Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sudden BOT meeting

I know essentially nothing about the suddenly called BOT meeting yesterday other than what has already been reported in the Southern and DE.  Here is the announcement of the meeting, the closest thing to an agenda available, which Kristi linked to over at Unions United.

As the DE story made particularly clear, the chairman of the board was "insulted" not to be consulted about the marketing campaign--or at least the new logo. I wasn't there, but do hope that their questions go somewhat deeper than the logo. The DE story also notes that our outside marketing firm has received a $950,000 budget for this year. The private part of the meeting, closed to the public, may have been the most interesting from our perspective, as there the board wanted to discuss court proceedings against the board (which could allude to the unions' Unfair Labor Practice charge) and "collective negotiating matters".

As our current board has shown at least once before, at least some of its members have an independent streak. This could very well be a good thing.


  1. Dear SIU BOT Chairman:
    Just think, if the Chancellor didn’t even care to consult or inform you about the new logo and other spending issues (including marketing), how much she cares about involving faculty and staff at SIUC. Don’t you think when faculty and staff are coming and telling you that SIUC does not have money problem but has its priorities wrong, there is some truth to it? I hope the board will not act as a rubber stamp but will investigate what is happening at SIUC. Your courage to question hefty raise for the Provost (who is not even qualified for the position) during the last meeting and now the new logo and millions of dollars for marketing will not go unnoticed. I am yet to hear from someone who liked the new logo. Most of the faculty and staff I have talked to hate the new logo, especially when they found out how much SIUC paid for it.

    SIUC professors teach art and marketing techniques. Why couldn’t the Chancellor use the in-house talent to develop a new logo (if she really thinks we need one) and marketing plan? Instead, she forced the faculty and staff to take unpaid furloughs so that she can pay to this marketing firm.

    Please note that faculty and staff morale is very low. Threat of strike is looming above SIUC. If appropriate actions are not taken immediately, SIUC may lose more students which will not only impact SIUC but Carbondale community.

  2. Anon at 2:47:

    You need to get all your facts in order before you start distorting them.

    The board certainly knew about spending for marketing as they approved the expense at a recent board meeting. However, they were upset at not receiving advance notice of the logo change.

    SIU is not spending millions of dollars on marketing. From what I've read in the media, SIU is paying their marketing consultant $950,000. BTW, that is not the price of the logo....but rather for a whole host of services and products, logo included. About 90 percent of that came from existing funds which were already being spent in the marketing area, which couldn't have been used to prevent the furlough days anyway.

    One more thing, the university has used faculty, students and staff in the past to try to market the place, but for various reasons it just hasn't worked out. Time to try something else.

    You must not talked to a lot of people. I've heard mixed reviews, far from 100% negative.

    So now that you know the facts, you can renew your distortions in a more educated manner.

  3. Anonymous (4:37 PM):

    You also need to get your facts straight.

    First, I'll acknowledge that you got a lot right. You are correct that the Board already approved money for marketing and specifically to Lipman Hearne for consulting. You are correct that that the marketing consultant is doing a lot more than just the logo. You are correct that the Board Members were angry about not getting advance notice of the logo change, not of the concept in general. I agree with you that reviews of the logo itself have been mixed and that the university didn't get an enrollment turnaround when it used students and faculty on campus. I agree that the logo itself has received mixed reviews.

    You are off the mark or creating distortions yourself when it comes to money. The $950,000 is just for FY12. As you point out, the Board had already approved other money that was paid to Lipman Hearne in 2011.

    Your statement about 90% of the money coming out of the marketing budget may have come from the same Southern article that I reference. The article is too unclear to know if that is the case. Please provide some other, better, documentation if you know something that I don't.

    I read the article to mean that $950,000 will be paid for the consulting services from Lipman Hearne in 2012, and the $800,000 that the university ordinarily spends on advertising will be used to implement the new advertising strategy suggested by Lipman Hearne. In other words, the university will spend $1.75 million this year instead of the usual $800,000.

    Marketing comes out of the operating budget, so it isn't in some special category like capital expenses, grant-funded projects, or donor-specified items. It is exactly one of the categories that the chancellor could choose to cut to avoid furloughs. (I'm not saying that it would be a good idea, just that your claim that it "couldn't be used to avoid furlough days" was a distortion.)

  4. Does anonymous 2:47 have the undistorted marketing figures? I'd certainly like to see them. Here is the DE story from June 28 which gives the best publicly available figure I know:

    "Cheng said she doesn’t know how much it has cost to hire Lipman Hearne but said the university would be spending twice as much on marketing and advertising than before, which she said was originally estimated between $2 and $3 million."

    I read that to mean that we are spending $2 to $3 million more on marketing this year than last. Of that $950,000 is going to the marketing firm. That of course pays for more than a new logo, but it doesn't pay for many other additional marketing expenses. I assume the marketing firm provides us mainly with the vision and expertise needed to do things like redesign a webpage without a link to the library. Paying for new banners, new letterhead, etc., doesn't go through the marketing firm. So it seems to me that speaking of millions more in marketing spending is an undistorted and rational estimate given what we know so far.

    I would be eager to hear some more specificity from the administration on exact marketing expenses. Spending more money on marketing may be a good idea. It also means spending less money on other things, like faculty and staff. Again, maybe that is still a good idea. But that is the discussion that we need to be having. The bargaining table is one venue for that discussion. Let us hope that the discussion takes place there rather than at a picket line near you.

  5. "The private part of the meeting, closed to the public, may have been the most interesting from our perspective"

    With the group "Anonymous" well represented on this site, you'd think they are working on a hack. They can bring down multinational corporations and governments, so would SIU BOT be a challenge?

  6. Anon at 6:14....

    OK...OK. Yes, the 950 is for services and products provided by Lipman Hearne in FY 12. New web site, re-tooled recruitment materials, yes - a new logo, etc. 800 of that was already being spent annually on goes back to the days when faculty and students were trying to market the university. No one complained about that...even when it became apparent that approach was simply not working.

    From what I understand, any money spent on actual advertising would be an additional expense. I haven't seen any reports about specific spending in this area. But one of the overall numbers that has been reported is $1.5 million.

    Now, if the new marketing campaign attracts 100 students, that's about a million dollars. Just in the first year. That pays for Lipman Hearne. More students means more money...that might translate into raises for faculty and staff...including those who bloviate on this blog.

  7. To Anonymous August 19, 8:42

    OMG! What a blind faith in what the administration is doing? Do you know Barking Dawgs Production (a faculty and students run organization) was doing an exceptional marketing job which was based on high quality data? They begged for more money so that they can reach more people. Don’t tell me that SIUC faculty and students do not how to do effective marketing. We teach it to others. The problem is that they were not given resources. They could have done a much better job with much less money.

    You just copied (plagiarized?) Cheng’s comment regarding attracting 100 students to pay for marketing. I am not sure whether millions of dollars on marketing while cutting faculty and staff, having low faculty morale, strike hovering above our heads, … would bring 100 students or not, but spending the same amount of money on quality faculty, improving faculty morale, creating better learning environment for student surely would bring a lot more than 100 student.
    SIUC’s priorities are wrong. You may want to come out of Anthony hall and talk to real heroes to find out the campus mood.

  8. Correction:

    Spending on Lipman Hearne for FY 2012 is $2 million. There also was spending on Lipman Hearne last fiscal year, $562K for the second half of FY2011 and whatever was spent in the first half of FY2011.


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