Furlough Follies: Cheng Stumbles
SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng held a town hall style meeting in the Student Center ballrooms Tuesday to discuss the upcoming furlough days. Unfortunately, Cheng blew it.
When a questioner asked if she would follow President Glenn Poshard’s lead and take six furlough days, she replied that she wouldn’t. Cheng said it wouldn’t make any difference, so she’d just take four days like everyone else. She complimented Poshard’s generosity.
She totally missed the point. Poshard isn’t taking six furlough days because he’s generous. He’s taking six days because, as a politician, he understands that public perception matters.
It is unwise for an administrator making $350,000 per year to demand that employees making $25,000 per year take four furlough days and refuse to take a larger number herself. Cheng had an opportunity to show that she was willing to take a larger cut to her much larger salary in order to put SIUC’s fiscal house in order. She passed.
Public perception counts. If Cheng doesn’t believe that, she should go over to the School of Architecture and ask Walter Wendler. The perception that Wendler was an out of touch tyrant undoubtedly aided his undoing. Cheng should avoid his mistakes if she wants to avoid his fate.
Comments are welcome.