We learned yesterday that tenure is on its way out at CSU.
The travesty and tragedy that is Chicago State University careens along like a rudderless ship as we sink into the dark November days that end our semester. No discernible leadership here appears on the horizon, though there had been hope of it earlier. Lots of administration, bombast and bluster from the Board of Trustees, but no one outside of the Union or Faculty Senate stands out, let alone up, for us the faculty.
Yesterday our UPI President Bob Bionaz, informed us that the Union had lost its grievance and arbitration against the University. Our nine tenured and tenure-track faculty colleagues who were fired by the phony and vindictive "Management Action Committee" in 2016 will not be getting the paltry severance payout a normal, ethical university would have granted--normally a one year contract or a year's pay. CSU's administrators who have been walked off campus have gotten heaps of cash --Cheri Sydney (now Mrs Wayne Watson) made out of CSU like a bandit. So did others--see earlier blog posts below for the list of the well-compensated administrators who were allowed to slop at the Illinois trough one last time.
Shameful. But this is part of a long tradition of shamelessness in the operation of Chicago State.
Shame on you President Lindsey for not sticking up for the faculty whose lives have now been turned upside down, whose careers have been ruined by the previous administration's vindictiveness. You hired some of these very faculty members when you were our Dean. Shame on you for tolerating the continued machinations of the Watson remnants on campus especially one of the most vindictive architects of the faculty firings. She sits right across the hall from you.
Shame on you CSU Trustees: Chair Marshall Hatch, Horace Smith, Kamium Buckner, Nicholas Gowen, Tiffany Harper, and Jay Smith for your insincerity and your own partisanship toward the old Watson remnants. The fired administrators can be paid off in large packages during "financial exigency" but you choose to spend more money on lawyers to save "chump change" or do justice by the faculty fired under the fiction of that same financial exigency. Shame on you for your duplicity. You say you want to "move the university forward," that you want the best for the university, but you choose, like the previous administration and Board, to keep the CSU faculty your adversaries. You do not know how to implement best practices in university governance. You are not of the academy, yet you will not take advice or hear from those of us who are. And we have to tolerate board after board, year after year, whose overlordship is tied to pols and their pet political interests or well-connected insiders from "the community." And CSU's boards have been famously packed with Christian ministers. Messrs. Hatch and Smith, you in particular have truly shown yourselves to be little men in this regard. Law is one thing. Ethics is another. Christian ethics is something else. Prove me wrong and offer the fired faculty members the severance pay or the courtesy of a one-year's notice that they should have received in 2016. Prove me wrong and offer them their jobs back on this campus. Some of them are working here anyway as adjunct faculty.
Shame on all of you trustees and administrators for putting the finishing touches on Wayne Watson and his acolyte Angela Henderson's rendition of the Empire Strikes Back. They could not grind to dust all the faculty irritants who shined the light on their cronyism and corruption, so they attacked their colleagues. Can anyone really think it was a coincidence that most of the faculty who were fired were targeted from among the big-mouth departments (political science, history, music, philosophy) that dared to criticize the antics of Wayne and Miss Angie during their stay at CSU?
The CSU union was organized at a time when unions were still respected in the pre-Reagan era. I realize the times have changed. Education is now seen as a commodity to be bought and sold. The corporatization of the university gallops along all over the country. Students are "customers." Faculty or other campus unions must be crushed. Administrators receive corporate salaries and golden parachutes worthy of Wall Street or Madison Avenue executives. In this cosmology tenure is seen as an anachronism, a "perk" granted in an earlier age. There is a willful ignorance about its true purpose --to protect free speech and free inquiry on campus. Instead, in the corporate university, the professional class of administrators aided by board members from business or law, can see no type of governance other than that of a top down chain of command business hierarchy. Faculty are not sharers in this governance model. Tenure must be broken. It has no place in the enterprise to completely commodify education and educational institutions. The arbitrator in this grievance process saw fit to defend those who wanted to find a way to break tenure. To get rid of pesky faculty declare financial exigency even if it might put your accreditation at risk. All that matters is to protect administrative privilege and purview.
And shame on us a faculty if we fail to realize this is just what has happened to us. Shame on us if we succumb to this vision of the corporate university and let it overtake us at our university. The CSU Board of Trustees thinks that the only one truly interested in the fired tenured faculty members was the UPI president. Can we disabuse them of this notion at the Board of Trustees meeting in December?
It was a sad irony that on the day I learned about this lost arbitration case, I received a notice that the College of Arts and Sciences was holding a "Faculty Appreciation Luncheon." Would that Dr Jones, the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences whose departments lost so many faculty in the financial exigency firings in 2016 publicly stood up for his faculty at that time and vigorously protested this assault on the Arts and Sciences. Would that his department chairs could have been inspired by his leadership and done the same. As Dr. Calhoun noted at a town hall meeting in fall 2016, this did not happen.
I hope we can fill the auditorium at December's Board meeting with faculty members who will stand in solidarity with those cast out faculty who have lost their grievance. I will not hold my breath given the current demoralized, impotent climate on campus. But shame on us as a faculty if we forget what happened to our colleagues who were fired so vindictively and so unjustly.