Professor: 'Poor admissions decisions' one reason why CSU graduation rate low
If Chicago State University (CSU) wants to improve its abysmal graduation rate, it will have to attract better-prepared, more-motivated students, Robert Bionaz, associate professor of history at Chicago State and its faculty union president, said.
Last school year, 37 of 58 CSU majors had zero graduates, but Bionaz said teachers aren’t to blame.
“The school makes poor admissions decisions,” Bionaz said in an interview with Chicago City Wire. “In a perverse sort of way, I’m going to argue the fact that we have an 11 percent graduation rate means the faculty is doing its job because if we’re confronted with students that are really not ready to be in college, we should fail them. We’re not going to pass them through. We could do that if we wanted to increase our graduation rate, but we don’t do that. We’re trying to protect the integrity of the school.”
Only 2 percent of CSU students manage to graduate from the school’s four-year program in four years. Eleven percent graduate if given six years. The school spent $162.6 million last school year, mostly funded by taxpayer subsidies. Illinois taxpayers paid for $96 million of CSU’s tab. Bionaz said recently terminated CSU President Thomas Calhoun, Jr., just hired in January, wasn’t given a chance to turn the school around.
“We had high hopes that Dr. Calhoun would come in and clean house, and get rid of some of these people,” Bionaz said. “We thought he would bring in his own people and be able to start turning things around.”
Bionaz said Calhoun’s authority was limited by a 'Management Action Committee' created to oversee personnel decisions, keeping intact former President Wayne Watson's team. CSU’s Board of Trustees paid Calhoun two years of salary -- $600,000 -- to leave immediately.
“We’re very angry about this and feel like the board continues to advance the interest of just a handful of people who are really demonstrably unfit to be here at the expense of the students, staff and faculty at the school, and, of course, the expense of the taxpayers of Illinois when you start giving out severances,” Bionaz said.
Chicago State’s Board of Trustees includes:
- Former Democrat state House member and Cook County Judge Anthony Young
- Former Chicago Fire Commissioner James Joyce
- Fenwick High School Associate Athletic Director Michael Curtin
- South Side mortician Spencer Leak, Sr.
- Pediatrician Dr. Horace Smith
- South Side Pastor Rev. Marshall Hatch, Sr.
- State and local government contractor Nikki Zollar