College of DuPage trustee writes own response to accreditation team

Updated 11/17/2015 5:44 AM
  • Dianne McGuire

    Dianne McGuire

A College of DuPage trustee told an accreditation agency the school's board of trustees continues to experience problems because of micromanaging and unequal access to information.

The Higher Learning Commission last month released a scathing report citing numerous concerns at the Glen Ellyn-based school, which is seeking renewal of its accreditation. Some of the report's observations are that the current board is dysfunctional and bickers while its leader micromanages or bypasses the administration.

Last week, COD Acting Interim President Joseph Collins wrote a response to the commission saying the college has taken "extraordinary steps" to correct the issues that prompted the HLC to conduct its review.

But Trustee Dianne McGuire says Collins' response didn't fully address the concerns the HLC raised about the board. So she sent her own three-page letter to HLC President Barbara Gellman-Danley.

"There is nothing in the (Collins) response about micromanaging. And there isn't anything about the inconsistent sharing of information with all trustees," McGuire said. "Those were serious concerns raised by the Higher Learning Commission, and he did not address them."

McGuire said the issues weren't mentioned in Collins' response because nothing has been done to address them.

"It's insulting to the Higher Learning Commission to ignore issues that they raised," McGuire said.

McGuire wrote in her Nov. 11 letter that "critical legal information" has been withheld from herself and the two other members of the board minority -- Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak.

The most recent example happened when the board was reviewing evidence for last month's firing of former President Robert Breuder, she said.

McGuire said she had to repeatedly request copies of four letters from Breuder's attorney. She didn't get them until the day of the vote to terminate Breuder.

COD officials repeatedly have said efforts are being made to ensure all trustees get access to information.

McGuire also told the commission that its concerns about micromanaging at the college "are valid."

Board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton, who gained control of the board in April when three of her political allies were elected, last month didn't dispute the HLC's findings that she's taken a "hands-on" approach. But Hamilton said the board won't be as closely involved once more of its reforms take effect.

Meanwhile, Collins has backed away from comments he made to commission members who visited the COD campus in July that suggested Hamilton was "micromanaging" the college.

"The situation referred to as 'micromanaging' has improved considerably as both the chairman and I have developed a stronger working relationship," he said last month in a written statement.

While there have been efforts to organize a board retreat and an orientation program for new trustees, McGuire wrote that it's "hard to ignore the structural concerns with legal representation, patronage hires, and withholding of information."

The HLC is considering putting COD on probation -- or giving the school a lesser sanction of "notice" -- because the college failed to meet accreditation standards related to issues of "integrity" and "effectiveness of administration and governance." Neither action would immediately affect the school's accreditation.

Institutions placed on probation must host a comprehensive evaluation visit within two years from the date of the sanction to demonstrate they meet all 21 criteria for accreditation. At that time, the commission determines whether the school will continue to be accredited.

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