Friday, April 6, 2012

Trustee Don Lowery on WSIU

I've finally found a working link to Don Lowery's "Morning Conversation" with Jennifer Fuller on WSIU from the 4th. Lowery's comments on the controversy between some on the board of trustees and President Poshard is unsurprisingly rather different than that in Poshard's news conference. I don't necessarily agree with everything Lowery said, but he certainly struck me as someone who's taking his job as trustee seriously, and feels it his responsibility to ask hard questions of the administration--something we need in the BOT. Lowery says that the administration has not been terribly forthcoming with answers to his questions.

Lowery's analysis of SIUC is decidedly more bleak than Poshard's claim that everything was peachy under his leadership. Lowery seemed to me to be a bit obsessed about tuition going up, in addition to the far more damning issue of enrollment going down (a factor Poshard did not mention in his hour long press conference). Our tuition needs to be looked at in comparison with our peers--it is likely that if everyone is raising tuition, there's some good reason for it (declining state support and rising costs come to mind). Of course this isn't to say that higher tuition is a good thing, or that Lowery is wrong to question administrative assurances that all possible cuts have been made. 

Countering Poshard's complaints about interference from the governor's office, Lowery argued that interference from the president in the election of the chair of the board is actually more problematic, as the BOT is supposed to supervise the president, not the other way around. That is, if you appoint board members, it's more legitimate for you to lobby those board members than it is for someone hired by the board to push the board to make changes.

It is certainly easy to understand how Lowery has gotten under Poshard's skin. Lowery discussed one example of excess spending he raised: the housing allowance for the president and two chancellors, of $27,500. The justification for this is that these folks are supposed to do some entertaining in the university's cause. So Lowery asked how much entertaining was going on. Some time later Lowery received the answer that Poshard had never done so; Cheng had done so once, perhaps, Lowery added, after he had asked the question. Chancellor Vandergriff over at SIUE had entertained a number of times. Perhaps SIUC just needs administrators who throw better parties. Or perhaps we could just plow the $55,000 from the wallflowers Cheng and Poshard into a scholarship fund.

[A hat-tip to Jerry Bricker, whose email list got me the working link--for some reason the links I was checking over at WSIU weren't working. Those interested in getting links to articles relevant to SIU affairs could do worse than to contact him at to be added to his list.]


  1. I waited with with baited breath at the deep budget issue that he was investigating and prepared to expose. $55K in housing allowances out of a $800,000,000 budget; Give me a break! 0.0069% of the budget, not to mention that it is contractual. This is purely political. No Substance. Simply meant to anger the masses. And this isn't defending Poshard either.

  2. "Don't waste money" was his final sentence. He began by questioning the imposition of furloughs and the hiring of new administrators and salary increases for those already economically privileged. Also, why build new accomodation for students (and whom is getting the contracts?) when we are supposedly moving onine. Yes, these issues are political and the sooner an outside legal investigation begins to determine whether the money is going in the right directions (instead of "housing allowances" at a time of economic recession), sports, and unneccessary administrative buildings the better. Students should not be changed for these frivolous items and be denied the academic resources they clearly need. If enrollment has constantly declined since Poshard has been in charge, he should go. This is how any competent organization (as opposed to a "good 'ol boy network) operates. The same is true for a Chancellor who has lowered morale on this campus more than her predecessors. Keep on asking these questions, Trustee Lowery.


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