Saturday, September 30, 2006

My view of education or is it a business?

Had an interesting comment to an earlier post

That you want to hold our leaders accountable here at SIU is laudable; that you want to commodify education and model this University on your business experience isn't. Education is a not-for-profit enterprise. You can't quantify how much people learn, or how they grow culturally or spiritually. Choose whatever ridiculous metric you want (SIU tries to use lots!), none measure wisdom. Students are not products. Parents and society are not customers. This isn't a factory.

First of all, what I do for a living is hire and manage software engineers. Mostly they are new college graduates and need to be lead toward a goal of becoming senior software engineers (in later years I have had to do more and more marketing and product creation because that is what really senior engineers do). I spend day after day, week after week, month after month, one on one with these kids. If this seems something like being a professor of computer science and running a big lab of graduate students, it is almost exactly the same thing. Please don't give me this self righteous crap about how no one who isn't in academia can understand academia. It is total nonsense. Next thing you know you will be saying that only farmers should study plants, only drug dealers should study crime. As a matter of fact it is easier to understand academia if you aren't having to do major rationalization about how poorly performing your employer is and by easy logic, how poor your own performance is because of the guilt by association (think about that one for a minute).

I guess you can say that SIU isn't a business, but the word business doesn't matter. The reason to use the terms I use isn't because I want to describe a business, it is because those are the terms and ideas of management and leadership.

Your ideas that SIU isn't a factory is just stupid, of course it is a factory. Students choose from a limited number of majors, a limited number of classes, they must follow rules, going down the same assembly line as defined by the place. Are you thinking that when you become a CS major, you aren't on an assembly line? Each student is unique, but not that much different than all the others around them. Can you quantify students? Of course, professors do this all the time. The big quantification of how professors do this is called a diploma.

Quick note on SIU's assembly line, it is defined by the classes the professors choose to make a student take to earn a major. Each step is somewhat defined by teaching standards, books and materials, by the professors. How is this different than building an assembly line for cars again?

Maybe you are saying that I can't quantify students because I'm not part of the professor priesthood? Or maybe you don't understand my language and you don't want to study leadership and management and see if I'm correct? This blog can't be understood by the kids at SIU, I know it is beyond many professors. You will notice the most interesting commenters here include Jon Bean, a person who studies business? He gets it.

Sometimes in this life I just agree to disagree, but in this case I just can't. If you don't think that SIU is producing a product for society you are plain nuts. SIU produces trained students and research for society/State of Illinois. Society owns the buildings and gives money to get these products. If you want more money from society, do a better job. It isn't a for-profit business, but is sure is a not for profit one.

We have seen that countries that experimented in socialism and communism are failures. Maybe it is time for SIU to stop attempting to be a socialist institution and start performing? I guess it is time to stop slamming on the administrators at SIU (who are truly bad) for a while and move on to the professors who are truly clueless? Stay tuned.

Tip of the hat - The DE is better than the OSU paper.

I am on a trip to Corvallis, OR and wanted to tip my hat to the DE, it is much better than the student newspaper here at Oregon State University (The Daily Barometer). I really like the cartoonist the DE has right now. The number and quality of local news stands out compared to the DB.

Both papers have little english problems like my blog does, but I have forgiven myself. :)

Good work DE and keep it up.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Poshard party? Have to admit, I'm out of town.

I'm sitting on the free hotel computer at the Hilton something in Corvallis, OR (don't ask, but I'm having fun) and blogging away. OSU is playing Cal in football across the street tomorrow and as you all know I'm not going. OSU is a land grant school and their football stadium looks very nice.

I'm going to link here to the text of Poshard's speech so I can read it later in depth.

I don't have time to spend reading the speech and really think about it right now, but a quick read sounds like he had a good tone about the challenges ahead. His $6,000 for education and $35,000 for prison was a good quote. He didn't tell a joke to kick off the speech? Must have been hard to sit through, but it didn't seem that long.

Did they really let 9 politicians speak?

Go Glenn, we would like to believe and help. First stop the lying from the people that work for you as a sign of good faith.

Your comments are welcome. You can bet I will have more to say in a few days.

Nice work in the DE about the Marching Saluki's

Check it out. The Marching Saluki's are good and I thought this piece had great touch.

Wendler "Man of Ethics?"

Nice guest column in the DE today.
"Last March, Saluki Way was presented to the Board of Trustees. At that same meeting on March 9, a petition, with more than 1,200 signatures from faculty, students, staff and alumni opposing the plan, was presented to the Board of Trustees."
Writes Whitney Shald a senior from Evergreen Park studying English literature
and USG senator.
She goes on,

"USG had many questions. One senator asked why the university did not take care of our deferred maintenance before building new buildings.

The chancellor said this was an excellent idea, and if someone had said that last year, the university would have done so. More than 1,200 of us did say that last year."

Why does Wendler think that everyone is stupid and why does he decide to lie instead of telling the truth? Can you imagine saying this is public? It is clearly a lie and there is no way around it, everyone knows the old buildings need massive maintenance. There is a board of how much up over the physical plant that ticks up everyday like the national debt (just kidding).

Once you get past the stylish hair (that isn't colored) and the waxed mustache, love of fresh concrete and bible thumping, there isn't much there to like in this package. Maybe he could do the right thing and concentrate his considerable energy to teaching architecture full-time? That would really help SIUC.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Interesting take on this blog in the DE today

I thought Brandon Augsburg did a nice job, but read it yourself.

The final quote in the story cracked me up - "He may be one of those people who wants to keep it the way it was 20 years ago," Wendler said. Yep, that is it Walt! A guy who starts software companies for a living, doesn't believe things have to change and wants to go back to the past? I want to go back to the quality of management SIU had in 1966 (so that is 40 years and not 20), but want to change everything else to modern ideas. For example, I want to have modern classrooms with power plugs and Wifi for notebook computers, big touch screens and internet for the instructors, reasonable chairs to sit in and no holes in the walls. I would do that before I spent a penny on a football stadium or administration building that serves no one but people who are secondary to the mission of the university.

Older isn't better, newer isn't better, better is better.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Five Problems that SIU Has To Fix

  1. Marketing story has been broken and needs to be rebuilt.
  2. Oversight by the BOT is suspect.
  3. Financials are hidden and obfuscated.
  4. Quality should be more important than Student Retention in Instruction.
  5. Management Performance is a big problem.

1. -
I have written (and been taken to task) about how I think that in 10 years Wendler will be remembered as the worst leader of SIUC ever. People put forward others instead (check the comments of this entry), and maybe they are right. But I think that Wendler and SIU'’s BOT has broken the 50+ year marketing story of SIU and no other SIUC leader has done something so stupid before. SIUC's marketing story was this, "Great education at a great price" (my words here).

Now it could be that SIUC needed the money for Saluki Way (and other toys) and raising tuition and fees was the right thing to do. But when you break one marketing story, you must replace it with another one right away. The reason that SIUC is losing students is they haven't executed any new plan.

When you are good at the lowest price, you can get away with not having contact or literature in all the high schools, not advertising like all the other schools, having poor press releases, and a poor website. Now that the prices are about the same, there needs to be a story to sell.

You might be amazed to know that parents and high school juniors and seniors (AKA - their children) don't really care if there is a rock climbing wall, a French chef in the dorms, valet parking at the student center, a new football stadium or if the administrators have $20,000 custom cherry office groupings. What the people want to know is if the university will educate well and what the trajectory into work life will be. They want to hear about placement centers (SIUC'’s sucks rocks if you aren't in CoBA), percentages of graduations in 4, 6 and 10 years, percentages of graduates with professional jobs in their field after graduation. They want to hear the university understands that undergraduate education is important to its mission. That their students will rub shoulders with the research professors and maybe some of it will rub off. They don't want to hear about cheating, plagiarism, underpaid faculty, emphasis on retention, or deferred maintenance on classrooms. Of course, the worst result of a college education isn't the expense, student loans, years of tears over math tests; it is that your now young adult moves back into the house. I will not be able to sleep tonight thinking this might happen to me when my kids are 22 (23, 24, 25, 26?).

I have written about this before, the PR department is broken, the marketing is broken at SIU. The solution the administration has come up with is to make the Dean's of each college responsible for recruiting with no personnel or budgets. This is really stupid and needs to be fixed.

Let me suggest a new marketing slogan "Great undergraduate education."

I'm crossing my fingers that the administrators who are running the "SIUC business" figure out how to run a business. Marketing is how their fellow business owners spend at least 50% of our time.

2 -
If you read Dan Brown's book "Angels and Demons" ($.01 on Amazon used!) he really slams on the Catholic Church, but he also writes about how it operates for a very long term result. Decisions are made today understanding the world is going to change faster than the church, but the continuity is necessary. It turns out that this is the way universities need to operate as well, maybe not in centuries, but certainly change happens over decades. Let me suggest this as a fun read for you SIUC business people who are management geeks like me.

As the Southern at 150 plan was hatched there was a lot of rumblings across the campus that it was a really bad idea from the professors. Letters were written, phone calls made and the complaining has continued until today. It turns out the complainers were right, Southern at 150 was poorly conceived, poorly executed and has been thrown on the trash heap of history. It is just a matter of days until it is forgotten; only Wendler's need to save face keeps it alive in name today. The surest way to identify an administration lackey is they have the Southern at 150 pin on their coat and most of those seem to be in the trash bin now.

The question that needs to be asked is who owns the blame for this failed plan and clearly the ultimate blame falls on the BOT members who allowed it to happen. The main problem with SIU's BOT is they don't know anything about how a university operates, they don't live in university towns, they don't have professor friends (please exclude Sam Goldman who wasn't on the board for the Southern at 150 votes and clearly does get it). It gets worse, that they are successful and busy people who don't have the time to learn what is going on (your choice is flight on a private jet to Hilton Head for golf with your friends or coming to Carbondale to canvas professors? Not a hard choice is it?). This means that the BOT mostly rubber stamps everything, because they really can't be bothered to really dig into the details. BOT member don't have skin in the game and just aren't motivated to really care about SIUC, their rubber stamping results speak for themselves.

The BOT trusts the senior administration to plan and execute (because they can't be bothered to do the work), they only tinker a little here and there. There is a claim that the BOT added the one academic building to Saluki Way phase 1. Because they don't know what is going on, this is the best they can do. Clearly Saluki Way phase 1 is unsellable in public without the building, a blind person can see it. It is unsellable this way too, but don't worry the students will pay because they have no choice.

Let me point out that this isn't a problem of only the last 10 years. The BOT of SIU has been terrible for the last 30 years. IMHO the problem is the system that appoints the board, but this is the story of the Illinois state government in a nutshell.

We have seen lots of boards in the business world with this kind of oversight and combined with the right kind of managers this can be a destructive combination.

3. -
When you start to think about SIU's finances, the term that should jump to mind is "Enron". The money is going up, no it is going down, $40k for Poshard's party (but we aren't counting everything), $4M for this building (but really $6M), Oracle database for $2M to $20M depending on how you count the lines, don't worry we are wasting money but it isn't public money, it is a joke. If SIU was a public company, people would be going to jail over the public announcement of costs that they know or reasonable should have known to be false.

The rumor mill says that there are administrators stashed in every "budget line" on campus to keep "administrative costs" down. Just because you move someone to a new budget line doesn't stop them from being an administrative cost, it just makes the management a bunch of liars.

You would think as an organization that is owned by the taxpayers of Illinois this would be transparent, but SIU does not report like a public company and allow analysis from the outside. Can you image the amount of potential abuse that can be hidden in a budget this large that has little oversight from the board?

I estimated recently that there is around $45M to $50M of additional revenue per year being "earned" by SIUC because of tutition increases since 2003. I know there are more expenses too and some state cuts, but don't you wonder how the extra money is being used between the sheets? Because it is all secret, we will never know.

4. -
As the students arrive back on campus in the fall, a memo goes out to the professors from the Provost (he is their boss) calling for the students to be "retained." Now there are two ways for this memo to be interpreted (well really 3), first the way "I'm sure" (wink, wink) it was intended to help the students pass their classes and excel at SIU. The less strong minded who want to receive high pay raises might read the memo as a call to give away grades, because management is watching. There is the third way of reading it, which is the Provost has lost his marbles and the memo is quickly sent to the circular bin. Professors are really smart and I'm sure most just trash it and wonder what the heck Dunn is thinking.

There are only two metrics for teaching performance at SIUC. First, your student evaluations and second your pass and retention rate. Student evaluations are handed out to the kids at the end of the class and when I was a student I might be more included to give a good report to a great professor or one who gave me an A on a silver platter. SIU keeps statistics of how many students pass each section of each class and the GPA of each section. These two items are all your boss goes on in your annual performance review to evaluate your teaching skills. Seems like if you wanted a larger raise, maybe it would be a good idea to give away grades doesn't it?

Now in the real world if you wanted to improve teaching performance the first thing you would do if figure out how to reward the professor for doing better and try to keep them from giving away grades to game the system.

If I was managing professors I would visit their classrooms while they taught to see if they were effective. If they weren't effective I would figure out a way to train them to make them better. If there were an opportunity for common test and finals, I would keep track of those results and compare them to final grades to make sure that a professor wasn't raising grades to get a better job review. In my world this is called management and most universities don't do it. Why can't SIU go figure out best practices and implement them? There is an Ed Psyc program at SIUC, you could ask them maybe?

Why is this a problem? Because as you graduate weaker students, over time you weaken the university's brand. University brands are hard to build and quick to fall. Once you interview a few dummies with good GPA's from a school, you get the picture fairly quickly as a hiring manager that the university has lowered their standards.

5. -
The management of SIUC is piss poor. Some people do no work and aren't fired. A majority of the chairmen have given up managing because they have no guidelines or support from above. Administrators hide behind ranks of administrative assistants and duck out of the office a whole bunch. No one has metrics for performance and certainly no one is rewarded for doing good or penalized for screwing up (please no crap comments about tenure, I know all about it).

The management agenda of calling students the customers is just crazy. The students are the product, the students, their parents and society are the customers and the tax payers of Illinois are the owners. Only by balancing the students, facility and staff with the state's interests as the university'’s owner can the organization work well.

The number one management problem is the people who really care are penalized. For example, no employee of SIUC could have written this blog and survived (even if they did it nicely). Good places to work welcome the input of the employees, SIU goes after the people who try to improve the place and try to kill their spirit. This leads to the very best people leaving, even though it isn't in their financial interests to go.

It is such a shame, there are so many good people, so much talent, so much potential, but the results are not acceptable to me. Hopefully, they are acceptable to you either and you will step up and try to fix this formerly proud university.

It is such a shame to have leadership without a clue; it just destroys everything around it like a cancer.

Look how far I got without talking about fixing the football stadium, upgrading the Arena, or building the administive palace. Best undergraduate education should be the goal, marketing a sports message without real performance isn't going to work.

The Five Problems That SIU Can't Fix

  1. The students aren't as good coming out of high school as they would like.
  2. Funding is down to all public universities.
  3. Every student has a car, so the train isn't as important.
  4. SIU doesn't have the top physicics, chemistry, english, etc. department in the state.
  5. You can't change the past, so deal with the mess you inherited.

1. -
I hope it is clear to everyone by now that SIU students are not as prepared to be college students as students of the past. They have less skills in math, science, note taking, study habits, and reading than students of just 20 years ago. They do know more about Google, video games, cable channels, trying to study while doing IM, playing music, watching TV, surfing the net all at the same time then the old timers.

These changes in ability to learn what the college offers is a large problem. SIU should stop complaining about it and figure out how to address it.

2. -
Americans have decided to stop funding public universities at the almost 100% level of the past. Bummer.

A question might be why haven't the business people of Southern Illinois gone to Springfield and banged their fists on the table about this? The answer is the lack of accountability from the universities make it very hard to support them in this way.

3. -
If every student from Chicago has a car, then they don't ride the train to Carbondale. If you are driving, it is a lot cheaper to drive from Northern or Western.

4. -
SIU isn't U of I, and isn't going to have the top research in any major field unless someone drops a bomb on our State's land grant university. Get over it. SIU has lots of great people and does great things, but will never have the resources to play with the big boys.

It does have the resources to be the best undergraduate education provider in Illinois though.

5. -
SIU has been poorly managed since Morris got sick in the last 1960's. There hasn't been much building, there is lots of deferred maintenance to buildings, the staff has been poorly managed to the point they unionized. But, this is in the past.

Go work with what you have, there is plenty of talent, buildings and money to build something better. To do well an administrator will have to do the right things.

Illinois - Land of Corruption?

When you start writing about SIUC and their problems, you need to frame the discussion first with the environment of Illinois. By most measures Illinois is the most corrupt state in the USA. There are no campaign contribution limits (see Green party proposal to fix), most levels of government than any other state (someone tell me why Carbondale Township, Mosquito Abatement District, Park District, library, three elementary school systems and a high school system need to exist in the same little town?) where politicians can be parked on the taxpayer's pocketbook until they are ready to run for higher office. I'm not going to get into Chicago, it is bad, but I'm trying to ignore it.

Do we need to get into how many governors go to jail?

I feel that any position nominiated by the governor in Illinois is suspect. But the real question is why are Illinois' voters allowing this to happen?

Monday, September 25, 2006

Have I mentioned that I'm impressed with the new Dean of Business?

It is advisory board season over in CoBA and so I have seen our new Dean Cradit speak twice in about two weeks (note, he looks better in person than this mug shot. He looks like a runner in person and in this picture he looks as wide as I am. :) ). He is a marketing professor by trade and he says things that really impress me so far about marketing the college, managing people and understanding what his job is and how he has to work with the professors in business.

I have always enjoyed talking to Terry Clark (chairman of marketing in CoBA) and now there are at least two people who understand marketing at SIUC in management (not trying to slight the other marketing professors or the professors in Mass Comm who know this too, but they are just normal peons and not management).

Imagine replacing Sue Davis (named here as worst administrator of the year) with someone who really understands marketing. There are people out there who are real marketing pros, who know how to manage an organization, know web marketing, and everything else that is needed. SIU has a huge manpower commitment in Sue's empire, just imagine someone smart running it. Someone as good as Terry or Dennis. Someone who could draw on these pros for help.

In any case, maybe it is time for the boys in Anthony Hall to get some real marketing expertise online? They just hired a real pro, maybe they should allow him to help?

DE gets it right in today's editorial - Destroying the USG

I was going to blog about this, but realized that the DE had beat me to it. Like my earlier blog today about Wendler messing with the A/P Staff, this is just silly. The USG is really messed up, of that there is no doubt. But, if you are an educator hopefully you try to help the students fix the problems instead of destroying things.

Why does this administration feel that every problem should be solved by knocking thing to the floor and putting their foot on someone's throat? Do they have the NSA doing illegal wire taps too? Why can't the students make mistakes and then put processes in place to fix them?

Take it from me, the USG is just a learning tool for the students. It makes no difference in the big picture. High handed attempts to take it over and redo it as an arm of the SIUC administration is just silly and poor political policy. So they waste a few thousand dollars and fight in silly ways? Who cares?

Anyone know if other universities are killing off their student governments or if the is another "original" bad idea from Anthony Hall?

My ego is out of control! DE doing a story on this blog.

When I ran that business plan contest for 3 years the DE didn't cover it. When I started the DE didn't cover it. Paint the house, new child, talks on campus, Rec center membership, ear rebuild, nope, no DE coverage. Not only did I learn that Wendler is reading my blog, in addition DE coverage too.

I'm going to celebrate with the Graduate Business Association Invitation talk tonight in Rehn Hall #13. It is my VC talk again, but with my local celebrity status it should be SRO. :)

Wow - powerful letter to A/P Staff

I was sent this by a few people in the last few days. I think an amazing number of people are reading my little blog, don't you people have lives? Turns out my buddy Dave has been talking to Wendler and reports that Wendler is reading my blog. Go figure? Might be better to pay my consulting fee than get it free here? :)

Here is the link to the meeting minutes. I'm not smart enough to know if this is true or correct, but I am smart enough to know that management shouldn't try to power grab over things that don't matter. The idea is to have enough control to run the organization without pissing off the people who do the work.

I removed the writer of the letter's name, but you can dig it out if you want to.

Dear A/P Council:

I was confused to receive Council minutes from two meetings spaced by only nine days, August 16 and 25. Now that I have re-read the August 25 minutes, I surmise that a special meeting was called because of Chancellor Wendler's announcement of the "Excellence Through Commitment Awards Program."

Councilors Ashner, Bankester, and Curkin spoke candidly, and some might say bravely, about this latest diminution of the A/P Council's role in the representation and advancement of the A/P constituency. They asked how the constituents might feel if A/P Council were to forfeit to Anthony Hall its role of recognizing outstanding A/P staff.

This constituent objects very strongly. I also object to a practice that started while I was on A/P Council. With regard to A/P representation on important University committees, we were no longer permitted to submit our choice, but rather a slate from which the Chancellor would choose. As the minutes state, "This is more relinquishment of shared governance and the fact that it is being eroded on this campus."

As one of the early reviewers of this abomination called Southern at 150, I could see it coming. One section called for "empowering top-level administrators" and "eliminating unnecessary layers in the decision-making process." It has been softened somewhat in the sections Aspiration: Stability in Leadership and Governance and Aspiration: Develop Streamlined, Agile Administrative Structures but, really, how can anyone not recognize that language as foreshadowing a departure from constituency consultation and shared governance? Who do you think was an unnecessary layer?

And yet, people put on tuxedos and gowns and celebrated the ascendancy of the politburo.

Seeing as Ashner, Bankester, and Curkin have not minced words, I'll not mince them either. I recommend that A/P Council merely ignore the politburo's awards program and proceed with its own as usual. The A/P Outstanding Service Award may not be able to bestow money on the recipients any more, but I'd rather win recognition from my peers than filthy lucre anyhow.

I recommend that A/P Council speak forcefully on this issue. I think A/P is the last non-union constituency on campus, but it will not remain so for long the way things are going. The usurpations must stop.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Southern Way is Poshard plan right?

There is a comment from Fraydog in my last post (there are lots of good comments in there including someone that likes Uncle Walt! A first for any non-holy roller on this blog.) that I thought was worth pulling out and commenting about in the mail items.

Fraydog wrote, "I expect Poshard to kill off Saluki Way silently and gently not long after Wendler leaves."

My feeling is that Poshard made this plan, he told me it is his plan and when he took over he put his plan for 2001 back in place. As a new president he gets to go do something big without anyone complaining at him and he has chosen to do Saluki Way Phase 1 here in Carbondale. If you follow the press he is planning to build a new building or two on every campus. This is what he does, feed the labor unions and the best way to do that is to build big things.

Is there anyone who thinks this is Wendler's plan and somehow Poshard is going to do the right thing once Walt is gone? I don't think Wendler is leaving, he and Poshard are going to do a deal and he is going to be here for years. That is what Illinois politicians do right? Make deals and allow people to hang out and do nothing as long as they play ball.

Before hearing Poshard speak and asking him questions I hoped he had a clue, but he really wants his football stadium and he is going to issue bonds and get it unless someone really makes a stink.

I suspect all the BOT want it too, except Sam Goldman who seems to still have morals attached. Politically, when you are out voted 6 to 1 you have no choice but to stay almost silent.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Can SIU's new minority recruiting drive work?

When I heard Poshard speak last week, I bet he talked about minority recruitment and SIU's history of graduating black students for 1/3 of the time. It felt nice and he delivered it well. He said several times that SIU was going to recruit more black students because it was our heritage and seemed to indicate it would work. He also talked about pursuit of minority faculty.

Flash back in time to 1960 and SIU was one of the best universities to attend if you were black. Sure there was discrimination, but it wasn't a show stopper like it was in the South and on the East Coast. But the marketing secret is that no one else was doing it and being the only one allowed SIU to be the best.

Return to the present and SIU has a few departments that are world class, Auto Tech, Aviation Tech and the nuts and bolts side of Mass Comm (which reports indicate the dean is busy ripping apart). The reason these programs are so highly regarded is they have no real competition and they do good work. Is SIU's Chemistry Department any good? Sure, but world class? Not by a long shot. In any area that SIU goes directly for the brass ring and that market is understood and estabilshed, the chances for world class or even above averageresults are very small. This is because of location, size, money, history, etc.

When you start looking into minority student recruitment, every university in the country is trying to get their minority student headcount up. Black and Hispanic students with reasonable test scores and grades are in short supply if you compare those populations with Asian descent or White students. The type of students who used to come to SIU because there was no where else to go, now get scholarships to U of I, Harvard, U of Chicago and Northwestern. It isn't cheaper to come to SIU and so they go to the school with the better brand. With the demand for qualified black students exceeding the supply at the moment, it is going to be hard to grow SIUC's numbers by attracting qualified black students.

Finally got a holy roller to comment about a post!

Here is the original post.

At 7:01 AM, Anonymous saidÂ…

As someone who is familiar with Dr Wendler and the ethical and moral stands he takes, it is plainly obvious as to why he seems to be constantly under attack. SIU as a university has a certain reputation, and it hasn't really been a reputation for high moral standards. Dr. Wendler has quite likely put some of the higher ups in an uncomfortable position as it became clear that he didn't follow the same moral standards in his personal life. These allegations need to be put to rest immediately, and those who seek to bring down Dr. Wendler should take off their blinders and recognize the gem that SIU has.

Doug Wood

I feel like an accepted member of Southern Illinois society now that I have been told Walt is a "gem". :)

Doug,Doug, Doug, you don't get it. It may matter once you are dead if you live your life to the highest moral standards, but I thought it was God's job to judge people and not yours or Uncle Walt's? No one above Uncle Walt in the pecking order is giving him a hard time compared to his results. In a real company he would have been fired years ago.

The problem isn't Walt's morals as they relate to the 10 commandments and Bible. Wendler's problem is his performance in his job is bad. He is hurting the university that he is paid to help. He doesn't have a clue about how to fix any real issues, so he is going to build a few buildings and fail as the leader of SIUC. I'm going to give you that he has a tough job, but he is paid the big bucks to succeed anyway.

Let's go over the marketing to new students issues. SIUC is the worst university in the state and I think it is fair to say the country at attracting students. The don't have a PR budget, they don't have marketing collateral, they don't have recruiters, they have a declining enrollment that has been going on for years. Since students are 95% of the money coming into SIU, having their numbers decline is a really bad thing. When was Uncle Walt going to start working on this problem? Where was the sense of urgency? The analysis of the problems and movement on fixing it? This is a complete failure of his management team.

Mark my words, in 10 years Wendler will be remembered as one of the worst, if not the worst chancellor in the history of the SIU system. He just doesn't get what higher education is about and he is blowing SIUC apart through his incompetence.

Doug - I know he would be a great neighbor, but he is bad at his job. If Walt loved SIU, he would step down and save the university from having to fire him.

Alumni Giving and the 50% rule

I have been the target of many fund raising campaigns in the last few years. After management creates the idea of raising funds for some purpose, they generally poll the insiders about giving money and finally hire a consultant to poll a wider group of potential big givers. When you announce the fund raising campaign you must have 50% of your goal pledged or the non-profit will fail to meet their goal or even come close.

When we examine the Southern Way fund raising from alumni, we see a complete failure. They went to the state and asked for money and got nothing. The did a capital campaign and polled the big giving alumni a few years ago (the consultant talked to me) and found no support. The plan they put to me was pretty much exactly the Southern Way plan being pushed today. As I remember I told the consultant that if they built a $50M football stadium before fixing the academic problems on campus they would never see another dime from me.

If you hear an administrator tell you the alumni want a football stadium, it would be correct to ask them how much money they have given? You would be safe in knowing the alumni have given nothing and will give nothing to Saluki Way.

There is the big lie about giving to Southern at 150 fund raising. SIU receives gifts and puts it into their foundation (which is going a pretty good job), but that is money SIU deserves to get and has been getting, not money given for the Southern Way or Southern at 150. SIU was going to get that money anyway. It isn't Southern at 150's vision that is getting that money, it just needs to be picked from the trees.

If the alumni are giving zero and the state is giving zero, then who is going to have to pay? Why the students of course.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SIU's pesky BOT makes Wendler look to the student purse again

Since the BOT thinks that phase 1 of Saluki Way shouldn't be all about football and basketball stadium, plus a building so Uncle Walt can see his new toys from this new office, they added a $25M building for "core classes." After going back to the office and running the numbers it was decided that in order to get the bonds to go, their needed to be more revenue. Student fees are going up again to make it all work.

My phase 1 plan is the $25M core building, a $5 bandaid for the football stadium and $40M to fix up classroom all around campus, $20M Arena fix up and $4M for faculty salaries. Of course, if you let me in charge, professors that retire in place would be seeing their research results published in the DE and class schedules that were a creative reminder that management can still screw with you even if you have tenure. Note to the reader - I own a management spine which the SIU administration doesn't seem to have. :)

A fat target - Carbondale Park District Pool

In an area with so many wasteful and mismanaged public sector organizations the Carbondale Park District really stands out. They burn through a huge amount of money every year, have first class everything on the tax payer's money, have a huge expensive golf course that is a sink hole of red ink, public fighting between the board members, bad budgets and it goes on and on.

I got a survey about the new pool from the Pork District the other day. The survey is so poorly done, it is hard to know where to begin. They don't say any of the facts in their mailer, for example they don't tell you the plan that was picked from the pool companies would cost $6M if there weren't over runs and costs didn't go up. The also know they will lose somewhere around $300k to $500k per year on the pool after the first few years, when the maintenance needs to kick in. Not only don't they have the money to build it, but they will lose money each year, forever!

Then they go on and ask who should run it? If a pool is built, everyone with half a brain would choose anyone but the Carbondale Pork District!

I have been planning to write about this in detail, but just to point out the obvious, of the 26,000 people the Carbondale Park District has in the district, around 20,000 of them have free access to the pools on the SIUC campus. In fact, if you subtract the students Carbondale area (houses served by CCHS, Carbondale, Unity Point and Giant City schools) has a population of around 12,000, excluding students from SIUC.

How about instead of building a pool, instead we find the 6,000 people who can't use the REC center and buy them memberships for life? We find 50 kids per year and give them $10,000 college scholarships?

If they want to build a $2M watering hole that hosts a summer swim team and stuff like that I'm likely for it, assuming you can find some trustworthy organization to run it. Dressing room of cinder block walls and minimal flair it would be about what we can afford. A chance in heck it wasn't going to turn into a money pit would be even better.

Bad survey, bad organization, bad history. Please join me in shouting down the idiots at the Pork District. Clearly they are nice people without a clue and piss poor performance.

Someone has suggested a problem with this blog

I got a suggestion that my blog has a negative tone and I should lighten it up. A question for the crowd, when discussing Carbondale business or SIUC is there anything to be upbeat about?

Yes, there are a large number of underpaid, intelligent and nice people here. It is a great place to raise your kids too. But as SIUC has coasted downhill into its current sad state, it doesn't leave much that is uplifting to discuss. Should I be celebrating that a professor who is pretty well paid to teach and do research does it? The free state money given to people who made campaign contributions large enough? Our many levels of government, each setup to stop business owners from doing business here?

The business community is completely dependent on SIUC for service money. I hear that School Center is doing well, but the scope of that is fairly limited to the local economy since their pay scale seems to be low. CCS is doing well, as is SIH. The combination of lack of jobs that allow managers to mature while still in the area and dearth of experienced talent makes starting up or recruiting outside companies difficult. We produce very little beyond education for college students and the swishing around of money in town to pay for services. We also expertly provide the standard American pallet of goods and services for sale at normal prices.

What should we be happy about at SIUC and/or our local business community? If there isn't much to be happy about, why aren't you trying to fix it?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Math Placement - A comment to good not to share.

I blogged about Poshard's talk to the CoBA advisory board and mentioned that SIU is the only university in Illinois that doesn't test and place incoming students in math. Since Dr. Poshard told us that a problem that many students have is passing math and science requirements, I suggested that placing everyone in the correct math class would be a good idea. Everyone knows if you are doing math and don't know the perquisite you are dead right?

A math professor at SIU was kind enough to comment about this in that blog entry and here is what he said,


There is a math placement test. Coverage and enforcement are spotty. I got the Math Dept to put up a web page with math placement info and arranged, with the help of Tom Calhoun the Associate Provost for Academic Affairs, many advising web pages link to it. Here is the link:

We are planning some changes to broaden coverage to transfer students; these need to be approved by the Math Dept.

However, compare this with what they have at Illinois State and you will see how far we have to go.

Thank you for a really clear example of what SIU should do. SIU should take the Illinois State webpage and make it their new rules. You take a test unless your ACT score is 27 and they tell you what classes you will take.

BTW - if you are an administrator and don't understand about plagiarism, if you steal the Illinois State rules, just note where you got them and you will be OK. ;)

If you are wondering why SIU is getting it's butt kicked by every other university in the state on enrollment, maybe this simple commitment to educational quality will help you understand what needs to be done. I wish my business was so clear and straight forward. If your kids are looking into colleges, which one of Mike's example webpages says quality to you?

Is the SIUC faculty's magic number $4M?

I have heard that to move all the faculty at SIU to salaries in the norm for their peers at schools like SIU would cost $4M per year. I'm generally feel that if you don't like where your workplace, go find a new job, but universities are different because so much of the total compensation is retirement fund based.

Have no doubt, the very best professors leave SIU because of money all the time. There isn't much movement, but what there is comes from the best 5% of performers on campus IMHO.



This post is for all of you that don't think incoming SIU students should be tested and placed in the correct classes.

Ever wonder why math has the lowest GPA on campus? This is what they are working with.

Faculty salaries - financial analysis series

Yesterday I wrote about my estimated $49M of additional tuition revenue that SIU is scheduled to make because of their continued tuition increases. Today, I thought I would touch on faculty salaries and the few numbers I have heard about them.

Yesterday I was reading the DE and came across a letter from Tony Williams Professor of English. Dr. Williams claims that if you exclude chairmen, former administrators and new Southern at 150 super hires that the average full professor is under paid by $20k per year compared to a chart the DE published. If his claim is true that SIU did indeed release numbers to the DE about professor's salaries that included much higher paid managers to make them look better they should be ashamed of themselves.

In my fire the chairmen series of posts I already blogged about chairmen being paid at a minimum 40% more when they get the job and are given much larger raises than normal professors.

Counting the former administrators who are working out their golden parachutes really stinks. For example, if your department has a former administrator who is making $200k+ per year, think about how that drives up the average salary?

Question - are chairmen included in the raise budget that has been batted around in the papers? How much of the total raise for a department do they get with their "different raise ladder?"

Isn't it time that the local press educated themselves on the issues and started to report something that looks like the truth instead of administration spin?

Monday, September 18, 2006

Washerz World Championship tournament

I went down to the Carbondale Pigout on Saturday and caught the finals of the Washerz World Championship. Here is a nice shot I took of Ray Lenzi being the MC and commissioner on a really fine fall day.

It was fun to watch the really good players get to the finals and when Ray started to do a play by play they had trouble hitting the box.

Good work Ray, hopefully you will have the next Hold'm Poker phenomena. Just need to figure out that pocket cam and remove most of the skill. :)

Power point slides from my VC talk

Click the title if you want to see them. Gave this talk to a couple of classes last week and wanted to publish the slides.

Lost of posts today, may have to go on vacation. :)

Shortage of software engineers

A friend from Seattle sent me this article. If we don't create a culture of people who want to make things we are going to be in trouble. I recently had a journalist tell me that computer programming was a good career path anymore, made me burst into laughter.

It looks like the enrollment downturn at SIU has finally woken up the administration they have a real problem. I wonder what it will take to get our country to do the same about our shortage of engineers?

Is there a Silver Bullet for SIU?

In software we talk about a Silver Bullet that is one shot will solve all your problems. They really don't exist, but I was wondering if there was an easy solution to SIUC's problems.

I think the only thing that would really help SIUC by itself would be the K-12 schools systems to teach the kids to work, the way it was 30 years ago. I know they can't do it without the parents, but wouldn't that be great if the students who showed up for college had some experience doing things that are important for being a scholar?

Maybe this would be a more productive area for concerned citizens to spend their time?

I love this link from Wendler's job interview.

A comment contained this link from the DE when Wendler was interviewing. I love the quote -

"If you want to know what someone thinks, look at the check they write," he said.

Do you think the alumni checks toward Saluki Way indicate the level of support SIU is getting on that program?

In terms of goals for the next five years, Wendler said he would continue a strategic plan and work to create a national image emphasizing SIUC's strengths.

If everything works as planned, he said the University should be reaping the benefits by the 10-year mark.

"Ten years out I guess we would all be happy and fat," he said.

Would it be right that our 5 year plan for building an image on our strengths would be focused on plagiarism from the top administrators and their speech writers? Maybe he decided to skip this one until later? If anyone from SIU is reading this you could buy click ads on Google to attract students, but your webpage would have to not stink then.

Check out his ideas of the big problems at SIUC -

Another essential part of fund-raising Wendler spoke of is the University's image. Two major image issues facing SIU are the recent questions surrounding minorities and the Carbondale Police and well-publicized debauchery of Halloween festivities.

Nothing better than someone who thinks they should stop student parties by making them go underground and fix police based racial discrimination in Southern Illinois. It is better not having the students destroy the businesses on the strip, we everyone knew how to stop it before, stop selling booze to students for a few days.

Let me suggest that SIU's image problems revolve around recruiting more students, employee vs. management relationship issues, quality of students, loss of the best and most ambitions faculty to other universities, management of employees (i.e. getting the employees to give an honest day's work and rewarding employees fairly and with merit.) and a crumbling infrastructure of 1950's era buildings without sufficient maintenance budget. Maybe the biggest problem SIUC has is the lack of a business community to support and guide it, university administrators are so dense about the real world.

It is about results, image is skin deep.

Saluki Way - bond payment and how much more SIUC is making these days.

One of the problems I have with Saluki Way is that SIUC's current administration seems highly incompetent by almost any measure. I don't think you can begin to consider investing your money with them. Now Glenn Poshard is a different matter, he is good (even if I'm willing to ask him questions that are hard to answer in public). Poshard seems to be willing to stake his professional reputation on building all these buildings at SIUC. I started running the numbers, trying to figure out if they can afford to do it.

Simple bond idea - $100,000,000 loan at 5.5% over 20 years. $5.5M payment per year, balloon on year 20 for the initial loan $100M plus $5.5M. Or you can pay back interest, plus $5M per year over 20 years and have money left over (interest part will go down over time as you make principle payments). Can SIU afford $10M or so payments on Phase 1 of Saluki Way? I'm pretty sure they can, let's figure out how much they have increased revenue over the last few years.

SIU has a tuition calculator on their webpage (it kind of sucks because they give you a spread sheet output, but don't allow you to save it as CDF. Every accountant and business person must be nashing their teeth. :)). Looks like tuition and fees are $3220.50 for Fall 2005 if you enrolled in 2004. If you enrolled in Fall 2005 for Fall 2005 the bill is $3415.50. If you enrolled in Fall 2005 for Fall 2006 it is $3648.45. If you enrolled prior to 2005 you are looking at $3663.45. $3220.50 to $3648.45? I tell you 13% here and 13% there and soon you are looking at real money. SIU wasn't kind enough to include historical tuition rates on their webpage, so let's guess at them so we can figure out how much money is coming in - let's call the increases 25% over the previous to years. By my guess the tuition and fee numbers were $2415 two years before in 2003 ($3220.50 * .75).

Today's base is $3648.45 and 2003's $2415 so the difference is $1233.45. Wow! That is a number! My rough estimate is that SIUC is taking in $1233 per student each forward going semester starting now compared to 2003. Assume 40,000 full-time semesters (20,000 Fall and Spring and Summer I'll give them for free as a rounding error) and you get around $49,000,000 per year of extra revenue.

I need to get on with my day, so later today or tomorrow I will estimate how much in additional expenses SIUC has and guestimate how much additional money is in Uncle Walt's piggy bank. I'm thinking that $10M per year on Saluki Way phase 1 is in the bag.

$49M of additional revenue and about 3% increased salary base per year? Sounds like SIUC might be flush with extra cash doesn't it?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Caleb's column on Friday and the Saluki Way

I swear the Southern Illusion's website needs a new search, the one they have now stinks. I was looking for Caleb Hale's article about student spending and poor students and couldn't find it to include the link here (sorry). Caleb wrote an interesting piece on student spending and why students have large student debts (car, eat out everyday, video games and pretty soon you run into real money). He had a conclusion that I don't agree with that was if the students spend so much on crap, how can anyone be too poor for College. Don't take my word for this, the experts (at least the ones that don't get paid by the Republican Party) tell us as you raise college fees, you start to exclude more and more people. Just because this doesn't effect 90% or 70% or 50% doesn't mean you don't price many out.

You know what you get when you price people out of college don't you? Young person problems like the Middle East, no not blowing things up, but high unemployment rate, negative savings, lack of hope for a better future. We don't want to go there.

The think I really like about Caleb's piece is he started to pick apart the financial end of being a modern college student. I feel he was right on the money with his ideas that students are spending like there is no tomorrow and then complaining about how well they did it. I guess if your parents spend every cent, you feel that is your family's way of managing money? Someone who is a keener observer of college students than I said, "they all want to be players."

I was inspired by the idea of financial analysis and thought I would start to figure out the numbers behind the Saluki Way program. We know one thing for sure, that Glenn Poshard thinks he can afford it between today and when he retires by floating bonds. I'm going to start attaching numbers to these financials and see if we can figure out how much money they are going to blow before they have no chance to improve education.

Observation about SIU basketball players around town

What is the story with these guys? They sure don't act like basketball players I remember from my college days. Saw Tony Young and a taller and thin young man outside of Walmart (I'll blog on my feelings about that sometime) on Saturday raising money for some charity or another. They represented themselves really well. Looked you in the eye, said thank you and were well spoken.

Ran into another couple of players in line in the store about a week before. Bigger and taller, must be forwards or centers. On of my kids was darting around and went around a corner and ran into the big guys. They where well spoken as well and friendly. Didn't really know they were SIU players, but there are a limited amount of 6'8" college students.

My question for you readers out there is does SIU have a special program to train their athletes? Of course there are getting tutors and mentoring help on class work and academics. But, are they getting toast masters, speech classes and the like. Is SIU running a finishing school, or are the coaches not recruiting dummies? I have talked to the SIU student population and I know it isn't that the kids all talk like this, because they don't or can't.

I don't see how it is possible that they aren't pumping money into a finishing school program to smooth out the edges on the athletes. I wonder if they should do it on every student on campus?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Poshard Talk - CoBA and SIUC athletics or are great sport teams the answer?

I really like dealing with the college of business, they actually seem to value their EAB, have good people on their EAB, have interesting talks, want input and accept help when it is offered.

There were two talks of note - Glenn Poshard talked about the state of the university and of course the new business dean talked for an hour (a few comments on him later, but a good start from the new dean. Seems to have his head screwed on straight).

I like Poshard's talk in general. He talked about how SIU needs to reach out to the surrounding communities, talked about getting more competitive in politics and for students, about how some students come to universities are here for years, max out their loans and don't get a degree. He talked about how the public university movement started 150 years ago and how as a society we have decided to make all universities private by cutting funding to public schools. Since so much of our national wealth can be traced back to our public research universities you have wonder if this is a good thing. It was a good talk from a good man.

I asked Poshard if he had heard that CCHS and other local high schools had no SIUC literature to hand out to students. He talked about how he did know they were doing a poor job and talked about how he was working on fixing it. Good for him.

Poshard also talked about how SIU really needed to work hard to attract minority students that had better test scores, but they were in high demand. No joke. I guess trying would be a good idea, but I don't expect a student to come here and turn down Harvard or U of I.

Personally, I don't like the sequence of money spent on Saluki Way. Follow along on some assumptions - first you stop doing any maintenance of note on all existing buildings to save money and you jack up student tuition and fees. Let's call the amount of money going into the piggy bank $20M per year (an educated guess, but maybe someone knows the real number?). So you start building with a $20M a year budget and you do football, arena, administration building and general classroom building (assume it is another Lawson Hall) for $120M. We can expect another $30M in overruns, plus they always lie about costs at SIUC and suck in money from "other lines" to cover expenses. So that is about 7 or 8 years at $20M per year. Now you start on phase 2 in 2014 or so. In the mean time you have starved all of the 1950's and 60's era buildings of maintenance updates for over 10 years. Seems like you are on the road to heck with this plan.

Since there are less students attending SIU than there used to be, we know there is enough room under roof to house all the programs. The classrooms need to be updated almost everywhere. Many old buildings have desks and chairs from the 1960's still. If you go into Quigley Hall (the old Home Ec. Building), old Engineering building or Faner you can see corners are being cut. There is no internet, no computers with overhead capacity, no WiFi and power plugs, etc in classrooms on SIUC campus. It seems that going down the current Southern Way path without a magic amount of funding added from somewhere to do maintenance, it could go very bad for SIUC in the midterm. As everyone knows, once you start skipping maintenance it starts to get super expensive to get building right.

The best case way that academics would like to have their buildings is something like the
Trout-Whitman building attached to the Arena. A place for students to gather, study in groups, and work on problems. The model from 1960 of the small cinderblock office for professors, narrow hallways and no space for anything else isn't optimum anymore.

I went ahead and asked Poshard straight out about these spending priorities and he dances really well. He told us that we have to replace the football stadium, but I suspect it would be much cheaper to fix the one we have and replacement is thing we want. He said we have to replace the bleachers in the arena because older people don't want to sit on bleachers. I think updating the arena make some sense, but I kind of thought these games were for students. He went into the dream of moving all the people out of the houses that SIU has been buying up for the last 30 years and doing no maintenance on near Oakland and Elizabeth. I can tell you right now that class A space will not make those employee's work harder, good management will. I think that all these buildings are a great idea if you can afford them, but none of them is going to help to fix academic problems.

I also asked him if students are having trouble getting their math requirements completed, why doesn't SIU administer a test for incoming students and place them in the correct classes for their skills? He wouldn't touch that one. For the record, every other university in Illinois requires a math pretest and places their students in the right class for their skills. Why doesn't SIU do it too? Many, many students are taking math classes several times and are enrolled in classes that they can not pass because they simply don't have the skills. If you want to put your finger on the number 1 reason that students take longer to work through SIUC these days, start here.

I thought Poshard's remarks that the grade schools and high schools weren't producing students that were university ready at a high enough rate was right on the money. Watch your kids, if you don't it could be no one will.

I'm fairly sure that none of these moves are going to give the CoBA a space to attract students that is competitive with SIUC's peer universities. Why is it that we care about being competitive in sports recruiting and not in academics? Maybe this is why the football and basketball teams are doing well and SIUC's number of students is down? Could it be that when management spends all their time and money on sports that academics suffer?

To be fair, without Whitman's generous gift, the athletic departments are SIU would be really hurting.

I keep hearing that sports are good for PR at SIUC and how winning teams really make the difference. But our main teams are doing better than any other university in Illinois and all other universities have increasing enrollment. Could it be that academic results are more important than sports at a university? You know, the product the university produces is more important than the marketing sizzle?

The new business dean said something like this in his talk today, you need both the message and the results to have good marketing. I wonder, does anyone think the results from SIUC are good enough? It maybe time to wonder if the marketplace is trying to tell us something.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mentoring program for SIU students

I know that I have called this one of Wendler's good management initiatives, but I went to lunch with the new College of Business Dean (Dennis Cradit) yesterday and we were talking about this program a little bit.

I thought back to my student days and realized that I didn't want to talk to a professor about school, I wanted to talk to a senior. My big brother was a couple of years ahead of me and he clued me in on how to do SIU. Which professors to take and which to avoid, which classes to take for electives (Harold's class for example), where the girl's hung out, and how to sign up for intramural sports. The important stuff.

After mentioning this to the Dean, he said that CoBA had a program in Accounting for student to student mentoring. I talked to some people at work, they told me that journalism has some student mentoring going.

I'm not the smartest knife in the drawer, but does it seem to anyone else that the administration didn't do their homework here? At least two of the better departments on campus have mentoring programs. I wonder if student to students a better solution than professor to student mentoring? Seems like a survey of best practices might be in order (again).

SIUC's WAG report

Here is a link to a copy of the WAG report someone sent me. I'm assuming that since the tax payers footed the bill I am free to put it on my server and link to it. The interesting thing about this document is that it only covers the technical side of the house, and excludes everyone else. You can read that the Southern at 150 is challenging and all the hype.

I want the report that was done for everyone else that shows how they can improve. If you have it send it over.

After reading this report, I don't think I would have done what the SIUC administration did.

The two groups that have big upside that are getting no external funding are CS and CE (a sub-department of EE). I would have attacked those areas first, looking at their management and how to upgrade results. The great thing about improving CS and CE is that there is student demand and jobs for those students after graduation at every level. Clearly EE is broken too, but fixing the management in CE would kill two birds with one stone.

Instead of going this way, SIUC administration decided to fix chemistry and physics. Rumor has it that John Koropchak has a mission to build chemistry above all other departments and he has been pushing lots of money into that area. The problem is that adding professors to those areas might get you research money, but there is no student demand.

The hard part about management is to look at documents like this report and figure out the right thing to do. For we poor folk in the real world, we don't get reports like this that clearly suggest directions to improve and it can be really hard to figure a direction. It is a lot easier to attack the weakest areas, with the most upside instead of messing with average departments. After the weak areas are fixed up, then move on to the next weakest. That is a receipt for the real world.

When university administrators talking about running their school like a business, it quickly becomes clear that they have no idea how to run a business. Lack of skills, knowledge and experience are just killers in the business world. It might be better if university administrators ran their schools like a school, that way they would be just a little out of their depths.

If you view the world as a place where you only have a limited amount of free money, quickly you figure out you should spend you free money on the areas that can help the most. Clearly, building great research departments that can not attract students is a mistake.

A late applogy to Nate Brown

I have been reading the Daily Egyptian for the last few years and wondering what the heck Nate Brown was up to. We knew student government wasn't that effective at SIU, but that is a pretty normal situation. Old Nate has been busy trying to blow up the student government the last few years and getting dumped on by the other students.

After reading today's story in the DE about the student government for taking Brad Cole to task for doing his job, I have to think that old Nate is right and USG is nuts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Best and Worst SIUC administrators for 2006?

I realized that if you are going to write a blog like this one that you need to have some milestones to guide you along your way. After seeing the big two page ads in the Southern and DE about SIU for excitement through excellence (or whatever it is called) that we need some independent awards too. It isn't the end of the year, but let's throw out my front runners for best and worst performing administrators.

My front runner for best administrator is Ricky McCurry. He has two things going for him, first he seems to be doing a good job selling and raising money for SIU and there aren't really many administrators that I can see doing a good job. The entire SIU endowment is $100M at the end of FY2005 vs. $74M at the end of FY2003. I think Ricky has a hard job and seems to be headed in the right direction.

A clear winner as worst administrator isn't Walter Wendler, my pick thus far is Sue Davis. Sue really stands out at the person who wrote the speech for Wendler that had the plagiarized passages, for implementing the horrible SIUC website and silly rules associated with it, and in her worst performing area owns marketing and PR for SIUC. Can you imagine that she owns marketing the university, but has not done any of the work required to do an average job after 5, 6, 7 years of being in charge? I can't figure out where the webpage for the Media & Communication Resources-SIUC group is located, but Sue has a lot of people working for her and the wide responsibility that allow her freedom to implement programs. On results, Sue Davis is my front runner for worst administrator.

I'm leaning toward John Haller for the biggest lie by an administrator for 2006. $40k for Poshard's Inauguration? Ha! Again, I have no problem with the party, just the lie.

Who else might be up for best or worst? What other categories should there be?

Somebody is lying - more on SIUC plagiarism - plus the bad news and good news.

The Southern has chosen not to put it on their website, but there is an interesting article by Caleb Hale today on the top of the front page (you can read most of it without buying a copy by looking through the glass on the machine). He did the face to face with Wendler and as far as I can tell Walt calls the charges against him a lie. He says the comparison is against working documents and not the final stuff (or something like that). He also says he isn't going to apologize anyhow.

I just don't care enough to go figure out the moral, legal and personal implications of these charges, but I can tell you that someone is lying. Should be interesting to see who it is.

I guess in the bad news is that the university is still poorly managed, the professor who was fired is still fired, the PR blackeye is still there (but they did spell SIU right, so that is something), the faculty are still underpaid and feel unloved, the plans for the university are to build buildings they don't need with money they don't have.

The good news is SIU is full of good people trying to do the right thing, there really aren't that many jerks to move out if you did get real management, the budget for this year and the next 10 are going to be paid by the state, the basketball team looks good, and it is fall in Southern Illinois.

In total, life is pretty good. Count your blessings, you could be the failing manager of a very large organization.

Monday, September 11, 2006

International students down? B

The DE makes a nice try at covering the problem SIU is having with declining enrollment of international students. It is interesting that they write it is a national problem, but discuss the local issues.

The national issues limiting international students clearly started with the post 9/11 rules limiting visas. For many years, international students came to study and took an option on staying to work. I hear they are going to open up the visas now and they have greatly expanded the number of Saudi student visas for next year. It is good to have oil.

The USA used to be the most respected country in the world. Our current president will go down as the worst foreign policy president in history and it has hurt our standing. If the students don't think much of our country, why should they come over here to study?

Because we have chosen as a society to not support higher education at the levels we have in the past, out of state tuition is way higher than it has been historically and as the DE article says, there are less work opportunities.

Hopefully the next president and/or congress will get their acts together and fix these problems. Can't be hard, just fall back to 1995 or so and do what Clinton did.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

More about placement and CoBA's works harder

I was writing a little blog entry over on my other blog about innovation and was looking for the link of the SIUC CoBA's Innovation Center. I couldn't find it, but I did run across this little article about CoBA's placement center.

Check out their "extern" numbers. Now I know that a week long externship over spring break isn't as good as a full summer internship, but still it is a week long interview for the student. I bet lots of them get jobs at the company they did the externship.

I was trying to figure out if there were so many majors in business that this really isn't a fine result, but the numbers going from 38 to 57 in a couple of years speaks for itself.

Anyone know where the COLA people are going to do externships? Are they all coming out of rehab and doing work with CCS or something?

Is this child abuse or just bad parenting?

Check out this from Wired Magazine. The kid plays violent video games up to 6 hours every day!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Southern's editorial today seems skin deep.

I thought that Caleb Hale did a nice job in his piece in the Southern today, I noted in the last blog entry (Carbondale, Illinois - Business and SIU Commentary: Seems like Poshard's section has problems too.) that he seems to be missing a pretty important part of the story. There have been times where the SI has treated me kindly, so I guess I shouldn't complain.

I have a nit to pick with "Questions about Southern at 150 need answers" By James Bennett where he wrote - "In July, the group accused Wendler and SIUE Chancellor Vaughn Vandegrift of plagiarism in speeches." Just to be clear both Wendler and Vaughn did give speeches where some speech writer did indeed commit plagiarism. Both men apologized in public and said something like that their speech writer did it or their dog ate their homework or something silly like that. I Japan they would have resign in shame, but that is one of the reasons that the USA is a better place to live. Been trying to figure out why these gentlemen need speech writer every since. There is a big difference between accusing and being publicly proven to be correct. If "the group" was on top it might have read - the group has a history of finding real plagiarism problems at SIU and making them public. We have yet to see them accuse anyone without being correct.

I liked his observation about
Poshard moving to get in front of this by appointing a panel to investigate and not being blackmailed.

Where I think that both articles missed the mark -

Neither article pointed out that the Walter's Way building project is going to be voted on by the SIU Board of Trustees next week. Seems like a bad time to be voting on a plan that is based on a potentially plagiarized Texas University plan instead of one written here in Illinois. I'm fairly sure that a football stadium would be job 1 in Texas, even before text books for children. Here in Illinois, maybe we think we should hug our traditional SIUC values of Basketball, partying and academics (I'm just an alumni, what do I know?). Generally, when the champion falls like this it is hard to accomplish their plans. Wonder what the board will do, this is going to burn more money than SIU has and religate academics to a secondary role for 10 to 20 years.

In large organizations you often find a fall guy in times like this and dump all the blame on them. Even though I think Wendler has done a poor job for the last 5 years, I don't think it is fair to blame him alone. It seems hard to believe that no one in the administration, who worked so hard on Southern at 150" (can I put a :) here?) didn't know they were ripping off an existing plan. Unless Wendler wrote the whole thing himself as if my magic, they must have known. Didn't anyone on the search committee that hired Wendler know about Vision 2020
and notice they were almost same plan? Should be interesting if the smoking gun memo turns up from someone who did notice and was told to be quiet.

The big questions in my mind are how it is possible that no one noticed. If someone did notice, was management pressure put on to silence state employees (which would be heading toward a legal crisis). Who was on the chancellor position search committee, that didn't end up reading Vision 2020 and Southern at 150? Can we assume that the next search committee will be all new people? What will the board do next week about this unaffordable building project. The BOT doesn't think that football, basketball and administrators are the heart of the university are they?

Side note to my fellow blogger Dave, two unethical things in one post! Both plagarism, but that is what is there today. That is as many good management initiatives as I have come up so far. Check out my art blog for an example of one of my management initiatives at Where we can't have a better search than Google, we are trying to have the best search of any art website. I have a few more initiative coming soon (I like to win). My only unethical things for the last couple of months is that I'm going to DQ for dinner tonight and haven't been to the gym in 5 weeks. :)

Should be a fun week.

Seems like Poshard's section has problems too.

I don't know if the Southern Illusion has access to the article in the Chronicle or not, but I'm surprised they didn't point out that either the work Poshard's subcommittee did was discarded and plagiarized documents were inserted in their place or...
Mr. Poshard himself was involved in creating the "Southern at 150" plan. He served as chairman of the "phase zero" advisory committee when he was the campus's vice chancellor for administration in 2001. Several sections of documents prepared by that committee appear to be a nearly verbatim copy of a part of Texas A&M's Vision 2020 called "The Baseline."
This quote is from the Chronicle's article that someone was nice enough to send me. I would publish the whole thing here, but I don't have legal rights. :)

I don't know if you remember my post (Carbondale, Illinois - Business and SIU Commentary: Let me explain the game.) about how newspapers really don't want to do news, they just want to make money these days? I don't see how you can report this story and not mention this detail. It does really muddy the waters about everyone's motivation.

I think the SI got it wrong in their editorial coverage today, but that is a different post.

Friday, September 08, 2006

What did SIU stand for in the Morris years? What does it stand for now?

I was only 8 in 1970, that isn't old enough to understand what going on as it happened. Clearly SIU was a great place then, on the way up and the second jewel in the crown of Illinois universities.

As SIUC transformed from a 5000 student teacher's college to a 20,000+ student full service university. Looking back on it now I think we can hit some of the highlights of the marketing story.
  • Wide open opportunities to be first, build something, a new frontier.
  • Rank based on merit and leadership.
  • Oriented to people and performance.
  • Growth and excitement.
  • Small town living, great parties, nice people.
  • High standards and excellent results.
Now -
  • Focus on buildings and not people.
  • Rank based on royalty (sorry administration) position or one of the chosen departments and not merit.
  • Management based, not leadership based.
  • Spending cuts, tuition increases and uncertain results.
  • Standards are secondary to retention.
  • SIU graduates are no longer top tier hires.
Can you imagine Delyte Morris choosing to take his pot of money and spending 150% of it on buildings? Where is the leadership of sweet talking a famous researcher and bring them to SIU? Where is the superstar system that Morris used to build great departments? Where is the leadership asking people to do better, defining what better is and giving them the tools to do it?

We have heard that Glenn Poshard is this leader and maybe he is. But Poshard is still tied to the Illinois political system pretty tightly. On Monday, the BOT will approve the Saluki Way madness and that is only happening if Poshard approves it. I guess the good news is that his name will be first on the brass plaques.

Breaking news - SIUC's administrators make headlines in Journal of Higher Ed.

I don't have a subscription, but if you do click here. The headline is "Plagiarism Hunters at Southern Illinois U. Say Campus's Strategic Plan Was Lifted." I am not as smart as the administrators at SIUC, but it seems that the article implies that the entire process of doing Southern at 150 was a sham. All the committee meetings, all the hours volunteered, all the staff time and money were just thrown down the drain?

If this goes supernova do you think those Southern at 150 pins will be worth good money on eBay? :)

Good thing Uncle Walt isn't unethical isn't it? Is it illegal too, or just unethical when you rip off your former employer and pass it off as your own work?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Going to be blogging about the EE department soon, so thought this might warm things up.

Someone sent me this article.

When the EE chair cancelled the EAB meeting last year I was wondering what would happen. I guess if there is a claim of a working EAB with regular meetings that someone might do well as a whistle blower? It is a good story, I'll try to get it written up tomorrow.

It isn't often you get a random email and get to link it to a future blog. :)

I hear they are redoing the Computer Science curriculum

I wanted to start writing about how SIUC could start to turn itself around. Might was well start with my old department of Computer Science. Turns out one of the programmers who works for me part-time has been invited to help review the CS curriculum and he wanted to know what I thought.

A little history, when I was a CS major in 1980-84, they had 1000 majors. They have 100 or so now. The department has no external funding for research (or certainly are underachieving in a big way). The chairman to his credit served for a few years and stepped down, but because of a split in the department was put back in when the professors couldn't find someone else they agreed on. Their weak Dean hasn't come in and fixed this, but maybe the new dean will go out and get a new chair in the next couple of years and help move things forward. I'm going to publish the WAG report in the next couple of days, and they list CS as a department that could get large external funding and has "virtually none." There are lots of good people in the department, but they have been ineffective lead for many years based on results.

Anyway, back to curriculum issues. At first I said what any computer pro might say, which can be summarized in this link. Then I asked who was on the committee, were there any pros? No. My first suggestion was to go to look at Stanford and MIT's CS curriculum online and steal from them. MIT has all CS documents online, everything from class notes to lectures slides to problem sets.

I told him that the department would be well served to form an External Advisory Board (EAB) and round up the successful graduates of the program to get help and money. It is hard to believe they haven't done this, it is so clearly best practice.

But after thinking about it for another day, I feel that the SIUC CS department has the same problems as the University in general. The department is full of good people, but they have no mission, no management direction, and no marketing message. There is nothing special about the department, they are a department with average publications, no outside funding, below average students, just limping along until retirement. There is nothing to "Make Meaning"(slide 2) as Guy Kawasaki would preach.

I'm going to suggest something really crazy to the computer science department now. Get to be special in something in the teaching and marketing (when I write marketing, I mean marketing for the department) area. For example, brand the department as a great place for students to learn design of user interfaces, testing, program management, or innovation. Over in the College of Business the college advisory committee recommended branding the college in this way last meeting (because there is a new dean I will not tell you what direction they recommended. Search to the bottom of this page for a clue). Let students, employers and organizations that give money to universities know that you have a special niche that will help them.

Granted, if you go down this path not everyone will love you. But, wouldn't that be worth if for a chance a success?

I'm amazed that CS doesn't have a EAB, didn't invite me to be on their curriculum committee and has never sent anyone over to hit me up for money. It is almost like they don't want to win.

"The Top 10 Best Presentations Ever" a very good page

I don't know if these are really the 10 best, but they are very good. I'm partial to "The Art of the Start" talk by Guy Kawasaki, because it speaks to be as a person who starts companies and invests in them.

I love the 10th one too, because it is so silly. :)

I'm going to be writing about how to apply Guy's talk at SIUC for a few posts, so watch it or at least read the slides on his page just below the movie.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Saluki Way funding to BOT

There is nothing better than finding out that Phase 1 of Saluki Way is going to be all about buildings that have nothing to do with the real product of the university. How are they going to raise the money again?

Does anyone have a list of contact points (phone or email) for the BOT. It is time to give these folks a call.

Another mayor candidate!

They are like an army of lemmings out of the law school these days.

I love the part where a 38 year old candidate is going to be the next generation, what does that make Brad Cole who is even younger? I may go to one of her town meetings to see the show... who am I kidding? I would rather stay home and wash dishes than listen to that stuff.

Gotta love the idea that she is going to keep the young adults from leaving town. What a stupid thing to say, unless she is going to start a company that creates 4,000 jobs per year to absorb SIUC's graduates. What would that do to the quality of life around here? It isn't that enough people don't want to live here, it is there aren't enough good jobs to allow anyone with much ambition to stay.

I'm looking forward to reading the detailed plans for business development in Carbondale. Last election Cole wrote one and has marched his way down each of his objectives. I think that is the bar, if Brad can write a plan on how to improve the city then the two ladies can do the same. You can bet I'll be having fun picking the plans or lack of them apart come voting time.

Enrollment in Decline and why didn't Larry Deitz think of that?

Click title for Caleb's top of fold article about SIU's enrollment decline. Kind of looking forward to Chris Wissman's article in the "night life," he does a good summary of how everyone else is going up in the state while SIU goes down. Like a stock going down in an up market, hard to do year after year.

I'm in a hurry today, so need to make this quick. Dunn says, need to do more PR. Wendler says, no money in the budget, but after 5 years I'll get some. Dunn says, I'll change the way I manage the professors to give them credit when they have more majors.

It is a pretty screwed up management system where Deitz gets screwed because Dunn and Wendler don't do the things they need to do. Once Dunn takes control, he carries out the plan old Larry has been asking for in one meeting a month for 4 years.

Just a guess as the band plays "Send in the Clowns."

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The power of the bloggers, as told by the Daily Show. is fun. Check this out, it is funny stuff.

Think of all the work it will save me? Dunn's looking for work.

If Dunn gets a new job think of all the time it will save me blogging! Hopefully, he will let all of us know if he needs some letters and we can really help him out.

To be fair, the question I have is Dunn a really poor manager or is he poorly managed? Because it could be all the stupid, anti-leadership stuff he does comes directly from Wendler, so it really isn't his fault.

The legend of Dan Worrell - more from my "Tip of the Hat" series

In my time interacting with SIUC there have been two deans that I thought had real leadership skills - Dan Worrell in business (now departed) and Peter Alexander in law. Peter has only been here since 2003, but Dan left us a 5 year cycle as Dean before moving on that is worth discussing. The other deans I have meet are all gone now or leaving soon, but seemed like a bunch of pencil pushers to me (no innovation, no fire, no room for the people who worked for them to be leaders and demand the results that leaders bring). I haven't met the Dean of AG, who I hear good things about and we will get into Engineering soon enough.

I was trying to think about what accomplishments we could attribute to Dan's years as Dean and have come up with a list -
Replaced 3 chairmen in his first couple of years.
Created a Placement Center that should be the model for placement on campus, even though it is understaffed.
Rebuild the crappy classrooms into model classrooms by finding corporate sponsors.
competed on all levels to make the college better.

I blogged about this earlier and hopefully everyone knows this already, only by replacing or improving the performance and attitudes of the line managers (chairmen at SIU in the departments, but heck there are lots more lazy managers at SIUC who are not professors) can you improve the results or an organization. It is a lot simpler to replace the chairmen, especially the long serving kind, than to retrain. Clearly, the turnover of chairmen in business was a breath of fresh air in the college. I recommend it to any incoming dean at SIUC.

Dan got the funding and created a college placement center as his first move as the new Dean (I hear, I was still in Seattle when he came). The CoBA's placement center has only one full-time person (Donna Margolis - take a bow) and clearly they get it. SIUC should take a look at this center and convert the entire campus over. The SIUC Career Placement Center is mediocre and needs to be fixed. My company has gone to their job fairs and had success, so it isn't that they aren't doing anything. But clearly, the Placement Center lacks any clue about best practices, change, service and other little details that would make their service effective. I'm almost sure this is about civil service workers retired and allowed to do nothing by SIUC's administrators. A note to Career Placement - get more companies to interview on campus, even if you need to beg and lie.

The classrooms in the basement of Rehn Hall stunk when Dan showed up. The good news is they high ceilings and that was it. Dan raised corporate money to fix the classrooms and make them modern showplace rooms. Tiered seating, internet and power hookups for every seat, and computer access on a big screen for the teachers. This is what SIUC should be doing in existing buildings, it is the future. I recommend a tour next time you are in the area.

The great thing about Dan was he believed it was his job to make the college better. He sweet talked when he could, glared when he needed to. He was willing to move some chairmen out of the way to show he meant business. He was feared by the administrators because he was willing to come right after you if you got in his way or screwed around with this college. Dan is a competitive guy and it is a shame that SIUC doesn't have someone like him as dean in every college. His results speak well for is approach.

SIUC was Dan's first time as a dean and he has moved on to "The Sam Walton College of Business" at Arkansas. If you need verification of Dan's success, he now holds likely the best business dean position in "The South."

Not all the problems with the College of Business are solved in just 5 or 6 years. The new dean has a number of big problems (I'm on the college advisory board and the meeting is next week) and there will always be new problems. Dan provided a model of how to take a floundering college and start to turn it around. It has taken a long time and much mismanagement to ruin the fine university that existed at SIUC in 1970, the feeling of forward motion and community success that existed then. It is going to take a long time and many good works to get that back. I'm going to call Dan's time as dean here a best case example of what needs to be done at SIUC.

As always, your comments are welcome.