Monday, November 28, 2016

Am I Missing Something???

So this story in the Chicago Tribune raises a couple of questions for your humble narrator. Some years ago, Chicago State University was positioned to receive the papers of Illinois Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks. Of course the president at the time was unable to close the deal so those papers ended up at the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign. Now, another history maker, the first Black Illinois Senate President, is donating his papers to a public university but not the one with his name on one of its buildings, but another university. Hmmmm.

Does Senator Jones know something about the future of CSU that we don't? Or is this a feud between the now departed failed ex-president and the former Senate President? Or is it simply the decimation of CSU's infrastructure makes it impossible to take on major projects like this one? With only three reference librarians and a brand new archivist, and the perpetual state of financial exigency, what public figure in his right mind would make a contribution of this magnitude to CSU? None, not even one who spent his career, protecting the institution from administrative stupidity and incompetence. Whatever the reason, it's another sad day for CSU and bad way to thank a long time friend of the university. If this is how we treat our friends....

Friday, November 18, 2016

Sorry Mr Lucy, if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

Considering the silence emanating across campus this fall and the feeling among various constituencies that no one knows what is going on, or what the administration is doing,  Mr Cecil Lucy, current occupant of the president's office at CSU, issued a notice for a meeting on Thursday with the faculty and chairs (mandated for them apparently) of the College of Arts and Sciences. After the interminable litany of his pedigree and the trajectory of his life that finally brought him to CSU, Mr Lucy said he wanted to hear our concerns and answer our questions. An agenda page was handed out at the beginning of the meeting with two items: "Introductions" and "Answers and Questions" (curious Orwellian phraseology).  He then employed the words that are part of every CSU administrator's vocabulary in times of difficulty for which they do not want to accept responsibility, or be accountable for something that they did that failed, he said, we needed "to move forward..."

The first question by a long-time faculty member, however, was not in the spirit of "moving forward," but it did reflect the bald reality of the problem CSU has had this past year in trying "to move forward." "I asked this question of Dr. Calhoun last year, so I will ask it of you, how do you improve the university with so many holdovers of the Watson administration? And now, ALL of the upper administration is Watson's?"

In spite of his professed appreciation for academia, Mr Lucy remains a corporate guy and the corporate mentality -vs- the academic was on display yesterday. He said he did not like being "labelled" as a Watson holdover and, I think he said that because most of the faculty in the auditorium were here when Watson was president, we are all Watson holdovers. What? The logic of this eludes me, but if anyone or Mr Lucy himself, cares to explain that please set me right. He cannot be as simplistic as to believe that by being on campus during the Watson years tars you with the same status as a Watson administrator making policy and ALL the decisions with limited or no shared governance. Clearly Mr Lucy does not understand what happened under his first boss here. He might also like to consider two truths one of them coming from his own corporate culture: in order to change the culture of an institution you have to cut off its head (meaning get rid of the past leadership and higher up administration); the other, from Albert Einstein, "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results." Heck, there is even biblical disparagement about putting "old wine into new skins..."

Nevertheless, it is clear that the CSU faculty craves leadership and is just being given old wine.

From the Watson regime that bears responsibility for having made us more vulnerable to the external assault from the state, and continues in power; to the firing of CSU tenured and tenure-track faculty this past July; to the termination of former president Dr Thomas Calhoun in September organized by a cabal of Watsonians and pliable Board members; "moving forward," is a pretty tall request. We were ready to move forward last January. We need new leadership from a new Board, from new upper administration all across the Cook Building. The Watson cabal needs to go.

So, if Mr. Lucy really did want to hear my concerns and give answers before I asked questions, here are a few that I did not have time to voice at the meeting.

1. What was your role in the firing of Dr. Calhoun? Don't stand behind your cv timeline of your date of hire. We know who was in the cabal meeting off campus or in parked cars and how the Management team was voting three to one against Calhoun. You were part of that team Mr Lucy.

2. Will we be rehiring the faculty whom you and Angela Henderson fired in July?

3. How many more times will the administration ask us to "share" our concerns and continue to ignore them? What, is the point of further discussion?
Mr Lucy you have met with the Faculty Senate President and the UPI President. They have discussed very clearly faculty concerns with you. And the faculty have stated their concerns pretty clearly through several votes of no confidence in the former president and his actions, and votes of no confidence in the current provost. Please, before asking us again for our concerns, reread these documents. They are not based on flimsy or capricious reasons. They contain bills of particulars relating to the incompetence that has dragged this university down over the past few years.

The provost whom you defended on Thursday as an advocate for the faculty has not been held accountable for her first job on campus, given to her by her friend and mentor Wayne Watson, for which she was barely qualified. Angela Henderson headed enrollment management and enrollment declined year after year. Yet, her friend and mentor Wayne Watson promoted her to provost. She has the limited respect of perhaps some faculty and I am being generous here. What she submitted as a dissertation would not have passed an undergrad plagiarism standard. That UIC was pressured to "fix" this problem does not negate that fact. Please do not insult us further with defenses of a woman who had no qualms about throwing CSU student critics of Watson into the criminal justice system. Ask her what that means, if you don't already know.

Mr Lucy, whatever inside deal you got to become president of CSU and help in the ouster of Dr. Calhoun, you have a lot of nerve expecting us to line up now like good corporate soldiers and forget everything that has transpired in the past. We are trying our best to do what we can in the spheres in which we work. We are holding our noses and working with the administration that got us an HLC visit because of their failure to understand the implications of financial exigency status. But don't expect confidence from us just because you ask for it.

Simply put, Mr Lucy, you are a holdover from Wayne Watson. Unfortunately, you walk and quack like a lame duck.

Waste, Fraud, and Abuse of Resources. Sounds Like Chicago State

Here's a link to the most recent publicity on CSU. Once again, the administration of this university has done us proud. Notable however, is Cullerton's outrage. As readers of this blog know, we've been trying to get someone to take a look at the management of this place for years. Now, at least one politician is shocked! shocked! at what goes on here. Please.

Another Stupid Town Hall Meeting Insulting Our Intelligence

Yesterday's ridiculous meeting with the new "President" revealed how empty the administration's "plans" are for moving the university along and extricating it from its current predicament. Other than the announcement that CSU has sufficient money to get through the entire academic year, nothing new in any of the pablum dished out by the current temporary occupant of the president's office. The same kinds of vague assurances and the incoherent, inarticulate, and rambling rhetoric we became accustomed to during the Watson regime on display yesterday. Truly painful, and for most of us, an hour of our lives we can never get back.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Elections and other matters

Dear friends and colleagues,

It is November 17th and our last post was on October 27th about accreditation. It is natural that we were distracted by that disastrous national election campaign (the campaign was a disaster; I will get to the result). Never before was so much money spent to spew racism and negativity. Never was an optimistic vision so absent, except for Trump's racist vision. Never were so many voters alienated from both candidates.

Still many were perhaps more distressed by the result. I was shocked because I, like many others, was misled by media projections. In retrospect, I should not have been surprised about the results. There were two obvious factors: dissatisfaction with the way the capitalist system has been failing people and racism toward immigrants and black folk.

However, just as people were irrationally euphoric about Obama's victory (particularly in 2008), I believe many of us are irrationally depressed by Trump's. In fact some Obama voters went for Trump, the common factor being promise of change.

Still Trump's victory is encouraging the gutter sexists and racists to engage in assaults on the streets. Just in the last week in Davis, a liberal California town, I have heard of two verbal assaults on women, one involving two men following her to her car and threatening to surround her (she found a group of men that put the assaulters on the run). One thing we can to is react forcibly to any verbal (or worse) assaults on people.

On my campus, I put out the flyer that follows. Many of you will recognize my point of view. I hope you will join me, based on your own convictions, in active resistance to racism and sexism.

I miss seeing so many of you. Let's continue to be in touch.

Here's our flyer:
Dump Trump?
The U.S. ruling class offered us a choice between (A) a known racist, imperialist war-monger (Clinton) and (B) a blatant sexist (bragging about sexual assaults, insulting women), open gutter racist against Muslims and immigrants, and maybe the biggest liar U.S. politics has ever seen (Trump). Voters picked what many regard as the greater evil.
It’s hard to imagine much worse than Trump. His victory will encourage other gutter racist and sexist assaults. Even some people who voted for him didn’t like him but felt they needed to protest what was happening to their lives. The capitalists’ drive for maximum profits has devastated U.S. workers, particularly black and latino workers, but many others as well.
Still, we should beware of U.S. nationalism and U.S.-centrism. Workers in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and Palestine are under bombing and other assaults from the U.S. and its allies. Forty-three students in Mexico were murdered with the cooperation of the government allied with the U.S. From the point of view of workers and students in these other countries there’s not much difference between Trump and Clinton.
The attack on the jobs of U.S. workers, the growth of mass incarceration, the terror of deportations, the increase of anti-black and anti-latino racism by street cops have occurred under the Republican and Democratic presidencies of Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama, with Hillary Clinton along with Kerry implementing bombings of workers all over the world. This is the reality of imperialism in the United States, in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East, in South Asia, and in the rest of the world where the United States has made war ever since the end of the last World War.
There is an alternative; it doesn’t have to be like this. Workers can and will fight racism and sexism, at the same time that they fight to improve their own lives and unite with sisters and brothers around the world. We can unite, overthrow the capitalist bosses, and create a communist world where we cherish each other and create opportunity for all our children.
Workers of the World, Unite!