CSU Employee Says He Was Fired For Exposing Ethics Issues

By Dick Johnson
|  Wednesday, Mar 26, 2014  |  Updated 5:56 AM CDT
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Glenn Meeks says

Glenn Meeks says "people were being hired not because of what they knew, but who they knew" at the school. Dick Johnson reports.

A second whistle blower lawsuit was filed Tuesday afternoon against Chicago State University and its controversial President Wayne Watson.

Once again, a former high ranking member of Watson's administration claims he was fired in retaliation for speaking up about alleged wrongdoing.

NBC 5 Investigates obtained an advance copy of the lawsuit and an exclusive interview with the plaintiff.

The lawsuit contains shocking allegations and comes just two weeks after Chicago State's fired senior legal counsel was awarded $3 million.

Now comes Glenn Meeks, Chicago State's fired vice-president of administration and finance, who says he took a pay cut to join the university's administration with high hopes of making a difference.

But, as he puts it, "the glitter came off on my hands" about six months after he arrived on campus when he realized "there's some problems here."

The veteran administrator from the University of Illinois Chicago claims he encountered head-spinning revelations that threatened the very existence of the university. Meeks says "people were being hired not because of what they knew, but who they knew, and I had a problem with that because it was crippling the institution."

Angela Henderson, the wife of CSU President Wayne Watson's private attorney, is named in the lawsuit. Her degree is in nursing, but she was just promoted to interim provost.

Also named is Cheri Sidney, who lists on her resume degrees in human resources, but whose six-figure salary pays her to be associate vice-president of enrollment management.

Meeks claims Sidney "was hired and then promoted to a position for which she is not qualified." And he claims there is a direct connection between Sidney and President Watson.

"He was actually having a romantic relationship with her," Meeks said.

That's about the time Meeks decided to blow the whistle.

"As the chief financial officer of the institution, I'm protecting the resources of the institution, and if we have the chief executive in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate, he exposes the institution to a possible sexual harassment lawsuit," Meeks said.

Privately, Meeks shared what he encountered with Trustees of the university whom he thought he could trust. And he says he even shared his concern with Gov. Pat Quinn.

One day later, despite the fact that CSU has its own whistleblower protection policy, Meeks was fired "without cause" in a formal termination letter which also listed a series of job performance issues.

Meeks began choking with emotion when discussing the "cancer" he believes is preventing CSU from the being the outstanding institution it should be.

"I thought, and I still feel, I did it for all the right reasons, not for myself but for the institution, because I still care about Chicago State," Meeks said.

Meeks is back pay and the reinstatement of his job.

In a brief statement, Chicago State University spokesman Tom Wogan said "these are untrue, unproven, baseless claims made by a disgruntled former employee. CSU vigorously denies the allegations and will vigorously defend itself in court."

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