Thursday, April 28, 2016


What will John A. Logan College look like in the future?  This summer?  This Fall?  Two years from now?  Having fired (we at Muddy Williamson are not constrained by terms like RIF, layoffs, converted contracts; if you're unemployed, you've been fired) 55 people, most of them faculty, how does the school carry on?  Many of those fired were tenured professors.  If the make up of the faculty is to be so radically changed, will this be the same school?  Some of those dismissed were renowned for their teaching, student leadership and scholarly authorship.  Rumor, and the attitude of the administration, indicate that quantity and specifics of the individuals selected for dismissal was of a purpose.  That purpose was to work their way through some with less seniority in order to get to some the administration would prefer disappear.  Rumor has it that at least one board member has been bragging that they got rid of some "bad apples".  If true, the stated reason for the firings was a lie. 

Interim President Ron House has said that it is their intention to call back as many of the 55 as possible.  Thirteen people were called back Tuesday night.  The reporting is garbled.  WPSD TV-6 apparently had a different reporter on hand, as did the Southern Illinoisan, who sent their Perry and Franklin counties reporter.  Putting it kindly, the Southern's article, in this morning's paper, was gibberish.  However, assuming that at least the quotes are accurate, or close, Interim Vice President of Administration Larry Peterson, crows about the reorganization, put in place after the ouster of former President Mike Drieth, but says nothing about the massive faculty layoff.  Of those brought back, few were faculty.  Of those staff mentioned in the article, some were to fill newly created positions.  Nothing brings on the ire of taxpayers and legislators like growing administration at a time of budget constraints. 

Peterson refers to checks and balances, with an astounding lack of self awareness.  Everyone at the school acknowledges that he is the de facto president, with Ron House a figurehead. Given the top down, good old boy, nature of the administration of John A. Logan, checks and balances are a joke.  The institution is currently run by Don Brewer, Bill Kilquist, Larry Peterson and Jake Rendleman, reporting lines be damned. 

Interim President House says there is no timeline to recall faculty but that there is a two year window, during which it can take place.  Two years is a long time not to know where the mortgage payment is coming from, what to do about health insurance or whether to enroll the children in school the next term.  It's also a long time for a college to have it's core faculty gone.  While there are reports that most of the recalls were in the biological sciences, not so much for social sciences (none) or English (none). 

Course staffing aside, who will run the college in two years?  If memory serves, the Logan Board said a permanent president would be in place in nine months.  The clock started ticking in October.  That would mean July.  How will they get quality candidates to apply?  To come to Illinois?  To dive into the chaos that is now Logan?  To work for a micromanaging board?  In the wake of the mysterious firing of Mike Drieth?  Larry Peterson is also an interim and supposedly done in December.  Board chairman Don Brewer's term will expire next year.  Who will inherit the shell they have made of the College and what form will that shell take?

Friday, April 22, 2016


Well, the agenda is out for the next board meeting and there are MORE administrative positions being created and bestowed upon those who didn’t apply for them. This has happened repeatedly, and yet NO ONE SEEMS UPSET. Why are the teachers and staff not rioting in the streets??!! 

Jobs filled so far with NO search: President, Vice President for Administration, Dean, Associate Dean of Admissions, Director of Cirriculum (sic—that means the college didn’t spell it right on their website, but no worries, they have a HIGHLY QUALIFIED person in charge of “cirriculum” with YEARS of experience in that area, if by “years” you mean “zero years”), Director of Advisement (same number of years of experience in advisement) and now Director of Term Faculty.

So, they (whoever “they” are) take someone out of Continuing Ed (which doesn’t seem to have suffered any budget cuts, unlike almost every other cash-strapped school in the state), and drop her in as the person who signs off on new part-time teachers. Hmmm. Part-time President House said the college will replace full-time teachers with part-time ones who are JUST AS QUALIFIED, and the person who will determine that was given a job she didn’t even have to apply for!! Nothing fishy about THAT!

Another fishy item on that agenda is the “closed session minutes” one, most likely related to the complaint filed by Everyone’s Favorite Student Trustee. The Open Meetings Act is pretty clear that those minutes have to be kept for months, so they can’t be voting to destroy them like they do pretty regularly. What are they up to? Right, business as usual…

Wednesday, April 6, 2016


The ongoing controversy over the actions that the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees took, behind closed doors, March 3, continues.  This Sunday, the Southern Illinoisan mocked the Board's claim of the "sanctity" of the executive session, pointing out that if students were to behave as Ms. Husch claims the Board did, the students would be in violation of the student conduct code. 

According to Ms. Husch, another Board member said, “You want to talk about poor decisions? Well, here’s the poor decisions of Brandi,” as the Board member presented a folder with evidence of past mistakes Husch had allegedly made.  What was in that folder?  More importantly, where did the information come from?  If it was academic, and part of her record, accessing the information was a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.  If it was of a medical nature, it would be a HIPPA violation.  If it was of a criminal nature (no matter how small an offense) how would a Board member obtain such information?  Some arrests and convictions are public records and can be obtained by anyone on the Internet.  Some police reports can be obtained via FOIA.  However, if they were obtained outside standard protocol required of any citizen, then that brings up some questions.  Were they obtained by calling friends within law enforcement?  If so, and if this violated any laws protecting a citizen's records, the violators must be exposed and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Would any current Board members have the opportunity to do such a thing?  Who could it be?

Lets, for the sake of argument, assume two things.  One, that Husch is telling the truth and, two, that the information in the folder was obtained legally.  Revisit the description of the action in that room. 

  • "this same board member then produced a folder that documented some...past personal mistakes."
This public body spends tax dollars.  It employees hundreds of people.  A folder was produced for the purposes of intimidating a fellow Board member.  Husch was a student trustee; her vote was merely advisory.  If they would do that to her, what might they do to other Board members?  Has this happened in the past?  Has it influenced votes?  Has the use of folders with incriminating information been used outside of Board meetings?  Have members received visits at, or phone calls to, home? 
Maybe this was the first time.  Even so, can the message be lost on other Board members?  Get in line, or we'll embarrass you.  If this kind of intimidation has taken place, what about other kinds?  Has the employment of family members been threatened?  Has the employment of Board members been threatened through the political connections of the dominant Board members? 
This is serious stuff and the citizens, tax payers and voters of the John A. Logan Community College District need to pay attention.  Oddly, as serious as this is, the Chairman's and the legal counsel's reactions have been laughable.  The word "sanctity" will become lore in southern Illinois.
Patrick Hewson, the College's legal mouthpiece, told WPSD-TV that "When things are discussed in executive session, things can get heated".  Well, yes, sometimes when people get excited they raise their voice.  But, do they spontaneously produce a folder of documents?  Hewson, in his full statement said that the Board relies on Roberts Rules of Order, and it is this, not the law that should silence Husch.  Really?  Roberts Rules of Order prevents the transparency of a public body?  Roberts Rules of Order isn't taken that seriously in an 8th grade student counsel.  Hewson says members have an obligation to remain mum, just not a legal obligation.  But, isn't that the only kind a lawyer is paid to opine upon?