Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dean Search for College of Engineering "Compromised"

The following was issued yesterday afternoon by the Seach Committee for the College of Engineering Dean:

A majority of the College of Engineering Dean Search Committee has endorsed this statement: The College of Engineering Dean Search Committee, a committee with 22 members representing various constituencies within and outside of the College of Engineering, was formed last fall to review applications and make recommendations for interviews on campus with the goal of recruiting a Dean for the College of Engineering by July 1, 2011. The Committee received 34 applications. The Committee met numerous times and spent countless hours reviewing, discussing, and evaluating the candidates based on the criteria published in the job description (which had also been reviewed and agreed upon by the Committee). Following this exhaustive review of the candidates' credentials and experience, the Committee narrowed the pool and contacted references for written letters and verbal comments (over the telephone). Following our review of reference letters and telephone input we further narrowed the candidates to a finalist of 4 and made a recommendation to the Chancellor that these candidates be invited for interview. The Committee was asked to review 3 candidates again on Affirmative Action grounds. However, the committee found large differences in the credentials of these candidates and those recommended for interview. The upper administration then unilaterally added one of these 3 candidates to the interview pool and ignored concerns expressed by the committee. We therefore feel that the uniformity of the search process has been compromised.


  1. This is actually business as usual--I am not surprised that this occurred. All along the administration knows full well who they want and everything is tailored to fit the preferred end result. But for once (thankfully!) it seems that a majority of the search committee members have chosen to voice their concerns. This rarely happens and people on search committees usually do as they are told to do. So this is great--after all one should not forget that it is our tax dollars that will go to pay the Dean's salary. It is not coming out of any one person's pocket.

  2. This is pathetic. Cheng cannot even take recommendations from the committee she appointed. In the name of diversity, Cheng is hiring whosoever she wants. Where was diversity when Nicklow was hired without any search, especially after firing an African American woman? Are you going to tell me that in this entire University, there is no female or minority who can do what Nicklow is doing? Where was diversity when last Provost was hired? Where was diversity when director of Saluki First Year was hired? Someone told me that administration tried to manipulate the engineering dean search committee formation and tried to replace a minority committee member with a white male. Is this what we call diversity at SIUC?

    Can someone tell me the definition of Equal Opportunity? If Cheng has the authority to unilaterally pick someone from the bottom of the pool (especially the one who was rejected twice by a 22 member committee), what about all those candidates who were judged significantly more qualified by the experts? Are we giving equal opportunity to all others who are better than the candidate picked from the bottom? If this is how SIUC wants to hire people, SIUC should remove “Equal Opportunity Employer” from its ads. Really, Federal Government must investigate hiring practices at SIUC.

    Here is an Idea; we should appoint one member committee. You can guess who should be the committee member. Believe me; this University is going down much faster than I thought.

  3. Anonymous April 28, 11:51 PM has made excellent points. In my 27 years in academia, I have never seen searches conducted so poorly; total lack of transparency, total disregard to shared governance, no respect of faculty’s opinions, names are released just a day or two before the date of interview, CVs cannot be viewed by public, Provost committee disbanded before the search is over. I am surprised that Board is quietly watching while this institution is stuck in downward spiral.

  4. Re: "Where was diversity when Nicklow was hired without any search, especially after firing an African American woman?"

    The person John replaced was a disaster. I am not saying anything about the process - I don't know anything about it. But something needed to be done fast.

    Re: "I have never seen searches conducted so poorly..."

    Well there was the search that produced Trevino. And let's not forget how Glenn was hired.

  5. Hey, here are a few more! Guess who has been hired as the department of linguistics chair--Not a linguist for sure. For many years they had this white male professor from history who was a buddy of the former Dean. Then after that it was another white male Associate Professor, also Assoc Dean of COLA. Then they had this weird ad for the dept of linguistics chair which basically said that disciplinary expertise was not really important. Now they have appeared to have hired someone--a nonlinguist (from the Chancellor's inner circle?) for the position. Then there's the issue of the acting dean of COE! we have two deans in one! and again another white male person! Where is academics!!
    Also, go back into the past and consider how The Deans in COLA (recent past and present) were allowed to hire who they wanted--AA policies only count sometimes! All of this is really troubling. All of this will in the end surely hurt our students.

  6. The weird thing about Linguistics is that it was supposed to be merged with Foreign Languages. The merger was requested by the Admin. and approved by the Faculty Senate and then it just never happened. I know some people were against the merger, but once it was approved why did it not happen? Anyone know?

  7. Incidentally, the person (a non-linguist) who has now (in 2010/11?) been appointed chair of linguistics was on the faculty senate then (2006) and that person also voted for the merger of LInguistics with the Dept. of Foreign Languages. It is a good thing that the merger didn't actually happen for otherwise there wouldn't be a chair position to be occupied by this person now. I have heard that the professor from History (John Dotson?) who at that time was installed to "manage" linguistics by the former Dean of COLA was also in favor of it, as were all the non-tenure track faculty in Linguistics and CESL (who formed the majority). It appears that the tenured faculty (a minority group) were not. Now the department continues to have a non-linguist as chair. I really feel sorry for the students in that department. This is just as weird as the COllege of Engineering having an Acting Dean whose disciplinary expertise is in Cinema and Photography. Next we'll have a Math person chairing the English department and a person with a PhD in English chairing the Math department; Or think of this--a person with a PhD in engineering chairing the department of History. A Physics person heading Sociology. A Chemist heading Philosophy. and so on and so on. Oh what a diverse and a wonderful world it will be! Perhaps communication within the university--across colleges and departments will improve! Oh--and in the college of Education, it appears there will soon be a search for a new Dean. I say that the best person for that job would be a person from the Business school---perhaps the current Dean of the Business school. After all, it seems the growing trend is one where educational institutions are now run more like one would run a business! Yes, we will have a CEO for every academic unit!

  8. Linguistics has no tenured faculty to chair the department, and my understanding is that the tenured linguists in other departments were unavailable, uninterested, or not, for various reasons, ideal candidates. Those of us who have been around long enough know that the troubles in Linguistics were in large part of internal origin. And the merger failed to work in some large part because my department (Foreign Languages), perhaps imprudently, wasn't interested in merging.

    CoLA has hired a couple of tenure track linguists in the last couple years, not bad in the current climate. The decision to hire any chair at all (rather than essentially saddling a tenure-track faculty member with this task) was, I think, also a supportive move. At one time people in administrative jobs concluded that doing away with (or merging) linguistics was a smart move, but the current dean of CoLA decided otherwise and has been pretty supportive. Heaven knows, I don't agree with Alan Vaux about everything, but from what I've seen he's done what he can to help Linguistics in the last few years.

    This is, in short, a story of a department coming back from the verge of something like extinction (though a merger with DFLL could have given LING--and DFLL--a new and no less honorable existence, for all I know). I don't think its recent history, at any rate, is evidence of an administration hell-bent on destroying academic units.

  9. Point of information. The Interim Dean of Engineering from C&P does not even have a Ph.D.

  10. Don’t you remember, non-linguistic person appointed as the chair of linguistic was the chair of the search committee who hired Cheng? It is payback time.

    Let’s get back to discussion about hiring practice at SIUC. Anonymous April 29, 10:36 mentioned that the person Nicklow replaced was a disaster. Do you know how big a disaster is the person pushed into the interview list of engineering by Cheng? I don’t think it is time to talk about individuals. Pay attention to the inconsistencies. Acted Dean of Engineering is a white mail. There was at least one female and one minority in the pool? How did the Affirmative Action approve the appointment?

    Affirmative Action (AA) office is a joke. Do you expect AA officer to challenge her boss’ decision? Don’t you think she is afraid of her job? Either Cheng does not consult AA officer or the AA officer is incompetent. Otherwise, there is no way we will have the trouble we are having with hiring practices at SIUC.

    Diversity has become a matter of convenience to hire friends (inner circle members) at SIUC. You invoke diversity policy when your friend does not make the short list and forget diversity when the inner circle person is white male.

    May God Bless SIUC

  11. Have you noticed that three colleges have Deans without terminal degree (CASA, MCMA, COE) along with Associate Provost who is acting as Provost right now. I can bet you that the next Provost is going to be someone who may not even make a dean position shortlist in some other University. This is the quality we are promoting. I am sorry, it sounds too negative. I do not know how to sugarcoat bitter truth.

    COE dean and COLA dean searches started last year. The last COE dean candidate is scheduled to interview in the finals week (may be this is intentional because faculty won’t be here to evaluate the candidate and Cheng can do whatever she wants). All other universities have already made offers to the top dean candidates. We will get what we were looking for “Top from Bottom.” I don’t think Cheng or her inner circle know how to conduct searches. The first search she conducted at SIUC failed. COE Dean search is turning into disaster. COLA is likely to create issues after the offer is made. Just wait.

  12. Although two tenure track faculty were recently hired in linguistics, I have heard that the search was originally for hiring only one tenure track faculty person--not two. That search, like others on this campus (including the various Dean Search committees in COE), also appears to have been problematic in many respects (e.g., the composition of the search committee as well as other flawed procedures). Also as in other cases discussed in the above postings, the end result in the case of the recent Linguistics tenure track search appears to have been predetermined. Only things didn't work out exactly as planned as it turned out that another position, was at the end of the search process suddenly approved by the Provost (Don Rice), resulting in the hiring of (i) the Administrators' and "the problematic search committee's" "favorite" and (ii) the outside candidate as well. Linguistics, when the department was a full fledged department with linguists (and not non-linguists) at the helm, with 9-10 tenured and tenure track faculty was excellent, and one of the most highly productive within the college (in terms of research/grants and graduate enrollment (domestic/international). The so-called "internal problems" were not very different from what other departments go through (take the case of Anthropology in the 80s and the early 90s--it was considered to be a real disaster by others in the college/university! take history as well--that has had problems as well, in the recent past. The department of Sociology too (in the 80s and early 90s had "internal problems". And the department of Foreign Languages and literatures has not exactly been smooth sailing throughout! Economics as well has had its ups and downs. There are examples from other colleges as well--including the College of Education (C & I; Social Work), the College of Science. and the College of Communication. The reason why the former Dean wanted to eliminate Linguistics was because its resources could be easily diverted (to other units) especially with a buddy (non-linguist from history) at the helm and also because there was a lawsuit against the university by a tenured Professor, which the university ultimately had to settle. Also, as tenure track faculty lines were never replaced (nor requested), especially when the person in the chair position was not a linguist, the department shrank drastically to about 2/3 tenured/tenure track faculty. Over the past 10 years three non-linguists have chaired LInguistics. They could have hired a linguist from outside 10 years ago if the intent was really to help the department and its students and make it a full fledged department-just as they did in the case of all the departments with a troubled history in the past--Anthro, Sociology, among others. Also, more importantly, if the intent was to help (rather than eliminate) a highly productive department, faculty lines that were lost due to resignation, retirement, etc would have been replaced as was the case in relation to other departments, including those that were never as productive as Linguistics was in the past.

  13. I agree with what Anonymous (April 29th, 2011, 10:19 PM) has stated. Yes, so called Diversity has become "a matter of convenience to hire friends (inner circle members) at SIUC."
    Diversity of Opinion should be appreciated and upheld--then all these other problems (the various -isms will go away)

  14. To uphold diversity, Affirmative Action office must not be under the command of the hiring officer, in SIUC’s case Chancellor. Because of her top down intimidating style, Cheng is nicely using the AA office (or should I say AA officer) to her advantage.

    I must give credit to Cheng for her ability to provide good lip service. I don’t think she is going to change her style; it is time for you to change her. Poshard fired previous Chancellors; it is time for the SIUC faculty, staff, and students to fire Cheng. Don’t tell me this will be detrimental for SIUC. Believe me; keeping her is going to be devastating in the long run.

  15. By her actions, Cheng is giving Affirmative Action a bad name and a gift to the extremist elements of the Republican Party as well as The Southern's ideal reader.


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