Monday, January 16, 2017

SMOKE AND MIRRORS? OR APPLES AND ORANGES?

As we watch the cold mist out our windows, this MLK weekend, lets review a few things that happened in 2016 at our favorite subject, John A. Logan College.  The big events were

  • the firing of 55 employees
  • the promise to bring them back
  • the failure to do so
  • the Larry Peterson reorganization plan that was to revitalize enrollment

The focus of this post will be the difficulty of determining the success, or lack thereof, of the last point.  At the March 2016 BOT meeting, the layoffs occurred, including of tenured faculty.  No explanation has ever been given of the criteria used to identify who was to be terminated.  Then Interim President Ron House stated that this was only a budgetary measure and that the intention was to bring these people back.  Months have gone by.  His interim status has changed to permanent.  Some, who have allowed themselves to acquiesce to the new regime, have been promoted to vice presidencies and deanships.  The new regime includes meeker faculty (grateful to have been called back or no longer trusting their tenure) and part time teachers attempting to fill the shoes of long time staff who are putting houses on the market, seeking jobs out of state, starting over in their 50s and those leaving higher education all together.  ...Sorry!  We will return to this subject many times.  It's just important to remind ourselves as the new year starts, that everything is not OK for everybody.  ...On to today's subject:  enrollment counts. 

In the next month, JALC will be reporting Spring 2017 enrollment.  Before that happens, let's review the gibberish that was given the Southern Illinoisan on September 11, 2016, regarding this Fall's enrollment.  Seriously.  Follow the link to see what was provided to the Southern.  The press, public and governing boards are always interested in one thing, each term.  Is enrollment up or down?  The only way to determine this is to compare a given term to the same term of the preceding year or years.  Comparisons must be exact.  Apples to apples.  Inexact, or changing, methods, lead to errors, mistrust and accusations. 

Director of Institutional Research, Eric Pulley, reported to the Board of Trustees, August 30, that Fall 2016 enrollment was up 16.3% (552 students) over Fall 2015.  This includes, for Fall 2016, 3,948 credit seeking students.  For Fall 2015, it includes 3,921 credit seeking students minus a made up number of 784 plus a made up number of 259, for a total of 3,396.  The 3,396 was subtracted from 3,948 to come up with a supposed increase of 552 (or 16.3%). 

Confused?  You should be.  This is an attempt to compare apples to oranges.

JALC apparently did not conduct a purge Fall 2015.  However, to arrive at these numbers, they claim to have taken an average percentage of registrations that are usually purged, arrived at a number (759) and subtracted it from the original 3,921.  They then added back an estimated number of people they thought would have re-registered if they'd been registered in the first place, got purged and then decided they really wanted to come.  This number was 259.  So, 3921 - 784 + 259 = 3396.  This is the number they subtracted from 3,948 to get their 552 student increase.  ...The problem is two fold.  First, they literally made up numbers for Fall 2015 and, second, they failed to subtract real people from the Fall 2016 count that they subtracted by guestimate from the Fall 2015 count. 

This makes a difference two ways.  The lower 2015 numbers appear to be, the better 2016 enrollment will look.  Failing to subtract the purged 2016 students inflates the 2016 number and, again, makes Fall 2016 enrollment look better. 

This may not be nefarious, but it also fails to give the Board, ICCB, the press or the public an accurate picture of the College's enrollment.  Changing procedures makes comparisons difficult.  Deciding not to conduct a traditional procedure, such as the purge, will make longitudinal studies impossible. The institution should accurately report the results, take the one time PR hit that the lower numbers would cause and move on.  Headcounts should be made at the same time, in the same manner, each year, comparing like terms (fall to fall; and spring to spring, not fall to spring).  Some of the confusion may be due to unfamiliarity with new reporting tools.  The term 'Higher Reach students' is used in both the information given to the Southern, and in the report given to the BOT on August 30.  This seems not to be a class of students, but, we suspect, Jenzebar student information system vocabulary. 

Let's review the numbers and then compare apples to apples and see what we get.  We've made a chart, below.  Using Mr. Pulley's numbers to subtract the non-credit courses from each year, we agree with his counts of credit seeking students enrolled in advance of the purge (3948 - 3921 = 27, an increase of 0.7%).  Then we diverge.

The Southern quotes Matt Berry, of the Illinois Community College Board as saying, " The fall enrollment reporting will include everyone who is enrolled in credit bearing courses...  If a CPR course leads to a certification and provides college credit, the student would be counted in fall numbers.  If the purge occurred before data was reported, but within the reporting time frame and the student was no longer enrolled due to the purge they would not be counted in the enrollment numbers as they are no longer enrolled at the college."  We interpret this to mean that if a student was enrolled Fall 2015, at the time of the count, they should be included.  If there was no purge that year, they were enrolled and should be counted.  Conversely, we interpret it to mean if students were purged, as 249 were in Fall 2016, they may not be included.  For Fall 2016, 3,948 were registered.  Those students minus the 249 purged leaves 3,699 enrolled for Fall 2016.  That 3699 - 3921 registered for Fall 2015 is -222, a loss of 5.7% from the previous year. 

If we use the guestimates for Fall 2015, giving us the 3,396 number, we must subtract the purge for Fall 2016.  Again, that's 3,699.  The difference, 3699 - 3396 = 303, an increase of 8.9% over Fall 2015.  Respectable, but not the 16.3% increase. 

So, there it is.  They are down 222, or up 303, but they are not up 552.  That, even by their methods, would be apples and oranges. 




Fall 2015
Fall 2016
diff.
% diff.









Credit and non credit enrollment
4313
4406
93
2.2%









Non credit (Continuing Ed and Center for Business and Industry
392
458
66
16.8%









Headcount of enrolled credit seeking students prior to purge
3921
3948
27
0.7%









Number of students purged
0
249
249









Actual headcount, after purge
3921
3699
-222
-5.7%









Guestimated FL 15 purge
784
249
-535
-68.2%









Headcount, after guestimated '15 purge
3137
3699
562
17.9%









Guestimated returned after purge
259
0
-259









Headcount, after guestimated '15 purge plus returnees
3396
3699
303
8.9%

Thursday, December 8, 2016

HERE WE GO AGAIN

It’s December… Are YOUR Board Election Petitions Filed?

 So many of you have been checking in lately we guess it’s time to ramp MW back up. We stayed out of all the shenanigans last spring, since our original goal was to share info about trustees and candidates prior to the last BOT election. So THAT went well.

 Here we are, with three seats open. Will this election be a game-changer, or bring more of the same? As much as we hope for a breath of fresh air, we predict same old same old.

 Nothing better (more influential, high-profile, or interesting) has come along for Mr. Poshard, so we predict he will run for the seat he was appointed to. Trustee R. Hancock was overheard saying to a variety of people that the board “had to” choose Mr. Poshard, since he helped them pass various bond schemes when he was a legislator. We can’t figure out why he wants to get down in the mud with this crew, but the allure of public office seems irresistible.

 Mr. Brewer was overheard last spring saying 40 years was enough and that he was not going to run again. If only. Where else could he experience the sanctity of the closed session? (NOTE: the person who posted the video of his ridiculous statement has been fired, after the administration pulled off some clever maneuvering to dismantle the union which protected her.) But really, does anyone think he wouldn’t have just as much influence as a private citizen (they are hiding Mr. Peterson somewhere, but his blueprint is still being followed despite mounting evidence that his absurd plan for saving the college from itself is a complete disaster)? So who cares, really?

 And Ms. Hancock. Like Ms. Graff, pretending to support the beleaguered teachers, but in the end voting lockstep with the evil cabal of Mr. Brewer, Mr. Rendleman, Mr. Kilquist, and her bro-in-law (and father of JAL administrator) Mr. Hancock. So again, who cares, really? Except her nephew?

 Do you know someone who is running? Please post! Tell us where to send money!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

BLINDLY STUMBLING TOWARD THE FUTURE

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?