Just got back from the Open Meeting today. The main takeaway was the following picture, which formed one of the Chancellor's slides.
This picture brilliantly encapsulates the Chancellor's attitude to those who don't agree with her: If you don't see things my way, your head is in the sand.
The lead, to put on my objective journalist cap, would have to be that she performed well, managing both to sound reasonable and compassionate and to belittle her critics as a few small bands of myth-mongers with their heads in the sand. Nothing here like her flubbing the question of four or six furlough days.
Of course it is another question whether her approach to things will help solve our problems or help exacerbate them. If you think the picture above is a good way to refer to the attitude of the unions on campus, you would have liked what you heard and saw. One of her seven or eight powerpoint slides consisted of this image. I'll be curious as to whether this one makes the web edition of her remarks.
The student center auditorium was roughly 2/3 full. The Chancellor gave half her time to prepared remarks (which she said would appear on her web page, where she has in fact been doing a nice job of posting her slides and texts). This left time for six questions (by my count). The best indication of the temperature of the room came on three occasions where more contentious issues were raised. The image I've found on Google was presented as one slide, and got a fair amount of laughs. It refers most specifically to those who challenge her view that the budgetary situation justifies the salary cuts she has imposed.
On another occasion, the Chancellor expressed her commitment to making progress in negotiations, and got what I found to be rather tepid support in applause (one-half of the audience applauding?). But when she attacked people for spreading myths, i.e., that she was hoarding money somewhere, that she meant to attack tenure, or that she was union busting, she got warmer applause. My objective (of course!) verdict: if the people in the room weren't overwhelmingly in her camp, they were certainly more sympathetic to her than to the head-in-the-sand union crowd. Of course attendance in the room may well have been stacked in her favor (just as attendance at union meetings is stacked pro-union).
To her report of our/her "accomplishments and achievements". She said we have 22% more incoming freshman registered so far (I think it was registered), and similarly good trends in other indicators for incoming students. But we continue to have troubles retaining students already on campus (though she provided no figures here). An interesting bit from the research done by our marketing firm: SIUC ranks decidedly below rivals Northern and ISU in reputation for academic quality, and apparently retains its reputation as a party school. Then to the budget, where she put up slides too quickly for anyone to evaluate them (though she will post them, to be fair, and thus allowed for half the time in her town hall meeting to be given over to a town hall meeting format--questions). The budget for 2012 looks worse than that for 2011, at least as far as state appropriations go.
The question period in another post--I've promised my students a review sheet for next week's final, and need to pull that together this afternoon.