College of DuPage student takes seat on school's board

After becoming politically active during last year's Democratic primary and spending months volunteering on several campaigns, Daniel Markwell was left wondering what to do when the November election was over.

Then someone suggested he get involved with the College of DuPage, where he's a student, and he decided to seek a seat on the Glen Ellyn school's board of trustees.

"I never thought I would be a candidate until I was," the 23-year-old Lombard resident said.

Markwell's decision to run paid off last month when he became only the second active COD student to be elected to the seven-member board. The first was Mark Pfefferman, a former Glen Ellyn village president who served as a COD trustee in the 1980s, school officials said.

Markwell was sworn in last week along with two other new trustees - Christine Fenne of Wheaton and Alan Bennett of Lombard.

"It's been a wild ride," he said.

Markwell said the reaction to his election has been "overwhelmingly positive" on campus.

"A lot of people have come up and told me they are really happy that I won," he said. "They are very excited to see a student on the board."

While there's a student representative on the COD board, votes cast by that student don't count.

Markwell said he wants to work with the new student trustee - Anthony Walker of Bensenville - to address students' concerns.

There's no doubt he will be accessible to them.

Markwell, who is pursuing an associate degree in computer science, said he spends at least three days a week on campus.

He said that will give him an opportunity to see how things are going. He plans to pass along any feedback he gets to other trustees.

"In most of the conversations I've been having with them (trustees), we're all pretty unified," Markwell said. "We want to see good progress at the college and improve the quality of education."

Markwell said one of his top goals is for the school to keep its accreditation.

The Higher Learning Commission in December 2015 placed the college on two years' probation for failing to act with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel and auxiliary functions. Numerous issues have since been addressed by the administration and COD board.

Markwell, who plans to graduate next year, said he hopes his time on the board inspires other young people to get involved in local politics.

"If they put in the energy and the effort," he said, "they can really make a difference."

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