So what have we learned this month?
First, the Board of Trustees lost confidence in President Thomas Calhoun and negotiated a $600,000 separation agreement after he was on the job less than nine months. This termination of Calhoun's employment came despite the fact that he had near universal support from the faculty and students at the university. No reason was given by the trustees for their abrupt change of direction. We learned that the Chicago Tribune called on the Governor to replace the Board for their apparent incompetence.
September saw the Board of Trustees "apologize" to the students at the monthly Student Government Association meeting for something related to the Calhoun separation. We learned that CSU nursing students pay $2500 per year extra to cover additional nursing program costs and those entitlements are considered "extras" that might not be able to be afforded by the university during this financial crisis. That according to the interim president. One of those extras was the malpractice insurance for the nursing students to participate in their clinical training that apparently wasn't paid by the university.
We learned about a Higher Learning Commission policy change, seemingly written exclusively for Chicago State University. It wasn't bad enough that the university was sanctioned for Criterion 5, but now it seems there is more punishment on the way.
We learned that our students continue to be denigrated by the #CSUclowncar. It actually wasn't a one off with Trustee Smith and a respected student leader who called him out during public comment two weeks ago. Beside insulting the intelligence of our students with inane non-answers and platitudinous drivel, they insult the faculty by somehow insinuating we don't teach our students to think critically or reason analytically. Our students are not our puppets to be manipulated. We are here to give them skills to better use their innate abilities. "Controversial" faculty, in my 25 year experience here, don't use the students as human shields against the bad administration. Rather they support students and encourage them to expand their range and scope.
That is, of course, threatening to those who actually do manipulate and then throw students away. In response the the nursing student, the interim president responded exactly how the #CSUclowncar always responds. Placate the individual student while never correcting the systemic dysfunction. The #CSUclowncar is so predictable!
We learned that both newspapers of record in the city are supporting reform at CSU including a forensic audit of the university and the "firing" of the Board by the Governor. These are strong statements indeed from the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times given the university has been troubled for at least two decades.
We learned this week that the disgraced former president responsible for much of the destruction of the university was hanging around campus, I suspect seeking to be relevant. It is rather sad that after all of the failures of his tenure he would come on campus for any reason. Our students should really be exposed to successes, not failures.
We learned that the university no longer needed the services of the interim vice president for enrollment management as he was dismissed on September 19th. The #CSUclowncar cover story was that he resigned after Dr. Calhoun resigned. I can state with certainty that cover story is untrue. The university enrolls 86 freshmen and they fire the Enrollment Management VP saying his services are no longer necessary??? At least they didn't blame him since he was only on the job for two months and had no staff left after the #CSUclowncar eviscerated the enrollment management division in April. They did blame the low number on the budget which is strange since Illinois State University faced the same budget impasse but had their highest enrollment in 27 years. As the late Texas governor Ann Richards said "that dog won't hunt." We had 86 freshmen because the #CSUclowncar destroyed the university's ability to recruit and admit students even after being warned by your humble narrator, that preserving that area would be critical to our future. As usual though, faculty are always wrong at CSU.
And finally we learned that even those things within the control of the administration that could paint the university in a better light are not improved. The appallingly embarrassing university website continues to show there is little we seem to be able to do well beyond teach our students and conduct our research and hope for some relief from the legislature and the governor.