Brand NU World

The Ivory Clubhouse: The First Week Back 

September 27, 2016

Current Status

In April and May, 2016 tenure foe Kathleen Rinehart, a longtime friend and hired hand of Brand NU's Office of General Counsel, and General Counsel for St. Xavier University, cobbled together a report claiming I was a crazy, violent person, a project undertaken in reprisal for my critiques of NU's military board and the defeat of the Board's choice of a retired general to run the Buffett Institute.   NU then used the report as a pretext for banning me, in violation of NU's Faculty Handbook and employment and defamation laws, among several others.  

It didn't work.  NU's own psychiatrist did not make the findings they expected, the real world let Brand NU's world know it was watching, and on September 19, 2016 Dean Adrian Randolph revoked the ban.

As result of the administration's misguided and therefore bungled efforts, Randolph's position is that having assessed me as posing the lowest threat of violence on the risk scale and given me a clean bill of mental health, NU may pursue disciplinary measures against me on grounds of intentional alleged incivility:  "...your behavior was intentional and controllable." (Letter from Randolph to Stevens, September 19, 2016.)  

Brand NU's problem is that their claims underlying the ban were not based on any specific behavior, but rather mendacious allegations I was "incoherent," "rarely lucid," and "broke from reality," such  that I had imagined Tillery yelling at me when he was not yelling at me, not that I myself yelled or slammed a door, and that such "psychotic" symptoms on my part led people to fear I would "shoot" them or produce a "blood bath."  This was Rinehart's basis of claiming my misconduct and disloyalty to NU.

Now that their own psychiatrist found no evidence of this, NU should be disciplining Tillery for yelling, slamming the door, and lying.

The only way around this is Brand NU making the Kafkaesque claim I intentionally "broke from reality," i.e., that I sat in Tillery's office and intentionally was nuts.

(I also learned that the crusade against me continues.  Tillery, Monoson, and Alter are furious and will not relent.  Some faculty behind this are now claiming, falsely, that Alter's door was open when I met with Tillery and she heard no yelling, and also that the witness has backed off from his sworn statement.  Both claims are more lies.  Alter's door was definitely closed when I emerged from Tillery's office.  When I asked if she heard anything two days later she said no, and that she was not sure if she was in her office. The witness has not backed off from his sworn statement that he heard a man yelling, including "Get out!" and heard a door slam, and that he told this to Rinehart.)

At present, I continue to be subject to retaliatory measures, in violation of NU's policy on retaliation and the Faculty Handbook:

1)  I have been banished to an office away from my colleagues although the person who clearly has violated NU's civility code is Al Faculty-Shoot-Each-Other-In-Universities-All-the-Time Tillery.  Also, there are logistical problems with the current arrangement, including that my computer is broken following NU shipping it to my apartment. Randolph has ignored my queries.

2)  I remain off the Political Science Department faculty listserve. Randolph is aware of this and is ignoring my queries.

3)  Sara Monoson and Randolph tanked student research and my own, by depriving the students of their Farrell funds and by ordering us not to speak with each other.  I have challenged these disciplinary actions on the basis that I was afforded no due process and my appeal is currently pending with the Faculty Senate Committee on Cause.

4)  Monoson is harassing me when I am in the building.  Monoson has twice gotten in my face without any provocation whatsoever and is unable to contain her rage about her failure to fire me. Randolph refuses to investigate, in violation of NU Civility Policy, which requires supervisors, including Deans, to respond to such incident reports.  Nor have Monoson or Tillery been required to undergo "fitness-for-duty" evaluations, even though their outbursts were witnessed by third parties and the accusations against me are unsubstantiated.  (I mention this to highlight a clear double standard, not to suggest they be required to do this.)

5)  I am taking the mandatory 567 question Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Test, Phase 2 on Friday morning.  (Colleagues on FB tell me mental health professionals have been protesting the forced use of the test in this context.)

6)  Monoson and Alter are pressuring colleagues to disparage and not interact with me.  

7)  Most disturbing, a large number of students in the Political Science Department, graduate and undergraduates, have been devastated by the vicious, anti-intellectual, unpredictable autocracy in which they find themselves.  As a direct consequence of the malicious, duplicitous claims circulated by Monoson et al. and the distrust and fear generated thereby, graduate students across subfields have been seeking ways of  transferring out of the department and out of the university.

Meanwhile, months after the Rinehart report was produced, the only evidence of any threats, bullying, and retaliating are those undertaken by Brand NU's Office of General Counsel Philip Harris, Stephanie Graham, Provost Dan Linzer, Sara Monoson, Alvin Tillery, and their cronies among the full professors in the Political Science Department, who should be ashamed for perpetuating this havoc.  (I have invited several colleagues to review my personnel file in full in my lawyer's office. The best explanation of the animus toward me is in the article on academic mobbing.)

The Authoritarian Confidentiality Game Hacked,  Tempers Flare

On Wednesday September 21, 2016, shortly before noon I returned to the Political Science Department, just in time for the first faculty meeting.  As I was heading in, a member of the Department staff approached with some paperwork to pay an indexer and was showing me the spaces that required my attention.  A few seconds later Monoson, also heading in, interrupted and told my colleague to stop working with me, "She can leave it in your box!"  Monoson left, the colleague finished explaining what I needed to fill out, and then I headed into the meeting.

Okay, so, here's where I must pause.  Statements in faculty meetings, no matter how politically relevant and disturbing are, according to Department rules, confidential.  Public statements by Chair Sara Monoson, Associate Chair Alvin Tillery, Professor Karen Alter, and now Professor Ben Page have run afoul of NU's confidentiality policies--because they are either supervisors revealing confidential documents or faculty revealing the substance of confidential meetings.  But nothing on this website violates these policies.

The Chair's meltdown after a meeting in a public hallway?  Not the least bit confidential.  

I had returned the forms after the faculty meeting and was leaving the building when I crossed paths with a new assistant professor.  As we were chatting and others milled around, Monoson, seething with the ressentiment of a gang member undone by her boss's surprise capitulation, rounded a corner and encountered us.  Monoson walked past my colleague and, right next to me, shouted,  "I want you out of here!" and then waited, as though her wish were my command.

I replied, "I know you do," and turned my attention back to the new colleague.  Finding her order ineffective, Monoson stormed off.  

So, there it was on public display.  The raw, hateful peeve that drove her bizarre administrative hit on me.  I later will be releasing Monoson's May, 2016 letter that officially set the ban in motion -- it is filled with malicious lies she and others are still spreading -- but today I want to reflect on the politics of the confidentiality game that she and others have trotted out as the newest grounds for excluding me from the Department.

Political Scientists Abandon the Political Science Department

The latest excuse to exclude me from department governance is this website, which the administration dislikes because of the transparency it creates.  Shockingly, people who have been successfully exploiting secrecy to create a false, serving-record become apoplectic when exposed for doing so.  If they cannot conduct their business secretly, they cannot work at all!  

In an email Karen Alter had sent Adrian Randolph just before our noon meeting Wednesday, Alter wrote: 
Many members of our department would ask to relocate, not come to Scott Hall, not attend departmental meetings or events, and/or be unwilling to speak in her presence. In a world of free speech, everyone can talk. Stevens, because of her actions, including posting on her blog, has created a situation in which her mere presence ensures that very few of our colleagues actually will talk freely.
Alter copied this to the Chair of the Committee on Cause who, "in the interests of transparency," forwarded it to me.

I can't go into details, but shortly after Alter sending this, we learned that many more members are perfectly happy being in the same building with me, fine with "attending department meetings or events" with me in the room, and are not "unwilling to speak in my presence." And we learned that colleagues find Alter's demands corrosive to our department, NU, and the academy.  

These folks have managed to draw Ben Page, just back from China, into all this.  He writes in an open letter that "In intellectual terms I have a great respect for Jackie.  She is very smart. Always provocative and interesting."   He continues, "Personally, we have always been on friendly terms. She has never caused me the least bit of harm or discomfort," save that he finds on occasion I speak too long during department meetings, a habit he says does not distinguish me from others.   Then he goes into what he's heard from the rumor mongers.  

On their word alone, he finds, it "appears" I'm a department menace and a troublemaker.  He complains about my "tendentious blogging" (it's not clear he has even seen the site) and asserts that this is now the basis for excluding me from department governance for one year.  

First, I was banned because I was crazy.  Now they want to ban me because of the way we foiled their plot to ban me because I am crazy was by my exposing it on this site?  (Across the board, everyone is clear that if I had not posted about this, I would not be back on campus, including people who now want this site down.)

Doesn't it occur to these guys that if you are among those caught falsely claiming someone is likely a "shooter or an ax murderer" -- that is a direct quote from one of the descriptions of me Randolph cites in his letter to the psychiatrist --  it might be inferred you have zero credibility for any other claim, and that if you lack the decency to apologize for this, you should at least keep quiet and just do your work?  Note that the main documents whose release is making them uncomfortable are their own over-the-top statements about me.  

Privacy, Secrecy, and the Rule of Law

So, who exactly is threatened by the exposures of BrandNU.world?  First, who is not threatened: the staff person whose work Monoson interrupted; the students in my fully enrolled course; the students who are trying to find me so I can help with their research and applications while I am locked out of my own office in Scott Hall; the colleagues in the department and elsewhere at NU, not to mention numerous other unversities, law offices, and news rooms who continue with our normal interactions.

Who is so nervous that their actions might be revealed that they badger the Dean complaining they can no longer participate in department events when I am present?  First, a small number are those who maliciously retaliated because I challenged decision-making processes and criteria inconsistent with meritocratic standards implemented by the appropriate personnel through deliberative, consensual procedures.  The opposition to NU's culture of cronyism, effective with Eikenberry, was ineffective in department matters in large part because colleagues such as Alter, Mary Dietz, former Chair James Farr (her husband),  Monoson, and Tillery, under the cloak of "confidentiality" proceeded without the accountability of transparency.  No wonder they dislike my commentary and release of documents and their names here.

Second, a slightly larger number of colleagues have forsaken thoughtful much less scholarly consideration of "confidentiality" and have deferred to thin-skinned autocrats for determining our information policies.  Karen Alter studies courts.  Ben Page studies elites. It doesn't take a PhD from Princeton to know that every day across the country our institutions of self-governance demand the public scrutiny of individual transactions, including the release of personal as well as business information, in order to avoid corruption and ensure compliance with the laws.  Why should business conducted in a private non-profit university be done in complete secrecy while business elsewhere, including public universities, occurs with much higher expectations of transparency?  (For instance, colleagues in public universities in Illinois and elsewhere have obtained email between their chairs and administrators, and among administrators, and all release not only budgets but salaries as well.)

NU has over a $2.3 billion annual operating budget.  Why should the allocation of funds to schools, programs, and departments, and within these to individuals be subject to the whims of a small clique of those who signed Alter's email?

Wouldn't it be great if my colleagues resumed their professional vocations and discussed this as a serious political question, rather than shoot off a thoughtless email implying that their say-so alone should be the criterion for the release of information?

Speaking of Research

Student work undertaken through the Deportation Research Clinic and my scholarship on "forensic intelligence" engage political questions about information.  Ironically, the internal Farrell Fellow funding Monoson unilaterally cut off, was for "Knowing Citizens: Privacy, Secrecy, and the Rule of Law."  This site, http://brandNU.world, is an expression of "forensic intelligence" and an extension of my research.  Here is the description of Farrell Fellow responsibilities to which students responded and whose applications Monoson last spring ordered staff to hide from me.

As the project implies, decisions on what should and should not be public are political.  As political scientists, you'd think my colleagues would be at least a little curious to reflect on these matters, including prominent claims by Hannah Arendt related to Daniel Ellsberg's release of "the Pentagon Papers," not to mention Justice Louis Brandeis (of ye olde "sunshine is the best disinfectant," the public health equivalent for destroying government misconduct, as we describe its role in the work undertaken by the Deportation Research Clinic).  

Maybe there are good political theoretical or policy reasons for why well-endowed nonprofits whose priorities and operations are determined by Boeing, Caterpillar, General Dynamics and J.P. Morgan, and implicated in the domestic and foreign policies of the U.S. and other governments should be able to conduct their affairs in secret.  What are the arguments and the scholarship that would support this?  Is a sense of entitlement to doling out funds to suit kleptocratic or idiosyncratic preferences, or just cronyism, a.k.a., "business as usual," a fair substitute for thoughtful, departmental conversations about what secrecy does and on whose behalf?

Brand NU Financing and Reclaiming the Real Northwestern

Over the last couple years I've sent emails to Provost Dan Linzer and  Marilyn McCoy, Brand NU's Vice President of Administration and Planning with requests for budget information by school, program, and department.  Responses from both indicated NU considers this information "private."  McCoy told me a couple years ago that even the Dean of Weinberg, then Sarah Mangelsdorf, did not know the budget of the college she ran or its departments.

This is not conducive to good governance within the university nor within the state of Illinois. We need to change Illinois state law, to require the same transparency of private non-profit universities as is presently in place for Illinois public universities.

Why not just leave it to NU's officers and accountants?  Because the officers have conflicts.  Take McCoy, who manages NU's Conflict of Interest policies for its trustees and sits on NU's Investment Committee.  McCoy earns more from her work as a trustee for J.P. Morgan ($315,000 in 2015) than from her income at NU ($278,000 in 2013).   (Figures from SEC and NU IRS Form 990, 2014).

McCoy has been a member of J.P. Morgan's One Group Mutual Funds Board since 1999 and was appointed to her lucrative position on the Funds Board in 2005, 14 months after NU used J.P. Morgan to manage the $185 million bond issued with funds loaned from Illinois.  (Illinois loans Brand NU $185 million; Brand NU uses the funds, supposedly for buildings; Brand NU pays tax-free interest (~4%) to individuals who invest in its bonds; NU has a schedule for repaying the bond. The repayment could come from issuing another bond.) 

What about J.P. Morgan's checks on the conflicts of its directors?  According to J.P. Morgan's 2015 disclosure, "Ms. McCoy is the Chairman of the Compliance Committee. As a member of the Compliance Committee, she has participated in the oversight of the Fund’s compliance with legal, regulatory and contractual requirements and compliance policies and procedures, as well as the appointment and compensation of the Fund’s Chief Compliance Officer. The members of the Compliance Committee also oversee the investigation and resolution of any significant compliance incidents. Ms. McCoy also serves as a member of the Equity Committee."

An obvious worry is kickbacks, and not only in the form of salaries, but that's not what troubles me.  My concern is that the Brand NU World is ground zero for the real Chi-raq.  NU and other Illinois private boards run by conflicted trustees are at the epicenter of a global network that cycles profits from capitalism and war sales through private nonprofits that propel and survive on militarized research funding and scholarship, while telling working class residents of Illinois to get along with a dilapidated transportation system, broken schools, shabby public parks and programs, and forcing them to pay obscene sales taxes, income taxes, and property taxes that subsidize the elites' nonprofits.
 
There are a number of instantiations of this.  The one I'm describing here is NU's board and officers using Illinois bonds for projects that conveniently line their own pockets while sucking money out of Illionis' impoverished public sphere.  Brand NU has $595 million in bond loans from Illinois (IRS 990, p. 328) and University of Chicago $1.1 billion in Illinois bond loans (IRS 990, 2014, p. 244).  (We'll get to the hospital investments later.)

For those whose eyes are glazing over--and this is not an accident--our bankrupt state somehow has Illinois funds that can pay for shiny new buildings on Lake Michigan benefitting the bottom lines and individuals at the finance firms behind NU investment decisions, while the Chicago State University is going belly up for want of a small fraction of this.  University of Chicago already has come up short on covering interest payments, leading to budget cuts affecting faculty and students, and Brand NU's President Morton Schapiro responded to a question at last spring's Faculty Assembly about what keeps him up at night by sharing his anxiety that something similar might happen at NU.

Who decided that Illinois financial expertise should devote itself to building a trustee party house on Lake Michigan and not a center dedicated to the study of state violence?  Why fancy buildings for programs promoting "leadership," but no new digs for promoting citizenship? Why not design a truly green campus coterminous with the cities NU occupies without paying taxes, and promote civic spirit with dedicated bike lanes in Chicago and on Evanston's Sheridan Road, where an NU student last week was run over by a cement truck?  Why do we allow the Pritzkers and the Crowns to spend our money the way that suits their business interests and vanity, and not the studied priorities of our communities?  

On a larger stage, Brand NU's President Schapiro, gives a patronizing speech on micro-aggressions while bumming rides to the Superbowl with the war-profiteering Crown family in their private jet, not to mention doing everything possible to align Brand NU with the agendas of Abbott Laboratories, Boeing, Caterpillar, General Dynamics (taken over by Lester's father, Colonel Henry Crown).   At half-time do you think Schapiro confronts Lester Crown for the mega-aggressions of the missiles for cluster bombs General Dynamics produces (as pointed out by the divestment committee of University of Vermont)?  Do you think he is lobbying President Obama for "safe spaces" for the war refugees that result from the missiles Crown's company sold to the Saudis and that are killing people in Syria and Yemen, carried by fighter planes sold by Boeing?  No free pass for micro-aggressions such as Tillery yelling at me, slamming the door, and lying about it, or Monoson harassing me in the hall, but let's get our priorities straight.

Why is it so difficult for citizens and (especially!) political scientists to think about the connections between who we work for and what and how we study (e.g., the Deportation Research Clinic is directly engaged with the war refugees the Crown family is producing), and why are scholars of politics failing so miserably in engaging the root causes of violence and inequality?  Why are we not making the insightful scholarship on militarism, weapons spending, and research methods by political scientists such as S.M. Amadae, Philip Green, Ido Oren, Kaija Schilde, and Robert Vitalis more central to our research agendas?  Anthropologist Carolyn Nordstrom writes: "In considering the staggering profits that accrue to war, I suggest that the 'politics of invisibility' is not an accident: it is created ... The modern state is as dependent on warzone profits as it is on keeping these dependencies invisible to formal reckoning.  Part of its power rests on the optics of deception: focusing attention on the need for violence while drawing attention awway from both the war-economy foundations of sovereign power and the price in human life this economy of power entails" (from Shadows of War: Violence, Power, and the International Profiteering in the Twenty-First Century [2004] p. 34). Perhaps the more serious harm inflicted by Brand NU is the further entrenchment of an idiocracy that emboldens bulllies to squelch the academic freedom to raise questions about the idiocracy.

I've unearthed documents indicating expenditures, hidden conflicts of interest, and investments that are at best unsavory and several likely unlawful.  To make this research sustainable, the information needs to be more readily available. Also, someone finally figured out I was able to download the administrators' expense reports, my access to which was eliminated in the same timeframe NU banned me.  (Don't worry, everything I have done is legal.  After NU failed to heed a whistleblower and was forced into its second multi-million dollar settlement with the Department of Justice responsive to a lawsuit alleging fraud in recent history, it implemented an expense report interface that is transparent by design.  Sometime this summer, Brand NU's administrators hid their expense reports, but have left the rest of the faculty reports accessible, though effectively obscure.)

Students, faculty, alumni, friends, if you want to discover the subterfuges of our Illinois kleptocracy, and you are from NU or another institution, or you are an Illinois resident who thinks your tax dollars should go to educating Illinois residents and not fancy vanity party houses on Lake Michigan to indulge NU's trustees (with J.P. Morgan bonds), please write me at swn AT protonmail and use a non-work email so we can use the Illinois legislature to pass the following: "Be it resolved, that all non-profits in Illinois must provide the same disclosures responsive to records requests as Illinois public institutions of higher education."