$6,500-a-month raise for acting COD president

  • College of DuPage's Acting Interim President Joseph Collins, right, is getting a temporary $6,500-a-month raise that board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton says he deserves.

    College of DuPage's Acting Interim President Joseph Collins, right, is getting a temporary $6,500-a-month raise that board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton says he deserves. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 8/14/2015 11:23 PM

With College of DuPage President Robert Breuder on paid administrative leave, the man overseeing the daily operations of the state's largest community college is getting a temporary $6,500-a-month raise, or a $78,000 raise if he continues for a full year.

Acting Interim President Joseph Collins was given the pay hike Thursday by members of the COD board majority that appointed him April 30 when they barred Breuder from campus. The increase is retroactive to May 1.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

If Collins continues in the acting interim president's role for a full year, the raise could boost his annual salary to $307,678 and make him one of the highest-paid community college administrators in the state.

Breuder is being paid a base salary of $314,034, COD officials said.

Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton and trustees Frank Napolitano, Deanne Mazzochi and Charles Bernstein voted in favor of the monthly stipend.

Trustees Dianne McGuire and Joseph C. Wozniak, who are members of the board minority, opposed it. Trustee Erin Birt, another member of the minority, was absent.

"Dr. Collins is doing two jobs right now," Hamilton said. "He is executive vice president and he is (acting interim) president. And for four months he hasn't been getting paid a dime (extra). So we are compensating him for his work."

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Collins is being paid $229,678 a year as executive vice president. The monthly stipend is on top of that.

Collins will lose the stipend once he stops holding two positions, but it's uncertain when that will be.

Breuder's last day with COD is scheduled to be March 31, 2016, and the board this week established a committee to search for the school's next president. Collins is expected to be a candidate for the post.

In the meantime, McGuire said the $78,000 in additional pay he could receive over the course of a year is "a nice bump" for someone who has never been a college president.

"I am a little taken aback at the size of this increase," she said.

McGuire also said she's concerned about paying two presidents at the same time.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The current board put Breuder on paid leave after the previous board awarded him a nearly $763,000 buyout package.

Anger over that buyout led to a new board majority being elected in April and sparked ongoing state and federal investigations into the college's spending and administrative practices.

McGuire said the combined amount being paid to Breuder and Collins is "a lot of money."

"I don't know what to say about it," she said. "It just seems excessively high."

But Hamilton said COD isn't paying for two presidents because the $78,000 in extra pay Collins could receive isn't equivalent to a president's salary.

She also said Collins isn't receiving any perks that other college presidents, including Breuder, sometimes receive, so it's unfair to compare base salaries.

Breuder's total compensation package, for example, is roughly $484,000, officials have said.

"This amount that Dr. Collins is being brought up to is just the salary," Hamilton said. "All of them (community college presidents) have various different stipends for housing, for a car."

Meanwhile, she stressed that COD is the largest community college in the state.

"This is a very justifiable amount," she said.

As for the level of Collins' experience, Napolitano said COD is fortunate to have someone with his skill set and leadership abilities.

An electrical engineer by training, Collins spent 20 years in faculty and administrative roles at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, before coming to COD in 2005 to take a job as associate vice president of academic planning and assessment. He eventually rose to the second-highest leadership position at the college.

When members of the college's Faculty Association called for Breuder's ouster last fall, they urged the COD board to appoint Collins.

"These are not usual times for the college. It's an extremely stressful time," Bernstein said. "We are very lucky to have a man of Dr. Collins' temperament in this position."

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