Wednesday, January 24, 2007

DE says Poshard had a bad year? I just can't agree.

I didn't capture the link, but found it on Dave's Shawnee Net News collector. Here is "Our Word" from the DE. It would be really nice if there was a date to separate the issues, but Dave has created a really cool tool.

Bottom line, the DE's staff doesn't see what Poshard has done well in his first year in power. What I see he has done is fire the biggest problem people in positions of power at SIUC (he has canned my top 3 and hopefully will move on to the next few soon). He has kept the faculty union contact discussions from being front and center in the press. He has put water on the "gang of 9" suspension problem. But mostly, he had started to analysis SIUC and started to try to move it in the right direction.

I have talked to a couple his consultants and they are doing exactly the right thing. They are looking at the structures of administration and trying to figure out how to fix them. They are backing away from Southern at 150 and Saluki Way in a reasonable and orderly fashion (note, when you need to raise a whole bunch of money and you haven't raised about half when you announce it, you aren't going to raise that money).

I think Poshard's only big misstep is his need to be "KING!" of SIU. Where it might have worked for Morris, this is a new age. His handling of the Joan Friedenberg discussions and his public attacks on her were really stupid (whistle blower lawsuit anyone?). I suspect that this high handed behavior, based on ego, is going to make it harder to do what he needs to do. If you weren't driven by ego, maybe you wouldn't be dumb enough to take the SIU President's job?

One of the big problems that Poshard has is analyzing and replacing the losers who hold so many jobs in all levels of SIU. Because of the contracts and tenure, the replacement cycle at SIU is very slow. In the private sectors, SIU would be having a massive layoff to flush the losers and then rehire to the right level. I suspect that you are looking at a 20 year fight to reload the university with the right kind of people.

Moving SIUC forward is going to be a many year cycle. This isn't like dropping a class, writing a research paper or changing majors. Poshard is going to have to figure out what to do and start to do it, the results are likely to be years down the line. That is the way it works when you are managing large systems. The good news is that someone has started, has recruited expert help and that person isn't as clueless as Wendler.

Hopefully, we are going to see many more "retirements" and other management movement at SIUC. Hopefully, the university will figure out how to stop the feather bedding and waste in their ranks. I suspect that Poshard ties to unions will prevent much of this and derail the SIUC turnaround, but time will tell.

In summary, I think Poshard has had about as good a year as anyone could expect. It could be better, but there are glimmers of movement, hope and intelligence that bode well for the future.

Poshard has taken a hard job and I wish him luck, but man does he have challenges.


Fraydog said...

I must ask about this "backing away from Saluki Way" thing. How are they going to do it in a reasonable and orderly fashion (without tipping much of your hand)? I remember when Illinois State tried to do the same thing and a lot of their alumni went beserk.

Now if they back off it could cause a lot of hard feelings from boosters. I think there are worse things to worry about right now, but it would still be interesting to see the reactions of those who think we're going to do both the new football facility and the Arena renovations if the administration backed off.

Peter in Carbondale said...

This is all about the money. SIU will need millions and more millions from private donors to do Saluki Way. They aren't going to get that money. A couple of months ago Caleb Hale wrote a Southern Illinoisan article about how they have only raised $400k so far. Poshard has made noises about not doing Saluki Way if they can't afford it. Put no money and calling it off together and you get not doing it fairly quickly.

There is nothing wrong with Wendler's plans that someone dropping a random Billion Dollars on campus wouldn't cure.

Anonymous said...

Poshard's recent speeches still use the words "have to" in association with a new football stadium. The speeches also acknowledge the donation problem that anyone can see at
It looks to me like there will be another year or two of failed fund raising before they'll finally back away from Saluki Way.

Anonymous said...

Poshard is going to do everything he can to raise the money. However he made it clear with his comments to the graduate council that they need $28 million dollars to start the football stadium construction and the Arena renovation. They have $37 million in student fees coming in over the next four years. Therefore, with the student's money already coming in, I can only hope that they would at least start the northernmost buildings, either the classroom building or the student services building (from all inside information that I can gleam, it looks like the student services building will be the first to come online). Also, I'd like to see the Arena renovation before the new football stadium. A renovation to the SIU Arena brings a lot more to the table - our signature sport plays there, a lot of events are held there, and it's a way to put our best foot forward to Southern Illinois. The football stadium would at most be used 7 times a year. If they do build a new one merely to create space for the academic buildings, build it bare bones like a hole in the ground, have it seat 12,000 people in all bleachers, and only have a minimal press box. I'd bet you could save a lot of money doing that. $42 million for a I-AA football stadium that gets no publicity for the University and just burns a hole in SIU's pocket is a bit much. A new stadium shouldn't cost more than $ 8 or 9 million max.

I'd love to see Posard do it, but unless someone like Kenny Troutt writes a $30 million check, I don't see the Saluki Way as set up by Wendler happening. Our private giving has to improve though, and if SIU is more competently managed, people will regain confidence and we will be able to raise more money - not enough to keep up with UIUC, but enough to be the Second Crown Jewel again.