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Chicago State University Shoves New President Out With $600,000 Parting Gift

By Sarah Gouda in News on Sep 16, 2016 9:55PM


Chicago State University, one of the nine state schools struggling amid budgetary gridlock, voted to accept President Thomas Calhoun Jr.'s resignation at a board meeting Friday morning. Calhoun served just nine months in the position and will receive a $600,000 severance package per the separation agreement.

The Chicago Tribune says that students reacted negatively to the University's announcement, with people present at the crowded board meeting shouting, "Shame, shame!" upon hearing the board's decision.

Calhoun's time at CSU was apparently hobbled by a management committee prohibited him from having sole decision-making on personnel issues and not being enough of an "insider." Faculty Union President Robert Bionaz told WTTW, "He’s not politically connected in Chicago, and that’s part of the problem. His idea of how to run the university was very different from the board’s idea, and different from [former president Wayne] Watson’s and the holdovers from the Watson administration. This is a very bright guy, very ethical guy that had some good ideas, but the board has never given him an opportunity to do the job he was hired to do.”

Senior Angela Bailey expressed her disappointment to the Tribune, "I'm very irritated. I'm very upset at the underhandedness of the board and the undermining of the students. Dr. Calhoun is being treated very unjustly. I feel that he was pushed out. It's like we don't have a voice. Decisions are being made on our behalf but without our influence."

Chicago State, located on the South Side and predominately serving low-income and minority students, has laid off 40% of staff amid a 20% decline in enrollment. Its accreditation is also on uncertain ground.

In a statement released Friday, Calhoun said, "As I have said from my first day at CSU, this university is an incredible resource for the people of the City of Chicago, the State of Illinois and beyond. While I am leaving after only a short time, I believe that many signs are now pointing to a very bright future for the university. I am especially proud of the CSU students, who have persevered under difficult financial conditions."

Chicago State's vice president for administration and finance, Cecil Lucy, will serve as the interim president.