Democrats launch hearings into Breuder deal

Democrats will launch a series of Illinois Senate hearings into public college president salaries and perks following the $763,000 severance package the College of DuPage board gave President Robert Breuder last month.

State Sen. Bill Cunningham, a Chicago Democrat, said the hearings will target both community colleges and universities, given that Illinois State University's former president was given a large buyout deal to leave last year.

Senate Democrats have sent letters to the schools asking for information. Cunningham said this round of inquiry was sparked by College of DuPage.

“Obviously, there's been a lot of taxpayer outrage given the size of the severance package he was given by the board,” Cunningham said.

Illinois House Republicans already have unveiled a package of legislation aimed at the Breuder deal. The proposals ranged from trying to change how community college boards are elected to a call to audit the college's finances.

COD asked the state's top auditor to move forward even before audit legislation is debated in Springfield. On Monday, the college said it supports the hearings.

“We are confident that what the Illinois Senate Higher Education Committee will find is that what exists at College of DuPage is not unusual, with compensation and benefits generally tied to such considerations as the size and geographic location of an institution, years of relevant professional experience and annual accomplishments,” spokesman Joseph Moore said in a statement.

Cunningham and Democratic Sens. Tom Cullerton of Villa Park, Dan Kotowski of Park Ridge and Melinda Bush of Grayslake are announcing the hearings in Chicago today.

College president salaries are public, as was information about the Breuder deal. Still, Kotowski said many legislative committees are too broad to concentrate on a particular issue. And Cullerton said that while the salaries of presidents are often reported on, some other contracts aren't.

“I think this will reveal what a lot of the perks are,” Cullerton said.

Daily Herald Staff Writer Robert Sanchez contributed to this story.

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