Before putting him on leave, COD board sought to rein in Breuder

Even as they were preparing to offer embattled President Robert Breuder a nearly $763,000 buyout package to step down three years early, College of DuPage trustees were looking for ways to rein him in during the final 15 months of his tenure.

The trustees — apparently eager to force Breuder out after COD's full-time faculty gave him a vote of no confidence in September 2014 — met behind closed doors on Dec. 18, to put the finishing touches on the buyout package that would send Breuder packing in March 2016.

An audio recording of that meeting, mailed anonymously this month to the Daily Herald, reveals the discussion touched on plans to provide specific goals and limit the power of Breuder — primarily to help rebuild the administration's damaged relationship with the faculty.

Proposals included:

• Forcing Breuder to drop his college-paid membership at Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, a private hunting club in Dundee Township.

• Requiring him to send audit reports directly to the board.

• Giving trustees more say about news releases.

• Telling Breuder not to meet on his own with state lawmakers.

• Accounting for how Breuder's $700-a-month professional development stipend was being spent;

• Honoring a committee's recommendations about raises for five faculty members, including faculty union President Glenn Hansen;

• Requiring board approval for negotiations and contract modifications.

On the recording, McGuire is heard saying that previous board chairmen approved Breuder's request to have the college pay for his Max McGraw membership. And while Breuder entertained COD Foundation members and donors at the club, she said he could use COD's upscale Waterleaf restaurant for that purpose.

“We were never personally involved in his (Breuder's) leadership style, and now we can be,” McGuire said on the recording. “We need to address the issues that were raised by the vote of no confidence. They (faculty members) have been waiting five months for this.”

It's unclear whether Breuder supported all the ideas, which McGuire developed with the help of the board's attorney.

Breuder initially responded by announcing plans to pursue two of the goals, including forming a group of administrators and faculty members to address a faculty survey that gave low marks to the school's administration.

Breuder has not commented publicly since he was put on leave. He could not be reached on Wednesday.

Most of the other proposed reforms were never implemented, however, because the buyout package sparked a firestorm of controversy as soon as it was made public in January.

The deal, approved in a 6-1 board vote with only then-Trustee Kathy Hamilton providing opposition, sparked intense media and public scrutiny, triggering state and federal investigations into the Glen Ellyn-based school's administrative practices.

After a new board majority, led by Hamilton, took office, Breuder was put on administrative leave. So instead of being given time to change, he was banned from campus.

While the current board is pursuing own set of changes to how the school is run, McGuire said on Wednesday that the old board was going to act.

“Had all this not happened, it was our intention to develop a different working relationship with Bob,” McGuire said. “That just never materialized. There was just so much going on.”

McGuire said she also wanted trustees to voluntarily serve on various committees that already have members from the administration and faculty.

The hope, she says, was to create “a more collaborative environment for the college faculty” and to get the faculty, administration and board “on the same page.”

“I wanted the faculty to know we were listening,” McGuire said. “I wanted the administration to know that we cared.”

She acknowledges that some of the changes proposed in December are similar to ideas now being pitched by Hamilton.

“Kathy and I were on the same page in many instances when she first got on the board,” she said. “I was concerned about some of the same things she was concerned about.”

COD faculty will drop grievances to get raises for 5 professors

COD trustee calls divide on board 'disturbing'

COD officials to review AG opinion it violated state laws

Inside the College of DuPage meeting to buy out Breuder

  President Robert Breuder would have had to drop his college-paid membership at Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, a private hunting club in Dundee Township, had a list of controls been implemented. Mark Black/
  Kathy Hamilton, now chairwoman of the COD board initially was "on the same page in many instances" with Trustee Dianne McGuire who had a list of goals and direction for President Robert Breuder to meet in his last 15 months in office. Paul Michna/
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.