Hamilton resigns from College of DuPage board

 
 
Updated 12/14/2015 2:20 PM
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  • Kathy Hamilton became the chairman of the College of DuPage board in April. On Sunday, she abruptly resigned.

      Kathy Hamilton became the chairman of the College of DuPage board in April. On Sunday, she abruptly resigned. Mark Black | Staff Photographer

After only seven months as the chairwoman of the College of DuPage board, Kathy Hamilton unexpectedly resigned Sunday, according to a letter addressed to COD students, faculty and constituents.

In the letter, Hamilton cited "personal reasons" for her decision to quit.

"It is with sadness ... that for personal reasons I am resigning from this board effective immediately," Hamilton wrote. "I have enjoyed working together with my fellow trustees to build upon the strengths of COD and address its future needs. I will miss the collaboration and energetic debate that marks the COD board as one that is so caring and committed to all of its stakeholders."

Trustee Frank Napolitano said he was surprised when he read Hamilton's letter but declined to comment further Sunday night, saying the news was "just too fresh."

Acting interim President Joseph Collins issued a written statement saying he was "surprised" to learn about Hamilton's resignation. "I thank her for her dedication and service to the institution," Collins said.

The board has 60 days to appoint a new trustee, officials said. If that doesn't happen, the Illinois Community College Board will appoint Hamilton's replacement.

Hamilton served for nearly three years on the board. She had been the board chairwoman since April 30. She was elevated to the position after Napolitano and two other candidates she supported -- Deanne Mazzochi and Charles Bernstein -- won the April election.

After Hamilton became chairwoman, she and the board majority pursued a list of sweeping reforms in the midst of federal and state investigations into the administrative and financial practices at COD.

Controversies at the school included a former employee of the campus radio station WDCB being accused of stealing more than $200,000 from the college. It also was learned that administrators charged alcohol expenses at COD's upscale Waterleaf restaurant. In addition, there was fallout from a controversial $762,868 separation agreement with former school President Robert Breuder.

One of the first actions of the new board majority was to put Breuder on leave in April. Breuder's separation deal was repealed when the board fired him in October.

Two other administrators -- Thomas Glaser and Lynn Sapyta -- were put on leave in June after an audit revealed the college lost roughly $2.2 million in the Illinois Metropolitan Investment Fund.

Then, in September, Glaser and Sapyta were fired by Collins for what he said was a failure to protect the financial integrity of the Glen Ellyn-based school. Glaser served as senior vice president of administration and treasurer, and Sapyta was assistant vice president of financial affairs and controller.

Sapyta, Glaser and Breuder have since filed federal lawsuits.

Previously, Hamilton has pointed to more than a dozen policies that have been created or improved to prevent past practices from happening again.

In her letter, Hamilton wrote that she saw "up close what an outstanding institution COD is, how it contributes to furthering the education of our community, and how it helps provide skilled workers to our local businesses.

"It has been a privilege working to do whatever I could to assist in creating an even better future for the institution," she added.

She said her supporters have enabled her to do her "very best."

"I am so grateful for that," she wrote. "I cared about COD before I was elected, cared deeply during my time on the board, and will continue to follow its progress and wish it the very best for its future."

• Daily Herald staff writer Justin Kmitch contributed to this report.

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