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It’s Rauner’s Fault! Smoke, Mirrors and the Blame Game at Chicago State

Daniel J. Kelley 26 February 2016 2 Comments

The house has been on fire for almost eight continuous years and people are finally beginning to notice the smoke. Since everything in Illinois is ultimately about politics, a hue and cry has been raised in order to blame Governor Bruce Rauner for the crisis at Chicago State University.


Much like the new CSU president, Thomas J. Calhoun, Rauner finds himself being faulted for the mismanagement of his immediate predecessor. He does not deserve to be burdened such an albatross. Former Governor Pat Quinn, the faux populist reformer, is largely to blame for enabling the disgraced administration of former CSU President Wayne D. Watson to run amok at the university. When several trustees attempted to put a halt to Watson’s cronies mismanaging CSU, Quinn opted to play politics and declined to reappoint several university trustees who sought to force Watson’s immediate and deserved resignation.

The ranks of university administrators expanded while student registrations have declined dramatically.  Watson’s constant interference in hiring decisions resulted in his friends being awarded well paid jobs. Allegations about falsified job applications, nonexistent degrees, and a lack of previous experience mattered not. Lawsuits were manifold. Charges of retaliatory firings, attempts at censorship, slander campaigns to discredit faculty leaders, inappropriate relationships, and plagiarism were all fodder for the courts and the newspapers, but in the Democratic fantasyland that is Capitol Fax, it was Bruce Rauner who brought Chicago State University to its deplorable state, not Pat Quinn and the Democrat’s appointees who still sit on the university board of trustees.

An interesting debater’s tactic has been employed to defend Chicago State’s past mismanagement. Arguments have been made that as a “Historically Black College or University” that Chicago State is too important to fail. Of course, categorizing Chicago State as a historically black institution requires the suspension of belief in that the first one hundred and five years of the university’s prior history as a normal school, a four year college and as a university (since 1971) need to be ignored. The student body demographics did not change until the mid-Seventies. Another indelicate topic is how corruption, mismanagement and blatant political patronage abuses coincided with the arrival of multiculturalism at Chicago State University. That description is unfair to multiculturalists. Let us say that the “community activists” and “political hustlers” moved in at CSU and made it into their personal playground. The looting and pillaging of the institution compared favorably with the sacking of Rome by the Vandals.

Imagine Chicago State not as a university, but as a public school district. Would a high school that experienced an almost 42 percent drop in enrollment (at CSU this percentage represents the drop in undergraduate students enrolled) not be in jeopardy of closure or being forced to consolidate?






How about starting the budget cuts with the Athletic Department? Chicago State University has a Division I basketball program. Currently, the university has an enrollment of 3,143 undergraduate students, plus 1,299 graduate students, but the university still maintains a basketball team that joined the Western Athletic Conference in 2013.  Think about that. If every student attended a Cougars home game at the Emil and Patricia Jones Convocation Center, there would still be 2,558 seats available.  Chicago State is the smallest university in its conference and the only member school located east of the Mississippi. Their nearest WAC opponent is located in Kansas City, Missouri which is more than five hundred miles away. If CSU cannot afford to pay its faculty, how can it maintain an athletic department that sponsors thirteen intercollegiate teams? How much money could be saved for academics by sacrificing athletics?

For a smaller symbolic gesture, how about canning the scandal plagued Watson who still retains an on campus office and a personal staff? It would be an appropriate way of celebrating Chicago State’s sesquicentennial, provided the university remains open another year.

Daniel J. Kelley is a contributor to “The Chicago Daily Observer.”


  • Pot Calling Kettle said:

    From the CSU Faculty Voice blog:

    “Make no mistake, this responsibility for this fiasco belongs at the feet of the university’s Board of Trustees, complicit in the previous administration’s excesses, and the driving force behind the declaration of “financial exigency” and the creators of the “Management Action Committee” and the “University Advisory Committee,” which includes leaders from various campus unions. That committee met the day before yesterday’s announcement and was told nothing.

    We have just endured six long years of the kind of management shenanigans on display yesterday. The staff of this university deserves better treatment. We deserve to be told what administrative decisions have been made that will affect our futures and we deserve to be given that information before it is disseminated publicly.

    Although we have a new President who deserves the opportunity to succeed, I believe yesterday’s fiasco underscored the consequences of the continued toxic presence of a Board and holdover members of a crony–riven administration that have literally brought this university to its knees.To be sure, dramatic cuts to this university’s bloated administrative positions and salaries must occur. Our first salary reductions should come from those high-salaried administrators who have done so much damage to this school.”

  • Jim Ridings said:

    Excellent analysis, Mr. Kelley, and thank you for telling the true story that does not fit the agenda of the established elites

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