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About a dozen people spoke out against the College of DuPage president and Board of Trustees Thursday night, when heated words were not only offered by the public but among the college’s leadership.
The July 17 meeting brought out faculty, residents and students who criticized the officials for a recent controversy stemming from an e-mail that raised questions about College President Robert Breuder’s methods in trying to secure state funding.
“The president’s actions have reached the tipping point that challenges future plans for COD,” said Glenn Hansen, president of the College of DuPage Faculty Association. “We at the College of DuPage have had our institutional integrity damaged.”
Other speakers also lambasted the salaries and benefits of college officials, the price of tuition and the recent multi-million dollar capital projects on campus.
Laura Reigle spoke to question the college’s claim that higher enrollment is pushing the need for a new teaching and learning center.
“Fifty million dollar projects should require voter approval and certainly, this will be an election issue in March of 2015 when three trustees are up for re-election,” she said at the meeting. “The administration selectively used enrollment data from the last five years to give the illusion to the trustees and the public that additional space was needed….Additional space is not needed.”
Breuder called it “a coordinated, orchestrated attack.”
“It’s a tragedy to sit here and be bludgeoned, literally bludgeoned, in an orchestrated approach by 20 people to find fault with every dimension of this institution and every dimension of this leadership when you simply have to look around and people say this is the finest community college of its kind in this country,” he said. “I don’t run this institution to be liked. I make good business decisions every day that, frankly, resulted in a surplus in the budget.”
Questions were also raised by the public about the board’s 6-1 vote in June to commit $30 million to building a new teaching and learning center on campus, with a proposal that included hope of $20 million in state capital dollars. An e-mail from Breuder to trustees was later made public detailing his efforts to get the state to release funding that was appropriated to the college several years ago.
The May 9 email was obtained by transparency-in-government group For The Good of Illinois through public records. In it, Breuder wrote, “I needed to identify a project that would help release our state funding. My idea: a Teaching and Learning Center.”
It led to state officials suspending funds and Dave Blanchette, a Quinn spokesman, released a statement saying, “Recent news regarding appropriations for the College of DuPage is extremely alarming…We have no tolerance for any misrepresentation of how funds will be used.”
Breuder on Thursday called Blanchette’s statement an inflammatory accusation
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