Despite drama, nearly 300 apply for College of DuPage president job

 
 
Updated 1/20/2016 3:22 PM

The countless controversies, investigations and political divisions that have plagued the College of DuPage over the past year seem to have done little to deter candidates seeking to replace fired President Robert Breuder.

The COD presidential search committee on Wednesday said nearly 300 people have applied to become the next president of the Glen Ellyn-based school.

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"We are delighted to have received such an extraordinary number of viable applications for this position," committee Chairman Lee Daniels said in a statement. "I am very pleased with our timely progress."

While the committee is continuing to accept applications, Daniels said 40 candidates already are under serious consideration.

Board Vice Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi said the number of resumes disproves the argument that COD would have trouble attracting applicants because of the ongoing drama at the state's largest community college.

Acting Interim President Joseph Collins has been overseeing the daily operations of COD since April, when Breuder was placed on paid administrative leave amid state and federal investigations into COD's spending and administrative practices.

After COD did an internal investigation, four of the seven board members voted in October to fire Breuder. That led Breuder to file a federal wrongful termination lawsuit against the four trustees -- Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano, Charles Bernstein and former board Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton, who resigned last month for unspecified personal reasons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Meanwhile, three other trustees -- Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak -- have refused to attend any meetings since Hamilton's resignation. They have given various reasons for their boycott, including a desire to restart the presidential search.

Unless McGuire, Birt or Wozniak start showing up to meetings -- including one scheduled for Thursday night -- it appears the chairman of the Illinois Community College Board next month will have to pick someone to fill Hamilton's former seat.

DuPage State's Attorney Bob Berlin says he's looking into whether the three boycotting trustees can be forced to attend meetings, but as of late Wednesday his office said he had not made any such determination.

Despite everything that's happened, Mazzochi said the level of interest in the COD president's job shows potential candidates "recognize it for the opportunity that it is."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"It just reiterates that the academic community recognizes what a gem the College of DuPage is and what it could do under the right leadership," she said.

The pool of applicants includes current and former college presidents. Mazzochi said there are also "nontraditional candidates," including former CEOs of companies.

"I really hope we're going to be able to prove the naysayers wrong," Mazzochi said. "We have people with tremendous private sector experience. We have people with education experience.

"That's going to give us a really great opportunity to talk about the leadership of the college and where we want it to go," Mazzochi said. "We will be able to choose someone who can bring the college forward into the future."

According to a tentative timeline on COD's website, search committee members will go through resumes from the applicants and pick three to five finalists by Feb. 15.

"The committee will entertain applications and nominations until the final selection is made, but will give preference to those received by Jan. 31," Daniels said.

The timeline calls for COD trustees to select the school's next president in March, but that assumes the divided board will be able to agree on a candidate.

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