CSU advisory board resigns over presidential search process

  • By Peter Sachs
  • Staff Writer
  • April 17, 2009 @ 3:00 PM

All but two members of an advisory board involved in Chicago State University’s presidential search process abruptly resigned this afternoon and walked out of a closed-door meeting.

In a signed resolution, 13 of the 15 members of the Campus Advisory Committee wrote that “we feel it would be inappropriate to legitimize a less than transparent or participatory process by recommending either of the two finalists for the position of Chicago State University president.”

Faculty member Ann Kuzdale, who was on the committee and in the meeting, says the committee members resigned when it became clear that the Board of Trustees was not going to include the advisory committee in its decision making.

“We were waiting to see if they would change their mind about the search process,” Kuzdale says.

Board Chairman Leon Finney said after the closed-door meeting that no decision was made, but that a vote would be held at the board’s next full meeting, on April 29.

The two job candidates are Carol Adams, the secretary of the Illinois Department of Human Services, and Wayne Watson, the chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago. Each spent a day on campus earlier this week responding to questions from students, faculty and staff. The sessions were contentious at times as students held up signs in the back of the room and many wore T-shirts calling for a new presidential search process.

The advisory committee was excluded from the process of narrowing down the pool of applicants, the resolution says.

Sudie Davis, a member of the Athletics department, did not sign the resignation resolution and was not at today’s meeting, Kuzdale says. Rufus Jackson, the student body president, was a member of the committee but was not listed on the resolution.

Prior to the closed-door meeting, several people commented on the search process.

“ [The board's] conduct in this presidential search process has irrevocably breached the trust in this community,” says political science professor Phillip Beverly.

Political science major John Orebiyi says the school needed a new, a more transparent search process.

“We need a new presidential search to be conducted in which you’re going to consider the students, the faculty and the staff and you’re going to take recommendations from them,” Orebiyi told the board, “because we are the university.”

Kuzdale says there was little discussion in the closed-door meeting about the candidates.

“It was all very, cards held very close to the chest,” she says. She added that she hoped the board would restart the search process, but conceded “they seem to be intent on following the course they’ve set.”


Daily News Staff Writer Peter Sachs covers higher education. He can be reached at 773.362.5002, ext. 18, or peter [at] chitowndailynews [dot] org.