Editorial: It's time to pull the plug on CSU
“Chicago State is not closing; it’s thriving,” insists Interim President Cecil Lucy.
Wow! Just wow!
Lucy leads the only public university in Illinois currently at risk of losing its accreditation, a university that graduates only 2 percent of its students in four years (only 11 percent in six), a university that had to declare a financial emergency last year and lay off one third of its employees, while simultaneously maintaining 13 sports teams at a cost of $22,000 per athlete.
Oh-- and the school spent more than $160 million in tax dollars, $100 million of which came from the bankrupt State of Illinois.
It must be nice to live in an alternate universe, especially when you're so completely unable or unwilling to recognize and accept conditions as they are in the real world.
Lucy wants to believe – and wants us to believe, as well – that things really aren't that bad at Chicago State. The only reason everyone thinks they're bad is because the media are misrepresenting the situation and giving people the wrong impression.
Lucy blames the university's declining enrollment (fewer than 100 students in this year's incoming class) on bad publicity, citing “a concerted effort by a few who continuously desire to hurt the university by flooding the media with negative press.”
Drinking from the same pitcher of Kool-Aid, Trustee Michael Curtin shares Lucy's rosy view of the foundering school and his disdain for the clear-eyed watchdog media.
“I know that’s there’s nothing we can do about the Sun-Times and the Tribune or whatever,” he laments, while conceding that it's “pretty hard to run an institution with no students.”
The solution, apparently, is not to face the facts and shutter a failing institution, but to muzzle the messengers reporting the bad news.
Governor Bruce Rauner's establishment of the Chicago State Advisory Council to help the Board of Trustees address the myriad problems – or at least create the semblance of success in doing so – will only delay the day of reckoning.
Rauner calls Chicago State “a beacon of hope within the community and for Illinois.”
We’re more focused on overburdened Illinois taxpayers at this point.
Chicago State is a failed institution. The time for evaluating is long past. This verdict is in. It’s time to move forward by moving on.