Lawmakers: COD should pay consequences for Breuder buyout

Some suburban lawmakers want to punish College of DuPage for President Robert Breuder's $762,868 severance package.

State Rep. Jeanne Ives, a Wheaton Republican, called for the state's top auditor to review how the college has handled money since 2011.

Ives wants the audit to be conducted as soon as possible and requests that "any other state agency or entity that may have information relevant to this audit cooperate fully and promptly" with the auditor. She filed a resolution to push the matter in the Illinois House and quickly found some backing.

"The board had a chance to correct this decision. Now I join with Rep. Jeanne Ives in calling for an audit," Rep. Steve Andersson, a Geneva Republican, posted online Thursday.

And state Rep. Jack Franks, a Marengo Democrat, said before Wednesday's COD board approval of the severance deal that he will introduce legislation to slash state funding for COD by more than $1.5 million next year.

Franks says Breuder's buyout "is a misuse of precious funds that the school receives from the state and a disservice to the students who attend that institution."

College of DuPage received $14.2 million in state money last year, Franks said.

The COD board on Wednesday approved, for the second time, Breuder's severance package with another 6-1 vote in favor of the buyout. The vote was restaged because of what Chairwoman Erin Birt said was a "procedural" error in the initial vote.

Trustee Kim Savage, speaking at the time of the initial vote, praised Breuder for his service. "We now have an institution that is a desired institution to come to, not an institution of second choice," she said.

Breuder's buyout also includes an early retirement date and the promise of a building named after him if he stays on good behavior until his 2016 departure.

State Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, says he'll write legislation to prevent naming a government building for a departing president and to restrict buyout provisions in officials' contracts.

"As a local taxpayer I'm offended. As a lawmaker I'm outraged," Cullerton said. "The college's priority should be educating students, not handing out golden parachutes."

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Grayslake Democrat, says she's met with the Senate's legal staff about how to put a cap on the size of severance packages, but she said details of legislation aren't ready yet.

Other large severance packages already have caught lawmakers' attention.

State Rep. Margo McDermed, a Mokena Republican, introduced legislation before COD's final decision calling for more transparency in publicly funded severance agreements. The plan is aimed at the 2013 deal in which Metra agreed to a $442,000 severance package with former CEO Alex Clifford.

Her legislation would ensure severance agreements funded partly or fully with taxpayer money be made public.

McDermed says it's time to build this transparency into Illinois law.

"If taxpayers knew what was going on with money, they might vote differently in elections for things like college boards," McDermed said.

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Robert Breuder's employment history

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Breuder cost himself thousands

Trustees to vote again for buyout for College of DuPage head

Jeanne Ives
Jack Franks
  Steve Andersson of Geneva gets a laugh during his victory speech after winning the Republican nomination for state 65th House representative last year. Rick West/
Melinda Bush
Tom Cullerton
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