,600 for commodities, a total of $255,800. If every invoice for discretionary spending totaled exactly $2500, that would come to just over 102 invoices to research. Slightly different than “hundreds of thousands,” no?

Based on the university’s assertions in its FOIA denial, Chicago State’s legal team is asking the requestor as well as the Public Access Counselor to believe that the university spends over $300 million dollars yearly on an $84 million budget. It is asking both parties to believe that the university is unable to determine the expenditures from a tiny sub-account within the university budget because retrieving that information would result in “hundreds” of hours of labor. It seems like a fair question to ask how the university’s administration actually gets someone with a law degree to write this kind of hyperbolic drivel. Another reason why Chicago State is a laughingstock under this ridiculous administration.

At this point, the student who stirred up all this uproar has still not gotten a definitive statement of the “charges” included in the judicial affairs complaint. Since the university cannot prevail by using silly lies and exaggerations to fool citizens or public bodies, the next best thing might be to make life miserable for the author of the original request.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Daily Life Here in Pyongyang (Chicago State): Fighting ThoughtCrime in the Twenty-First Century

The Watson administration has been unsuccessful in silencing faculty dissent since many faculty are protected by that pesky thing called tenure. However, this cowardly administration has the ability to bully the majority of the CSU population. Recently, three students at Chicago State critical of Watson and his administration have reportedly become the targets of administrative moves against them. They are apparently subjects of judicial investigations (more details on that as they become available). This is part of what seems to be a concerted strategy by the administration to involve the students in an effort to marshal support for Wayne Watson and his regime.

We have seen ample evidence of Wayne Watson’s inability to defend himself against substantive charges of misconduct and failed administrative leadership. He hardly ventures out of the Cook building anymore without an accompanying phalanx of administrators. When he is forced to defend himself, he hides behind (or blames) subordinates, or mouthpieces like lawyers, ministers, politicians and “community activists.” He obfuscates and dissembles. Now, however, the administration is plumbing new depths as it is apparently willing to use students as surrogates in the ongoing dispute with CSU faculty; in the process turning the campus into a perverted version of Airstrip One and through the Ministry of Truth (located in the Cook building) vigorously prosecuting (or attempting to prosecute) for "thought crimes" anyone who dares to think independently.

A few days ago, the CSU Student Government Association (SGA) launched a program called “See Something, Say Something & SGA will do Something Campaign.” The memorandum announcing this endeavor is remarkable in that it specifically targets CSU faculty as the reason for students’ “subpar” educational experience and makes the unverified claim that “A vast percentage of the student body has complained,” about the quality of education at CSU. While the document goes on to claim that the purpose of this “campaign” is to allow students to bring misconduct by a variety of CSU officials to light, only the faculty’s alleged depredations are catalogued. Although the memorandum claims that CSU is “an institution that sponsors critical thinking, curiosity, and questioning,” that sponsorship apparently does not extend to the university’s faculty who should, without exception “stay within their syllabus and not spend classroom time lecturing about their views against the CSU administration.”

The intent of this document is reflected in its penultimate paragraph which advises students that “There will be an email account set up for retrieving student’s complaints about an instructor/faculty . . .” In addition, “legal” will participate in one of two workshops planned to illuminate for students the rights they possess, including “the process of filing a complaint . . .”

Once again, we see the administration’s cynical concern for process and rights on display. Now that the CSU student government is supporting Watson “100 percent,” let’s see how they follow procedures and ensure fair and equitable treatment of members. Actually, not too well.

Within the past few weeks, the CSU Student Government Association promulgated a new constitution. Its most striking feature is its incoherence. Its basic tone is punitive, featuring a sort of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” perspective that dovetails nicely with Jonathan Edwards eighteenth-century belief that “There is no want of power in God to cast wicked men into hell at any moment . . . [that] They deserve to be cast into hell.” (Jonathan Edwards, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” sermon delivered at Enfield, Connecticut, July 8, 1741. Available here: The SGA constitution includes an entire article devoted to the discipline of its members as well as numerous other references to impeachment, dismissal, or other punitive measures. Not knowing anything about the history of this organization or its members, I do not know if this kind of disapproving paternalism is necessary. In any event, it is noteworthy.

The SGA document also dovetails nicely with the Watson administration’s world view that all important matters pertaining to the university should be decided in a top-down manner that eliminates important constituencies from the decision-making process. Of course, this results in a series of remarkably bad decisions emanating from the Cook building. In the case of the student government, the SGA president serves as the ultimate arbiter of most important things, particularly the discipline of SGA members. Already this year, the SGA has cast two of its Senators into hell and both are now apparently facing judicial affairs actions.

The punitive authority of the Student Government Association resides in Article IX. There are two ways for a member of the student government to lose her/his position: Impeachment and presidential dismissal. In impeachment proceedings, any student can bring charges against any member of SGA with virtually no substantive subsequent investigation as the process moves directly from the complaint to setting a hearing date. A simple majority vote by the student Senate is required for conviction.

The presidential dismissal process is truly dictatorial. The president “may dismiss any elected or appointed SGA member . . . at his discretion at any time.” There is no due process (something our administration is terribly concerned about in the case of Angela Henderson), as “The SGA President shall present a letter of dismissal for the named individual to the Senate and at the President’s discretion (bold mine) the Senate will take a vote.” Although there is also a provision for removal based on a simple majority vote, the preceding sentence seems to render that unnecessary.

The SGA’s new constitution is problematic in at least one other way. It was obviously changed, apparently by the president, after its ratification. On January 30, an e-mail from the Speaker of the Senate claimed that the president had “caught some grammatical errors . . . [that] none of the content has changed.” A comparison of that version of the constitution with the one apparently distributed earlier that day reveals six substantive alterations to the document and four additional changes in language. Hardly reflective of unchanging content.

Given the administration’s obsession with the Faculty Senate’s constitutional amendment process and its adherence to established procedure, it will be interesting to see what stance it takes on the deeply flawed SGA constitutional process. Given the arbitrary and capricious nature of university governance at CSU, I expect that substantive unilateral changes to a previously amended and approved document will, in this case, be alright with Wayne Watson and his minions.

The Student Government Association’s recent actions reflect daily life at Wayne Watson’s Chicago State for the relatively powerless. Under the Watson regime, persons without protection are cynically co-opted, bullied and intimidated into actions that serve the interests of Wayne Watson and his cronies. The administration subjects students who disagree vocally with the Watson regime to the full weight of the university’s enforcement apparatus while it defends administrators who lie, cheat and plagiarize. I wonder how many students will want to enroll at this school knowing that this is the way our administration deals with their free speech rights. Is this descent into madness “leadership” or is it desperation?

Friday, February 14, 2014

"Are the problems just about nepotism and cronyism?"

A CSU faculty colleague asked that this be posted with her name removed.  So, here it is in its unedited form pointing to some of the multiple harms to our university caused by nepotism, cronyism and incompetence.

A friend not affiliated in any way with CSU, knowing I am faculty there, asked me "Are the problems just about nepotism and cronyism"?  Our problems are more than that.

1.  Bloated administrative staffs and salaries that got even bigger in the past 4 years.  Although CSU is a commuter school and most of our students are transfers from community colleges, we have a "dean of the freshman experience," a "dean of the honors college" (which has only a handful of students), a "student activities director," and our president is seeking to increase the athletics budget. These positions (not to mention their assistant deans, assistants to the assistants etc) eat up a huge portion of our budget.  The administration obviously wants us to be a traditional residential university--a Grinnell College in rural Iowa--rather than what we really are.  This is a delusion.

2. Now the administration is cutting budgets on the academic side, which is leading to a spiraling downward in enrollments. Students can't get into the courses they need.  They simply go somewhere else or drop out altogether.  Meanwhile the giant administrative staffs are untouched.  The "student activities director" collects her salary (I heard it was about $75K) and only a handful of students attend her events.  The marketing director has a staff of eight.  If you have walked into some of these offices and gotten the stares from the staff members standing around gossiping --"what do YOU want?"-- you will know what an unhealthy culture has developed in these administrative fiefdoms.

3. If we faculty were to be honest with ourselves, we would admit that part of the problem is poor teaching. We have a few professors who:
- Administer multiple choice and true-false tests that are rigged so students can pass them without really learning anything.
- Never bother to learn their students' names. Treat students with contempt and disrespect.
- Don't bother to stay current in their fields.  Use Power Points that are half a decade old or are downloaded from the "instructors materials" from the textbook publisher (I've been guilty of this myself).

4.  Worst of all, the administration doesn't seem to give a damn whether teaching is any good or not.  Sometimes poor teachers are rewarded with administrative positions where they are supposed to "evaluate" the rest of us. The faculty get evaluated to death, but it is mostly bean counting. And now that there is so much antagonism between faculty and administration, the lousy teachers aren't going to listen to the administration anyway. President Watson was reported to have criticized the faculty before he arrived on campus, but it was about how lazy we are and how we don't teach enough classes.  He hasn't been in front of a classroom in years and has never to my knowledge taught a course at CSU, which I find unconscionable.

Many of our problems are similar to those facing higher education as a whole, especially in our sector, which educates first generation college students. These students are being lured away by the for-profit online schools that promise an easy degree without leaving the comfort of your home. An analyst from the state higher education board came to campus last year. He said that by 2020 more than 25% of college enrollment would be in for-profit online schools. He gave a detailed analysis of what brick and mortar schools like us need to do to stay competitive. Who was at the talk? Not one member of the current senior administration (only Sandra Westbrooks whom Dr. Watson forced into retirement).  I think the administration prides itself on being "business savvy" and engaging in "strategic planning" but they are not really interested in facts.

I think wonderful things are going on at Chicago State University and I am inspired every day by our faculty and students.  Many of the administrators (not in Watson's inner circle) are hard working, committed people.  It's the jewel of the South Side.  We need to fight to get over this crisis.  For that we need a diverse coalition of faculty, students--and alumni--to force changes to be made.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

More on the Audits--but will CSU threaten NBC?

CSU's P.R. man Tom Wogan is posting on community pages in the region about the recent state audit findings at CSU (ending June 30, 2013) although NBC has posted a couple of things concerning lost equipment.

But check out the NBC site--are they in violation of "trademark agreements" or "brand" for using the CSU hedge picture in their negative reporting? Better watch out NBC, you might get a threatening letter from the university's law firm telling you to shut down operations.

Something Positive to Report About the Administration

The report of the Illinois Auditor General is out and shows Chicago State's audit exceptions dropping to 16 from the previous year's total of 29. Included in that total are 12 repeat findings. This number is the fewest audit findings for Chicago State since 2010, when the university had 13. In Elnora Daniel's final two years, she totaled 20 in 2009 and 17 in 2008. This year's findings bring the total audit findings since 2010 to 120.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Chicago State’s Board of Trustees is RACIST

According to the Tribune, during the discussion at Tuesday’s BOT meeting Phillip Beverly, president of the Faculty Senate, said, “I guess academic dishonesty is accepted by this Board of Trustees. That is the only way I can interpret this. It would never happen at another university.” I agree entirely with this quote. But more needs to be said. What is it telling us when someone is retained as provost after that person’s academic dishonesty has been openly exposed in meticulous detail? What is it telling us that this would not happen at another university? The action by the BOT to endorse the tenures of Angela Henderson and Wayne Watson is telling us that this is good enough for black people, who are the majority of our student body. When you offer inferior conditions to black people, when you endorse this, you are endorsing racism.

I would like to offer some history. The civil rights struggles of fifty and sixty years ago shifted toward a black power perspective in the last half of the 1960s that called for black control of the black community. The succession of black-led administrations at Chicago State is one manifestation of this movement as are black police, mayors (in largely black cities), police chiefs, and politicians. At that time the party I belong to—Progressive Labor Party—opposed these demands for black cops and school principals, arguing that the same policies of racist police brutality and racist treatment of black students could and would be practiced by black cops and bosses. It has taken nearly fifty years of political experience with racist black cops and racist black officials and administrators for many of us to see that the PLP was right all those years ago.

Yet our understanding is still incomplete. Our students are mistreated at every turn. Our classrooms are not maintained. The physical facilities (think about the concrete paths and staircases across campus) are deteriorated. Bathrooms are broken, but the university does not employ a plumber. The students are not allowed to select their own textbooks. The financial aid lines are unconscionably long, and students are often insulted or patronized. Students’ paperwork is frequently lost. There is no daycare, it having been eliminated when repair of Robinson University Center was begun many years ago, with no replacement being offered, a racist and sexist attack on our many students who are primarily responsible for the care of children. Any one or two of these things might happen at any school. But all have been part of the pattern of racist (and sexist) mistreatment of black students during my twenty-nine year tenure at Chicago State.

But then to say it is acceptable to have a provost who plagiarizes? This is to add a further racist insult to racist injury.

Why do I insist on calling it racism? When, over forty years ago, the capitalist ruling class acceded to black power demands for black bosses and cops, many in power realized that this shift would make it easier to control black people. Who would call the cop racist if the cop beating a black man is black? Who would call the jail guard racist if he or she is black? Who would call the college administrator racist if that administrator is black? If we don’t recognize the abuse of black people for what it is—RACISM—we will not fight it as vigorously as we would if these same actions were being committed by white people. We need to fight racism and put an end to it. So in order to unite students, faculty, and staff at Chicago State to fight against these abuses we need to call them racist and recognize them as such.

April 26th I along with many others will be in Brooklyn, NY for PLP’s May Day March. I encourage all students, faculty, and campus workers to join me on that day. Only a society that eliminates capitalism and its exploitation for profits—a communist society—can eliminate racism forever.


Who Will Defend Chicago State?

Angela Henderson cheated to obtain her degree by plagiarizing her dissertation. Faculty at Chicago State are certainly qualified to detect such academic dishonesty and therefore do not have to depend upon another institution's investigation to validate their assertions. The question is not what UIC will do about sanctions, it is about what Chicago State's administration and board will do to protect the institution's academic integrity and, ultimately, the value of its degrees. The answer is clear. The university's leadership intends to do nothing. The university's laughable "Board of Trustees" intends to support that do-nothing position. In fact, the recent pronouncement by the board underscores its commitment to the Wayne Watson regime at the expense of everything else. No amount of administrative failure, no amount of damage to the institution's already threadbare academic reputation, no amount of dishonesty by senior administrators on official records, no amount of academic dishonesty by the school's chief academic officer is sufficient to move the people in the administration or on the board to lift a finger in defense of the institution.

As Phil Beverly said yesterday, this kind of situation would not be tolerated at any other four-year college or university in Illinois. However, as far as our administration and board are concerned, it seems apparent that the students, faculty, staff and administrators of Chicago State deserve nothing. Therefore, if anyone is going to come to the defense of this school as an academic entity, who must it be? In the coming days, faculty will be asked to weigh in on the issue of Chicago State's viability by supporting or rejecting the recent "no confidence" votes of your Faculty Senate. Currently, a non-controversial vote is taking place on amendments to the Faculty Senate Constitution. I urge all faculty to participate in this election and to make their voices heard on the other issues before us.

We know what Wayne Watson and the board stand for. What do we stand for? I suppose we will find out soon.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CHI Tribune: Breaking News: Chicago State trustees back interim provost,0,5455691.story,0,2594813.graphic

Chicago State trustees back interim provost

Her dissertation scrutinized over plagiarism allegations

By Jodi S. Cohen, Tribune reporter
7:09 PM CST, February 11, 2014

Chicago State University trustees Tuesday publicly backed the campus' interim provost, Angela Henderson, who has faced allegations that parts of her doctoral dissertation were plagiarized.

The board's support came after it met in a two-hour closed-door session. Reading a statement, board Chairman Anthony Young said the board "accepts the Ph.D. conferred" on Henderson in August by the University of Illinois at Chicago, and "the current process being followed" at UIC, which began reviewing Henderson's work in December.

"Therefore the board supports Dr. Henderson in her role as the interim provost and senior vice president," Young said. "The board also expresses its full confidence in President (Wayne) Watson."
The board's support comes days after the university's faculty senate voted "no confidence" in Watson and Henderson, the university's top officials. The 44-member Senate, the faculty's governing body, voted 25-2, with three abstentions and 14 members absent.

"I guess academic dishonesty is accepted by this board of trustees," faculty senate President Phillip Beverly said following Tuesday's meeting. "That is the only way I can interpret this. It would never happen at another university."

Chicago State's spokesman said Henderson declined to comment. She attended the public part of the board meeting, and then left the room about a minute before trustees returned from their private session.
Henderson, 48, who took over in July as interim provost, the campus' senior academic official, received her doctorate in nursing from UIC in August. She had served as Chicago State's vice president for enrollment for two years.

UIC officials began examining her dissertation in December after a Chicago State professor raised concerns that parts of it were copied from other sources, without proper attribution or with inadequate citation.

UIC Graduate College Dean Karen Colley was expected to decide last month whether any action should be taken in respect to Henderson's dissertation. UIC spokesman Bill Burton declined to discuss the review or its possible outcome Tuesday, citing privacy concerns.

UIC removed Henderson's dissertation from its online database in December pending the outcome of the review. It remained offline Tuesday.

The charges against Henderson are noteworthy because, as provost, she is responsible for overseeing the academic side of the university. That includes operations and policies related to academic standards and integrity, graduate education and disciplinary matters.

Henderson's five-member dissertation committee, which had to approve her thesis in order for her to graduate, included Watson.

Her 129-page dissertation is titled: "Predicting Consistent Condom Use in African-American, Emerging, Adult Males Enrolled in Community College." Her work included surveying 186 African-American students at two community colleges to determine what influences them to use condoms, and then analyzing the results.

Dog bites man, or, bored by the Trustees

Well we certainly were not expecting a man bites dog exposé were we? I wonder, what exactly was the point of today’s Trustees’ meeting avowing pure confidence in Dr Watson and his heiress apparent?  Maybe it’s all a Rod Serling-esque “confusion” and UIC posted the wrong dissertation in Dr Henderson’s name, maybe her boss was wrongly named as a member of her committee... Anyway, there was certainly no urgency by this bored boring board to weigh in on l’affaire plagiat in January. Their regular board meeting is in a couple of weeks, why bother stating the obvious now?  Expecting the politicians (and their ed-u-cators) and Dr Watson’s board cronies to put academic integrity ahead of political loyalty is really asking the leopard to change its spots.

If we have not learned from last year’s take down of that board of Trustees (who thought it could act independently of politicians and the university’s politically-connected president himself by attempting an investigation and removal of the president it is in charge of) then we have learned nothing. Since last May, we know for certain that CSU’s role in the constellation of universities in Illinois is to provide patronage to Emil Jones’ machine, a machine that just keeps cranking along. A reminder, however, to the “CSU family” and its constituencies who pay the taxes that keep us in the money:  we are not here to provide Jazz in the Grazz to the community. We are also not here to provide a place for local high schools to play basketball or host politicians on their speaking tours and post their pictures on our webpages. Our mission is an academic one and if we lose sight of what that means, we might as well be folded up with the next round of state budget cuts. If the university has no academic integrity, how can we expect it of our students?

CSU has played an important role in the hearts and more importantly the minds of many generations of students from the southside and beyond. I am always amazed at the affection with which many students remember us when they come back to visit or when they check in by email or phone a year, two or three after they have left or when you meet them by chance in the city and tell you that the experience here meant something to them. I look around and I see broken down chairs in the classrooms, cracked sidewalks, physical disrepair in building after building and a bloated bureaucracy that too often confounds in its incompetence. They seem to forget all that and see beyond it. It’s not the buildings that they recall it’s the academic discourse they experience in classrooms or laboratories or in close work with scholars whom they can get to know in a way students at larger schools cannot. It is so crystal clear. If we as an institution, an institution that wants for so much, lose our academic integrity, we will lose the heart of CSU.

And if Emil Jones, Wayne Watson or the Board of Trustees as well as the local alderman, representatives, and ministers feel more comfortable ruling over a local community center than an academic institution then let’s just cut the charade and pretense now and dismantle the apparatus. I’m sure the longed-for Obama Library wants to be associated with a community center masquerading as a university.  

And this just in...

So in an unsurprising move, the CSU Board of Trustees affirmed through a public statement, after two hours in closed session, that they have full confidence in Wayne Watson and accept the degree conferred by the University of Illinois at Chicago for Angela Henderson, despite irrefutable evidence of academic misconduct on the part of Ms. Henderson. Yes loyal readers I am astonished and not surprised that continued misconduct on the part of this administration is unaddressed by the bored trustees.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Special BOT Meeting Tomorrow at 1pm

There's a special Board of Trustees Meeting tomorrow at 1pm in the CSU Library. The only items on the agenda will require the board to go into executive session for discussion of employment matters, legal and collective bargaining matters. It will be interesting to see whether the board will weigh in on the Angela Henderson scandal and what their stance will be relative to the issue of Chicago State's academic integrity. Most interesting, these meetings require 48 hours notice. The university's web site posted the notice for this special meeting yesterday morning around 7am, just a few hours more than the statutory requirement. I guess the CSU administrative folks don't want this information widely disseminated. I encourage all faculty to attend and observe our board in action. Here's the agenda:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Protect Your Cronies at All Cost--Anatomy of a Scandal

In the three-plus weeks since the news of Angela Henderson’s plagiarized dissertation appeared in the Chicago Tribune, the relative public silence of the Watson camp has been notable. The only two public statements include an attempt to minimize the cheating by sending their mouthpiece out on January 14 to intone that: "Right now we are talking about a series of claims made by some individuals who have shown they will go to great lengths to undermine any member of this administration in any way they can." Then, nine days later, Watson sent a memorandum to the university in which he called news of the plagiarism “an unwelcome distraction,” and admonished everyone to remember that “because something is alleged does not make it true.”

More recently, I have been told that Watson is furious about the incident. Not with Angela Henderson, but with me for bringing the plagiarism to light. In addition, at least one department chair seems to believe that I should have handled the matter more “discreetly” in order to save Chicago State and the University of Illinois at Chicago unnecessary embarrassment. All caused by me. I plan to return to these various comments later, but first I want to detail how this all came about so those persons interested in understanding the trajectory of this tragedy will not have to speculate as to how it occurred.

Several months ago I became aware of a rumor that Wayne Watson had been part of Angela Henderson’s dissertation committee, an activity that I viewed as ethically questionable. On Saturday, December 14, 2013, I found Henderson’s dissertation publicly available on a website called UIC Indigo. I made a copy of the public document and found that Watson had indeed been a member of her committee. As a matter of curiosity, I began reading the dissertation. On page 2, I found a passage that I thought suspect. The language seemed unoriginal and not reflective of the writing style in either the dedication or acknowledgments. I did a Google search and discovered that the material had come verbatim from a published journal article. The passage in Henderson’s dissertation contained neither quotation marks nor page numbers.

At this point, I checked the academic integrity policy of the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Nursing and discovered that exact language not quoted or referenced appropriately constituted plagiarism and “intellectual theft.” For the next two-plus days, I examined Henderson’s dissertation for other incidents of plagiarism. I found a staggering number: dozens of passages taken verbatim without appropriate attribution or passages taken from sources not cited and passed off as her own review of the literature. I began marking the plagiarized passages on the dissertation and cataloging the plagiarism in what eventually became the report I submitted to UIC. That weekend, I also had the dissertation run through TurnItIn, which revealed that 37 percent of the material was unoriginal.

I did not use this report as the basis for my investigation. Rather, I accessed the articles from which Henderson had stolen material either through the Internet for articles available there, or through another university’s on-line journal holdings. Ultimately, the report I wrote included 27 separate incidents of plagiarism including more that 50 passages on just twenty pages (25-44). Subsequent examinations of Henderson’s dissertation revealed 82 separate plagiarized passages on 28 pages.

I never had any doubt that I would contact the Graduate College at UIC about what I had found. Thus, on the afternoon of Monday, December 16, I spoke with someone in the Graduate Dean’s office and notified them that I believed Henderson’s dissertation to be heavily plagiarized and that I had an ethical responsibility to report my findings. The next morning I received a call from one of the Graduate College administrators who told me that UIC had already removed the dissertation from the Indigo website and would notify ProQuest to remove the work from its cache of available dissertations. The administrator asked if I would be sending anything and I replied in the affirmative–that afternoon I forwarded a copy of the dissertation with the plagiarized passages noted as well as my report. The administrator also asked if I wished to be anonymous and I responded that I had no problem being identified as the source of the complaint. I have had no further conversation about these matters with anyone at UIC.

Turning from this simple chronology to the items I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I find it interesting that people who are ostensibly so worried about the academic integrity of the two institutions affected by this scandal are so willing to elide that issue and focus on extraneous nonsense. Whether I belong to a group of people “trying to undermine” this administration, whether Angela Henderson’s “rights” were violated in some way by UIC, whether or not the president is angry at me, and whether or not I failed to be “discreet” in this matter have no bearing on the central issue: none of these conversations would be occurring had Angela Henderson not plagiarized her dissertation. Any damage done to UIC or Chicago State is her responsibility.

Angela Henderson’s case demonstrates the ethical bankruptcy of this corrupt and incompetent administration. Wayne Watson claimed in his January 23 memo that “As President of CSU, I consider our reputation and our branding to be a very serious matter.” Not serious enough to take positive steps to protect that reputation, I guess. As he has done consistently since his arrival on this campus, Watson demonstrates in the Henderson (as well as the cases of Cheri Sidney and Tyra Austin) matter that fealty to his cronies transcends any loyalty to or concern for the university, its students, staff, faculty and administrators. After all, when you have your snout in the public trough, you want to eat your fill.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

50th Anniversary of the 'War on Poverty' Event

It is important scholarly and community development events such as the one below that will make our university once again "The People's Pride."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

From Patronage Pit to the People’s Pride

I am posting this on behalf of a colleague who had technical issues with the website:

Our indefatigable colleagues, who have posted to this blog with great frequency and determination, have made a compelling case that the current regime has failed stunningly. But this is no spectacle for the merriment of onlookers, although the media exposes of the past year may have entertained some who marvel at such destructive ineptitude and foolish decisions. Every member of the faculty must and presumably does take the debacle seriously and with grave concern. We do not agree on every particular of the critique, but we all recognize that our university is in peril. We have known for far too long that our students, and their families and neighborhoods, are denied the quality of education that they need and want and that this regime has refused to provide as it plays petty political games and treats this university as a patronage pit.

So we recognize that, as documented repeatedly in this faculty blog and various investigations by the Faculty Senate, the current regime has failed. It has demonstrated a woeful lack of basic understanding of what a university is and how it should function. It has acted with hostility toward faculty, deals dismissively with staff, shows indifference to students, and disrespects the community.

Unless the current regime takes on the monumental task of transforming itself, with all that that involves, it must end. It must end for the good of the university and all whom it serves.

We must replace it with an effective and informed administration that acts in good faith and works with all in a spirit of good will. How can we get there? Recognizing that we can control only our own actions, faculty nevertheless must take the lead. Previously the Faculty Senate and the faculty union cast overwhelming votes of no-confidence. We need to reinforce that message and to make clear that it represents a strong consensus of CSU faculty.

Hence, coming days will bring more votes of no-confidence. We must use them to inform and mobilize, and to send the clear message of massive denunciation by this faculty of this regime.

Complementing the votes, a petition shall soon circulate. It seeks the public statement by tenured faculty of their condemnation of this regime and their urgent request that those with the authority to replace it do so. To make the message clear and powerful, we need dozens of tenured professors to step forward and identify themselves in their principled opposition to the regime.

We understand and appreciate that this entails some considerable risk, given the record of the executive administration and its avowed intention to stonewall. We can expect veiled threats and individual blandishments. Yet, if tenured faculty will not take this step, what hope do we have of convincing others to take the actions that they should take?

So please sign the petition and encourage others to do so. Also, if you have any reservations, please talk with your colleagues, including those who have been resisting the regime with great vigor, as well as the much larger number who voice their criticisms more quietly.

We all would like to spend even more time in our classrooms, our laboratories, studios, libraries, archives, and field research settings, our office consultations, and to productive meetings to maintain and enhance the academic integrity of this university as a genuine and valued community resource. That is, we would like to concentrate on the primary scholarly commitments that we profess. But we cannot do so until we have done all that we can to ensure that Chicago State University honors its mission. We must continue to resist those who undermine that mission, and to expand the mobilization against them.

Our integrity depends on it. We owe it to our students. They show up in bitter cold weather and frequently against great adversity to meet with us, to seek knowledge and understanding, to improve their lives and support their families and better their communities. They need to know that it is worth it. They need a regime that cares about academic quality and that acts with integrity.

The reign of error must end. Chicago State University must show itself worthy of the South Side, truly becoming what it is: a state university in Chicago. It is not enough to have the name, while the institution stumbles and falls under gross mismanagement and lack of authentic leadership. Chicago State University finally must live up to its promise, and become the people’s pride. Let’s do all that we can to make that happen.

Douglas Thomson