Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Higher Learning Commmission Wakes Up: Who is it Protecting?

If you thought the recent administrative and Board changes would insulate the University against the kind of sleazy political moves we’ve seen over the past several years, think again. This time, however, it looks like the attack on Chicago State comes from an unexpected source: the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), one of our accrediting bodies.

What is the HLC and what are its principles? First, it describes itself as “an independent corporation that was founded in 1895 as one of six regional institutional accreditors in the United States.” Here are some excerpts from its “Guiding Values”: “The responsibility for assuring the quality of an institution rests first with the institution itself”; and, “Continuous improvement is the alternative to stagnation”; and “Integrity means doing what the mission calls for and not doing what it does not call for; governance systems that are freely, independently and rigorously focused on the welfare of the institution and its students; scrupulous avoidance of misleading statements or practices”; and, “The well-being of an institution requires that its governing board place that well-being above the interests of its own members and the interests of any other entity”; and, HLC “holds the governing board of an institution accountable for the key aspects of the institution’s operations. [the Board] . . . must . . . hold itself independent of undue influence from individuals, be they donors, elected officials, supporters of athletics, shareholders, or others with personal or political interests.” How did HLC do over the past several years? As the Watson administration ran the institution into the ground while saddling it with a pack of incompetent cronies and other hacks, HLC stood by and did nothing. In fact, it essentially endorsed the corruption and malfeasance going on at Chicago State.

Thanks to the previous Board’s stupid decision in February 2016 to declare “financial exigency,” on July 11, 2016, the HLC put Chicago State “on notice” for its financial instability. The July notice included this: “The Board will review the Assurance Review documents at its June 2017 meeting or thereafter to determine whether the institution has demonstrated that it is no longer at risk for non-compliance.” The accrediting criteria cited in the July 2016 report included 5.A. “The institution’s resource base supports its current educational programs and its plans for maintaining and strengthening their quality in the future”; and 5.C. “The institution engages in systematic and integrated planning.” The HLC concerns about 5.A. stemmed from the state’s budget impasse. Its concerns about 5.C. revolved around the University’s failure to sufficiently clarify “roles among its Management Action Committee, the University Advisory Committee and the University Budget Committee to optimize the decision-making process”; its failure to create a long-term plan for “student recruitment and retention”; and “While the HLC evaluation team expressed strong confidence in the leadership of the University’s new President (Thomas Calhoun),” it noted that “there has been high turnover in recent years, and many key staff members are relatively new.”

HLC’s action triggered an “Assurance Report” by the University in December 2016, a draft “Assurance Review” report by HLC in March 2017, then a “Staff Report” in May, and finally, a July 10, 2017, letter to the University about its status.

Believing the July 10, 2017 communication to be a public document, I made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) for a copy of the letter. On July 20, I received a denial of my request from Karen Helland. IBHE claimed that “The HLC has conveyed to me that the information is pre-decisional because the HLC Board has made no final decision regarding Chicago State University. Thus, the letter is subject to confidentiality. Pursuant to Section 7(1)(g) of the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the letter is considered confidential and was submitted to IBHE, a third party, under an express promise that it will be kept confidential.” Given the information in this letter, I guess the HLC does not want to do its business in the open. Obviously, I plan to appeal this denial to the Public Access Counselor, we’ll see if the claimed exemption (which deals with the confidentiality of “trade secrets and commercial or financial information”) is a valid basis for denial.

Since the University is already “on notice,” a very public status, why is HLC so concerned about the confidentiality of this letter? Our financial position has clearly improved, the abominable Management Action and University Advisory Committees expired with the end of “financial exigency,” and turnover now results from the new administration’s completely appropriate effort to terminate senior administrators who are responsible for the multiple failures of the past seven years. I am told that we remain “on notice” and must submit another report to HLC in early August. Again, why? Here’s my interpretation: Certain members of the HLC apparently desire to insure that the University remains a political patronage pit. In order to do that, it is necessary to retain a number of Watson holdovers and engage in delaying tactics in an attempt to protect them. The new Board and our current administration represent a threat to that status quo and must be neutralized. Although the July 11, 2016 letter from HLC endorsed President Calhoun’s leadership, as we all know, a concerted back-stabbing effort by senior administrators and Board members ultimately resulted in his firing. The new Board is apparently not going to be receptive to that kind of activity. As a result of the new Board’s concern for the well-being of the University, it seems that playing Russian Roulette with our accreditation is the only remaining way to protect the failed Watson holdovers.

The University’s Board of Trustees failed to place the well-being of the University above the well-being of Watson and his cronies for several years. Now that avenue appears closed, and the HLC is apparently stepping into the breach.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Democratic State Comptroller Susana Mendoza Starts to Release MAP Funds.

Here's something sent out today by the Democratic State Comptroller. Things look a little different when you have a budget. By the way, how exactly was this a win for Bruce Rauner?

Monday, July 10, 2017

Here is Our Appropriation for 2017 and 2018

Based on my rough calculations, CSU will receive nearly $60 million in state appropriations, around $23.6 million for fiscal 2017 and another $35 million for fiscal 2018 (plus around $1 million in grants from the state). Also, the legislature appropriated $401 million for the Monetary Award Program.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Illinois Finally Has a Budget!

The House has just overriden Rauner's veto. After two years, Illinois has a budget.

Friday, June 9, 2017

It's Been an Interesting Summer So Far

An update on some of the upper management personnel and CSU Board changes that have occurred since April 7, 2017, when the Board appointed a new president and Chief Administrative Officer:

1. Trustee Nikki Zollar resigned her position on the Board. Given the role she played in undermining President Calhoun while simultaneously advancing the interests of the corrupt Watson administration, its Godfather and his assorted cronies, good riddance.

2. Associate Vice President of Human Resources Renee Mitchell resigned sometime in March or April.

3. Police Chief Patricia Walsh no longer works at Chicago State. I knew her only slightly, she seemed nice enough, but was the hand-picked successor to the execrable Ronnie Watson. Most important, she had no support among her officers who last year unanimously voted "no confidence" in her.

4. General Counsel Patrick Cage no longer works at Chicago State. His performance speaks for itself.

5. Interim Vice President of Administration and Finance and former Interim President Cecil Lucy no longer works at Chicago State. He played an important role in undermining President Calhoun and was determined to maintain the destructive status quo after Dr. Calhoun's termination.

These are positive changes for the university. We must root out all vestiges of the Watson administration in order to begin the healing and rehabilitation which is a precursor to moving the university in a positive direction. I applaud the new university administration for these moves and look forward to more of the same in the near future.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Friday, June 2, 2017

The West Side Campus Redux: Another Financial Scandal Brought to You by Wayne Watson and Friends

Here's another installment in the continuing West Side Campus fiasco. Some of the highlights: our former General Counsel Patrick Cage is caught lying again (as Sabrina Land says, he "misspoke"); we not only used grant money for expenditures on a feasibility study, an architect, marketing, and a non-refundable deposit on property. Additionally, the administration (read Wayne Watson and his crony Ronnie Watson),spent at least $324,000 of appropriated or income funds on lawyers, site selection, and a "project manager" named Bruce Washington, a politically-connected insider who reportedly received $267,000 for three week's work. Current university officials admitted that "former school officials needlessly and improperly spent institutional funds on the project." Of course, "It does not appear that any of the spending went before the board for review or a public vote."

Obviously, this is all the Tribune's fault for reporting on this. Once again, if we stop doing stupid things, we won't make the paper for this kind of financial malfeasance. More important, in order to prevent these scandals from emerging on a piecemeal basis, we must have a forensic audit done at this University. Another scandal on the balance sheet of Wayne D. Watson and his corrupt administration.

Here's the story:

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

A Friendly Reminder that May is Almost Gone

We are now past spring graduation. We are also now past Memorial Day. Too many of Watson's holdovers remain at this school; Watson himself was again sighted a few days ago. Why are these people still blighting the campus? There is no support for anyone tainted by complicity in the Watson-era shenanigans; the faculty and staff have clearly signaled their desire for new senior leadership. Every day these people are allowed to remain in place, making decisions and influencing events, is a day wasted. Frankly, we are running out of days to squander. Last week's personnel changes were a nice start. We all know who else needs to go, let's just get it done.

Monday, May 22, 2017

The University With No Money Spends over $3 million on Administrators.

With the University finally filing its 2018 report to the Illinois State Legislature, the scope of last year’s layoffs/terminations becomes clear. Notably, talk of staff reductions of “350” or even “300” must be taken with more than a grain of salt. That number is only achievable if non-permanent employees are included in the total. Here are the actual numbers: Administrators terminated without cause: 46; staff laid off: 84; Unit A faculty laid off: 9. Total number: 139. Additionally, 8 employees classified as “Temporary Administrators” (including 4 Undergraduate Advisors), lost their jobs. The University also laid off a total of 159 Unit B Lecturers (72 full-time, 87 part-time). Adding temporary employees and non-tenured tenure track faculty to the total brings the reductions to 306. However, the University in 2016-17 employed 126 Unit B Lecturers (44 full-time, 82 part-time), so the actual number of persons who did not return for the fall semester comes to 180. One final caveat, several of our laid off staff members have returned as temporary employees, so that 180 figure must be further reduced, perhaps to 170 or so. In any event, a far cry from the number the administration has publicly floated.

Our recently departed (and not missed) Board member Nikki Zollar claimed that the Management Action Committee, particularly Cecil Lucy and Angela Henderson, “saved” the University with their staff reductions. As has been noted on this blog, that claim is not supported by the facts. In fact, the 2016 layoffs/terminations did incalculable damage to the school. The University claimed the state’s budget crisis necessitated the carnage of April/May/June 2016, another assertion not supported by evidence. I’ve detailed much of this in previous posts, but as a refresher, I’ll again provide some data. The people who made the layoff decisions saw the University’s “fat” in two places: the academic side (faculty, departments, colleges, student-serving functions, etc.) and the facilities/plant services side (custodial services, purchasing, central stores, parking, etc.). Of the 306 layoffs, 245 (80.1 percent) came from the University’s academic endeavors, including 168 faculty. Facilities and Plant Services contributed 37 victims (12.1 percent). The final 25 layoffs/terminations came from
Computing/Network Services: 7 (2.3 percent), University Administration (Provost, Legal, Marketing, and Auditor): 7 (2.3 percent), University Services (Human Resources, Police, Accounting/Budget): 6 (2 percent), and Athletics: 4 (1.3 percent).

The proportions change if only full-time permanent employees are part of the calculation. Of those 139 employees, 81 are from the academic side (58.3 percent), 37 from Facilities (26.6 percent), with the remaining 15 percent coming from the other categories. The 7 Upper Administrative terminations accounted for 5 percent of the total.

Of course, the University continually told us that our “financial exigency” necessitated those draconian staff reductions. After all, we were out of money, right? Not exactly. First, on June 30, 2015, Chicago State had cash and cash equivalents of $24 million. On June 30, 2016, of $21.7 million. Just prior to the layoffs/terminations in April 2016, the University received an appropriation from the state of $20.7 million. Just after the faculty layoffs in June, the University received an appropriation of around $13 million. On May 31 and June 15, 2016, the University paid out over $2.2 million in cash to terminated/laid off administrators and staff. The breakdown: Severance for administrators, $1,569,992.50; benefits for administrators, 411,287.83; benefits for staff: $252,455.60. When the University laid off 9 faculty members on June 29, it claimed “financial exigency” to avoid giving them their contractually-mandated terminal contracts, which would have cost Chicago State only $590,000 spread over 18 paychecks in fiscal 2016-17. Eventually, the faculty who lost their jobs received nothing.

Altogether, in the period of “financial exigency,” the University spent at least $3.4 million on new hires, primarily administrators, and on severance cash-outs. In addition to the expenditures listed above, between the beginning of "financial exigency" on February 4, and its end on December 9, 2016, the University hired 10 new employees, 9 of them administrators. Cost for all 10: $876,000. For only the administrators: $796,000. Finally, on October 3, 2016, the University paid former President Thomas Calhoun $300,000 in severance, bringing the total expenditures for administrative hires/severance just during the period of “financial exigency,” to over $3.3 million. Clearly, the University had no money.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Once Again, Proof That the Provost Has No Support From Chicago State's Academic Community: A 116-1 Vote of "No Confidence"

Between May 6 and May 9, 2017, members of the CSU-UPI Chapter of Local 4100 participated in a poll that measured support or non-support for Provost Angela Henderson. As you may recall, here at Chicago State, two prior confidence/no confidence votes on Henderson revealed virtually no support among the Chicago State faculty for the Provost. In February 2014, the Chicago State Faculty Senate voted "no confidence" in Henderson by 25-2 with, I believe, 3 abstentions. In late November 2015, UPI members voted "no confidence" in the Provost by 142-4, with 4 abstentions. In that poll, Chicago State's tenured faculty voted "no confidence" by 86-3 with 3 abstentions. These results were reported to the University President and Board of Trustees.

The most recent poll demonstrated that Henderson's support had declined even further. The final result was 116-1-0 (99.1 percent) "no confidence" in Henderson, including tenured faculty members, who voted "no confidence" by 74-1 (98.7 percent). Thus, in three separate votes (2014, 2015, and 2017), Henderson garnered 7 votes out of 297 cast, a microscopic 2.4 percent of the total. Chicago State's tenured faculty have voted 161-4 with 3 abstentions, (2.4 percent support for Henderson) in the two polls conducted by the union (2015 and 2017). Based on these results, I think it accurate to conclude that Chicago State's Chief Academic Officer has virtually no support from the academic community she purportedly leads.

Frankly, Henderson's well-documented performance failures, insufficient credentials, demonstrated dishonesty, and a management style that has featured a commitment to cronyism have earned her the contempt expressed in these multiple repudiations of her "leadership." The enrollment declines alone should have gotten her dismissed, yet here she sits, continuing to draw her hefty salary, continuing to damage the university. In a viable organization, people at the top are held responsible, are accountable for their performance, and for the organization's success or failure. Chicago State is certainly not a success story, but despite years of failure, Henderson has been protected by a University President and members of a Board whose outrageous and frequently unethical behavior contributed materially to the current crisis. Given the latest demonstration of the faculty's and the academic staff's nearly unanimous opposition to this Provost, we must again ask: is anyone listening? will Angela Henderson be held accountable for her woeful performance and for the damage she has done to the University? We shall see.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Congratulations to Our Newly Tenured Colleagues

Congratulations to our faculty colleagues who earned tenure this academic year; granted by the Board on May 5, 2017:

Dr. Bryon Martin, HPERS.
Dr. Garrard McClendon, GPED.
Dr. Tatjana Petrova, Pharmacy Practice

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Why We Need New Leadership Now.

As we reach the end of another school year replete with scandals, more enrollment declines, and bad financial news, it seems increasingly important for our new leadership to identify the persons most responsible for our predicament and to remove them from University employment. This process will likely take some time, but it must include rooting out every crony hire made during the Watson/Henderson regime, from the Provost at $225,000 to the Administrative Assistant at $45,000. This process will also be costly, as some persons will be entitled to generous Board-mandated severance payouts. Nonetheless, these personnel changes must occur, despite the expense. Unfortunately, the University is simply going to have to continue to pay for the cynicism, incompetence, and epic failure of our previous administration.

Once again, all evidence points to the inescapable conclusion that the previous Board/Administration abrogated their specific responsibilities to the students who placed their faith in Chicago State University, and their general duty to oversee the Watson administration’s academic stewardship. Rather than protecting the interests of the University and its students, the Board/Administration comprising Wayne Watson, Michael Curtin, Marshall Hatch, James Joyce, Spencer Leak, Horace Smith, Anthony Young, and Nikki Zollar embraced the cynical and destructive management style of Wayne Watson, and abetted his administration’s endorsement of academic and employment dishonesty, managerial misconduct, financial mismanagement, crony hiring, and a continuing enrollment disaster. The Board ignored its own presidential performance standards and ultimately rewarded the failed president with numerous perks. After Watson’s ”retirement,” the Board orchestrated Thomas Calhoun’s untimely departure by allowing his senior administrators to undermine the new President, then selected a cipher to fill that critical leadership position, effectively returning control of the University to Watson and the Provost. Not surprisingly, the University continued the enrollment decline that began in 2010, cratering at 3250 this spring.

The previous Board’s failure to act on the declining enrollment, the questionable hiring practices, the demonstrated dishonesty of senior administrators, and the continual financial shenanigans of the Watson administration, coupled with its railroading of a respected and popular new President represented a complete betrayal of our students.

Since the Board consisted of Watson loyalists, this betrayal hardly seems surprising. After all, Wayne Watson had been betraying students at City Colleges and Chicago State for years. His self-styled “distinguished” career as an “educator” is notably devoid of scholarly and/or administrative accomplishments. Instead, his performance has featured consistent enrollment declines, multiple scandals, a vindictive and paranoid management style that resulted in abusive and costly administrative misconduct, a consistent reliance on hiring cronies and loyalists into positions for which they have no qualifications, rewarding his friends and cronies with not just jobs, but with lucrative contracts, and a constant need to avoid responsibility. Frankly, his cynicism knew no bounds. His friends and cronies would be rewarded; the academic integrity of the institution be damned.

The current Provost is a well-schooled product of the Watson style of management, abusive and suspicious, not averse to taking care of her friends and cronies, and likewise, devoid of scholarly and administrative accomplishments. While her performance has earned her a pink slip, the symbolism of her departure would be a powerful signal that “business as usual” has come to an end here at Chicago State. She has absolutely no support from any segment of the University community and her hold on a position usually reserved for a respected senior scholar speaks volumes for the enduring toxicity of the Watson regime. She came to the University as a crony hire, then got her promotion to Provost because of her relationship with Watson. She lied on her application/resume about her expected completion of the Ph.D., then had to hurriedly complete a dissertation to get the degree because Watson wanted to promote her to Provost. The dissertation committee failed to meet the UIC College of Nursing minimum requirements for such a committee, since it included only two members of the graduate faculty, instead of the requisite three. However, the committee did include Wayne Watson, and a person who served as her research assistant. Despite the findings of the anonymous “hearing officer” that her dissertation was not plagiarized, its multiple irregularities more than met the UIC Nursing threshold for plagiarism. Indeed, I found more than 80 passages taken entirely or in part, without appropriate attribution, from various articles, all ostensibly violations of Nursing’s published academic integrity standards. More than three years later, the “revised” dissertation remains unavailable. Anyone questioning the academic integrity of this institution need look no further than the Provost’s office to make a case.

As long as the Provost and her friends (and Watson’s friends) remain on this campus, we are stalled. The April 17 memo from Board Chair Marshall Hatch (a willing participant in the Calhoun firing) may signal an attempt to keep the Provost in place. He wrote this: “Provost Angela Henderson has admirably led in the four year benchmark of our accreditation processes with the Higher Learning Commission. We appreciate all the hard work of the leadership team.” No, Reverend Hatch, we do not appreciate their “hard work.” The staff and faculty at Chicago State want this leadership team gone, and your willingness to shill for the failed Watson holdovers demonstrates your unfitness for a position on the Chicago State Board of Trustees. You should follow Trustee Zollar’s example and immediately resign your position. I fervently hope Hatch’s bullshit will not dissuade our new administrative team from making long overdue personnel changes. After all, we cannot be saved if we are unwilling to save ourselves.

Although ridding ourselves of the Watson blight will be expensive, we must bear the cost. We cannot excise all the Watson tumors immediately, but I urge our new administration to expeditiously begin the work of extricating the school from the muck of the Watson administration. It seems apparent that our new Board members have the school’s best interests at heart, and I believe they will support any personnel changes our new President sees fit to make.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

A New Kind of Town Hall.

Yesterday’s town hall with the new Interim President and Interim Chief Administrative Officer proved remarkably free of the dishonesty and cynicism that has marked appearances by Chicago State’s leadership since 2009. In fact, the forum’s tone featured high hopes and a number of actual ideas (imagine, that!) for extricating ourselves from our current predicament. To be sure, not everything will work out as planned, but I came away with the sense that we’ve at long last started down a new road. Kudos to Dr. Lindsey and Mr. Vallas for their plain speaking.

Kudos, also, to the several CSU staff and faculty who asked sharp questions and made comments that expressed their disaffection with the events of the past seven years. We heard about the devastating results of the mass layoffs of 2016, the advising fiasco that Dr. Lindsey recently ended, the always looming specter of the ridiculous and unnecessary West Side campus, the complete inadequacy, even illiteracy, of the university’s web site and its continual promotion of our failed former president, the failure of high-salaried administrators to create any effective policy for recruiting students, the multiple failures in public relations that have enabled the narrative that CSU is closing to remain viable, the waste of public fund on salaries for people who apparently do nothing, and who, by their failure to do their jobs, have contributed to the university’s failure writ large. I’m sure I missed a couple of things, but that’s my recollection of the topics covered at the meeting.

As Dr. Lindsey pointed out, we all have a responsibility to our students. They are entitled to the best educational experience we can provide. After the doom and gloom of the past seven years, the staff and faculty have much hard work ahead to repair the damage and make this school what it should be. I agree with Dr. Lindsey that we all must work together to make the school’s possibilities, realities. However, I must point out that our administration also has responsibilities to its faculty and staff. Most important, the personnel changes everyone acknowledges are necessary must occur, and soon.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

End of Semester Updates

So as the end of the academic year draws close, many long suffering CSU community members are cautiously optimistic about the direction the University is headed in the next 12-15 months. I join them in guarded optimism and am mindful that the institution has been on the brink of removing failed administrators before and couldn't execute. To bring you, loyal readers, up to date, several things of note have occurred in the past three weeks.

First the Board of Trustees appointed a highly qualified and experienced academic to the position of Interim President. Dr. Rachel Lindsey has been retired for nearly six years and has been spared bearing witness to the epic incompetence the University has been subjected to. Her more than 20 years as an administrator has born fruit immediately. She has returned advising responsibility to the academic departments and restored department chair terms to three years. Those are two concerns faculty have voiced for several years. I am sure there will be more to follow.

Second, two vacancies have opened on the Board of Trustees with the resignations of Paul Vallas and Nikki Zollar. Governor Rauner now has two more appointments and it is my fervent wish that he be as perceptive in his appointments of the next two as he was of the remaining three new trustees. They have been of remarkable service to the University in a very short time. 

Third, like the Beatles, the Gang of Four (#CSUclowncar) is being dismantled. One has resigned from the University; one is rumored to have resigned; one has been reassigned and the last????? Everything that has a beginning has an end according to the Oracle from the movie The Matrix. Mercifully, the end of this period of institutional madness is coming to an end. Onward to the forensic audit and all of the fruit that it will bear. And by the way, having shredding parties doesn't always destroy all of the evidence of misconduct.

Fourth, there are rumors that the 24 pay period option is to be restored for faculty beginning August 2017. For some unknown reason, the provost thought it would be a good idea to inconvenience the 90% of faculty who used the 12 month option to spread their salary over. The administration doubled down on this ridiculous decision with the now relieved interim president telling your humble narrator, that she was looking out for faculty, even though faculty leadership was vehemently opposed to the decision. This is another example of rewarding failure.

One of the consequences of this change is that faculty will now have to pay out of pocket the Central Management Services, for the cost of their health care during the summer. Just another way to inconvenience faculty and demonstrate the provost's contempt us. The one upside is an opportunity to review and change benefits during the Benefits Choice change period which runs from May 1st through May 31st. Faculty can go online and make changes. If you don't have a PIN for your account, please call toll free 1-844-251-1777 Monday - Friday 8AM-6PM CT. Additionally, the Office of Human Resources will be hosting a Benefits Fair May 4th from 9AM - 4PM. Direct questions to Ms. Kim Bandy at 

Finally, in our campaign (#MakeCSUGreatAgain), it is the responsibility of employees to assist in the compliance function of the University. To that end, all employees are Mandated Reporters and as such must complete the online DCFS training and submit the completion certificate to the Compliance Office by April 28th. Like the annual Ethics Training, there are possible consequences for employees not completing the training. And no, the University cannot download the database file from DCFS of its employees who have completed the training. Remember, we are in Illinois after all.

And finally, (really), thanks to my loyal colleagues who have persevered through circumstances that are truly incredible. Our students have the benefit of some of the best teachers in the academy. It humbles me to think what we could do with some real academic leadership.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Anatomy of a Crony Hire: Nikki Zollar Again Demonstrates She Does Not Give a Damn About Chicago State

Remember when Wayne Watson expressed all that faux outrage at Board members allegedly trying to get their friends hired at Chicago State? Here are Watson’s words from around February 2013: “We believe that the real motivation behind the board's actions stem from the my refusal as president and the refusal of key members of my administration to capitulate to the incessant demands from Chairman Rozier and Vice-Chair Z. Scott to either hire, promote and to give salary increases to their friends and associates.”

While Wayne Watson and his retinue supposedly rejected overtures from some Board members to hire their “friends and associates,” a laughable assertion indeed, they failed to apply that exacting standard to other Board members, particularly Watson’s old “friend and associate” Nikki Zollar. What follows is the anatomy of a crony hire. As I have said in previous discussions of crony hires, the blame here rests on the people doing the hiring, since they are willfully subverting the University’s integrity by insuring that “friends and associates” get jobs which are often created out of thin air just for them.

First, as of January 31, 2017, the staff of the Provost’s Offices included eight persons: the Provost, three Associate Provosts, one Executive Secretary, one Associate, one Assistant to the Provost, and one Academic Contract Specialist. All these positions survived the April 2016 blood purge of staff and administrators. Six of the persons occupying those eight positions have worked in the Provost’s office since 2014. In addition, the current Director of Communications reports directly to the Provost.

The position I will focus on is the “Assistant to the Provost” position occupied by Yvonne Davila. This position last appeared as a funded line in the Fiscal 2012 Internal Operating Budget at a salary of $62,496. Now, however, this position is classified as a “Temporary Administrative” position by Human Resources, with a salary of $85,008 per year, or a salary equivalent to the compensation of two staff positions. While the University laid off and terminated scores of staff and administrative employees in April and June 2016, this temporary position survived. Why, exactly? What are the duties of this position? How did it come about?

To get straight to the point, the incumbent in this position survived because of the relationship between she and Nikki Zollar, and because Zollar and the Provost have colluded to keep the University in the hands of the Watson holdovers, and by extension, of Watson himself. In the spring of 2016, Dr. Calhoun mentioned to me that someone named Davila worked in the Provost’s office as a “crisis communicator.” He indicated that he had no idea what that job entailed but that he had been informed that he needed such a person.

How did he get her? According to records received from a FOIA request, the Legal Department contracted with Davila for unspecified legal services. She received $4999.75 on February 25, March 19, April 14, and May 28, 2014; a grand total of $19,999. On June 24, 2014, Davila signed a contract—which the Provost approved—to provide the University “Crisis Communication Consulting Services on behalf of the University, including matters of reputation management, media and message management, internal communication and litigation.” The contract called for $19,998 in compensation, which she received in three payments of $6666 on July 9, August 15, and September 5, 2014. The contract ran from July 1, 2014 through November 13, 2014. On November 3, 2014, the University apparently hired Davila as the “Assistant to the Provost,” at her current salary of $85,008. According to records obtained from Human Resources, since February 2014, she has received $245,000 in compensation.

The duties of this position are unclear. Although the “Crisis Communication” portion of the July 2014 contract suggests that the work product should include things like press releases or other external and internal communications designed to protect the University’s “reputation,” there is no evidence of any such concerted effort. No stories in any of the local media outlets include statements from the Crisis Communicator. In addition, a search of the CSU web site reveals only one entry for Davila, a comment included in the Provost Council meeting of July 6, 2016: “Y. Davila indicated an article about the accomplishments of The College of Pharmacy has been published. She shared that this story is one part of a broader project to share achievements and positive information about CSU. The goal is two stories a month for this year. She invited participation/suggested leads and will establish a calendar.”

Her comment apparently refers to a story in the Chicago Defender by “YD Avila” about the College of Pharmacy. An internet search revealed that to be the only reference to “YD Avila” and the Defender. I found no other articles about Chicago State University written by Davila in the Defender. So, what communications are the province of this position? Perhaps the “news” on the CSU web site might be one of the job duties. In the 28 months since January 1, 2015, a total of 75 “news” articles have appeared on our site, most a paragraph or two. That’s around 2.7 per month. Perhaps that’s the “two stories a month” Davila referenced at the Provost Council.

As I pointed out in a previous post, Davila had no hesitation about expressing her feeling to Trustee Zollar that Phil Beverly should be “fired” for having the audacity to make a video documenting his classroom teaching. Davila’s inclusion in an e-mail thread eventually going from CSU administrators to Zollar demonstrates her close connections to the Trustee. Zollar’s informal “Good gravy,” comment and her subsequent stupid assertion that Dr. Beverly “incites riots” (when, I wonder, was the last “riot” to which Zollar referred?) demonstrates her willingness to discuss these matters with someone with which she has a degree of familiarity. Likewise, Zollar’s admonition to Dr. Calhoun (previously reported on this blog) about “not hurting” various administrators, including, Davila, demonstrates her fealty to the Watson cronies.

Frankly, I am not even sure that Davila’s job at Chicago State is her only full-time job. Nonetheless, her connections with Nikki Zollar insure her continued employment, even as other staff persons see their lives disrupted by losing their jobs at Chicago State. In fact, she may even also work for one of Nikki Zollar’s companies, Safespeed.

A recent article on Safespeed detailed the connections between the officers of the company, and their contributions to various state and local politicians whose support is integral to the Zollar’s lucrative financial dealings with a number of local municipalities. Safespeed’s political activity has given it a “license to print money,” according to one observer. The article documented over $183,000 in contributions since 2007 from Zollar, Safespeed, or Triad Consulting, another Zollar company.

Throughout the article, the reporters refer to Yvonne Davila as a “spokeswoman” for Safespeed. One of the co-authors of the article indicated that Davila had an e-mail address at Safespeed.LLC. In a written response to questions from the reporters, Davila commented on Nikki Zollar, Triad Consulting, and three other persons associated with Safespeed. She said this about Zollar: “Ms. Zollar is an attorney with a wealth of experience in many different fields … She is an entrepreneur whose ideas are not constrained." The authors of the article described Zollar this way: “SafeSpeed LLC was formed in Illinois in June 2007 by a group of individuals who at the time appear to have had zero experience in traffic safety or control . . . One of those partners, SafeSpeed President Nikki M. Zollar, is a former official in the administration of Illinois Gov. Jim Edgar and has longstanding ties to both Chicago Democrats and state GOP officials. . . Zollar brought political connections from both sides of the political aisle to SafeSpeed but it is unclear from a review of state records how she got into the red-light camera business.” The link to the article is:

Nikki Zollar is also an “entrepreneur” who has no objection to using Chicago State as an employment agency for her “friends and associates.” Certainly, someone that politically connected would insure that only someone she knew and trusted would serve as a “spokeswoman” for her company.

To recap, Nikki Zollar and the Provost worked to install one of Zollar’s “friends and associates” in a nicely compensated administrative job in the Provost’s office. Obviously, Zollar’s patronage and the Provost's complicity insured that the position and its incumbent (despite the "temporary" status) survived the April 2016 staff cuts. The job duties are murky and it seems unclear just exactly what Zollar’s person actually does, although there is no evidence of any kind of “crisis communication” or of press releases from the “crisis communicator” pertaining to Chicago State’s various crises. The “crisis communicator” serves as a “spokeswoman” for one of Zollar’s “clouted companies,” a position that suggests she may actually be employed by Safespeed. Based on her votes at the last Board meeting, Zollar’s loyalty to the Watson regime remains unshaken, and Zollar’s role in insuring the continued employment of her crony hire demonstrates her contempt for Chicago State as an educational institution. This is not the place to stash your “friends and associates.” I can only echo my distinguished colleague’s demand to Zollar. Ms. Zollar, your performance as a Trustee has been shameful. For the good of the institution, please resign immediately.

This is precisely the kind of "business as usual" we must eliminate.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Morehouse University Cleans House, Time for CSU To Do the Same

The collusion outlined by my colleague’s last blog post between members of CSU's Board of Trustees and ex-president, the manipulator-in-chief, Wayne Watson, explains how Thomas Calhoun's nine-month presidency did not stand a chance of survival. One year later we can see that it was DOA.

In light of the details of the emails between board members and the supposed ex-president Wayne Watson the events of last year come more clearly into light. Watson, who was not only granted "emeritus" status by the Board, but GIVEN some kind of shady/honorary "tenure" in the College of Education, as well as the unprecedented privilege of an office or two in the Library (an abuse of state-supported property?) was able to run a shadow university administration. He was clearly aided in this by the refusal of the Board, spearheaded at the time by Anthony Young and Nikki Zollar, to allow Calhoun to replace the provost, their sacrosanct Angela Henderson, or any of the other high-placed Watson "team." Before he was a month into his time at CSU, the Board found a way to clip his wings with its claim of “financial exigency.” They effectively took executive power away from the president and pitted him against Watson’s three minions, Provost Angela Henderson, Interim President Cecil Lucy, and H.R. person Renee Mitchell on a Management Action Committee assuring Calhoun’s one vote to their three. 

The Board of Trustees under Anthony Young and Nikki Zollar was shameless in its partisanship of the old Watson regime and completely unethical in their continued communication with Watson after he was no longer president. In light of the transcript of emails referenced, one can conclude that they really only bowed to public pressure and the Governor's Office to remove Watson after all the high-priced lawsuits began to be added up in 2015/2016. In reality, they had no intention of removing him from power—nice subterfuge. Their dismissal of Thomas Calhoun in the summer and early Fall of 2016, with its big payout and secrecy agreement, is something that still stinks to high heaven. The Governor’s Office and the legislature should demand to see the details of that agreement. I’d be interested in seeing that dodgy legal agreement tested in court. How can a state Governing Board withhold details of an agreement from the people to whom it is allegedly responsible?

The Board of Trustees is entrusted to oversee Chicago State University. The question to ask now is how low and nefarious were these connections by the old board members and do they continue to exist? As much as some Board members and the Watson set and all the past (and current) local politicians may see CSU as their private golden goose to be used to benefit an in-crowd (of their choosing); as much as they may bring in the "community" to shout “Amen” whenever light is shone on this twisted corruption, CSU remains a public institution with state money accountable to ALL the taxpayers of Illinois. It is not a private institution. The past Board of Trustees violated the public trust. All the old members of that board currently sitting should be purged immediately.

The Board of Anthony Young and Nikki Zollar showed no sense of discernment—they did not oversee what they were charged with overseeing, they were unable or unwilling to distinguish the self-interested voices from those calling on them to make changes on campus and demand accountability. They intervened in the direct operations of the university to such an egregious extent that it is surprising they have escaped sanction from the Association of American Governing Boards or even our own Higher Learning Commission on the category of governance on campus and the State Ethics Commission. 

 An article in on April 9th in Diverse Issues in Higher Education outlined a story about Morehouse University that is worth reading for its parallels to us. “Morehouse College Overhauls Leadership”:

Morehouse College replaced its president and the chairman of its board of trustees late on Friday afternoon, after several months of turmoil at the historically Black institution. William Taggart, the college’s chief operating officer since 2015, is now the interim president.

…In a letter sent out to the Morehouse community on Friday afternoon the board wrote, “With today’s action, the Board acknowledges that it has heard the voices of students, faculty, alumni, and many other key members of the Morehouse family, who have called upon all of those who love this historic institution to put aside out differences and put Morehouse and our mission first.”

The board encountered increasing criticism from faculty, students, and alumni after the board voted to not renew President John S. Wilson Jr.’s contract in January, leading the faculty to take a vote of no confidence in the board chairman in late March. Many said that the board never fully explained its decision and excluded students and faculty from the decision-making process…

Chicago State University may not be Morehouse University, but our own overseers, the Board of Trustees and Governor Rauner, could take a lesson from them and listen for a change to the voices of the students and the faculty when we speak truth to power as we have been trying to do for upwards of nine years. It is time for CSU to clean house.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Scandalous Relationship Between our Old Board and Wayne Watson: Our Administrators are Not Victims Here

Although the Board made two new appointments Friday, the University is still a long way from the wholesale leadership changes that must occur if we are to have a chance at survival. I think it likely that our various Watson cronies will still fight to keep their jobs, even perhaps by attempting to portray themselves as victims. Now, however, we seem to have a Board attentive to the needs of the school and willing to act in Chicago State’s best interests. The question remains, given the monumental and multiple administrative failures of the past six-plus years, why has it been so difficult to get rid of those “leaders” most responsible for that failure? One of the major reasons is the incestuous relationship between certain members of the Board (former and current) and some remnants of the Watson administration. Communication between several of these persons in August and September 2016, suggests that with the active participation of Board and administrative members, Wayne Watson has continued to play a substantive role in the affairs of the school.

On August 5, 2016, I provided an analysis of our enrollment problems, and suggestions for addressing those problems, to the Board of Trustees, Dr. Calhoun, and then Interim Vice President of Enrollment Management Michael Ellison. On August 9, 2016, former Board Chairman Anthony Young forwarded my letter to Wayne Watson. Why?

On September 16, 2016, Young received for his “approval” a draft “resignation” letter from Dr. Calhoun addressed to the University community. Another Board member wrote to Young: “The word and spirit of this letter breaks the confidentiality agreement. If Dr Calhoun can give explanation, so should we. I hope our attorney is up to protecting our interest in this. The effect of the letter blames the board alone for his separation. Counsel should advise if this is breach that halts payout. Btw: the Trib has editorialized that we be ‘fired’ by the gov.” Young forwarded Dr. Calhoun’s letter to Wayne Watson at 5:41 p.m. September 16, 2016. Why? Young forwarded the other Board member’s remarks about the letter to Wayne Watson at 7:54 p.m., that same day. Why?

An e-mail thread beginning on September 21, 2016, and ending on September 23, 2016, discussed Dr. Phillip Beverly in unflattering terms. The thread began at 9:14 p.m., with a reference to a video produced by Dr. Beverly. At 9:17 p.m., Yvonne Davila, a temporary administrator working in the Provost’s Office, responded “He (Beverly) should be fired.” The communication, apparently titled “Last email..look at this clown,” went to Board member Nikki Zollar who wrote Davila: “Good gravy. He just incites the riots (and he knows exactly what he’s doing).” Zollar also copied the thread to Angela Henderson. At 9:32:29 p.m. Zollar forwarded the thread to Young, and Board member Marshall Hatch, with the message, “FYI.” On September 22, 2016, at 8:50 p.m., Young forwarded the message to Watson who responded on September 23, 2016, at 6:31 a.m. Watson wrote: “He is very smart . . . The judge in the ‘Fire case’ has stated that she reads our blogs and I believe this video is for her, the judge. He is sending her the message that he is a calm, reasonable, thought provoking teacher (a little controversial but thought provoking). The allegations against him in the fire case are very strong as it relates to his interactions with students. I content [sic] that the audience intended is not the CSU campus but the judge. He does not make moves like this for what appears to be the obvious reason. He is very good at communication and this is a strategic move.” Once again, why did Wayne Watson receive these communications?

So, with enrollment cratering, scandals galore, and mountains of evidence pointing to the complete failure of the Watson administration, several of our Board members include him in discussions about University operations. This is what Nikki Zollar, Anthony Young, and Marshall Hatch spent their time doing? Crony hires like Yvonne Davila feel free to offer a worthless opinion to a Board member on the employment of a tenured faculty member? Just who the hell are these people? No wonder Nikki Zollar voted for the status quo.

The Watson administration continues to afflict Chicago State—a cancer that must be excised if the school is to survive. The various cronies who continue to damage the school must be rooted out. In 2009, an Illinois Reform Commission report detailed the features of crony hiring: 1) the hiring of politically connected or politically subservient persons, 2) the creation of political positions, 3) hiring and promotion based on considerations other than merit, 4) increasing numbers of contract employees, 5) ignoring or modifying listed job descriptions and minimum qualifications.

Ultimately, the patronage system generously rewards mediocrity and incompetence while contributing to the continuing existence of a variety of operational failures. The Watson administration at Chicago State University offers an excellent example of patronage at work: its cronyism, secrecy, disregard for competence, and ultimately, its deleterious effects on the operation of the school.

The holdovers from the Watson administration will probably struggle mightily to retain their positions. They will avail themselves of any potential strategy, no matter how ludicrous, to paint themselves as victims, a truly laughable position. We all know about the multiple failures of their “leadership.” Let’s see how much they’ve earned while demonstrating their incompetence.

Focusing on only four employees—two of whom were hired as soon as Watson “officially” became president on October 1, 2009, and are still employed at CSU, one crony who came in 2011 and who is still employed at CSU, and one girlfriend Watson hired in November 2009 who lost her job in April 2016—we find that Chicago State has paid at least $4.02 million to these four persons for their various administrative failures. Here’s the breakdown:

Vice President/General Counsel Patrick Cage, hired November 1, 2009. Total salary: $1,154,265.
Provost Angela Henderson, hired June 15, 2011. Total salary: $1,081,969.
Associate Vice President Rene Mitchell, hired October 5, 2009. Total salary: $1,043,712.
Associate Vice President Cheri Sidney, hired November 9, 2009, terminated April 30, 2016. Total salary: $740,586.
Total compensation paid to these four through March 31, 2017: $4,020,532.

According to Board regulations, if the three persons still employed are terminated without cause, they are entitled to the following payouts: Henderson, $225,000; Cage, $155,004; Mitchell, $144,996. That brings the total salary for these Watson cronies (including Sidney) to $4,545,532. If that’s victimization, I’d like some. I can only paraphrase something I said in a long forgotten post: never have so many been paid so much to accomplish so little.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Dawn of a New Era?

So after two lengthy special meetings, the Board of Trustees decided to appoint an interim president worthy of the position. Dr. Rachel Lindsey, former Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, has been appointed interim president. She brings more than 30 years of higher education experience to an institution desperately in need of accountable and integral leadership. The time to rebuild a badly broken university has long passed, yet here we find ourselves. Congratulations to Dr. Lindsey!

The only sad note in Dr. Lindsey's appointment was the NO vote cast by Trustee Nikki Zollar. She has a long relationship with the prior failed president and his current administrative holdovers and by this vote appears to want to maintain the status quo. This humble blog has vigorously documented what that status quo looks like and that picture is less than flattering. 

To Trustee Zollar, I say this: RESIGN! Resign today! I will draft a letter of resignation for your signature and hand deliver it to the Governor, should you wish. Please spare the university any more of your "service." The message should be clear. The university can no longer stand your support and enabling of failure. Your board colleagues have clearly repudiated the 'reward failure' mantra by appointing someone who will remove those who have so badly devastated the university. That you were unwilling to support your fellow board members leaves me with only one message for you. 


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Here we go again. Board of Trustees meet tomorrow. What will happen next?

 Tomorrow the Board of Trustees is supposed to announce a new Interim President and who knows what else. Stop by the fourth floor of the Academic Library. Sign up for public comment before the meeting and the comments will be made before the Board goes in to executive session.

The question we are all waiting to have answered: will it be a brand new day or the same old same old?

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Public Comment from the Last Board Meeting

Remarks made at the Chicago State University Special Board meeting on March 27, 2017.

By Minister Michael Muhammad, founder of a new coalition known as the New Black Leadership Coalition:

I am here at the consent of our steering committee who asked me to come and make a statement concerning these affairs. So I’ll be brief.

Incompetence, evil, negativity leave a residue. They bear fruit. They live in the mind, practices, and policies of narcissistic, sociopathic leadership. Formal degree does not preclude one from being a sociopathic personality; whose mind is so self-centered that guilt, shame, remorse, nor self-correction are even possible despite formal education. Cronyism, intimidation, demoralized staff, faculty, and students, and a demoralized community of interests are the by-product of the current model of leadership. Institutional bullying of staff, faculty, and students, censure of all voices of accountability, the request of staff to make false claims of criminal behavior by those viewed as a threat. Millions of dollars in liability from bullying of staff and faculty. Crony contracts for highly placed individuals requiring minimal work product, extremely low black contract and vendor participation. A high reduction in enrollment over the last six years; extremely high. The unethical suppression of our next two generations of black scholars, (who are) committed to a more equitable model of governance, management, and leadership than the current model. Gross financial irresponsibility in the process and execution of the hiring of Dr. Calhoun and his forced resignation. There must be a forensic audit of the finances of this public institution as well as a full investigation of the connections, relationships, policies, and practices of those in the highest offices of government, governance, administration, to root out all of those who are cronies and lackeys for the current administration. Bruce Rauner nor Paul Vallas are in any way responsible for any of these institutional atrocities. It is black men and black women who are responsible, and must, and will be held accountable by the community for these failures. Change is necessary, the old model must die.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Audit Report Out, ISL Forms Filed: Our Administration Continues its Monumental Failure

To close out March, here is some new information coming from the Auditor General’s Audit of Chicago State, released just two days ago:

• When the University decided not to recall 9 faculty members on June 29, it had close to $20 million in cash and cash equivalents.
• Contributions to Chicago State virtually dried up completely in fiscal 2016, dropping from a paltry $435,878 for the CSU Foundation in 2015, to a total of $52,135 in fiscal 2016, $7335 for the old foundation, and $44,800 for The University Foundation at Chicago State--more appropriately called the Wayne Watson foundation; his hedge against a possibly rambunctious Thomas Calhoun. With all the ballyhoo surrounding the destruction of the old foundation and the creation of the new organization, the Watson foundation raised almost enough money to pay the salary ($44,880) of one support person. Well done Wayne!
• Showing the same magic touch in fund-raising we experienced during his tenure, Wayne Watson and his foundation succeeded in reducing the University’s endowment by over $120,000 (from $5.157 million to $5.036 million.
• The Wayne Watson foundation also reduced that organization’s current assets from $1.89 million to $879,000. That must be Watson’s stock-in-trade “right-sizing,” which he has now brought to a university, an entire community college system, and a charitable organization. To be sure, we are still standing on the shoulders of a giant.
• Chicago State had 15 audit findings, the same number as in the previous year.
• We reportedly violated state law by having the Provost approve at least 5 contracts for more than $250,000, for a total of $2.38 million. State statutes are clear that only the CEO, CFO, and General Counsel may approve those contracts, which must then go to the Board for their approval. Of course, by June 30, 2016, at least three members of that board had died, although they continued to appear at meetings. The Provost and other high-level administrators cut Thomas Calhoun out of this process.
• The Sun Times reported on a couple of other embarrassing audit findings.

The University also finally reported on its condition to the Illinois State Legislature. The 2018 ISL Forms contain some interesting information:

• When the University decided not to recall 9 faculty members on June 29, it had $843,700 in unspent local income money from 2015. The salaries for those 9 faculty members totaled just over $590,000.
• The University still desires to swell its administrative ranks. Its position requests for 2017-18 include: a Director of Financial Aid at $110,004. The previous salary for that position (2014) was $80,004. For fiscal 2018, the University wants a newly created Vice President of Advancement, a bargain at $110,004.
• The University continues to make extensive use of interim appointments, although it also pays hefty overrides to bring them up to typical salary levels for their respective positions. One interim dean receives an additional $35,004 per year, a second an additional $30,000, a third an additional $23,004, a fourth an additional $12,492. The Interim President receives a bump of $120,000 per year, an Acting Vice President gets $25,000 more per year, and an Interim Associate Vice President an additional $11,300. That’s four Interim Deans, an Interim President, an Interim Acting Vice President, and an Interim Associate Vice President. That’s real stability folks.
• The total cost of the West Side campus that simply will not die has ballooned from $40 million to $61 million.

This is all simply more evidence that this University has reached a crisis point. No one in this administration knows what they are doing, or else, they are simply trying to feather their nests and get as much as they can before the place goes under. Time to get some people fitted for jumpsuits?

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

We Don't Pay a $22,000 Bill for Turnitin. After 9 Months of Waiting for Their Money, the Vendor Pulls the Switch

What does our administration do well here at CSU?

Last night, a faculty member attempted to access Turnitin. He got this message: "The product for this account has expired. Please contact your sales agent to renew the product." Here's what the faculty member saw and the e-mail exchange that followed:

This vendor should have been paid about 9 months ago. How much money are we talking about? Apparently $22,000 a year. Think about that, the University administration just hired another Interim Associate Vice President at $140,000 annualized, but it doesn't pay a $22,000 bill for a service that benefits students and faculty. Once again, our failed administration demonstrates its utter lack of concern for the well-being of our students. Apparently, after 8 telephone calls and 28 e-mails to the University administration, the account will be reactivated by the end of today. Really, could you make this stuff up?

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Observations on the Board meeting

So I am not one who enjoys waiting for six hours while the BOT decides how to proceed in cleaning up the toxic waste site created by a singularly incompetent administration. I do know however, that the Board is constrained by several factors. 
The first is a state statute called the Open Meetings Act. If three or more trustees were to meet to talk about university business, it would be considered a meeting under the act and therefore, notice would need to be posted, an agenda prepared, and that meeting opened to the public etc. This means that the four new trustees cannot meet before the meeting to map out strategies on moving forward. They need to wait until the executive session and discuss whatever needs to be discussed there. They may not reach resolution. They may not have enough information to decide. They may be split in how to proceed. They may wish to get counsel from they legal advisor. Whatever the reason, the discussion in executive or closed session may not lead to a clean outcome at the end of the day. 
The second factor I alluded to above. The board may be divided on how to proceed. The university community has witnessed the board of trustees enable administrators whose gross incompetence has cost the university millions of dollars. What goes on behind closed doors won't be known. What is known is that senior administrators whose abysmal performance has been documented here and in other outlets are still in place. That can only be because the Board has not given the soon to be ex-interim president direction to clean house. They clearly denied the former president the opportunity to clean house in the month that he was allowed to be president. 
The third consideration is that three of the new trustees are attorneys. My experience with attorneys is that the good ones tend to be methodical and deliberate. They ensure i's are dotted and t's are crossed. They don't make up arguments on the fly or pull alternate facts out of the air and expect others to believe them. These trustees are moving with all deliberate speed. They will stumble. They will not be as clear as they could be. And I believe they are endeavoring to do the right thing. 
In creating the new position of Chief Administrative Officer, they are giving themselves another option in using a turnaround specialist. The only problem I see with that configuration is that at a university, executive authority is vested in a president. The monstrosity, the Management Action Committee, created last year by the Board has been well documented by this humble venue. I hope the Board realizes the "unity of command" is critical especially during a crisis. This new crisis manager should report to the President who reports to the Board. Otherwise, why have a President. 
The final consideration for the absence of aggressive action is that there might be accreditation implications for a restructuring and the Board may have needed time to determine if the upheaval that should happen would further damage the university. This is similar to the financial exigency declaration that led to a sanction by the Higher Learning Commission. It was unfortunate that the university was willing to accept this sanction in order to protect senior administrator's jobs at the expense of everyone and everything else.
So when looking at anything at CSU, don't take things at face value. Situations, events and people  are never quite what they seem, which is something the new Board members will discover for themselves quickly.
The university community has been patient since the last time the Board made a significant leadership decision. Patience must be be paired with action in order for confidence to be made high. Let's all be patient until it's time not to be.

Monday, March 27, 2017

We really are SOL aren't we? Board of Trustees fail CSU again. Well played Nikki Zollar.

In case you made the mistake of hoping for "change we can believe in" at a CSU Board of Trustees meeting, you were once again disappointed. When this meeting moved into its 6th hour I knew we were reliving Charlie Brown's hope that this would be the time Lucy would not yank the football. No such luck.

Bruce Rauner was roundly dissed--his boy, Paul Vallas, will not be our "turnaround" specialist.

No, the narrative that the Great White Hope has to rescue the benighted Black School will not be. We are going to be back to another year (or more) of interim this and that. As far as I can make out from the convoluted reports from the meeting and the newspapers and tv reports on April 7th yet ANOTHER interim president will be named--huh? who? who knows? There will also be a new job created-- that of Chief Administrative Officer (what will they do? will someone be named or will we go through a search? was Paul Vallas told he was "welcomed to apply?")

By all accounts it seems the old Board members played the new ones. The old guard remains in place, Angela et al, hence, Wayne, remain. Looks like action, but nothing changes.

Well played Nikki Zollar. You kept repeating the Watson lie that it is the faculty who are trying to destroy the university and apparently you were believed.

But if I were Governor Rauner, I'd be making plans to curtail your term on this Board of Trustees.

Here's what the Chicago Tribune reported:

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Now the City's Political Class Enters the Fray: We Needn't Worry, They'll Tell Us How to Think and Behave

Those of you who pay attention to such things have undoubtedly noticed that a spirited debate about who should lead Chicago State is now taking place in our local media outlets. This argument is remarkably like one occurring among a group of parents. Once they decide on the best course of action, they will instruct the children what that action will be and how to behave. We have people debating the future, indeed the very existence of this University without talking to the students, staff, or faculty. I suppose we should take comfort in that kind of parental control.

The “no white person should be president of Chicago State” faction is particularly guilty of this kind of paternalism. First of all, this group makes the straw man argument that there will be a white person as president. To the best of my knowledge, no one who actually knows what they are talking about has said that. Here are the proponents of that viewpoint who have commented on the Chicago State leadership situation:

The two articles by Mary Mitchell (textbook examples of propaganda masquerading as journalism) used the Chicago Crusader’s previous story as well as comments from “community activist” Kamm Howard. Secretary of Education Beth Purvis and Paul Vallas provided the opposing viewpoint, although Mitchell gave Vallas no opportunity to comment on Howard’s critical remarks. The Chicago Crusader’s sources included “some officials” at Chicago State, and various anonymous “sources.” The only named source was Board member Nikki Zollar.

Then yesterday, we had a gaggle of “Black Officials” or “Black City Leaders” hold a press conference on campus. This group included Roderick Sawyer, Stanley Moore, Chuy Garcia, Alderman David Moore, Alderman Howard Brookins, and a number of other people whose faces are not familiar to me. Their main argument was that they did not want Paul Vallas at Chicago State.

Since none of these reporters or public officials sought the children’s views, I will provide them.

1) We want Thomas Calhoun reinstated as Chicago State President.
2) We want this institution to function as a state university, not a corrupt political ward. We want an end to the rank cronyism that has created our current crisis situation.
3) In order to achieve point #2, we want Wayne Watson and all his cronies off this campus. That specifically includes Angela Henderson, Patrick Cage, and Renee Mitchell, along with any other lower level persons currently afflicting the university.
4) We have no confidence in Interim President Cecil Lucy. We want him removed from his position.
5) We insist that the University’s finances be subjected to a forensic audit.
6) We will support any effort by the Chicago State University Board of Trustees to bring in a university leader who will make sweeping personnel changes at the top of our administration.
7) In line with our views in point #6, we will support a Board decision to grant temporary executive and personnel authority to Paul Vallas.

Yesterday’s press conference exposed the hypocrisy of some of those “leaders” who were so willing to pontificate about what the Board should do. I don’t remember seeing any of them protesting the outrageous firing of Thomas Calhoun; I don’t remember hearing any of them denounce the various scandals and corrupt practices of the Watson administration. Roderick Sawyer found time on his busy calendar to support Wayne Watson when the Board wanted to fire him in 2013. Now he finds time to again meddle in the affairs of a STATE University when Watson’s interests are newly threatened. Most shameful, those “leaders” tried to stifle dissenting ideas at yesterday’s press conference.

When Dr. Kelly Harris, who has actually worked here for a number of years, had the audacity to ask pointed questions, he was told that (paraphrase) “if you’re not running for office, you should shut up and leave.” When Dr. Harris and Professor Kim Dulaney pointed out that we had the person we wanted in Thomas Calhoun, the response was (paraphrase again) "He's welcome to apply." Really? Are any of you people going to be part of the selection process? Do any of you make operational decisions for this university? Who the hell do you think you are?

Here’s some news for the people who want this University to maintain the status quo, including the people who participated in yesterday's clown show. We don’t need your pedantry. We don’t need your advice or instructions about how we should think or behave. In fact, we’d appreciate it if you kept your ignorance to yourselves. You have not supported this school. Rather, you’ve done material damage to it. You knew or should have known what was going on during the Watson administration and you did nothing. We especially don’t need your condescending bullshit. Take your puffed-up selves somewhere else to hold your “press conferences.”

It’s become clear that if this school is to be saved, the staff and faculty will do the saving. We have a competent, hard-working, and dedicated staff and faculty at Chicago State. All we require is leadership. Here’s the formula: Clear out the administrative garbage. Give us a quality leader. Get the hell out of our way.

Friday, March 24, 2017

The Past Week: Watson Works the Room? Students in the Dorms Have No Heat

Watson has reportedly made several appearances in the Cook building this week. Reportedly those include meetings with Cecil Lucy. Also, the Watson stooges are certainly busy lobbying the Board members to keep this foul administration in place. Will it work? Also, this past Monday, students in the dormitory had no heat or hot water all day (until Tuesday morning). Is there any better way for the University to show its commitment to their welfare? After all, they got an opportunity to "rough it" with chilly accommodations and cold showers!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mary Mitchell Again Comes Out in Favor of the Status Quo

On September 28, 2016, Mary Mitchell called Chicago State an “embarrassment,” and “the laughingstock of the state university system, giving critics ample ammunition to call for its shutdown.” Now, as part of a desperate attempt by the Watson cronies to retain control over the university, she’s changed her tune. Now, we cannot have any change at this school, even though its situation has further deteriorated since Mitchell’s late September article. Her latest effort advances the argument that “A call for former CPS Chief Paul Vallas to take over the president’s job at Chicago State University plays into a lingering stereotype about black institutions: When things go wrong, a white person has to step in to fix it — as if black people can’t run anything successfully.” Here's the article:

Reliance on that stereotype’s explanatory power ignores the most important component of the Chicago State story: The failure of our leadership to adequately manage this university and the existential crisis that has resulted from that failure. For the past six-plus years, our upper level management has provided arguably the worst university leadership at any U.S. university. As a Tribune editorial in February described, no one with the authority to respond to the crisis at Chicago State had done anything to address “the cronyism and corruption that thrived on campus. . . (the) sharply declining enrollment . . . that abysmal graduation rate. Worst of all: No one in Springfield held them accountable for promising big yet delivering meager results for low-income students who depended on CSU to help them succeed.” That scathing indictment is the crux of the issue here. Our school’s leaders did not fail because they are black, they failed because they are at best incompetent and at worst malevolent. Now we have reached a fork in the road. Are we going to change or remain the same? Will we allow the persons who have nearly destroyed the university to continue in their sinecures to complete Chicago State’s destruction? The answers to those questions will determine the fate of our school.

If you’re going to make an argument, you should be able to make a persuasive case for your position. Let’s see how she does that. Mitchell uses two sources in her article, one is Kamm Howard, a “community activist” and the “legislative commission chair for National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations (N’COBRA),” who called the effort to make Vallas president a “smack in the face.” Howard went on to criticize Vallas with this: “Every institution this guy has been to, black and Hispanic graduation rates fell. Children have not benefitted from his sledgehammer type of administration, and he has no university experience at all.”

Ninth Ward Alderman Anthony Beale is the second source quoted in the Mitchell article. Here are some of the things he had to say. “CSU has been plagued with financial mismanagement, administrative scandal, and poor academic performance for far too long. We need a president who can reverse those trends and make CSU the institution it once was. This is the only criteria that matters, not whether the new president is male or female, brown, yellow, white, or black, Democrat or Republican.”

After the first round of quotes from Beale, Mitchell talks about criticism directed at Vallas “being floated throughout the community.” The source of the criticism?
“(U)nflattering headlines from his tenure in Philadelphia.” Mitchell then turns to innuendo, wondering if Beale’s support for Vallas “is politically motivated or indicates his personal support for the embattled governor.” Beale responds by saying: “Anybody who knows me knows better than that. Chicago State is in dire need. The people who are opposing Paul are the same people that have chosen the last three presidents and you see where that has gotten us,”

Beale continues by saying, “Right now, Chicago State needs someone with proven leadership. This is a person who has a history of turning this around and moving in the right direction.”

The article offers starkly different views of what needs to happen at Chicago State. Beale directly confronts the university’s major problem, the damage caused by incompetent leadership. He has a solution. In contrast, both Mitchell and Howard ignore the university’s leadership issues. They offer no way out of our continuing debacle. What should we do, Mary Mitchell and Kamm Howard? Simply because they are black leave the same people in place, even though they have continually demonstrated their unfitness for university administration?

In my fifteen years at this university I have frequently been amazed at the underlying idea that incompetence or downright malfeasance is all right at Chicago State. Nearly 70 percent of our students are black; apparently that means they deserve nothing better than a university led by incompetent hacks. Just take a look around the campus and you’ll see the deep respect our black administrators have for our black students. Crumbling buildings, filthy bathrooms, no supplies, classrooms with broken technology and broken chairs, mold and water damage in a number of buildings. The destruction of undergraduate advising, the continual problems with course scheduling, the decimation of the library, financial aid, and admissions staffs all demonstrate the priorities of our administrators. They take care of themselves and their friends and everyone else on this campus can just go to hell.

I agree that the stereotype to which Mitchell refers exists. I also believe that it would be best for Chicago State to be led by a black president. I do not agree that we should settle for unethical, incompetent political hacks. Our students are frankly marvelous; they make such sacrifices for their studies and over the years this school has provided them with life-changing opportunities. They deserve the best this university can give them and that begins with a president worthy of the title and an administration attentive to their needs. As faculty, we demand excellence from our students. They have a right to demand the same from the stewards of this university.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Go Away Already!

So why is an utterly failed former president with no link to the university meeting with a weak interim president while the Board of Trustees mulls how to proceed in cleaning up the mess created by said former president? Probably to protect the utterly inept cronies put in place since 2009. There is only one thing to say about this. 
GO AWAY!!! You have no business here. You have failed the university, the community, the State. You have betrayed tens of thousands of alumni, thousands of students and untold potential students by your inept management of this university. 
So to end the betrayal, GO AWAY and don't come back. We won't miss you. And if, as expected, the forensic audit turns up wrongdoing on your part, expect a visit from law enforcement officials.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Here's What Must Actually Occur for Bruce Rauner and His Surrogate(s) to "Take Over" Chicago State

I believe that most of the staff employed here at Chicago State are astute enough to see through that nonsensical effort to insure that Watson's cronies retain their positions by creating this idiotic diversion about Rauner and Vallas "taking over" Chicago State. It's time for a lesson on University governance for anyone who would like to have ammunition to counter this moronic and utterly dishonest attempt to keep the University in the hands of the people who have nearly destroyed it.

First, no single individual, not even the Governor, in the State of Illinois is able to effect a change at the top of this educational institution. 110 ILCS 660 is the Chicago State Law. Section 5-10 reads: "There is hereby created a body politic and corporate which shall be styled the Board of Trustees of Chicago State University (hereinafter called the Board), and which shall operate, manage, control, and maintain Chicago State University in accordance with the rights, powers and duties now or hereafter vested by law in that Board." Section 5-15 of the Chicago State Law also specifies the size of the Board: "The Board shall consist of 7 voting members appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and one voting member who is a student at Chicago State University."

For the author(s) of that ridiculous broadside or for anyone else who might actually believe this conspiracy is afoot, here's the reality. No matter who the Governor might want to be President of Chicago State, s/he has no authority to place anyone in that position. The only way anyone becomes President of this University is by garnering a majority of the votes from the Chicago State Board of Trustees. Since there are eight Trustees, that means five votes. In essence, the Watson acolytes making this spurious accusation of a conspiracy to install Vallas as CSU President are actually accusing the other Board members of being in cahoots with Rauner's scheme. If the three holdover Board members are continuing to do Watson's bidding, as they have for the past several years, that means that all five of the remaining Board members would have to be on board with this nefarious attempt to take over the school. I wonder which of these cowardly pro-Watson minions wants to tell Kam Buckner, Nicholas Gowen, Tiffany Harper, and Paris Griffin that they are part of a conspiracy to turn the University over to Bruce Rauner.

Because of the University's legislatively-mandated governance structure, if Paul Vallas ends up heading Chicago State's turnaround effort, it will be because the new CSU Board feels he is the person most likely to get the job done.

We've Seen All This Before. The CSU Clowns Weigh In On the University's Leadership

Here is the latest shot in the developing war between the Watson forces and Paul Vallas, who they have obviously identified as the most serious threat to their sinecures. This was distributed to Civil Service employees yesterday.

This is a classic case of creating a narrative out of lies then repeating the same lies over and over again. You might notice that almost the entire broadside is fact-free. I will focus on some of the more absurd pronouncements. Let’s start with the title. Indeed, why would Rauner want CSU? The answer? Because it’s part of a grand conspiracy to take over the University. As with all conspiracies, the absence of evidence simply proves the existence of the conspiracy.

Here’s the evidence: “Word is, Rauner is using Vallas to take over CSU.” “Word is, (Vallas’s) main goal has always been to be the next president of CSU.” Really? Is that a desire he’s had since childhood? And who exactly is responsible for the “word” being cited here? As usual with the Watson cronies, all this nonsense is anonymous.

The next gem is this: “Truth is, Vallas has no credentials to be a President of any University. He has a Master’s Degree in Political Science and the only education experience he has is in K-12.” Vallas is perfectly capable of defending himself here, I will only say that our current interim President is the poster child for someone with no qualifications serving as a University President. At least Vallas has degrees in academic disciplines (History, Political Science). Lucy is simply a bean-counter, his education consists of a bachelor’s in accounting, an MBA, and a J.D. In terms of experience, Vallas has managed huge school districts in major U.S. cities (I seem to remember that the experience managing a large educational enterprise was one of the items used to defend the selection and continued tenure, despite multiple scandals and disasters, of the execrable Wayne Watson). Lucy has served as a financial officer for a variety of employers, including stints as the CFO of two Universities with enrollments under 4,000.

Moving along, we next encounter the unsubstantiated accusation that Rauner will withhold funding if Vallas is not put into the President’s position. This has been vehemently denied by the Governor’s office and until there’s some independent verification of that assertion, it’s worthless. Next we come to the part about “secret plans.” What the hell are those? Then this question: “Does that sound like Rauner is trying to steal CSU from right under our noses?” Whose noses? The broadside’s author fails to make that clear.

The broadside’s final gurgles seem more like irony than anything else. Is the author trying to be humorous? First, there’s the assertion that “CSU is not to be compromised!!!” If there’s a more compromised educational institution in the United States, I’d like to know where it is. Finally, I did not realize that “we are on the road to recovery.” I imagine that anyone attending the last Board meeting or paying the slightest attention to the ongoing ineptitude of our administrators would find that assertion somewhat less than credible. We are in freefall.

Readers are free to draw their own conclusions about what all this means, but I have some observations. As always, any interpretive errors are solely mine. First, I’ve seen this act many times in the past. Anonymous accusations supported by nothing more than empty assertions. Second, using surrogates to get your message out is nothing less than intellectual cowardice. I’m sure that the person who distributed this nonsense would claim authorship. That’s bullshit. This garbage came straight from someone highly placed in this University, or perhaps a gaggle of someones who simply don’t have the courage to expose their self-serving selves to public criticism. Third, I find it interesting that persons who cannot raise their voices to oppose the elevation of unqualified hacks to the presidency of this University can be so vocal about their objections to Vallas. Where were you while the Watson administration tore this institution apart? When the Board destroyed Thomas Calhoun’s (someone with actual qualifications for the job) presidency ? When they rewarded administrators who worked assiduously to undermine Calhoun’s administration? Silent, huh? Why so loud now? How is Vallas different from Wayne Watson, Angela Henderson, or Cecil Lucy?

Finally, I want to be clear about how I, and a number of my colleagues, feel about the direction in which this University is headed. We are dismayed that the same persons who have taken us to the brink of destruction remain in place. We are angry that the Interim President is obviously willing to let the University sink rather than make the hard personnel choices that must be made. We are disappointed that no one has been held accountable for their multiple administrative failures. We are concerned that each day that passes makes a viable solution to our crisis more difficult to achieve.

I’ve made no secret that my preference is for Thomas Calhoun’s reinstatement. I believe he deserves to be given a chance to lead this university out of its morass. However, if that course of action is not possible, I want to be clear that if the choice comes down to Cecil Lucy and the Watson cronies or Paul Vallas and a new set of administrators as the interim leaders of this institution, I’ll take the fresh faces over the wretched old gang.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Watson Strikes Back: Let the Innuendo and Lies Begin

The Chicago Sun Times, which has shilled for Wayne Watson on a number of occasions, recently published an article by Mary Mitchell which reveals the strategy Watson and his cronies are using to remain in control of Chicago State University. As you would expect, their sleazy campaign features racial innuendo, anonymous “sources,” and outright dishonesty. In a nutshell, it boils down to simply keeping the current administration in place by allowing Cecil Lucy to continue as president until a search can be conducted. I will respond to each of the article’s claims point-by-point, but here’s the link:

Claim #1: Let’s start with the title: “Is Rauner pushing Paul Vallas to be president of CSU?

Mitchell uses several quotes from Vallas to ostensibly demonstrate Rauner’s meddling and his desire to hand Chicago State to the Governor’s surrogate: First, Vallas tells Mitchell that “Rauner wanted him to ‘take a leadership role.’” Vallas’s next comments indicate his unfamiliarity with university administration: “‘It might be as chief executive officer or chief administrative officer,’ Vallas told me. ‘Clearly, it is their (the Governor and his staff’s) desire for me to take a leadership role and to give me the authority to work in the university full time.’”

Mitchell goes on to write, “In a follow-up email, Vallas said he is ‘seeking the authority to make the changes needed to stabilize the university’s finances and develop and implement an effective strategy for immediately improving student enrollment and retention.’”

Response: Much of this is nothing more than a distraction, an unsourced nod to Watson’s oft-stated claim that “white people” want to take over Chicago State. Why? to destroy the school? Watson and his cronies have already accomplished most of that task. According to the Sun Times story, the Chicago Crusader originally reported Rauner’s scheme. Here’s what that publication wrote: “Some CSU officials are not happy with a white officials serving as president of a predominately Black school.” Which “CSU officials” are those? See: For the full Crusader article, including some of the quotations used in Mitchell’s piece, see:

As to Vallas’s comments, is anyone going to argue that someone needs to take a “leadership role” at this institution? that someone needs to figure out how to “stabilize the university’s finances and develop and implement an effective strategy for immediately improving student enrollment and retention.”? Although I do not want Paul Vallas as the permanent president of Chicago State, at this point, I do not care much about who rights the ship. I do know that what has been done in the past at Chicago State has resulted in nothing but failure. We’re in uncharted waters here and desperately need creative solutions to our school’s continual problems. The holdovers on either the Board or in the administration are in no position to provide those solutions.

Facts: The damage done to this university and its overwhelmingly Black student population has been done by Watson and his cronies. In fall 2010, the university enrolled 7362 students, with 5832 Black students (79.2 percent). By spring 2016, the university’s enrollment had dropped to 4442, with 3050 Black students (68.7 percent). Put another way, of the 2920 students lost between fall 2010 and spring 2016, 2782 or them (95.3 percent) were Black students. Secretary of Education Beth Purvis acknowledged the meeting with Hatch and Anderson, saying according to Mitchell: “There was a conversation about how do we bring the urgency so we can bring more resources to the university[.] There was absolutely no threat.” As for Vallas, Purvis told Mitchell: “I have had conversations with members of the board that I actually believe Paul is the person to get CSU on track, but that doesn’t mean he is the right person to be president.”

“[At a] university like CSU, we need someone with a long history and academic background[.] That is different from someone who will come in and manage through a crisis.”

I certainly do not claim to know what is in Bruce Rauner’s mind regarding Chicago State, but my position is that Paul Vallas does not have the academic qualifications to be the president of this university. However, neither did Wayne Watson, nor does Cecil Lucy. None of these persons would be qualified for tenure in any academic department at Chicago State.

Claim #2: And the Chicago Crusader reported last week that the governor’s education secretary, Beth Purvis, called a meeting with CSU board chairman the Rev. Marshall Hatch and board member, Tony Anderson, and told them if “Rauner’s request isn’t met, he will not secure additional funding to help solve the school’s financial woes and withdraw his support.”

Response: Until this threat claim is actually verified, it has no validity. Obviously none of the Crusader’s sources is willing to go on the record, and Mitchell did nothing more than reprint the accusation. The Crusader’s sources seem to be “some officials,” “some are concerned,” “some at CSU,” “some say,” and “opposition by some.”

Facts: At this point, this claim that the Governor’s office threatened to retaliate if Vallas is not named president has not been verified by anyone mentioned in either the Crusader’s or Mitchell’s article. Hatch did not return telephone calls from either the Crusader or from Mitchell. Additionally, Anderson did not return Mitchell’s telephone call. In Mitchell’s article, Purvis flatly denied making any threats to “withhold support” from the university. At the conclusion of the Crusader article, they included this quote from Eleni Demertzis, a spokesperson for Rauner: “First, any notion of threatening future state funding is entirely false. Second, the Governor’s Office has been in regular communications with CSU leaders about potential university leadership candidates, including Paul Vallas, to work towards a turnaround of this university in crisis.”

Claim #3: In countering Purvis’s comments, Mitchell provides this evidence: “But sources said Vallas, who serves in an unpaid role, is making a full-court press for the president’s position, even parking his car in the space reserved for ‘President’ of the university.”

She followed with this from another anonymous source “‘It would be highly unethical for Vallas, who has been on campus acting like he is the president already, to be considered,’ said a community organizer who asked not to be identified.”

Response: I hardly know how to respond to this silliness. Of course, it’s completely ethical for Wayne Watson to be on campus acting like he’s still president.

Facts: I have heard nothing about where Vallas parks his car when he’s on campus. Certainly, I have seen no cars but the interim president’s parked in the president’s unmarked spot next to the Cook building. I’m not sure that where you park your car represents “acting like” a president.

Next, Mitchell provides a series of ridiculous and even stunning comments by Nikki Zollar, the MIA Trustee who was the architect of Calhoun’s ouster, and one of the major causes of the current turmoil.

Claim #4: Zollar claims that Vallas is “wreaking havoc” on Chicago State.

Response: It is impossible to respond to a claim as vague as that one.

Facts: the most recent “havoc” or uproars at Chicago State have resulted from the final settlement of two costly lawsuits; the university’s efforts to delay settlement of one of the suits, causing more expense for CSU, reports about questionable spending on the “Westside” campus; the university’s refusal to respond to legitimate FOIA requests about that endeavor from the Chicago Tribune; and the failure of campus boilers which should have been replaced some twenty years ago, which reportedly cost the school $1.2 million. Paul Vallas bears no responsibility for any of those circumstances.

Claim #5: In the next two paragraphs, Zollar sets the stage for the punchline which will come in claim #6. First, Zollar says: “I don’t understand his (Vallas’s) purpose.” She next says that “Paul himself have (sic) said in many meetings ‘I want to be the president of the university.’ I do think he has all good intentions, but I wouldn’t be able to support the idea of Mr. Vallas being the president of CSU because he doesn’t have the requisite background in higher education.”

Response: Again, I agree with Zollar that Vallas does not have the academic qualifications to serve as a university president. Of course, Cecil Lucy does not have the requisite qualifications either, however, that did not discourage Nikki Zollar and the old Board from naming him the interim president of Chicago State.

Facts: Zollar’s claim about Vallas’s expressed desire in “many meetings” to be president of Chicago State fails to stand up to close scrutiny. To the best of my knowledge, the communication between the new and old members of the Board has been minimal. Since Rauner appointed the four new members in mid-January, the Board has held only one meeting, which Zollar failed to attend (in fact, she last attended a Board meeting in September 2016).

Claim #6: Finally, here’s the Watson strategy, articulated by Nikki Zollar: “I think, at this point, to continue the stability of the university and the trajectory of the university, we need to keep our interim president until there can be another search.” Zollar’s final comment demonstrates her complete unwillingness to face the real problems at Chicago State. “This university has been starved for money, not leadership.”

Response: There is no “stability” at Chicago State and the university’s “trajectory” is a steep dive. However, retaining the interim president insures that Zollar’s good friend Angela Henderson and the other Watson cronies who have done so much damage to the school will remain in their high-paying jobs until a new president is installed, certainly no sooner than the beginning of the next school year. Maintaining the status quo also insures that Wayne Watson will continue to influence affairs at the school. Where did these people get the idea that this state university was some kind of property over which they could exercise sole control? Nikki Zollar’s comments demonstrate her continuing willingness to protect Watson and his cronies at the expense of the students, staff, and faculty of this school.

Facts: Every problem that has plagued this school since Watson came in fall 2009 can be attributed to poor leadership. We have lost 4107 students since fall 2010. Watson did virtually no fund-raising during the six years of his presidency. The university has been saddled with millions of dollars in legal fees and damage awards because of Watson’s and Cage’s unethical and illegal actions. During Watson’s tenure, a number of other scandals caused by incompetent leadership damaged the university’s reputation. Crony hiring ran rampant during the Watson years, and on the academic side, the crony Provost destroyed the university’s academic advising system and micro-managed course offerings, all to the detriment of our dwindling student population. No Ms. Zollar, Chicago State’s problems are all about bad leadership, exacerbated by the state’s budget impasse. We are in freefall and the fact that you don’t acknowledge this demonstrates your unfitness to serve on this university’s Board of Trustees. A new search indeed. When Ms. Zollar, 2018? If this administration remains in place through fall 2017, this university will simply not be salvageable.

Claim #7: Mitchell concludes with this: “If Rauner is trying to ram Vallas down board members’ throats, he is playing the same cutthroat politics he claims drove the university to ruin in the first place.”

Response: Mitchell has advanced neither a credible theory nor supplied any credible evidence that such a plot is occurring. I will finish with a comment on Chicago State’s “leadership” by one of my esteemed colleagues:

“This CSU administration is exhausting. Their current positions all seem to have the same tasks - save their salaries, at all cost. I cannot adequately articulate how very disappointing it all is. I teach Black Studies and this has to be the worst discovery that all of my studies and research has ever revealed in Black on Black violation. . . Black face and lack of morals is all they need to totally subdue then annihilate an institution that has been so much for so many, so long.”