COD faculty wants Breuder on immediate leave; subpoena seeks surveillance video

  • The College of DuPage Faculty Association is calling on the school's board of trustees to place President Robert Breuder on immediate administrative leave.

      The College of DuPage Faculty Association is calling on the school's board of trustees to place President Robert Breuder on immediate administrative leave. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

The College of DuPage Faculty Association is calling on the board of trustees to place President Robert Breuder on immediate administrative leave "until all the issues related to investigations by state and federal agencies are resolved," according a resolution approved by the Faculty Senate.

Federal authorities also have subpoenaed the college for video surveillance recordings that might show administrators' reaction to a criminal investigation of the Glen Ellyn-based school.

Officials say the union, which represents COD's 306 full-time faculty members, decided to take action after "weeks of silence and no response to the messages sent to the board of trustees."

"The Faculty Senate is concerned that accusations directed at college leadership is influencing people's opinion of the college," Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said in an email to the Daily Herald. "It is very important for everyone to understand that these administrator activities are not reflective of the employee behavior and that nothing has changed in the teaching and learning provided by College of DuPage."

The resolution, dated Thursday, was unanimously approved by the Faculty Senate. It calls on Breuder, who has been with the college since January 2009, to be placed on leave immediately.

"We are currently headed down a path that is destructive to this institution," the resolution reads. "Regardless of your allegiances to Dr. Breuder, it is time to act decisively. If evidence is found to support wrongdoing by the president, he must be fired."

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Breuder could not immediately be reached for comment and a spokesman for the college said no statement will be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, COD spokesman Randall Samborn said Friday the college last week received a subpoena requesting audio and video recordings from the college's Student Resource Center made April 13, the day federal agents served COD two subpoenas requesting various records concerning Breuder's spending with college credit cards, contracts made with vendors associated with COD Foundation board members, and more.

Samborn confirmed a Chicago Tribune report saying the subpoena asked for all recordings taken between 2:30 and 11:59 p.m. The subpoena also wants COD to preserve all recordings from April 13 to April 16, the day a third federal subpoena was served, the Tribune reported.

"Our only comment is that, as we have said previously, we continue to fully cooperate with any government investigations," Samborn said.

COD has been dealing with a firestorm of controversy since Breuder accepted a $762,868 buyout in January as part of an agreement that will have him retire in March 2016 -- roughly three years before his contract was scheduled to expire. Much of the criticism has focused on spending by Breuder and other administrators.

Faculty members called on Breuder to resign in September when they took a historic vote of no confidence. The union, however, didn't go public with its 14-page resolution detailing its concerns until February.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

That document lists 10 major complaints about Breuder's leadership that include dissatisfaction with his financial priorities; concerns with his ability to balance his roles in academic leadership, management and administration; the loss of trust he has generated both on and off campus; and his "coercive, authoritarian and secretive" leadership style.

Meanwhile, federal investigators conducting a criminal investigation of COD issued subpoenas requesting an array of documents related to Breuder, college trustees, senior management personnel, COD Foundation members, and entities professionally associated with COD Foundation members. The foundation is the college's fundraising arm.

In addition, DuPage County prosecutors are doing their own probe of COD. They issued subpoenas seeking years of spending records and contract information for Breuder.

The faculty's call for Breuder to be placed on administrative leave mirrors a push by three newly elected board members -- Charles Bernstein, Deanne Mazzochi and Frank Napolitano -- and sitting board member Kathy Hamilton who have called for Breuder to step aside. The new board members, all members of the "Clean Slate" group, will be seated April 30 and, along with Hamilton, form a new majority on the seven-member elected board.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Bernstein said he will support the call to place Breuder on immediate administrative leave.

"I'm certainly hoping that among the citizens of District 502 it will further impress upon them that it's a good idea when they see that the faculty is for it as well," Bernstein said.

Mazzochi said it wouldn't be appropriate to comment until after she officially takes office. But she has said placing someone on administrative leave is entirely proper when that person is being investigated.

"I highly value the faculty association's opinion," Mazzochi said. "And I think that one of the problems with the prior board members is that they really shut the faculty out of the process."

Hamilton, long a vocal critic of Breuder, said she thinks he needs to be fired.

"Any steps that take us there, I'm all in favor of," Hamilton said.

But sitting Trustee Joseph C. Wozniak said he doesn't think it's necessary to put Breuder on administrative leave.

Hansen, meanwhile, said COD faculty members are saddened by the impact the negative news may have on opinions about the college.

"We, the faculty, are dedicated to seeing that nothing interferes with the educational opportunities we have always provided the community," Hansen said. "When a student asks us if this will affect their earned credit, a line has been crossed and we must act."

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