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updated: 6/20/2014 5:59 PM

Harper College signs five-year contract extension with Ender

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  • Harper College President Ken Ender

      Harper College President Ken Ender
    George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

In an era of turnover in community college leadership, Harper College President Ken Ender gets another five years to steer the Palatine-based school.

Trustees this week agreed to extend Ender's contract through June 2019.

"This continuity of leadership is really important to Harper's success, and it's very important to the board," Chairwoman Diane Hill said.

Under the terms of the five-year pact, Ender will receive a base salary of $279,236. The new agreement also calls for annual salary raises -- ranging from 2 percent to 4 percent -- tied to the Consumer Price Index.

Ender's compensation ranks higher than some of his local peers'. At Elgin Community College, President David Sam will make a base salary of $260,000 in the 2014-15 school year. At Oakton Community College in Des Plaines, retiring President Margaret Lee currently makes a base salary of $259,066.

Ender's housing allowance remains unchanged. In 2012, trustees bumped the allowance from $20,000 to $32,000 a year in an amendment to his contract.

The extension comes as community colleges grapple with administrative upheaval, officials say, pointing to findings from the American Association of Community Colleges. Forty-three percent of presidents polled in a 2012 survey planned to retire within the next five years.

Hill said the board wanted to send a "strong message" in support of Ender's management. She highlighted his outreach to high school educators to prepare students for the transition to college as part of a five-year plan to boost Harper graduation rates.

"President Ender has really brought to the college a strong vision for building student success throughout our community," she said.

The board unanimously passed the extension. Trustee Laurie Stone was absent from the vote.

Ender became Harper's president in 2009, then earning a $240,000 base salary.

Before that, he spent 11 years in the same role at Cumberland County College in New Jersey.

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