Roskam, Cronin voice support for COD accreditation

 
 
Updated 9/21/2015 6:30 PM
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  • Dan Cronin

    Dan Cronin

  • Peter Roskam

    Peter Roskam

With a regional accreditation agency yet to announce whether the College of DuPage will keep its accreditation, two well-known DuPage County politicians are voicing their support for the school.

In separate letters sent this month to the Higher Learning Commission, U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam and DuPage County Board Chairman Dan Cronin said they hope and trust that the commission recognizes the progress that's been made since critics raised questions about the Glen Ellyn-based school's administrative practices.

"The focus is no longer gun clubs and five-martini dinners on the taxpayers' tab," Roskam wrote in his Sept. 2 letter. "COD's focus is accountability for effectively delivering world-class adult education so that my constituents can compete successfully in a globalized economy."

The Higher Learning Commission -- one of six regional accreditation agencies in the nation -- is reviewing whether the state's largest community college still meets all 21 criteria required for accreditation.

A spokesman for the commission said Monday a decision hasn't yet been made and that "there isn't a set time frame" for when it will happen. Until the decision is made, COD's accreditation remains in effect.

Cronin says he sent his letter, dated Sept. 16, because he wanted to endorse COD's students and its academic programs.

"I think it's fair to say everybody wants the College of DuPage to succeed. I want the College of DuPage to succeed," Cronin said.

"Getting accredited is vitally important," Cronin said. "I wouldn't want that process to be adversely impacted by the current issues of the day."

If COD loses its accreditation, officials have said that its students could find it difficult to transfer credits to other institutions. It also could affect the college's ability to participate in financial aid programs.

"My objective is to advocate for all that is good at the college," Cronin said. "Don't punish the people that are there seeking an education and are working toward a degree and have a career path."

The commission was expected to renew COD's accreditation for an eight-year period after giving the school a positive review last fall.

But then the agency launched an inquiry after newspaper accounts raised questions about, among other things, no-bid contracts for insiders and administrators dining at the school's upscale Waterleaf restaurant, which recently was closed.

It's also been revealed that school President Robert Breuder, who is on paid administrative leave, had a college-paid membership at Max McGraw Wildlife Foundation, a private hunting club in Dundee Township.

Roskam wrote that he thinks it's "odd" that the issues at the college "were suddenly ascribed to those trustees who were newly seated by voters to solve those very issues."

COD board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton and the revamped board -- operating with a new majority since May -- is working to address the issues raised about COD's administrative practices.

Roskam said he hopes the commission encourages the "reform mission."

"Taxpayers and students have the same interest: An effective school of integrity, quality and distinction," Roskam wrote. "That is where I believe the new majority is headed."

Hamilton said Monday that she's grateful to Roskam and Cronin. "It is deeply gratifying that they have taken the time to notice our reform efforts and express support as they have," she said in a statement.

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