COD board candidates largely oppose buyout package for Breuder

Candidates for the College of DuPage board of trustees are nearly unanimous in their opposition to the current board's decision to approve a $762,000 buyout package for the president of the Glen Ellyn school.

The Daily Herald reached out to all 13 candidates before the board voted 6-1 for a second time Wednesday to approve the severance package with Robert Breuder.

The candidates pursuing three seats on the college's board in the April 7 election are Dan Bailey of Wheaton, Claire Ball of Addison, Charles Bernstein of Wheaton, Robert Buckley of Glen Ellyn, David Carlin of Naperville, Matt Gambs of Naperville, Roger Kempa of Darien, Deanne Marie Mazzochi of Elmhurst, Frank Napolitano of Bloomingdale, Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn, incumbent Nancy Svoboda of Downers Grove, incumbent Kim Savage of Darien, and Joseph M. Wozniak of Naperville.

Incumbents Savage and Svoboda were asked to explain how the board settled on the $762,868 buyout figure. The challengers were asked what they thought of that amount.

Here's how they responded:

Dan Bailey: “Too high and unnecessary. As I understand it, Dr. Breuder asked to leave, so the board is under no obligation to pay him anything. This severance package actually cost money. There is no savings since the board must hire a president during the last three years of his contract. However, Dr. Breuder's departure would allow for a hopefully less problematic replacement.”

Claire Ball: “It is a shockingly large sum and I think everyone deserves to know exactly how it was calculated and agreed upon, as the actions of the president show no justification for it.”

Charles Bernstein: “Given the circumstances permeating Dr. Breuder's years at COD, I think the amount is too much by $762,000.”

David Carlin: “I don't support the decision to buy out the College of DuPage president's contract. Any dollar amount would have been too much.”

Matt Gambs: “The current administration can point to many successes it accomplished at the college during his time, but this package is inappropriate and, if I was a board member, I would vote against it. I have inherent concerns about the package and its terms, and I believe the stakeholders of the College of DuPage deserve the whole story.”

Roger Kempa: “Why don't we simply let him (Breuder) retire early? What is the need for paying him $762,000? If he wants to retire tomorrow, let him do that with any normal benefits he's due. But there's no reason to go overboard and pay him all this extra money.”

Deanne Marie Mazzochi: “The amount is utterly unnecessary given the express terms of what COD has identified as the documents defining Dr. Breuder's contractual obligations.”

Frank Napolitano: “I don't believe Dr. Breuder should have received any severance, if in fact he chose to retire early.”

Sandra Pihos: “I would have voted 'no' on this contract agreement because of the process and secrecy used to negotiate it.

“There clearly is a lack of transparency at the College of DuPage, which is publicly funded. The board not only violated the state's Open Meetings Act when it refused to disclose the terms of Breuder's severance package before voting on it, but it also violated Public Act 97-0827, which I wrote, requiring a posted agenda to clearly set forth the subject matter on an item which will be considered for final action at a meeting. The board should have complied with the law, provided for adequate public comment and delayed the vote to the next scheduled meeting.”

Kim Savage: “It (the buyout amount) represents about a year and half of Breuder's salary and benefits, which would be about half of what would be due to him at the time he would be leaving. I thought it was a responsible compromise compared to paying him $1.5 million to leave.

“We are obligated to pay him whatever is due to him if we asked him to leave. And yes, we didn't exactly ask him to leave, but it became a mutually agreeable situation.”

Joseph M. Wozniak: “I do not believe that Dr. Breuder should have been offered any amount of money to retire early. I have no problem with accepting early retirement from his contract with payment of his regular agreed salary up until his date of departure. Remember the Homeland Security building will be named for Dr. Breuder, affording him a very valuable college and foundation board naming asset, for his service as COD president.”

Nancy Svoboda and Robert Buckley did not respond.

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  Hundreds of people attended the meeting at College of DuPage where the college's board approved a buyout package for President Robert Breuder. Now candidates seeking election to the board are weighing in on the deal. Mark Black/
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