Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A smart marketing move from SIUC? Architecture gets a masters

From this article in the DE today, it looks like the architecture guys are getting a masters degree program.
SIUC's master's program will be set apart from other institutions because of its structure, Owens said. Students will go through a 42-credit hour sequence in 15 consecutive months, starting in May of one year and ending in August of the next. Other schools offer their programs in the traditional four-semester method, with classes only running in the fall and spring.
Instead of being bone heads and doing the same thing as every other establish masters degree program, these guys did something smart. They are going to get people through their program in only 15 months instead of 21. Genius! A marketing advantage.

Now if SIUC could do this about 50 more times, everywhere in the university it would be on the way.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dave is holding a contest to rename this blog.

Check it out. One of the problems with dealing with management problems like you are a hammer is that really smart ideas like the names already suggested in Dave's blog are beyond me.

Have fun.

The end if near, I'm retiring this blog on Friday.

I have said what I need to say here and this space goes dead after Friday. I'm not sure that it has been fun, but I have learn a lot about SIUC. I'm sure I'll do something else, but we now know this story and it is time to write a new one.

Your comments are welcome.

Life Is The Coffee - a fable.


A group of alumni, highly established in their careers, got together to visit their old university professor. The conversation soon turned into complaints about stress in work and life. Offering his guests coffee, the professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups - porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal, some plain-looking, some expensive, and some exquisite - telling them to help themselves to the coffee. After all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said: "If you noticed, all the nice looking expensive cups were taken up, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. While it is but normal for you to want only the best for yourselves, that is the source of your problems and stress."

"Be assured that the cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. In most cases, it 's just more expensive and in some cases even hides what we drink. What all of you really wanted was coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups...and then began eyeing each other's cups."

" Now consider this: Life is the coffee, and the jobs, houses, cars, things, money and position in society are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the type of cup we have does not define nor change the quality of life we live. Sometimes, by concentrating only on the cup, we fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided us. God brews the coffee, not the cups ... enjoy your coffee. "Being happy doesn't mean everything's perfect, It means you've decided to see beyond the imperfections"

Live in peace and peace will live in you.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

The strange case of the missing music brochures.

There has been a strange thing happening around Carbondale of late. It looks like someone is going around town and stealing the brochures for the TESSI Suzuki Music Academy and replacing them with the brochures for SIUC's Egyptian Suzuki program. When I got through the list of who has motive to do this and access to the several thousand SIU Egyptian Suzuki brochures needed to spread around, I come up with only one person - Paula Allison. Of course, I don't know if she is doing it. But logic tells us it can be no one but her or her agent.

As a Suzuki parent I can tell you that TESSI is the place to take lessons in this town (piano, violin, guitar and Wiggles and Tunes for tots). The SIU program turns over 100% of its staff every couple of years and that is a very bad sign. They TESSI teachers all used to teach in the SIU program and quit in disgust. Outside of TESSI a good source for piano lessons is Kara Benyas (another ex-SIU Suzuki teacher and wife of Conductor Ed Benyas), she is also supposed to be a super piano teacher and is a really nice person.

If anyone knows Paula, could you tell her to cut it out? Even with a husband on the music faculty you aren't untouchable if you are caught stealing.

Your comments are welcome.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Economic Development - Good News and the real problem.

I don't know if you have looked at the article in the local section of "The Southern" today, "Aboard the Connect SIU Train"? I met with Frank Knott the other day and he is good and he is smart. His company "Vital Economy" seems to be pointed at exactly the right problems that we have here in the 51st State.

I talked to him for a long time and I think that he and I agree on many of the problems of doing economic development in Southern Illinois. There is a shocking lack of people who are college educated and between 30 and 50 years old. There is plenty of money for early stage companies, but much less if you need bigger money. There is a lack of talent/people for knowledge based jobs. He said as we parted, "I was really surprised that you didn't name the large number of levels of government as the number one problem." I smiled and said back, "The first thing I told you was the Illinois state government is total corrupt."

For our second SI story today, "Campaign donor Pleads Guilty in Kickback Case." Not to defend the current governor, but
Blagojevich issued a statement saying that the plea agreement "reveals a pattern of wrongdoing by Stuart Levine that betrayed the trust of Gov. (Jim) Edgar who first appointed him and to all of us here in Illinois."
The guy who plead guilty has been around forever. He was finally invited to do the perp walk after getting crazy.
Prosecutors maintain that Levine, Blagojevich fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko and others schemed to get at least $20 million and perhaps as much a $50 million in assorted kickbacks.
What concerns me after talking to Mr. Knott is he doesn't understand the scope of the corruption problem here in Illinois. If you are in Illinois politics at any level, it should be assumed you are dirty. At the end of the day, good businesses start, locate and thrive on a clean playing field. Not saying everyone is breaking the law and should go to jail, but if you scrub toilets you always need to wash your hands before eating.

I don't believe you can successfully do business development in Southern Illinois without cleaning up the numbers of layers of government (the most of any state) and throwing the dirty politicians in jail. If you said this cleanup isn't going to happen because the people don't have the will, I would have to agree with you. But, that means that better economic times aren't going to happen either.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The firing list for SIUC - which administrators should go?

Wendler is gone, just as the rumor said (check the new comment). He isn't gone until May (or maybe January 1?) as Chancellor, it can't be soon enough. The DE needs to go back and ask the hard questions, they screwed it up earlier this week. The new rumor is this is happening at the next BOT meeting.

Ray Lenzi would go right here, but he retired already.

Seymour Bryson is going to retire soon I bet. He got a 24% pay raise last year and is blasting the university in the press. A huge pay raise is a typical and unethical trick we do in Illinois to give a give our friends a bigger retirement pension as they retire. It should be good for the university when he goes, he has taken his protection of black student to far.

Sue Davis - she is really bad. If you do a Google search for "Sue Davis SIU", my entry about her being the worse administrator of 2006 is number 8! In charge of PR and Marketing at SIUC for years, in addition she is just a terrible manager.

Removed someone because they complained. Don't have time to be fair right now, so I'll check it out and blog about it later.

John Koropchak should likely go. He sent me email complaining about my reasoning, so I have deleted it.

Glafkos Galanos has been chairman of Electrical Engineering for 20 years. He is the inventor of their cleaver program to allow anyone who wants a master degree in EE to enroll in the program. He has also managed to make the department worse, in a time where it is almost impossible to do anything but get better in EE. I suspect there are many other chairs of this quality at SIUC, but this is the one that I have analyzed up close. When you choose professors you can dominate instead of the best quality, you are almost always going to get sub par results. The amazing thing is that all the professors in engineering know all about this guy and do nothing. Sometimes management needs to step up and take care of business. I suspect this is one of those times.

I would name someone in the department of Computer Science, but I'm not sure picking on their chairman who tried to step down (the department is so politically fractured they couldn't elect a chair) is fair. If you want to consider how messed up the College of Science is, they are maybe the only people at SIUC that haven't tried to get money out of me in the last 5 years. Computer Science has never asked. A train wreck. Maybe the new Dean of Science might spend a little effort in CS and tell the professors to grow up?

That is my current list. Who else would you add?

Engineering Sophomores required to live in dorms

I have been wondering when the other shoe would drop on the coming SIUC student housing mess. SIUC has done little maintenance on any building on campus for the last 20 years. As their dorm and other student housing stock has been running down, the students don't want to stay there. As anyone who is watching knows, there is a coming crisis with on campus housing. I figure as the number of students dip, you will see SIUC require sophomores to stay on campus to fill up the dorms.

Where this does sound like a great program, it also helps solve the problem of filling those rooms. If this program works they can then require the sophomores into the dorms, because it will be good for them. ;)

From the article -
Nicklow said there would be approximately five students per mentor, and the mentor would attend at least one class per week with the students, along with providing tutoring and guidance.
I know Dr. Nicklow and he is a good guy. He is Interim Associate Dean and not Dean of course.

This seems like about the right number, 5 to 1. Watching the basic skills of SIUC students in the last few years, I have thought that SIUC should have a one semester boot camp for incoming freshman. Teach them how to study, take notes, write a research paper, the stuff students used to learn in high school. But this level of mentoring might work, if they can find that many "role models" who want that job.

Looks like the engineering students will be getting almost as much support as the kids in the athletic programs. It sure can't hurt and if it works maybe EE can stop doing open admission for their graduate program?

Should be interesting to see the results of this little experiment.

Silver Bullet to help the manufacturing economy in Southern Illinois.

If we don't want to lose all manufacturing in Southern Illinois and the USA, we should go to a nationalized health care system.

Cool fact that I bet you didn't know, the number one country to take manufacturing jobs from the USA is clearly China. But the number 2 country is Canada. There isn't much difference between Canada and the USA beyond their much cheaper health care costs.

Think about it, all those 10,000 square foot doctor houses and record profits for the drug companies must be coming from somewhere.

Bill McMinn picks Cardinals in 5 - the second tip of the hat to a great guy.

I stole the Cardinals in 5 idea from what someone told me at the REC Center this morning.

This is really a picture from a story about Bill McMinn's retirement, borrowed from our friends at the DE. I did my own little piece on Bill back in August.

A great guy, he will be missed.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

SIUC administration ads about Faculty Negotiations.

I was reading carefully through the full page ad that ran yesterday in the DE and Southern Illusion. Personally, I have been very impressed that the administration and faculty union haven't been firing on each other in the press like the last time. I was surprised to see these ads yesterday. The administration villainization of the professors during the last negotiation surely helped achieve the current decrease in students. The marketing story that SIUC has is the professors, the students don't come here to learn from Uncle Walt and his gang.

The ad is all about the money. 4.5% raises in FY2007 and 3% raises for the following 4 years. Acting Chairmen are getting 10%, up from 7%. After that it is hard to figure out what is really being offered. For example, there is a section about Salary parity and compression money, but that doesn't say if it is a part of the listed 4.5% and 3% pay raises. The administration is asking to reward half the raise pool to who ever they like, but if the administration isn't trustworthy are they going to play favorites and buy people.

I noted recently that the federal government is giving 3.3% increase to social security, so that is the absolute bottom rate of inflation. As anyone who follows these things knows that the feds aren't counting energy or housing in their inflation numbers, so it is certainly higher. I think the SIUC professors are going to lose 1% to inflation each year of this contact and maybe much more. Might be time to look for work elsewhere if you are able?

I guess if the administration is claiming to be cash poor and this is the best they can do, it would be only fair to limit all the administrators to 3% pay raises for 5 years too? Has anyone run the numbers on the percent raises of the administrators against faculty for the last few years? I'm thinking if acting chairs are getting 10% per year, how much are the rest of the SIUC big shots getting? I hear certain highly placed administrators who had their picture in the DE yesterday received a 24% pay raise last year. Without knowing any more details, the over/under on administration big shot raises is 16% at my bookie. I'm wondering how you get over a 10% raise when you are leading an organization that is headed in the wrong direction? Just the way it is in America today I guess.

To quote a famous and now dead celebrity, "Let them eat cake."

As always, your comments are welcome. I'm looking forward to someone explaining what is being offered.

DE says I'm "largely against Wendler and his plans."

From the DE's Plagiarism report to be released next week story in today's paper. I'm kind of disappointed about the DE publishing my position is just largely against Wendler. Haven't they been reading the blog? I'm calling Wendler the worst SIUC leader ever!

I'll ask this question a different way, if Wendler and Poshard came to an "agreement" that his contract to be chancellor would not be "renewed" next summer, would they tell the DE reporter this truth? If you are a lawyer then you could call a deception like this the truth, of course an engineer would call it a bold face lie.

Makes you wonder if the DE asked the right question yesterday. Maybe asking "if Wendler's future as chancellor has been determined," might have been a better question? When you start talking in legalize about these things, you can't fire Wendler, you can only make him "transfer" to his new job as a professor in architecture. One of the weaknesses of the DE is their reporters are being lied to for the first time, once they figure it out they are gone (as an example, Wendler's $1800 desk).

Deception seems to be part and parcel of the SIU and Illinois political playbook. I'm looking forward to seeing if the administration has "deceived" the DE using word games or maybe Wendler is going to hang around and build Poshard's buildings?

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I got a kick out of Dave's post about Wendler's exit.

Check out a blog of someone who can write. It amazed me that Dave decided to call Wendler's office and then Sue Davis to ask about this rumor. Seems like a waste of time, it isn't like they are going to tell you the truth very often.

I would never call Sue Davis for information, I would call her the worst administrator at SIUC so far this year though.

The lazy professor series - the truth.

I fired up the professors because they should be working harder, but really it was to stop having professors tell me that bad management doesn't effect them. Clearly, bad management is the one overriding issue at SIUC. It taints everything else around it. The displays of management stupidity are impossible to miss.

Being poorly managed does matter. It greatly effects your job performance and happiness. You can ignore it, but that doesn't mean it doesn't effect you. If you think hard enough, you might even think about doing something about it.

Wendler not gone? How many people are reading this blog anyway?

Just got a phone message from the DE about my Wendler resigning rumor entry. Brandon is writing a story as we speak for tomorrow's paper. They called around and everyone says it isn't so. It was a juicy rumor too. Just for a moment I felt a sense of optimism about SIUC future.

I should have realized that Poshard has to keep Wendler around until the faculty contract thing goes down. He will be needed someone to blame if the professors strike.

You have to wonder how many people are reading this blog anyway? Don't you people have jobs? :)

For the record, if the DE can't catch me at the office, I'm not talking.

Like one of the young republicans in my employ wishing for "W" to become fiscally responsible, I keep hoping that Poshard will snap out of the Saluki Way madness and do a good job rebuilding the university. I guess both "W" becoming a good president and Poshard doing the right thing might happen in the future, but that will have to wait. Doesn't he know it is all about professors and classrooms, not about brass plaques with your name on them?

As always, your comments are welcome.

Most effective Administrator at SIUC? I would fire him for this.

From above the fold in today's DE Administrator: Student Conduct Code flawed - Campus.

Let me see if I have this straight, one of Wendler's direct reports, Associate Chancellor for Diversity Seymour Bryson is calling the university decisions flawed? Maybe he doesn't know what is going on and didn't hear the part about his employer potentially being sued? If he worked for me, he would be sacked for this. You don't get to grandstand and be called as a witness for the claimants and keep your job the in the world I live in.

From the DE article -
Bryson did not mince words about the missing administrators.

"That shows disrespect. That shows lack of caring," he said about his absent colleagues.

Dietz said he was speaking at a local high school and that he believed Del Rio and Huffman were teaching night classes.
Shouldn't you figure out where the other people are before chewing them out in public? I generally call people who I want to show up before a meeting like this and see if they can come. Maybe that was to much trouble for Dr. Bryson?

If he was quoted correctly, it would seem that Bryson is above the law at SIU. I think his mission to help black students gain a university education is noble. He deserves respect and admiration for doing the job well for many hard years. Unfortunately, he also seems to have a "get out of jail" card. If you fire him, he will claim you are a racist.

It is hard for me to believe that Bryson survived the DOJ business and now this? Oh well, it is SIU.

Your comments are welcome.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Wendler gone?

Just got a heads up that Walter Wendler resigned this morning. Don't know if it is true or not, but it comes from a good source.

The good news is maybe he will have time to read my blog now. I'll take his office furniture for $1800, what a deal.

The DE's new website is nice - A tip of the hat.

My only complaints are that when you use the menus at the top, say "News", then try to use the submenus, the submenus don't indicate which one you are hovering over. It is an easy fix.

You can tell the developers of the site are sitting on a high speed line next to the server. Downloading the pdf version of the paper is painfully slow. Should consider speeding it up, there are lots of ways, less resolution, few pages at a time or something. Over my resonable fast DSL line it took several minutes to download one of last week's editions. Painfully slow.

Good work to the people who did the development work.

USG President takes a leadership position?

Piece from the DE, check that deep thinking about student conduct. I'm reading the DE and the mess about the 9 students kicked off campus for some kind of involvement in a fight/beating. The USG president doesn't think the students who did the beating should be punished and those who stood by and watched shouldn't be punished? Ignoring the people who clearly need to thrown off campus, why didn't the "witnesses" break out their cellphone and dial 9-1-1?

Hard to take the exiled student's side, clearly the right thing to do is tell the police. If you are worried about getting involved, then leave the area and call the police. I guess they can choose to not testify later and it is unlikely they would be charged with a crime. SIU isn't the court system though and you don't have the high legal standards of the US Constitution to worry about.

There is an article of wonder from the DE today that matches, about some clown who was busted for selling beer to minors and having a house party. He is shocked that SIU has rules! He went to court and pleaded the case out, but he can't understand why SIU might think he is guilty (after he said he was in open court).

Sometimes you get the idea that today's students have been handed so much without working, they don't understand that eventually you will be counted as an adult. When you are part of 3 guys beating 1 guy, or someone who witnesses the beating, you just bought into becoming a responsible citizen. Stuff happens. It is to bad the parents are talking about suing SIU instead of wondering how their child got to be 18 years old without having a clue.

Boys & Girls Club Party tonight at Civic Center

It is the 100th Birthday Bash of the Boys and Girl's Club tonight. This is their annual Steaks and Burgers fundraiser.

6:30 PM at Carbondale Civic Center
$15 at the door.
There is something about wearing 1906 or a costume, but I'll be skiping that part.

Call 925-3403 (Randy Osborn) or 203-3182 (AJ) for details.

This is a great organization for the kids involved. Hope to see you there.

Southern Illusion's "American Profile" magazine really stinks

"The Southern" has put a new advertising vehicle into every Tuesday paper for the last several weeks. While anyone with any sense wonders about the worth of "Parade" in the Sunday paper, it looks like an academic journal compared to this rag.

Hopefully, putting out "American Profile" will allow "The Southern" to hire a few more reporters and give us more local coverage. Have we really gone from 15 Carbondale based reporters to 5 in just 5 years? I guess giving the 5 local reporters a raise would be helpful too.

I assume this is just part of Lee Enterprise's march to great share holder value, but don't they know we an all switch to the internet if they don't keep the quality up?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Interesting site to find test scores, grad rates and other info on University Students.

Here is the site. It is interesting to see graduation rates and ACT/SAT scores of incoming freshmen.

IL State: 63% grad, 8% transfer rate after 6 years
SIUC: 42% grad, 30% transfer after 6 years
UIUC: 83% grad,

Check out the ACT scores - 75% ACT score
SIU 24
SIUE 25.5
IL State 26

Something that the SIU professors know well, test scores matter. Kind of interesting when you hear Poshard talking about minority recruitment and not about improving test scores.

More information on Math education

This is kind of interesting, if you are reading about math stuff and worried that the US economy is going to crash if we don't get it right.

Drug dealers switching to Euros?

The lords of the biggest business in the world are switching away from dollars. Be afraid, be very afraid for our economic future.

If anyone doesn't get why this is a problem, they likely don't get the Iraq war. Of course, one of the best reasons to go over there is to have the international trading of oil to continue in dollars. It would cost the USA a lot of money if there is a switch.

Blogger didn't work for me today, having to make up ground now.

Mad Tea party - "W" Style

Just got a link to this. Made me laugh. Going see if we can get him on BoundlessGallery.com.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Administration makes "final" offer and breaks "interest-based bargaining?"

Sounds good to me, let them eat cake. :) Do you think this is pressure from the administration or a little mistake when they put the football result up? It does seem like the most important economic/business story in Carbondale right now doesn't it?

The administration is offering $2M in salary increases over the next 5 years (up from $1.1M in their first, best and last offer we initially heard about) and the faculty wants $4M. Anyone know the percentages on these numbers? Is it $2M per year or $2M spread over 5 years of increases?

The poor little faculty members who don't understand how to improve the administration at SIUC, here is your chance. A nice one week strike should make a big statement that you aren't content to sit in your offices and take it.

I would hold the line and get at least 3.3% that the feds gave social security, then you will only be losing 2 or 3% per year vs. real inflation over the life of the contract. You guys understand that all these Bush tax cuts and federal spending are going to drive inflation and interest numbers up for quite a few years to come?

Who can spend that $100k best? Me or the government?

I have been thinking about the conservative idea about who could spend $100k better, me or the government. I made fun of the Southern Illinois Conservatives back before anyone read my blog and I don't think I'm going to be far off from that idea when I done with this entry.

I'm proud to pay taxes. The more I make, the more I pay, and the more I keep too. My tax rate, thanks to all you conservatives is way lower than it should be. This isn't 1980 with a maximum tax rate of 70% and long term capital gains at the same level. It looks like the rich through their various tax breaks are paying less than 30% in taxes (Munibonds and long term capital gains are big parts of this). I bet you the super rich are down below 20% tax rate.

The problem we have in the USA is the unlimited spending, borrowing and inefficiencies of the federal government. I'm not going into Illinois here, it is like picking on poor management at SIUC. So throwing more money into a bloated and pork barreled situation doesn't make anyone feel good.

The interesting thing about watching politics is the Republicans are no long conservatives by any measure. Smaller government? Less waste? More privacy? Less nation debt? More living within your means? Bush and the Republican Congress have spent like drunken sailors. Don't tell me this was started under Clinton or anything stupid like that. The children have been running the country without a babysitter.

One of the problems with all this spending is the results are terrible. We have the worst foreign policy in US history, biggest debt, and we haven't address any of the real problems facing us with all that money. Medical costs are a run away horse (but the Republicans gave away the farm to the drug companies), education is going down the tubes, prisons are filling and the baby boomers are passing their peak earning years without saving a dime.

The Democrats in the Clinton years were much better, but the real problem is that it seems this pissing away of the future is what a large number of American's want. Someone needs to reframe the purpose of being an American, what we have now isn't working.

Back to the idea of the $100k. After paying my taxes by the same rules as everyone else should I write a check to the feds for $100k more or give that money to the charity of my choice? Of course, I'm going to give it to the charity I like. What do I look like Mother Teresa?

Friday, October 20, 2006

Math K-12 - is District 95 undermining our kids in math?

Here is a link to the Mathematically Correct website. It is interesting reading.

My question for you. Has District 95 watered down their math offerings to build "self esteem" in their students and at the same time guaranteed their failure? If this website is to be believed then the school district is blowing it. Heck you can see from the results they are blowing it.

3/4ths of Americans think Congress is whacked

One of the young guys at work just taught me about whacked, so I thought I would throw it in for luck. :)

Check this article about Congress. It is amazing that the press has found this story of late. It has been heading this way for a long while.

If the Democrats take over I'm going to have to start a political blog. Impeaching Bush, trying to get the pork barrel and super-rich give always under control should be fun.

Geek Marketing Top 10 list

This is good stuff. Applies to everything as far as I can tell.

Very small tip of the hat to John Dunn

Someone in the comments suggested that my view of John Dunn as an arrogant Provost and terrible manager were out of date. Like Uncle Walt, he is certainly warm in person. But his high handed methods of managing the faculty were really hurting SIUC.

After a very brief investigation, my sources tell me that Dunn has decided to not fall on his own sword and fail. Instead he is changing his management methods to allow him a chance of success.

That is great to hear. With SIUC's luck with administrators as soon as he does become reasonable he will get a job somewhere else. :)

Social Security benefits up 3.3%, wonder what the professors will get?

Here is the Yahoo new article about this. If the US government is saying inflation is 3.3%, and they are known to be playing the numbers by excluding fuel and housing costs from their numbers, I'm wondering how high inflation really is.

As we apply that locally, if I was in the faculty union and had a "first, best and last offer" from the administrators that called for 3% each of the next several years, I would have to wonder what they were smoking. They can build a football stadium and can't give raises matching inflation?

I have already written so much about how stupid the SIUC administration is, that it is hard to say it again, but here goes. The SIUC administration is really stupid.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Diversity in civil service jobs at SIU?

Speaking of diversity...Why are there so many white people in civil service jobs at SIU?
Someone was kind enough to comment with this idea for a blog entry. I'm just going to make a guess here, the reason there are so many white people in civil service at SIU is because so many of the qualified black people work in the better jobs at the federal government? Read in the paper the other day that heading toward 50% of the new hires in the federal government are black? Here is a provocative website on the subject (I know it is over the top, but I'm blogging). It seems that with preferential hiring that capitalism is speaking to us on this issue.

If I was black and had a choice between SIU and the Feds, I would be out of Carbondale and it's "interesting racial situation" like a shot. Wouldn't you?

Your comments are welcome.

SIMS Annual Auction on Oct 28th

Southern Illinois Metal Society of course. For the last several years I have done my Christmas shopping at this auction. It has the best art for the price in Southern Illinois. Here is the website.

OK, just a comment on a comment about professors and work

From the comments of an earlier post -
FYI: I performed a quick search using a professional database tool just now (for my former colleagues at SIU, of which there are approximately thirty), and found that, in the last six years, approximately 240 papers have been listed on said database. This works out to 1.3 papers per year per person. (By way of comparison, I averaged a little over 2 per year.)

This search doesn't include all publications, but it does pick up most. It should also be noted that four of the people in the department racked up 28, 18, 16, and 14 publications over said period, respectively, so that the remaining people average one per year -- and several have 0, 1, or 2 listings for 2001-06.
I think this is about what I expected. The average professors wouldn't quite get tenure based on the last 6 years, the people who are a little below the mean certainly wouldn't get it. Kind of interesting isn't it?

I wonder if it is easy to run all the professors on campus? :O

My only question about the USG task force - back to the lazy administrators.

I was looking at the top story in the DE today (the newspaper is better, they didn't put the list of 7 items on the web). I had to wonder, if Wendler is capable of using outside help to analyze the USG, why isn't he doing the same thing inside of the SIUC administration?

Can you imagine anything better than outside experts looking at Sue Davis's dysfunctional PR machine, ORDA, Dunn-Richman, Center for Academic Skills (or whatever Dr. Bryson's empire is called this week), Travel Service, Career Services, Physical Plant, etc, etc? There is so much deadwood in the administration, that if you struck a match you would have a recreation of the "Old Main." Sure, I know that there are lots of hardworking people in the administration, but still how many people are hiding behind the admins and doing nothing?

Peter for Mayor - wow, comment shot across the bow.

One of the things I find disappointing about Carbondale is how few people care enough to be nasty about anything. So I get this nasty comment to my Peter for Mayor post -
No, Peter, you are not warmer in person than Brad "I am not gay" Cole. Politics is definitely not in your future.

You have had tremendous success in the business of writing device drivers, but the only things you can do now are to be a Carbondale philanthropist, a blogger, an art merchant, and a gadfly.

All of these are worthy uses of your time, but you have less charisma than either Ms. Simon or Mr. Cole and don't have a chance at being elected.

Nonetheless, I think you are good for Carbondale, even if you get a bit nasty at times.
I'm not so certain I am good for Carbondale. You can't help people who don't want to be helped. Maybe this social Darwinism of Carbondale and SIU are what attract and keep people here, the same as the attraction of doing something exciting keeps people in Silicon Valley?

One of the things that strikes me about talking one on one with any politician is how guarded they are with everything they say. It is like being in "Bull Durham" movie, "it is all about the team." I was raised to think that people who smile and lie to your face were rude, and people who tell you the truth liked you. I guess your mileage may vary?

I think you have hit on a point that I have decided as well, that I can't do in Carbondale what I planned to do. I don't think that being a "Carbondale philanthropist, a blogger, an art merchant, and a gadfly" is enough for me. Maybe it is time to do something else?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Math is hard and if you study you know it.

Check out this story.

Sometimes you wonder if reporters know how people learn? There are stages in learning. There is rank beginner, then a happy feeling you get when you know a little something. Turns out knowing just a little something quickly turns into the idea you really know something and that is a mistake. To some extent, the less you study Math, the happier you are likely to be.

I'm always amazed that more people don't know that the people who figured out the big, common math logic are the greatest minds in the history of the world. You can't do it yourself while the test is going on, you aren't Sir Isaac Newton. Stand on the shoulders of giants and you will do lots better. But I'm also amazed that a 20 or 25 year old thinks they know something at a technology company.

The self esteem movement in American education isn't working? What a surprise to the university professors. ;)

Forget the War on Terror, Iraq and Drugs - War on Education System failure

I was looking at cnn.com and found an interesting clip on the "America's failing grades?". The group that is putting forward the message is Alliance for Excellent Education.

We all know that the white students aren't very good at SIUC, but man the high school graduation rates for minority students is terrible. According to the piece, they are between 50 and 60% for just high school graduation. They go on and talk about the costs to our society and how if you don't graduate high school you aren't getting a good job and 75% of people in prison aren't high school grads.

Just think if we stopped wasting time and money trying to do things that are impossible and just declared war on bad education? Maybe we should be assigning an education solder to each child who is behind at school?

When I think about SIUC, Southern Illinois and now education these days I think about what Ross Perot said, "You can't help people who don't want to be helped." But, maybe instead of having a huge uneducated minority population on the dole in the USA, we should spend the money on education while there are young. It has to be cheaper than suppressing the civil war and rebuilding Iraq.

Read the website, it is good stuff.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Peter for Mayor?

A comment somewhere below suggests I run for Mayor. Ha, that is a good one. I might be warmer in person than Brad, but there is no way I can do as well as he has done.

I haven't seen this movie, but Peter for Mayor seems like Robin Williams for President. Of course, I will not be in rehab. :)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Getting back to important stuff - where can you get a good burger in this town?

Please, don't start by telling me that one of the fast food chains is good. Steak and Shake would be fine, if cooked over an open fire. I have had a good burger at the Depot in Murphy, but the fries were bad. The meat quality at Holihans and Applebees is marginal. For some reason the quality at Lone Star is hit and miss, I hate that.

As I wrote in my previous comment, I think they should switch El Greco's over to a burger place. Good quality meat, toast the bun, fancy hotdogs from Louie's P&R in Herrin, they already make good fries, rings and mushrooms. You could get more than the fast food places and I think it would fill up.

Where can I get a good burger around here? I know about Red Mill in Seattle and Broiler Bay in Bellevue, WA already. What is your favorite?

Nothing more to say?

One of the problems with small towns is there isn't much going on. Once you are done picking on SIUC, I'm having trouble figuring out something worthy of my time.

Two mayor candidates? One have no plan and the other no clue, should be interesting if Brad doesn't run.

To many restaurants? Yes, but with consumer spending down that should fix itself before long.

Gold's Gym opening? They are just nuts. What a waste of money. Like the Carbondale pool, the REC center will eat their lunch.

Wendler seems to be trying a hostile take over of the A/P Staff Council. I hear the best way to get a raise at SIU is to become chairman, the second best way is to be elected to a leadership roll on the A/P Staff council For a guy with dropping enrollment and no brochures in high school guidance councilor's offices, he does seem to have some time on his hands. Must be waiting for architect plans for Saluki at 150 buildings.

Anyone got anything juicy they to get out in the open? :)

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Hiring teachers - interesting editorial in BW

I thought this was an interesting essay from this week's Business Week, "Better Teachers: A Lesson Plan".

Two interesting data points here for K-12 teachers. Having a master's degree gets you a raise, but doesn't improve your teaching performance seems to make sense to me. Giving raises based on seniority only doesn't really work, because people stop getting better results just a few years into their careers. Once you get up the seniority ladder the pay is so good that you can't change jobs because of the opportunity loss.

There is an idea that the best teachers have the best test scores (I think they are talking about SAT type tests). But that makes sense when you look at general results without any other criteria.

An interesting read, check it out.

The dog ate my homework - last Lazy Professor for a while.

I was told a story recently by a Southern Illinois business person about their son attending SIUC. He took some freshman class and had a section taught by some Indian person. He just couldn't understand them. So he flunked the class. I asked if they had read the text book and done the homework problems? Then I asked if he realized that one of the skills you might learn at university is to see people from other places in the world and learn how to deal with accents (we were talking about Indian who speaks better English than any freshman). I understood there might be a problem, but mostly it seemed like the kid gave an excuse because he didn't feel like doing the work.

As I have gone through my series of lazy professors essays, I keep getting the feeling that the dog is eating the professors homework. You are here, it is poorly managed, you are underpaid, you are poorly managed, but is that a reason to do less then an excellent job? Quit and go elsewhere, or stay and do a great job.

Let's jump into some result metrics. If you have published enough to receive tenure in the last 6 or 7 years, good for you. But how many haven't. How come almost all the service rests on a few full professors (who have been doing it forever) and are still publishing? Are you going to end your 30 year career as a professor with 60 good papers or 20 books? How about 30 papers and 3 books? Why is it OK to become much less productive as you enter the prime of your career? Is it retiring in place if you stop working hard? What percentage of professors have published even 1 paper in the last 6 years? How many have published only 3 or less?

I would guess of the professors who have had tenure for 6 or more years, less than 50% would receive it again based on the performance of their last 6 years. What do you guys think?

I'm not very smart about these things, but SIUC professors as a whole aren't doing well enough over the course of their careers are they (I'm not talking about you, people you know or work with. Everyone else beside them rolling his eyes) as professors from other research universities? Everyone realizes how much results track with effort right?

Understand now, that if you tell me that SIUC's research results as a whole compare favorably to other schools of the same size, I'm going to dig out the peer institution results. I'm sure you and your friends are doing great!!!! But, let's make it broader than that so you don't feel attacked. Please don't tell me you don't understand that SIUC's research results aren't as good as they should be as a whole.

Your comments are welcome.

Friday, October 13, 2006

"The Poor Little Me" Get's Old - more in the lazy professor series.

From a comment below (one of the last comments) -
Do most of my colleagues work 50 hours or more a week? I doubt it. But we
are also grossly undercompensated for our education and skills, and have chosen
a higher quality of life--including more time with family for most of us--over
the rat race. We in the humanities couldn't afford nannies even if we wanted
them. A good ol' faculty wives are in short supply today.

There is nothing I like better than this rationalization stuff.

If I get you right, you are working much less hard then you might? Your focus for your life is home and family? Yet you are grossly undercompensated? You guys get health insurance for life after 20 years right? You are in liberal arts and so you have trouble calculating total compensation?

I'm wrong to dismiss that 50 hours a week survey, but you agree with me that SIUC professors are working much less than 50 hours a week? Your number is (finger in the air looking for wind current) 40 hours? Is that 40 vs. 50 a scientific estimate or just what you would like to believe? Is it possible that 30 hours or 36.2 hours would be a better number? In summary, you have no data to offer except that 50 hours is way to many.

A little capitalistic dogma. If you are truly undercompensated, you would be gone from here. If you aren't leaving, maybe you are correctly compensated. Most people don't care about the money, if you wanted to improve the quality of your life the one targeted goal would be to be better managed.

I happen to think that if you're working over 50 hours a week you're
working too damn much.

Clearly, this is the mind set of SIU professors. You are likely right. The problem I am trying to point out here is that working 30 hours is way to little.

Let me go back to the original point, if you want more state funding, you need to fix the marketing message of higher education. I certainly agree that SIUC is poorly managed. I agree that is salary compression (but that is everywhere, but that is a different blog entry). But, you guys are the university and you aren't doing the right thing to get help to get more funding.

The professors have the power to change anything they want at SIUC. The shame of it is that they choose not to. At the bottom line, at real universities the professors keep chairmen like our buddy in EE from sitting there for 20 years destroying the department. The really lazy thing about the professors at SIUC is they are allowing this crap to go on. The sad thing is the professors act like victims, where in fact they are enablers.

So much writing just to set the stage for this. SIUC professors have control, but choose not to bother to exercise it. They own this problem and can fix it. If there was reasonable administration it would be far easier, but again the professors own this problem.

I'm going to claim that my little blog takes a lot of time and energy. This is my contribution to SIUC right now. I am in motion and working hard to address the problems and fix them. After reading my interchange with the EE chair, you can see I have gone after at least one very difficult problem directly. Now, that you can see I'm doing it and trying to lead...

No more poor little me. Own your life. Get in or get out. This crying on the sidelines is just pathetic. There, I said it. It is just pathetic.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Is District 95 feeding the students answers to the standardized tests?

As some of you might have noticed, our local k-8 school district here in Carbondale has seen some remarkable improvement in test scores over the last few years. I have been told by a couple of people lately that they are reading the test out loud to the students the day before it is given, then the teacher talks over the answers. That would certainly explain the improvement, I don't think the test is any easier or the bad students are getting any better.

Anyone have a line on this rumor?

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Fraydog thinks SIUC is well managed? I think not.

As you know I enjoy Fraydog's comments. But I really hate his ideas about management so far, so I'm going to wack them with a stick here. I swear this is like when you see a 10 year old smoking, they think they look so tough. College kids don't know anything about leadership or management, they just don't have the experience yet.

Fraydog said...

The basic problem is they (the JRB, the Chancellor, and Provost) are dealing with a system that was broke long before the present people got there. I'm not going to say that mistakes haven't been made by Wendler and Dunn. On the contrary, I think this can be a good learning experience for everyone if they all play it right. After studying this issue for a little bit, I'd say the JRB would be correct if issues merely dealt with procedural mistakes made and bias errors. After hearing the details involved in both cases, and thoroughly examining the Faculty Senate minutes, I'm not convinced that's the case.

Personally, I'd rather have the Chancellor error on the side of not giving someone tenure. The person who failed to receive tenure can go teach elsewhere, and if it is indeed an injustice they will go to a better institution. However, we as the students, alumni, and friends of SIU, are stuck with whatever deadwood we get. If Wendler has a .0001 % chance running through his mind that he's dealing with deadwood, he should deign tenure.

Would formulating better procedures help? Surely they would. I think the Faculty Senate and the Chancellor should work together to work out what the issues are and come up with a system of tenure and promotion that encourages excellence. However, if the Faculty Senate drags their heels, the Chancellor and Provost have to come up with a solution on their own.

Now on the Faculty Senate proposal: I don't agree with it. Personally, I think it screams out the need to get better processes, but to shift power from one people to five isn't a solution that brings excellence to the tenure process, it's a Band-Aid. I think the Chancellor would be very wise in rejecting it.

Oh Fraydog, you are just a young guy and don't get it. You are going to have doubts about everyone you hire and promote when you are a manager. By your standards no one would ever get hired or promoted. Humans are wonderful, almost always they live up to expectations, if those expectations are put forward by reasonable people in a reasonable way.

Wendler and Dunn have been truly bad at managing people at SIUC. Didn't you read my entry about how Wendler needs to prove then can manage the thing they have control over (the administration) first? I am giving the professors a bad time right now, but the administration is so poorly managed, fat and lazy at SIU, it is sickening. The administration is so bad that they aren't really fun to blog about, it is so easy, just like hitting the side of your house with a rock. The worst part is the administration is more corrupt and bad under Uncle Walt then they were before.

If SIUC was a high tech company they would be turning over 25% or more of their professors per year. The people would be streaming out of there. Because they are a university, the professors just tune them out and go into their offices and do research. This isn't leadership, it is madness.

Here is the problem I pose to you Fraydog. A professor is up for tenure promotion, he is going to get that promotion or be fired. He has no black marks on this record. He has published his papers and taught his classes. His department's faculty does their review and votes to promote. His department chairman does this review and votes to promote, as does his dean. Now it goes up to Dunn and Wendler, they decide not to promote. Now let's assume that the field is chemistry and Dunn and Wendler know jack about it. What do they know about this? Have the met the professor? Have they reviewed this record? If they did review it, do they know enough about chemistry to judge his record? Could you review a chemistry professor's record and know if the work was good or not? The real question is why have they decided to fire the professor? They simply don't say, which is why the JRB keeps returning 3-0 decisions against the administration (this includes the person the administration appoints to the JRB panel).

Remember if you screw over the professor, everyone is going to know about it. So you make everyone, everyone do less work. We have a good suggestion that it is likely more efficent for the organization to not screw people over. Read the first comment again, it is so fundumentally correct that every manager or future manager should take it to heart.

I can't tell you how many times I have had someone in my office complaining about the performance of someone else, I always ask them what would they like me to do? Fire them, complain at them, hit them with a 2X4? If I took that action they would stop working for at least a month and then maybe they would quit. It is better to ask them to perform better, while giving positive feedback, and leave them alone. People get sick, their dog dies, get divorced or have other personal problems. When they do, they get less done. Over the course of years it evens out, so you do nothing unless you are really sure you want to replace them.

Have you had a class where you do the work, pass all the tests, but get your report card and get a "F"? Wouldn't you be demanding a reason for flunking? Is "because I said so" a fair answer in your book?

One of the problems with being a smart 20 year old is that you just don't have the life experience to understand the way the world works. You keep writing about how Wendler had an impossible task, everything was messed up, blah, blah, blah. In fact, Wendler inherited a great situation. I wish someone would give me something that easy to do, software startups are really hard. A got a free staff of super smart professors that are largely working hard for below market wages, tied to the university by a retirement system SIU doesn't have to pay for. All Uncle Walt has to do was act reasonable and he would have felt the ground well of support that his predecessors did before being illegally fired. This staff is holding it breath and hoping a reasonable manager arrives and leads this place back to greatness. Instead of taking this fairly easy situation and succeeding, Walt decided to come in as a big swinging dick and he has ruined his chances of ever doing well here. It is to bad you can't hear the new CoBA Dean speak, he knows how to lead at a college. I hope if Wendler stays he starts to chanel some people smarts. Have I mentioned that if Walt loves this place he should resign?

Someday, you will look back at this and realize that you had no clue about managing people yet. You are just too young and inexperienced to understand. Someday you might get lucky and have that great management moment where your best person quits because you screwed up (it has happened to me a couple of times). You get it? If you piss off the people what work for you enough they quit (but if they are college professors they don't go anywhere) and a little less pissed and they just stop working for a while. But hang tight, you are smart and you will learn all of this the hard way soon enough.

Southern Illusion's top story today - Card is W's Conscience

There isn't a link up yet, but the top of the Southern Illinoisan's front page today is the headline,
Chief of staff 'has to be a conscience'
There has been a conscience in the White House for the last 6 years? Could have fooled me.

Professors in Silos. More of the lazy professor series.

One of the things that amuses and amazes me about SIU is how all the professor stay in their silos. What I mean by silos is that each little department of 5 or 15 or even 30 people doesn't talk to anyone else. There is almost no inter-department communication, research, or understanding.

When I posed the simple question about how many professors are working, it was to start you thinking about the people are working around you and maybe kick off a thought process that it isn't OK to be surrounded by slackers. If 20% of the people are doing nothing, that means that another 30% to 50% are working at far less then top efficiency. Sure there are small departments doing better, but there aren't many. But no one seems to know that any other department is doing. Why not take the things that work out of one department and do it somewhere else? Why reinvent the wheel every time?

If you were out in the business world, it is unimaginable that senior people wouldn't have a clue about how other departments are doing. Senior engineers always are talking to marketing. Sales people are bugging everyone for help. Why is it that a whole bunch of senior professors don't know anything about what is going on at SIU? Yes, I understand this is the norm once you get beyond the stars at any university, but why can't SIU do better?

Don't you see how much better your results in all things would be if you got out of your silos and talked to people? I know the reasons not to do anything, busy, doing depth and not breadth, not easy, no short term reward. But still, there must be a few brave professors what want better results? I don't read the Chronicle, but isn't this what real superstars are doing? I know this is where the research funding is going.

Think about it, should you be reaching out of your silo and if you did, what would you hope to achieve? Who would you reach out to? Should you get job review credit for doing it?

Since the Provost is busy worrying about retention and not excellence, let me encourage you to at least think about a way to get better research results and better management methods.

As always, your comments are welcome.

JRB in the DE, good blogging material.

Here is a nice article about the JRB mess.

There are three quotes I really like
The BOT commissioned a review of the process, and Wendler was cleared of any wrong doing.
Nothing like having someone investigate themselves and coming away clean.

Then you have John Dunn still not getting it
Dunn called the amendment "fundamentally wrong."

Mainly, Dunn said the dilemma with the JRB is the lack of a defined description for procedural problems. There is no indication of what constitutes a misstep, he said, and no real separation of procedural problems and perceived prejudice.

"They will argue there is a procedural problem, and then they will argue that you don't like them," said Dunn, who has been a deciding force on the fate of several faculty members since 2002.
I guess that Dunn is just confused. He can easily break the rules because he doesn't like someone. So arguing for both "a procedural problem, and they will argue you don't like them," make perfect sense. I guess in Dunn's perfect world you can fire someone or screw them over on a big promotion, give no reasons and not follow the rules and at the end be confused about why your victim is upset.

I think most people who get fired feel management doesn't like them (couldn't be lack of results), this is where lawsuits come from. Someone told me that the administration is moving to give professors better feedback so when they get fired they aren't surprised. Clearly this is a reason to fire the chairmen (there were a number of posts here about this before I had any readers). Imaging getting good job reviews for 6 years and then getting fired without a real reason? This is what Dunn has been doing. Was he right to fire them? I don't know, but clearly the process is broken.

Can someone explain the next quote to me
Increasing diversity among faculty members on campus creates a blurred line in the review process, said the Rev. Joseph Brown, director of the Black American Studies department.

"I'm never free to know the difference between procedure and prejudice," Brown said.
Is this guy living in the same world as the rest of us? He is worried about prejudice based on skin color at SIU? Without the "Increasing diversity" part I would have to agree with "I'm never free to know the difference between procedure and prejudice," part seems right. Exactly what Dunn was complaining about. No one knows the difference between procedure and prejudice ever, to think you are going to know what is in people's souls isn't realistic.

It is more likely you would get screwed over because you flunk students who deserve flunking or some PE coach in the administration wouldn't like your research work he can't understand. Since diversity is a real hot button among the administrators looking for more money in Springfield, maybe he it worried about the white men being discriminated against?

Does anyone feel that US based professors are discriminating based on skin color against other professors? Has anyone even caught a whiff of this at SIU? Are the Indian and Asian born professors discriminating against blacks, hispanics, whites or each other? The only discrimination I have seen based on race is the hiring practices over in EE/CE where the chair will not hire anyone who is an American born man (true and easy) because they might challenge his position as king.

This uncertainly is one of the basis of work life, I guess the difference between Rev. Brown and your average white male American is he has been taught that he might well be discriminated against based on skin color. Always looking over your shoulder waiting to be screwed over based on skin color must be really hard. But that uncertainty the quote refers to is something that all of us experience, hopefully he doesn't feel alone. One of the nice things about being a white man is when you get screwed over at work, mostly you can figure it was because you didn't do well enough (work harder). Hopefully in our lifetimes everyone reguardless of skin color will feel they earn their results and not feel something is being taken away from them because of skin color.

Good for the Faculity Senate for taking on the JRB issue. Hopefully, there were be rules and people will not feel the administration is acting in a random way at job review time.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

This comment cracks me up or a PhD High priest writes in.

Anonymous said...

Let me get this straight. You are THE local expert on higher education, but you do not subscribe to the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Is that correct?

I don't think that I am a expert on higher education. I'm not sure that I know that much about it. I do know about leadership and building organizations. I also know how to hire and fire. What I'm writing about here is running an organization and analyzing SIUC's management, how to get a student to write a poem, research a term paper, grade on a curve and the rest of academic trivia isn't something that interests me.

The Chronicle is a don't care. I'm putting my finger on problems at SIUC here in this little blog. Mostly, I am just writing about the problems people tell me about and spinning it through my management beliefs. If I was in charge of SIUC and was going to make money by fixing it, I would find a sudden interest.

Let me suggest something to all you readers. Instead of wasting your time reading the Chronicle, why don't you go and read "Good to Great" instead? That is a book about getting the very average organization to become a great one. The wisdom is in there. To ignore our cultures mainstream management press is a mistake if you care to fix this place. It is an easy read, you can go back to the Chronicle after you are done.

The reason most people become professors is because they don't want to hassle with the management nitty gritty that I thrive in. I don't blame you, but please don't complain if you don't want to help fix the problems.

To the commenter, if you want to tell a joke you need to include a :) at the end. :) Either way, it made me laugh.

Monday, October 09, 2006

What is the breakdown of lazy professors?

I'm hearing from the comments (first and second) of my previous entries that some of you feel that the number of slackers is greater then 1% and less then 50% of professors at SIUC are retired in place (RIP). So what is the number?

I can name enough professors to believe that the numbers approach 20% of professors who are really slacking (aka RIP). I think that more than half are under achieving. I'm sure that 30% are really working hard and getting giving better results than SIU deserves.

What do you think? What are the numbers?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Wendler's two critical failings.

I hope anyone who isn't reading the comments starts now. There is great material in there. Thanks for all the good comments, you are sharpening my message.

Here is my quick bullet list of Wendler's two critical errors. If only he could fix these two things he would be golden.

First, the focus of Southern at 150 on research money was clearly a mistake. It is a great idea to move the university that way, but it ignores the history of the institution and the people who have worked there. His grand plan to flip a switch and suddenly have the kind of staff they have built at U of I, Purdue or UCLA was at best naive. You could argue that their goal was 13 more years to go and so they aren't pushing that hard for top 75, but that kind of change is a 50 to 100 year goal.

Second, Wendler's personal focus on the buildings of the campus instead of the people has consumed his good will and looks likely to leave a legacy of failure that building a new football stadium will not fix. If he cared about people he might have formed a group of advisors who weren't brain dead to bounce ideas off of. He has a tough job and it is tougher because he can't reach out and get help.

Just think if instead of hiring the consultants and go through the "grand" planning for S@150, instead they had focused on how to get their existing employees to do more, started a marketing campaign and generally focused on people (faculty, staff and students) instead of bricks and mortar. Image if he had announced that we have the right staff to be a top 75 university, but management hasn't supported them well enough. We don't need 100 or 1000 super hires at a super high pay scale, instead we are going to build our own from the people we already have. We are going to give the professors their $4M a year to make the salaries be in line with every other institution. Imaging the tide of goodwill. Of course, you would still shoot to hire the best people, but with all the professors working hard for 50+ hours a week the result would have been much better.

Heck he could have gone all out and actually read the WAG report. After reading it, he might have tried to fix the places with the lowest hanging fruit. Management isn't hard, you just need to like people.

There is nothing wrong at SIUC that 24,000 students doesn't cure. There is nothing right that will allow the university to remain in it's current form with 16,000. With 24,000 students, you have the money to build your football stadium. This is what the S@150 plan needed to focus on, but I hear that Walt has some marketing fever these days. Maybe the story isn't already done?

I'm proud to be here swing away. Hopefully, we few, we proud bloggers can help SIUC find its way. Good thing I had ear trouble this summer, if I was riding my bike like last year I wouldn't have time to amuse you.

Why Wendler is failing and what his replacement might do better.

Someone implied that I think Wendler is a villain in the comments and it isn't so. I think he is well meaning, but not capable of doing the job.

It seems that Uncle Walt has a clear mental division with the administrators on one side and the faculty and staff on the other. Right now he had clear control over the administrators and very little over faculty (beyond screwing people over on promotions and getting the best people to put their resumes on the street). Staff is somewhere in the middle. It is kind of funny that he doesn't demand results from the administrators, just that they are loyal.

A little story for you. My first 10 years after college I was involved in a number of layoffs. There was an important lesson to be learned from big layoffs. If the right people (the deadwood) were laid off, it was a good thing for the firm. If the good people were let go, say 100% of an organization with a failing product (including some superstars), the firm was going out of business. The survivers got the message pretty quick, good people going is bad, bad people going is good.

Let's assume you are the faculty, USG, A/P Staff or any other organization on campus where Wendler is trying to do a hostile takeover, before you just gave in and decided Uncle Walt should be your supreme commander, wouldn't it be wise to analyze how he is running the one organization he has real control over? The administration. If we view a snapshot of the administration at SIUC today and try to decide if the university is on the way up or down, like we do after a layoff what do we find? I think we can get virtually everyone (including people who think professors are working in the shower) to agree the administration was bad when Wendler came and is worse now. Feel free to write in if you feel differently.

Here is a quick list of the good people who have "left" SIUC since Wendler arrived. We lost the guy who was the key to turning around the whole athletic program, the good AD, the senior lawyer, the US Congressman who ran facilities (granted he is back), the US Senator who ran the highest visibility organization (granted he died) and almost every Dean in just 5 years! Don't forget that Wendler and Dunn have their CV's on the street and are actively interviewing for jobs. These are just the people I can name as I type, I mostly don't pay attention. Look who stayed and who mans the key positions in the administration? I'm certain that they aren't getting into the MLB playoffs with this talent.

Like Italy before WW2, when they embraced Mussolini because he could "make the trains run on time." The vested groups would likely give up control of SIUC to a dictator, if there was a good chance of success. An example of how the trains don't run on time, after 5 years there still isn't any literature in the high schools around the state for SIUC (the only school who can't execute this simple task), only university in Illinois that no advertising budget, only university that doesn't test incoming students for math, only university in Illinois with declining enrollment. The administration is so incompetent they have recently decided to shift the blame to the Deans by giving them "responsibility for recruiting" for their own colleges. The real problem is what Wendler has failed to fix the administration and clearly isn't up to the task of fixing the rest of the problems where he doesn't have control. If I was on campus, I wouldn't be signing up to be the next group Wendler "fixed."

The Wendler management experiment is over and we know the results. It is to bad when someone talks a reasonable game, but can't execute. It certainly isn't that he is a villain, as a matter of fact it could be that SIUC needs a villain. There are so many people who need to improve performance at SIUC, it could be that only a villain will be able to make the painful moves that will be required to turn things around (a tip on the first painful move? Public firings of the worst people in the administration).

As always, your comments are welcome.

You might read the comment in a post below.

In my last post about professors and work hours there are really good comments.

I'm going to tee up one of them today and I'll work on the results idea soon. Of course, I know about result based management, but to do anything about it requires management.

Friday, October 06, 2006

The sad state of the Electrical Engineering department

Or maybe it should be titled "The Sad State of the EE Department Chairman?"

I was invited to join the College of Engineering, Department of Electric Engineering's Industrial Advisory Board (IAB) about a year and a half ago. As a review, the IAB is required for accreditation for EE. I went to the first meeting and it was a full day and a half affair. Dinner on Thursday, Breakfast Friday morning, meeting, free lunch, party with faculty and students in the afternoon.

After receiving my first agenda for the first meeting, I wrote back to the department chairman with a simple message "Is this it?" We had a friendly meeting in the chairmen's office and he told me we were going to do lots of things, come and see. I had the strong feeling that he was lying to me, but decided to wait and see. OK, I went and we did nothing but get free food. It was 1.5 days of wasted time and more than that if you traveled from out of town.

At that meeting I asked the other IAB members if we were going to do something. We had a discussion and decided we wanted to have content in the next meeting. I went away thinking the next meeting would be better.

A year goes by and the next agenda comes out, it is the same as the last meeting. I wrote the follow in reply and copied all the IAB members -
A little background before I begin. I am a Carbondale native, live about a mile from the Communications building (after an 18 year adventure on the West Coast), my father is still teaching in the Math department here at SIUC, I have a BA in CS 1984 from SIU, I am currently a software entrepreneur and angel investor with a deep interest in Southern Illinois economic development. I have a brief bio and picture on my current company's website http://www.boundlessgallery.com/customer/people.php (buy some art while you are there, your office would so much better with an original painting ;)). I have a fair-sized emotional investment in this little town and I hope you will join me in helping our biggest employer to improve. Sorry it is so long, but it grew. Now, on to the meat of this message.

I have been on a number of advisory boards in the last few years and I'm finding the scope of this agenda to be "limited." I joined this board to try to help the department, college and SIUC get better, that is my goal. This agenda provides us with only 30 minutes of meeting and the rest is filler.

I propose that we change the agenda to this -
Friday March 31:
7:30-8:30 am Breakfast with Faculty at Mary Lou's Grill (it is no
smoking now!)
8:45 - 10:00 am Meeting with Faculty and briefing by the Chair
the state of the Department
10:15 - Noon IAB discussion about how to help improve the EE/CE
department. Brainstorming on finding new members and other strategic subjects.
Noon - 1 pm Lunch - more IAB and Faculty discussion.
1 pm - 2:30 pm Meet with Dean and Chair to discuss how the IAB can
help the College and Department improve. Switch this to meet the Dean's schedule, if necessary.
3:00 pm to ? Waste time at the meet and greet. Go home burned out on talking.

Before my first IAB meeting last year I was bothered by the total lack of content in the agenda and met with Dr. Galanos about my concern. He asked me to attend and be patient. OK, I was patient and we did the least of any advisory board meeting I have ever attended (and that is saying something).

At the meeting the first thing I noticed is that the really senior people on the board didn't show up. If this doesn't bother you, it should.

Here are the four (4) things I would like to talk about at the meeting -

Last meeting I was impressed by the large number of major and grad students that the department has recruited. The next week Business Week had a story about how the number of engineering majors was going down in the USA, the contrast caught my eye. As fall semester started I started getting pleas from a number of Indian EE graduate students searching for support, they are bugging everyone at SIU it isn't just me. I would like to understand how the department is recruiting so many students when other Universities are seeing declining enrollment. I would ask someone in the department to bring a breakdown of how many majors are reaching a degree, incoming test scores, country of origin of students in the graduate program would be very helpful. I can get this information fairly easily through other channels if this is going to be to much work (http://www.irs.siu.edu/webRoot/index.htm).

As many of you know the major top-down management initiative at SIUC these days is called "Southern at 150." One of the driving forces in this plan is to raise more money in outside grants for research. I did some investigation into this and I think the IAB should be informed of how the EE/CE Department is doing increasing their outside research budget. Also, how the department compares in national rankings and against peer institutions. I think we should see if we could help the department raise more money, offer suggestions or at least understand these issues better.

The students I am interviewing coming out of SIU in the technical areas are weak, there is no other way to say it. I would like the department to improve instruction or at least add instrumentation of student instruction. I think the IAB has something valuable to add in this area and I feel it should be put on the agenda for discussion. Back in the day I was a student worker at an administrative office called Institutional Research and Studies (same website as above http://www.irs.siu.edu/webRoot/index.htm) and they had all the information needed to track student and teaching results on tap.

The College of Engineering has a new Dean this year (http://www.engr.siu.edu/dean.html). Thus far I have been nothing but impressed with him and with the actions I have heard about him taking. But, I love business guys in academia, they always have a clue. I called him and he agreed to find time to come and speak to us if we invited him. It would be interesting to hear his stump speech and his views of how the IAB can work with the college and department.

Here is a very different proposed agenda for this IAB and some items I feel we should discuss. I'm sure that other IAB members have other ideas to contribute, please feel free to help set this agenda and contribute to the discussion.

I feel if you serve on a board like this you should put some effort into helping improve things. Hopefully this will help other IAB board members who don't live in Carbondale and aren't University Brats some items to think over before the meeting. I suspect that I'm the first person to attempt to change the agenda, hopefully this doesn't blow anyone's mind. Challenging the status quo has made me a successful businessman.

Hope to see some email from a few of you in the next few days with your comments and ideas.

Best regards,

PS - I'm giving a talk at the Intelligent Systems Exposition, (SIUIS)(see Dr. G's mail below) the students are trying to startup on Saturday and I'm likely to write them a check too, please hang around an extra day and give a talk. Don't be put off if the title doesn't match exactly, I only talk about being a money grubbing pig at these things and they are letting me in. Each of us can contribute to the education of these kids and have some fun talking about what we do for a living. They just love it. Contact Anil Mehta (anil@siu.edu) for more information and a pitch. :)

After 14 days I had received no reply, so I sent a new mail to the chair and dean -
I sent the previous email out with some purpose. I wanted to know if your
EE IAB was in place to rubber stamp department policy, help accreditation
and look pretty or if it was a gathering of customers, advisors, donors and
partners for the department. I also wanted to point out to both you and the
IAB members that if we were supposed to be moving the department forward,
the IAB was doing a bad job. The lack of response to this email seems to
speak pretty clearly doesn't it?

I'm busy, I have a company, investments, a wife, small children, a couple of
hobbies that don't get enough attention and my workout schedule to attend
to. It is easy for me to make this board not fit into my schedule,
certainly this is what is happening for the other board members like me.

Are you guys going to change the agenda for this meeting and treat the IAB
members like advisors or are you going to blow it off? I hope that when I
show up for this meeting, there will be more than 30 minutes of content.

At the moment I'm looking for the truth. Just tell me what you are going to
do and I'll make plans accordingly.

The ball is now officially in your court.

Best regards,
I got this really helpful response from the chair -

The Department Faculty welcomes and considers ideas and advice, from the
IAB and other equally important sources. The final decision on academic
issues, however, is made exclusively by the Faculty in accordance to the
Department Operating Paper. The itinerary of the upcoming IAB meeting
(attached to the invitation you received) was designed and approved by the
Faculty. The time slot 8:30 to 11:30, is devoted to the briefing by the
Department Chair and to the interaction between the Faculty and IAB
members. The time slot 11:30 to 2:30, is devoted to the meeting of the IAB
chaired by Karl Kiefer who is the current Chair of the Board. Karl will
soon be contacting you with regard to the agenda of the IAB meeting (time
slot 11:30 to 2:30). This itinerary serves the needs of all constituents
of the Department and cannot be changed because it has already been
approved by the Faculty.

Finally, I would like to inform you that the Department Chair is always
available to meet with you (or any citizen interested in the Department) in
the Department office, to respond to any questions that you may have, to
provide data and to address any issue related to the Department.

Best Regards,


Glafkos D. Galanos
Professor and Chair
Electrical and Computer
Engineering Department
Southern Illinois University
At this point I was going to ignore EE until this chairman died, but after talking to a few professors the encourged me to continue. Only by working on this problem today, can we get things to change in the future. OK, I contined to work on it.

There are so many issues that are fun about this reply. I just assumed I was being told to go screw myself, "This itinerary serves the needs of all constituents of the Department and cannot be changed because it has already been approved by the Faculty." is my favorite part. This sounds like a group of engineers, we will not change for a better idea and will not even discuss it. Right.

At this point, I went to work figuring out what is really going on in EE/CE and what this clown is hiding. When you will not discuss reasonable things with your IAB you are hiding something. If you have been reading this blog you can assume that I used the same style of investigation to do this, followed by detailed emails about how they are screwing up. It would have been better to agree to discuss these issues at the IAB meeting and have the Dean speak, but that wasn't one of the options.

The main funny business going on in EE/CE are -
Open admission of graduate students.
Many graduate students without support. Almost all graduate students with fractional support to gain the tuition waver.
Cutting off support of some graduate students without warning.
Pipeline to second rate Indian EE programs to pump the graduate student numbers. The Indian students tell me they were not accepted at any other university. Including Northern Illinois, Illinois State and Western Illinois. So SIUC's admission standards for EE grad students is lower than those schools it seems.
Almost no external funding for research. Read the WAG report for details, you can pull a copy off my server from this entry.
IAB is treated as rubber stamping chumps and the best and most able to contribute don't come to meetings.
Pocket veto of American born professors who might challenge the chair's power base.
Payoffs to potentially strong voices in the department with unearned summer funding. People who have done no research for years with research funding is a really bad sign.

After using an email bat on our "fine" chair for a while, I conducted a poll of the IAB members. The poll was simple, who wishes to hear the new Dean speak at the IAB meeting? The results were 18 for hearing him and 0 against. What a surprise. After I sent email to the chair telling him of the results of our little poll, he sent this email message -
The ECE faculty (at the Faculty Meeting of March, 23 2006) has unanimously
decided to postpone the IAB meeting (scheduled for March 30 and 31) and to
reschedule for a later date to ensure the participation of many IAB
members. We hope that the members who were planning to participate in the
SIUIS EXPO, organized by the students, will do so despite the cancellation
of the IAB meeting.

The ECE Faculty would like to thank you for your continuing support of the

Best Regards,

What I like about this is how he couldn't change the agenda a couple of months before the meeting, but he could cancel the meeting 3 days before. I think he realized the level of beat down he was looking at up close and in person at this meeting and ducked and ran. I can't really blame him.

When the chair did not want the IAB to hear the new Dean speak, there is something very wrong with chairman.

Turns out that EE had a previous advisory board and Galanos made the disappear when they started to ask questions. After I did all that work and figured out how screwed up EE is, he disbanded last year's IAB too. I'm wondering why have an advisory committee if you aren't going to allow any input from it? Oh right, he needs one for accreditation? Guess I'll write a letter about this, give them something to talk about with the auditors.

The amazing thing is that the EE/CE department is full of good professors and good people, but they are all clones of each other. They are all foreign and very soft spoken, (which is OK with me, but statistically improbable) except for one mild mannered woman. Anyone who develops into a political power leaves SIU or is paid off with unearned summer support (the people who are good at research and politics I assume are resting next to Jimmy Hoffa). There are reports of some very high handed politics played by this chair against department professors. Where this makes it easy to be "KING", it means there isn't anyone to go sell the department and its ideas to make research money. EE is the one department in a university that has the easiest time raising money from industry, but they raise none for all practical purposes.

In a world where EE/CE are the fastest growing industries, a real accomplishment is to be Chairman for 20 years and at retirement leave a department with no internal leadership, no funding and in worse shape than when you started. At other universities, EE is doing well and earning an honest way in the world.

Everyone in the other engineering departments at SIUC knows EE isn't pulling their weight and is playing games with their graduate students. The series of temporary and weak deans might be a reason. I wonder how long this game can go on? Will the current chair die, retire first or will the dean bring in someone from outside to replace him? There is no one inside, because eliminating your successors is part of this political drill.

The results speak for themselves, it is to bad that SIUC's administration has allowed this department to have marginal results for so long. A nice summary of what management should do and hasn't for many years at SIUC. What a waste.

As always, your comments are welcome.

SIU Enrollment and Midwest Student Exchange Program

Here is the story from the DE. OK, we know that SIU enrollment is down already and there are pretty graphics.

The real story to keep you eye on is this Midwest Student Exchange Program. If we assume that SIUC has recruiting problems, poor PR, poor public perception compared to other universities in the region, does it make sense to help Illinois students go to other states? In the example from the DE piece
"(SIUC) can even tailor it to their own needs," Sevener said. "The Carbondale campus could decide to offer the program for students in engineering and not in any other discipline."
That is great, but if it is financially easier to go out of state it seems like potential SIU students would go. If SIU has the worst story, it seems like students in other states would stay away. So this might be a net win for the students, because it encourages capitalist choice, it is likely to hurt SIUC. Think NAFTA and Mexico.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Professors and their work habits - got a interesting comment

Got a comment to my entry about professors working. Anonymous Said -
I have worked industry and it is my observation that university faculty work longer hours than comparatively trained people in the private sector. You have not offered any data to support your views, so I will weight them accordingly. Perhaps you think that hurling insults is a form of evidence. It is not. But, doing research does require work.

Are Faculty Members Overworked?
11/5/2004 Chronicle of Higher Education

Faculty members are frequently ridiculed for having some of the cushiest jobs around. But exactly how many hours do professors put in?
Jerry A. Jacobs, a professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, has found that the average full-time faculty member works more than 50 hours a week, regardless of academic rank. About 35 percent of faculty members reported working more than 60 hours a week. Mr. Jacobs analyzed data from a U.S. Department of Education survey of more than 10,000 faculty members at four-year institutions in 1998-99, the most recent year for which figures are available.
If you are in a department or college that is working more than 40 hours per week at SIU, name it here anonymously. This is Blogger's server and I can't and will not track stats or IP address here. Be brave, tell us where you hard workers are so we can send you fan mail. Not going to ask for 50 like your document says. Go on and tell us, we are all waiting.

I notice that anonymous didn't tell us that he/she works 50 hours a week. Please, we are waiting on that too.

Just to define our terms, I am sitting in my office at work right now and I'm not working. I'm writing this thing. We are not talking about sitting in your office and talking to your wife on the phone or balancing the checkbook as work hours. When you are in the shower and thinking about random things you aren't working. When you are driving to work, you aren't working. When you are drinking beer, mowing your lawn, playing golf, watching TV or sleeping you aren't working. Do you count reading the paper, Science magazine, National Geographic, as work? I don't. How about surfing the web? Nope.

There is nothing better then a club protecting itself and producing its own study data. How are these 50 work hours determined? Timecards? Questionnaires? Kind of like Congress and their pages isn't it? Or what college is the best party school. Human nature says that 10,000 professors are willing to lie about work hours and in this case likely have. Only white lies though, so that is OK. We can assume there isn't an audit on the data?

Talk about observations without data, you worked at a couple of places and you know something about the real world? Go lookup working hours for American white collar workers, they are wild too. I certainly didn't compare professors to industry, though we all know that most professors have a PhD so they don't have to deal with that real world crap. I used to sit at Microsoft and all the awesome young dudes used to work far into the night. The came to work at 10:00 am, went to lunch for an hour or more, did some exercise (soccer, pickup basketball that sort of thing) in the afternoon for an hour or more, went out to dinner and left at 10:00 pm. Hours worked per day? Around 8, but in the office for 12. Counting hours isn't that easy.

I'm going to teach you a trick that good managers use. If you get something out of this please give the Boys and Girl's Club of Carbondale a little gift in honor of the wisdom. Ready? As you drive through the blue parking lots at SIU, you can tell who is working and who isn't. Drive into any lot at 9:00, 11:00, 2:00 and 4:15. You tell me the professors and staff are working 40 hours a week. The place has no cars at 8:00 am and no cars at 4:30 pm. There are no cars on the weekend, period. We will not go into Friday where everyone blows out of work after lunch. Unless the professors are biking or walking to work, I think we can draw a pretty interesting result with almost no work. Pretty smart isn't it? Works in all industries and professions these days. We have a 100% reading on 40 hours here, 50 hours? Not possible. Need more data or is that enough?

I think that pulling average numbers out when discussing the work ethic at SIU is wrong and self serving. SIU isn't average, it is below average on results. Since SIU professors are pretty much average in ability (which is fantastically high) vs. other universities, maybe working as hard as other universities would suddenly raise results to average or above?

But none of this is what I was writing about. I was writing about how the people who own SIU, the taxpayers of Illinois can tell you guys aren't working hard enough. This makes them much less likely to increase state funding. It is as clear as the nose on your face, we are your neighbors and it wasn't like this 30 years ago.

If you want to claim professors are working on research at home, no problem. What percentage of professors would have received tenure based on the previous 6 years of work? A majority or minority? 6 good papers in 6 years (or equivalent) isn't too much to ask for is it? At SIU, we don't know because the university hides all statistics, but I will bet you money it follows my position pretty closely.

To the minority of SIU professors who are working hard and getting great results, I tip my hat to you. I wish more of you would grow a backbone and use peer pressure to get the rest of the professors to work hard, but still, congratulations on your hard work. I hope you are richly rewarded for it.