Wednesday, January 31, 2018


The original sin of higher education, in southern Illinois, at least the one that inspired the creation of Muddy Williamson, was nepotism.  We railed against its existence, as practiced, at John A. Logan College.  However, Logan is not alone.  Logan Board members and administrators were brazen, over the years, in their promotion of the careers of their children at school and tax payer expense.  However, times have changed and some of that has abated; nepotism has given way to mere cronyism.  However, at SIU, old fashioned nepotism is in full flame. 

We, at Muddy Williamson, heard rumors, last year, of new SIU Chancellor Carlo Montemagno bringing on his daughter and son-in-law, she in University Communications and he in another department.  Not knowing their names and not wanting to prematurely spook them, by calling University Communications or Human Resources, we held off.  However, the Daily Egyptian got the scoop.  And, congratulations to them for brave journalism and excellent reporting. 

The bottom line is that as part of his own hire, Montemagno extracted a deal from SIU to create jobs for and hire his daughter and son in law.  The usual process involves position requests from departments, vice chancellor level approval, job announcements, applications, search committees, interviews, a hiring decision by the department, review by Affirmative Action, a green light from Human Resources and then an offer to the candidate and negotiations between hiring department and candidate.  Or, an alternative route is to have the President ask the department to "identify an opportunity" for you.  Or, yet another is for your daddy to send an email to a department "introducing" you and inviting them to connect with you.  That is an introduction in the sense that a shotgun wedding is by invitation. 

We won't recap the story.  We'll let you follow the link to the Daily Egyptian article.  They deserve the read, the congratulations for the story and recognition of their bravery in publishing it.  Special kudos should go to staff reporter Anna Spoerre, for a well written article. 

Friday, December 8, 2017


On November 28, the John A. Logan College Board of Trustees voted to extend Ron House's contract through August 2019, with the option to extend it an additional year.  His salary will be $173,587.00.  There was only one 'no' vote, that of Becky Borgsmiller. 

In October 2015, the Board estimated that they would have a permanent President in place, in nine months.  That was 26 months ago.  Apparently, with no national (or even local or regional) search, they've determined House is their man. 

Since bringing on House, the College has been reorganized and has run roughshod over faculty and the concept of tenure.  The search process has come to be seen as, well, out of fashion.  It will be interesting to observe, if a national search is conducted to permanently fill the position of vice president of instruction.  Or, the rumors may be true and the Board may just be waiting for Acting VP Melanie Pecord to finish her Ph.d., so they can simply erase the word "acting". 

....In other news:  It's hard to ignore the events in the wider world, the last couple of weeks.  We noticed the following quote. 

"I am pondering if this concept might ever make it to the southern Illinois region: sexually inappropriate behavior in the workplace. It reminds me of a certain community college vice-President, then different college President, then vice-President again at original college. I wonder if karma is ever going to get around to that disgusting loser? We are seeing all these brave women come forward and report harassment, abuse, and assault...what will it take for you to stand up for yourself, or if you aren’t strong enough to do that, prevent it from happening to someone else? I think it is time to wise up and woman up."
We'll just leave that right there. 

Monday, July 31, 2017


You wouldn't know it from the news coverage, but the JALC Board of Trustees approved the recall of nearly all the remaining faculty, who had been laid off, despite tenure, in March 2016.  You had to catch it in the Marion Daily Republican to read about it (or dig down in the Board Agenda to item XII.A.2.b.(2)); apparently the Southern Illinoisan has lost interest in the Board meetings.  We say "nearly all" because JALC still can't seem to take into account that these are people they are affecting.  Three instructors were called back, but Jane Beyler, a psychology professor, was not.  How would you like to be the one left out in the cold?

The good news is that David Cochran, Nikki Borrenpohl and Cheryl Barrall are being called back to teach in the departments of History, English and Education, respectively.  This is a switch for Barrall, who had been teaching developmental English until the lay offs.  Cochran's return was advocated for, at a BOT meeting earlier this year, by revered and retired History professor Helen Nall. 

Again, it's good news...  no, it is great news that these three will be teaching this fall, and that they are getting some semblance of their lives back.  It's maddening that it took this long.  There has never been a rhyme or reason, that the public could see, as to how the decisions were made as to who was to be laid off, in the first place, and who was to be recalled, and in what order.  While, excepting Beyler, this appears to bring the matter to a close, it only brings the staff's lives back to a new order.  Not all laid off staff were recalled.  Some retired rather than fight the year and a half battle.  Some lost out contractually.  Some were laid off immediately prior to their tenure being finalized.  Some, in frustration, left the teaching profession forever.  None will view tenure as a guarantee of security anymore.  Issues are still outstanding.  So are lawsuits.  If the layoffs were unjustified, for the reasons stated, will back pay be in order?  With interest?  What about retirement/pensions?  Where does one stand with seniority, service years etc.?  And what of Ms. Beyler? 

Faculty are returning to a changed college.  Their former departments no longer exist.  Their former chairs have been overthrown.  Their physical work spaces have probably been moved. 

But, this is a leap forward in the right direction.  There are still more steps to go.