Rauner approves laws inspired by College of DuPage severance tumult

Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a handful of new laws Friday inspired in part by the sizable severance package awarded to former College of DuPage President Robert Breuder, ensuring the episode will leave a statewide legacy.

One of the new laws requires community college board members to take four hours of leadership training about transparency laws, ethics and contracts, among other things. Another limits how large university officials' severance packages can be and requires community college deals to be more transparent.

And another requires regular state reviews of colleges' compliance with contract laws.

Rauner announced his actions Friday afternoon without comment.

"These new laws are necessary first steps to stop waste, fraud and abuse at our state universities and community colleges," state Sen. Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat and co-sponsor of some of the plans, said in a statement.

In early 2015, a previous COD board agreed to give Breuder a severance package of about $763,000 that called for him to step down from the post in March of this year. But he was fired months early after an election put a new majority on the board.

The leader of that new majority, Kathy Hamilton, later stepped down.

Breuder's severance deal has sparked state-level action and debate for more than a year, including a move to have the state's top auditor conduct a probe of College of DuPage. That audit hasn't yet been released, and the state required the college to pay for its own investigation.

In the turbulent period surrounding Breuder's ouster, the Higher Learning Commission put COD's accreditation status on probation, citing a variety of issues. The college's new president, Ann Rondeau, started the job earlier this month with a focus on getting those problems resolved.

"You've got to get that right because everything else follows," she said this month. "We rise and fall on that issue."

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