Friday, September 22, 2006

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.


Anonymous said...

Wendler a great neighbor? Neighbors told me the opposite - that the Wendlers are completely aloof and unknown.

Fraydog said...

What about the allocation of $500,000 and the tapping out of Terry Clark to lead the effort? Don't you think that's a nice start.

Really, what Southern needs to do is start by firing about 20 % of it's administrative staff, reframe what the core values of the instituion are (opportunity, caring, quality, academics, service to the region, and fiscal responsibility), and accelerate deferred maintenance repairs.

I expect Poshard to kill off Saluki Way silently and gently not long after Wendler leaves. If we are to become a destination school, as Wendler seems to want, I think we're better to focus on the academic end of things first to restore quality to SIU. Donors will eventually regain trust, then we can do Saluki Way 20-25 years down the line.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Hey Fraydog, great to hear from you.

In order -
Terry Clark has been telling Wendler to do marketing, but he has not budget, staff or power to do anything. He has a very nice class project (I have seen it) and nothing more. Wendler pimped Terry's name to the press to show he was doing something, but that project is just one TV commercial it isn't a marketing campaign.

The administrators aren't going anywhere. They are hidden in every budget and every hole on campus. Larry Deitz is paid for out of the REC center budget for example.

The Southern Way campaign is Glenn Poshard's plan. I was pretty shocked to learn them myself when I asked him a question about it the other day and he got mad at me. It isn't going away, Glenn wants it.

Anonymous said...

As far as the worst Chancellor of the SIU system... that post doesn't exist anymore. :) We switched those titles over under Sanders.

I'll just do my own anonymous rankings right here and now. From the order of best to worst...

System CEO:

1. Morris (duh! :) )
2. Buzz Shaw
3. Walker (Could have done more if not sick)
4. James Brown
5. Lawrence Pettit
6. Ted Sanders (worst system admin by far!)

Campus CEO: (this is a hard list to do)

1. Argersinger (got a raw deal considering the good things she did in the space of one year)
2. Beggs (also chased away by Sanders, has done a magnificent job at Wichita)
3. Somit (the 80's were a good period for SIU enrollment wise and research wise)

The rest you can chuck.

Wendler isn't the worst on that list, by far. I'd say that Guyon, Brandt, and Derge (104 faculty firing) were worse, with the all time award going to David Richard Derge.

Anonymous said...

Peter, Peter, Peter, hyperbole and ad hominine attacks with only demean your credibility.

Sanders was the most damaging leader as far as SIUC is concerned. As for WVW, who were we supposed to hire after the BOT thoughtlessly stained our image by firing Argersinger? What halfway qualified administrator would take a chance on coup prone university with third world resources? So, we got W, hair and all. Believe it or not he has been better than many. When I asked Chancellor Jackson about problems with prerequisite enforcement, he had no idea what I was talking about. Neither did the people around him. This is no longer the case. There are people in Anthony Hall who know up from down. What have they done? Alumni giving and grant money are up. Tuition, which has been well below needs, has gone up. (That may sound like bad news to some, but under pricing your product is bad business.) Admission standards were raised a little. The destructive party school image is largely gone. There have been some badly needed architectural changes: the first thing W did was tear down the dilapidated huts behind Fanner; there is a new student health center; and news dorms are going up for the first time since the 1960’s (I think). I’ll talk to more about universities and architecture another time.

Of course, not nearly enough progress has been made. We have not increased enrollment. We have not improved the graduation rate. Why? I will assess three causes.

(1) The higher education system of Illinois is highly regional. Money to universities is doled out on the basis of political clout. Va. Tech. is viewed as a statewide resource in Virginia. No one would think of bleeding it white because it is in an economically depression coal producing region. Politics in our state are corrupt, morally and literally. The Governor has cut the funds to reimburse universities for giving free tuition and fees for veterans as required by law. SIUC got hit up for $1.4 million. Now, every university has a strong financial motive to not admit or retain veterans! Sick thinking.

(2) The culture of mediocrity here is still strong. You see it among faculty. The College of Engineering has no concern who-so-ever with their students learning anything. You see it in the BOT, Poshard and the Provost: “Surely we can find away to pull them up to our standards.” Not without IQ pills. Some, like Bryson, sincerely believe shepherding weak students through watered down courses will have some sort of positive impact on their lives. Others know we are just taking their money – and the state’s.

(3) This leads to a related major problem. Money may be short, but it is the dearth of data that is deadly. Take Bryson’s remediation program, now called the Center for Academic Success (formerly the Center for Basic Skills). They take in students who do not meet even our low admission standards (a couple of years ago we were the ninth least selective out of eleven state campuses; below even Edwardsville), place them into easy courses and assign them minders…I mean mentors…who make sure they go to class. They take University 101 where you can get credit for making papier-mâché piñatas for Latin American Heritage Month. Guess what? Their one year retention rate is the same as that of the regular admits. Amazing! What happens next you ask? This program has been around for over twenty years (I think) and NO ONE HAS EVER BOTHERED TO SEE IF THESE STUDENTS GO ON TO GRADUATE! Yet, top administrators tout its success. I think and fear many of those who do graduate got tracked to the College of Education and will now go on to become the next generation of dumb downed school teachers. Seven CBSers have gotten degrees in the sciences over the last fives years or so.

This data issue is all over the place. Why do student leave SIUC? We do not know. Why do those who come here do so? We don’t know. What characteristics predict student success? We have no data! Do students who take ABC I from Prof X do well in ABC II? Who knows? Who really wants to know? Is Supplemental Instruction a good idea? Well the people who started it have studies they did on themselves without control groups say it is. They have them on their webpage! Isn’t that good enough? Do we survey SOAR participants to see what works well and what needs improvement in our orientation program? Heck no! A few years ago I looked up the educational background of the staff of Institutional Research. (You cannot do that from their webpage anymore.) Only one had a degree in statistics – looks like she has left. Several had meaningless degrees from SIUC of all places. This came up when I asked some of my senior colleagues about getting help from IR with figuring why so many students fail. They just laughed: “IR can’t even count our majors.”

Problem (3) feeds back into problem (1). People who want us to be Remedial U have carved out a nice niche in state and regional political circles. We take the heat off of incompetent superintendents who can now say, “X% of our students are be accepted by four-year-colleges.” W talks about excellence, but has not been able to get round B, and I think he has resigned himself to that. Poshard means well, but will play the race card shamelessly. We must look like the people of Illinois! Fire the Asians! The Jews are next. Who cares if our graduates are well educated, when they have the right skin tone? What nonsense. You can easily look up the percentage of our students who are black. I cannot find out what percent of our graduates are black. Who are we really helping?

What to do? Of the four top administrators (Pres., Chan., Assoc. Chan, & Provost) W is the most qualified. Two have education PhD’s from SIUC, and one does not have a PhD, but an EdD. True W has his PhD in education, but at least he got it at a real university, UT-Austin. Cutting off his head is not the top priority. Top priority is educating the BOT that they must start, over the next few years, replacing these people with experienced administrators with strong academic credentials. But, if the current crop, weak as there are, are driven out, it will be impossible to hire the people we need.

What would good leaders do? Bite the bullet. Raise admission standards and let enrollment drop for a few years. The freshman class should be cut by about one third. There would be layoffs. Carbondale would have a recession. But, once people figure out that we have become serious about academics, serious students (of all races) will choose to come here. No, we cannot become the new U of I. But we should be in with NIU & UIC. Peter, any private company in our position would downsize, reorganize and slowly grow back.


Peter in Carbondale said...

Let me be very clear, a private company could not be in business after being screwed up for so many years. You can't compare SIU to a private company, it has been screwed up for so long that you need to chip the paint off to see what is real. There are no comparisons, no books, no models, SIU has been screwed up so badly for so long it is off the charts.

The arguments for Wendler not being the most incompetent administrator are very good. The problem is that when he choose to change SIU's story from best value university education to top 75 by money, I think he has achieved a tipping point for enrollment. I'm expecting a 10% to 15% reduction in on campus students over the next 5 years and that is best case.

As far as Bryson and his Center for something skills or whatever they call it these days, word is that a higher percentage graduate who enter SIU from there than from the general population. If I remember I'll ask Jim Allen next time I see him, or you can and report back.

Where I think it is great to say SIUC should cut enrollment, what exactly will that do to the town? What 20 or 30% of people are you laying off? Do you know how many service jobs one job at SIU creates?

Interesting comments, I learned something.

Peter in Carbondale said...

One more thing. Everyone does agree that not only is SIUC enrollment down, but the quality of students is down too.

This is not a moving up kind of thing, but a sinking down.

Anonymous said...

Peter wrote: "As far as Bryson and his Center for something skills or whatever they call it these days, word is that a higher percentage graduate who enter SIU from there than from the general population. If I remember I'll ask Jim Allen next time I see him, or you can and report back."

Peter, as I said, the one year retention rate for the CAS (CBS) was about equal to that of the regular admits. Jim did say at a recent meeting that it was now a little higher. But, when I asked about graduation for the CBS students rates in 2004, the answer was NO ONE HAS BOTHERED TO TRACK THIS. The one year retention rate may not mean what you think. If you place students into only easy courses, guess what? They get better grades. So what? The goal, as Byrson told me, was to get their GPAs up so that they would have a cushion after they finish CBS (it is a one year program). There are currently about 500 students - all Freshmen - in this program. Our Freshman class (2005) has 2451 students. (BTW, we have some 5000 "Seniors".)

Enjoy your trip.