Diverse collection wants to be Hamilton's replacement on College of DuPage board

New trustee would replace Hamilton

 
 
Posted1/17/2016 7:45 AM
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  • Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comAmong about two dozen applicants to replace Kathy Hamilton on the College of DuPage board are former state Rep. Sandy Pihos, who ran for COD board in March; 2013 candidate Ed Agustin; former Higher Learning Commission member Stephen Spangehl; and former COD instructor Ray Rodgriguez.

    Mark Black/mblack@dailyherald.comAmong about two dozen applicants to replace Kathy Hamilton on the College of DuPage board are former state Rep. Sandy Pihos, who ran for COD board in March; 2013 candidate Ed Agustin; former Higher Learning Commission member Stephen Spangehl; and former COD instructor Ray Rodgriguez.

With a sharp divide among the College of DuPage's six trustees, it's hard to imagine who would want to replace former chair Kathy Hamilton and become the tiebreaker on the board.

But documents obtained by the Daily Herald show roughly two dozen people have applied.

They include former Republican state Rep. Sandy Pihos, who ran for the COD board last spring against the three "Clean Slate" Hamilton allies, and Stephen Spangehl, a former member of the Higher Learning Commission, an accreditation organization for colleges.

Also on the list: Ed Agustin, a 2013 candidate for trustee who last summer filed a complaint with the state board of elections against Hamilton's election committee; commodity trader John Pilafas; Wintrust Financial Senior Vice President Matthew Gambs; Naperville attorney Jennifer Barron; and Ray Rodgriguez, a DuPage County sheriff's department retiree who formerly taught criminal justice at COD.

With the six current COD trustees -- who can't even agree when to meet and what to talk about -- unlikely to agree on a replacement for Hamilton by their Feb. 11 deadline, the task is expected to fall to Laz Lopez, who chairs the 11-member Illinois Community College Board and also is assistant superintendent at Northwest Suburban High School District 214 based in Arlington Heights. Hamilton's replacement would serve until April 2017.

Two COD trustees, Dianne McGuire and Erin Birt, wrote to Lopez last week to say they think he will have to fill the position because the COD board will not be able to agree. The board is evenly divided between the Hamilton-backed "Clean Slate" of recently elected trustees Deanne Mazzochi, Charles Bernstein and Frank Napolitano and an opposing group of trustees Birt, McGuire and Joseph Wozniak.

Some of the applicants, reached Saturday, were quick to admit they support one side or the other.

"I'm not going to lie about it, I'd align much more with the Clean Slate," Pilafas, of Villa Park, said. "The other three, they just seem like they're just digging a hole for themselves."

Barron, a stay-at-home mother and legal volunteer, said she finds she sides with McGuire's faction, "more on principle and not necessarily on the issues." A seventh member, Barron said, "would bring some civility to the board and say we're all going to meet together, we're all going to be cordial with each other."

Lopez has spoken to COD interim President Joe Collins in recent days about the selection process and plans "to reach out to each of the trustees individually to discuss their process and encourage them to come to a resolution," said community college board spokesman Matt Berry.

While there have been situations in the past where divided boards have come close to their 60-day time allotment to select a new member, Berry said the community college board has never had to step in and use its power to name a replacement.

In making an appointment, Lopez would review all of the applications, as well as take other recommendations, Berry said.

"His intentions are to form an advisory committee and that group would review the pool of applicants and make a recommendation to him," Berry said. Lopez "would seek advice from outside, from the board and from the ICCB on the appointment," Berry said.

A COD graduate and Illinois Teacher of the Year in 2013, Lopez served on Gov. Bruce Rauner's transition team and was appointed by Rauner last spring to be acting chair of the community college board.

"He wants to make sure the process is open and transparent," Berry said,

Hamilton stepped down from her post in mid-December, citing undisclosed personal reasons.

McGuire, Birt and Wozniak have boycotted the last three meetings because they believe the others have interfered with the agenda and are refusing to allow certain issues to be discussed, including election of a new chairman and the use of a search firm for a new college president.

The community college board is made up of 11 voting members appointed to six-year terms by the governor. One of them must be at least 60 years old, another a faculty member at a public community college, another a member of the board of trustees of a public community college district, and another a president of a community college or community college system.

Rauner appointed three new members on Friday, Republicans Nicholas Kachiroubas and Douglas Mraz and Democrat Ann Kalayil.

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