The Carbondale Observer

News and commentary about Carbondale, Illinois and SIUC

Posts Tagged ‘Chancellor Rita Cheng

Minish Fallout Continues

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As everyone knows by now, the Southern Illinoisan had an article Monday afternoon announcing that former provost Gary Minish will not be taking a tenured professor position in the College of Agriculture. From the article:

Rod Sievers, SIUC spokesman and assistant to Chancellor Rita Cheng for media relations, said Minish informed the university he no longer wanted any role on campus late Friday.

In my earlier post on the matter, I offered a guess that disagreements with SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng were the cause of Minish’s resignation. It appears the Faculty Senate, or at least its executive council agree. From a Daily Egyptian article, quoting an email sent by the executive council:

We feel that the resignation of Dr. Minish points to serious structural problems in this administration. A basic issue revolves around management style. We believe Gary Minish is a grassroots administrator, skilled at listening to those he leads and bringing their perspective to bear on university decisions. We also believe Chancellor Cheng’s style is characterized by a top-down, heavy handed approach. We concur with what seems to be a widespread belief that she has isolated herself within a small inner circle where all decisions are made.

It’s tough to say how much of this is accurate. The DE article quotes one member of the executive council as disagreeing with the council’s statement. We should remember that the faculty are currently negotiating with the administration over furlough days. Attempts to publicly discredit Cheng should be viewed in that context.

Still, there do seem to be some problems with Cheng’s management style. A university – especially one as unionized as SIUC – is not a private company and cannot be run like one. A dictatorial management style is certain to fail at SIUC. As I’ve said before, the perception that former chancellor Walter Wendler was a tyrant contributed to his downfall. Cheng should learn from his mistakes.

I want Chancellor Cheng to succeed at SIUC. If she wants to succeed, she needs to start building bridges rather than burning them.

Comments are welcome.


Written by The Carbondale Observer

January 26, 2011 at 7:45 am

Performance-Based Higher Education Funding?

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WSIU has an article on the demolition of McAndrew Stadium, but the last few paragraphs are about a different subject. The Illinois Board of Higher Education is considering a switch to performance-based funding. From the article:

SIU’s President is concerned about next year’s funding from the state… and it has little to do with the current budget crisis facing Illinois.

At a recent meeting of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, leaders began looking at proposals for performance-based budgeting. Several factors would be looked at, including enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

SIU President Glenn Poshard says if that system is approved in the legislature next spring, university leaders all over the state will have to re-evaluate how their institutions do business. [Emphasis added.] Read the rest of this entry »

Written by The Carbondale Observer

December 10, 2010 at 7:45 am

Dietz Out as Vice-Chancellor

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SIUC announced that Larry Dietz is leaving his position as Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs. The change is part of a larger reorganization with the goal of setting up a University College. From the Saluki Times release:

Within the University College framework, the following offices will report to Gary Minish, incoming provost and senior vice chancellor: New Student Programs, Career Services, Supplemental Instruction, Pre-Major Advisement, University 101, Center for Academic Success, Student Support Services, and Residential Life.

In addition, Disability Support Services, Veterans Services, Student Legal Services, Student Judicial Affairs, and Multicultural Programming report to Peter Gitau, dean of students, who also reports to Minish. The provost and senior vice chancellor’s office also will have oversight of International Programs and Services.

The bursar’s office is now part of Enrollment Management.

The following units report to Kevin Bame, vice chancellor for administration and finance: Housing, Recreational Sports & Services, Student Health Center, Counseling Center, Rainbow’s End, Student Center and Student Development.

It looks like Minish and Bame are the big winners here, as they basically split the Student Affairs division. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by The Carbondale Observer

December 8, 2010 at 7:45 am

Furlough Follies: Cheng Will Take Six Days

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Last week I wrote two posts (one, two) criticizing SIUC Chancellor Rita Cheng for refusing to follow President Poshard’s lead and take six furlough days. Friday, in an email to SIUC students and staff, Cheng reversed herself:

After considering input I have received from many of you, I plan to take six unpaid closure days. Each vice chancellor will take five unpaid closure days.

This was the right move. I’m glad Cheng is willing to acknowledge mistakes and change course. I wonder if Cheng came to this decision herself, or if Poshard intervened behind the scenes. Either way, I am satisfied with the result. Read the rest of this entry »

Furlough Follies: Cheng’s Misstep Worse than I Realized

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I’ve been posting about the upcoming furloughs all week. Initially, I was critical of five SIUC unions that have refused to cooperate with furloughs. I dubbed them the Foolish Five. As more information becomes available, my views are starting to change.

I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but I was disappointed with Chancellor Cheng’s decision not to take six furlough days herself, two more than other employees are taking. Wednesday’s Daily Egyptian had a quote from Cheng that I found shocking. In response to a question asking if she would take six furlough days, Cheng said:

“I’m not going to be putting my stuff in the coffer,” she said. “I could work for free for 10 years and still not make up the budget.” Read the rest of this entry »

Furlough Follies: Cheng Stumbles

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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.

Furlough Follies Continue

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Last week I was critical of the Faculty Association’s white paper because the authors repeatedly referred to late payments from the state. It seemed to me that either they didn’t understand the difference between a cash flow crisis and a budget crisis, or they were deliberately trying to mislead. Last Friday, SIU President Glenn Poshard released a statement to clear up any confusion:

A cash flow crisis is created when an inordinate delay takes place in payments from the state for our operating funds out of which we make payroll.  A budget crisis may develop by an actual cut-back of state funding from the previous year, resulting in an unbalanced budget. It is a completely separate issue from the cash flow problem altogether.

Now let us turn to FY11.  On July 1, SIU’s state appropriation was signed into law at a level 7% lower than the previous year.  This amount represents approximately what the university received in 1999.  For the Carbondale campus, the loss of federal stimulus funds which comprised 7% of our state reimbursement in FY10, the elimination of millions of dollars in state reimbursements to SIUC this fiscal year for mandated entitlements of free tuition and fees to veterans, a further delay in MAP funding for FY11, as well as unaddressed enrollment shortfalls from this and previous years has contributed to an unbalanced operating budget totaling more than $15 million.  We have no authority, nor will we, to borrow against budget shortfalls. Read the rest of this entry »

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