Vote coming Tuesday to fire COD's Breuder

 
 
Updated 10/16/2015 5:09 PM
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  • The College of DuPage board is scheduled Tuesday to consider a resolution to fire President Robert Breuder.

      The College of DuPage board is scheduled Tuesday to consider a resolution to fire President Robert Breuder. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Robert Breuder

    Robert Breuder

Embattled College of DuPage President Robert Breuder could be fired as early as Tuesday night.

The college's board of trustees has called a special meeting for 6 p.m. Tuesday to consider a resolution to terminate Breuder's employment.

That resolution says the college has found evidence of "misconduct and mismanagement" that Breuder "participated in, oversaw or failed to prevent."

It says Breuder "violated specific policies established by the college, violated board of trustee and legal directives, breached his duties and engaged in conduct damaging to the reputation of the college and the reputation of the office of the college president."

"This is a somber time for the institution and for the community," board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton said Friday. "And this comes after due consideration."

Breuder could not immediately be reached for comment.

The board agreed last month to void Breuder's contract and to treat him as an at-will employee. That means the often-divided seven-member panel will require only four votes to fire him -- not the five previously required in his contract.

Hamilton and her three board allies, Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein and Frank Napolitano, all are expected to support the firing.

The three other trustees, Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak, are likely to oppose the move.

Hamilton said the board never needed more than four votes to terminate Breuder because the five-vote clause in his contract "was not supported by statute."

"Just because people agree on something doesn't mean it's law," she said. "So we never needed five votes."

Breuder was put on paid administrative leave at the end of April after a new majority was elected to the board amid public furor over a $763,000 severance agreement the old board approved for him.

The Glen Ellyn-based school, the largest community college in the state, has been subject to state and federal investigations as well as internal probes into questions about its finances and administrative practices.

Since Breuder was placed on leave, Hamilton said the board's focus has been on "changing the culture at the college."

Attorneys hired by the board did internal investigations of the school's policies, personnel, practices and finances. The decision to begin termination proceedings in August was the result of those internal probes.

Among the college's findings, according to the resolution:

• Breuder failed to preserve electronically stored information on his college-issued iPad.

• Breuder engaged in electioneering and prohibited political activity during the school's 2010 bond referendum and this year's board election.

• Breuder mismanaged college and foundation funds, "including a lack of oversight, lack of accountability and failure to implement proper controls."

• Breuder damaged the reputations of the college and the president's office "through improper conduct" with respect to a $20 million grant from the state in spring 2014.

• Breuder failed to secure a confidential recording of a closed board session that was sent anonymously to the Chicago Tribune and Daily Herald.

• Breuder failed to respond to a request for information from the college's Freedom of Information Act officer.

• Breuder converted an ADA-compliant family locker room into an executive changing room, inaccessible to people with disabilities, primarily for his own use and the use of a select few others and provided misleading information to the board about the project.

• Breuder conducted himself in a way that led to a "no confidence" vote from the school's faculty in September 2014; "numerous, and scathing," press reports about the college; an advisory visit from the Higher Learning Commission that may lead to sanctions for the college; state and federal criminal investigations; and an audit from the Illinois Inspector General.

Hamilton said trustees were able to visit an attorney's office to review "all of the evidence" the school has collected.

"It (Breuder's termination) is not taken lightly," she said. "It comes after six months of investigation. The results of that investigation are being provided to all of the board members. We don't have anything to hide with regard to that. And we have complete disclosure to our board members to make this decision."

Breuder was given the opportunity to challenge his termination with the board, but Hamilton said he declined.

The Tuesday board meeting is scheduled to begin with public comment and an executive session.

Breuder's tenure at the college began in January 2009 and he is scheduled to step down in March 2016.

Even though Breuder was going to step down, Hamilton said firing him is necessary "to give the money back to our community that was given away as part of a golden handshake." She was referring to the severance deal.

During his time with COD, Breuder oversaw a $550 million transformation of its campus. But there also has been discord during his tenure. Last September, COD's full-time faculty members took a "no confidence" vote in his leadership.

This year, there were media reports that raised questions about, among other things, no-bid contracts for insiders and administrators dining at COD's upscale Waterleaf restaurant, which has since been closed.

On Friday, Faculty Association President Glenn Hansen said the vote to fire Breuder is "an appropriate action."

"He has damaged the reputation of the college," Hansen said. "We are looked on poorly now simply because of actions that he has taken."

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