Accreditation agency postpones visit to COD

 
 
Updated 6/28/2015 10:43 PM

An accreditation agency has postponed a planned visit to College of DuPage after one of its inspectors dropped out, COD officials announced Sunday night.

Representatives from the Higher Learning Commission were scheduled to spend Monday and Tuesday on the school's Glen Ellyn campus investigating claims of wrongdoing at the state's largest community college and determining if it still meets all 21 criteria required for accreditation.

 

But in a statement, the college announced that the advisory visit has been postponed. COD officials said they were told Sunday by the commission that Jackson Community College President Daniel Phelan canceled his participation in the assessment visit to COD.

"The visit is off," said Joe Collins, COD's acting interim president. "We will inform the public when it is back on, which I expect to be within about a month or so."

COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton expressed disappointment about the delay.

"Based on this occurrence, we will insist on closely examining the backgrounds of all potential HLC reviewers to ensure a proper assessment of the college that protects all of the educational work done by our faculty and students, on behalf of our taxpayers," Hamilton said in a statement.

Officials said that Collins, the faculty, other COD administrators and trustees spent hundreds of hours preparing for the visit by the commission representatives.

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"While we are disappointed that there will be a delay, we understand the HLC's desire to ensure that the team members are suited to give us an honest evaluation," Collins said.

The Higher Learning Commission -- one of six regional accreditation agencies in the country -- was expected to renew COD's accreditation for an eight-year period after giving the school a glowing review. But the agency launched an inquiry after newspaper accounts raised questions about no-bid contracts for insiders, administrators dining at the school's upscale Waterleaf restaurant and other issues.

Until Higher Learning Commission officials make a site visit and report their findings, the college's pending reaccreditation will remain on hold.

Faculty association President Glenn Hansen says he believes COD's accreditation will be renewed.

"We are academically as strong as ever," Hansen said in a statement. "On this basis alone, there can be no question of our accreditation."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

COD trustees placed President Robert Breuder on paid leave this spring after months of revelations of improprieties at the college. Hamilton said she was "concerned" to learn that commission representatives sought to interview Breuder as part of the visit.

"Dr. Breuder does not speak for COD," Hamilton said.

Nevertheless, she said, COD officials look forward to meeting with the commission's team.

"We will continue to deliver effectively a 21st century, world class education to our students," Hamilton said. "Meanwhile, we are reforming the elements of COD that require it."

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