College of DuPage faculty members getting say about school's probation
College of DuPage faculty members will get the chance this week to tell trustees what they believe should be done to resolve issues raised by an accreditation agency that put the school on probation.
Representatives from the COD Faculty Association and the COD Adjunct Association are scheduled tonight to give presentations responding to the Higher Learning Commission's decision to place the college on two years' probation for failing to act "with integrity in its financial, academic, personnel and auxiliary functions."
COD continues to be accredited and student credits are unaffected, but the probation means the Glen Ellyn-based school must address the commission's concerns. If it doesn't, the commission will withdraw accreditation, which, among other things, could affect students' ability to have their credits transfer to other institutions.
One specific concern raised by the Higher Learning Commission and expected to be discussed during Thursday's presentation is the administration's failure to act after faculty members took a historic vote of no confidence in then-President Robert Breuder in fall 2014.
Breuder was fired by the COD board in October 2015, but the union representing the school's full-time faculty members had called for his resignation a full year earlier.
The 14-page resolution detailing what led to the no-confidence vote listed 10 major complaints about Breuder's leadership that included dissatisfaction with his financial priorities; concerns with his ability to balance his roles in academic leadership, management and administration; the loss of trust he generated both on and off campus; and his "coercive, authoritarian and secretive" leadership style.
The faculty resolution called on Breuder to step down immediately.
But the Higher Learning Commission notes the administration "took no actions to address concerns that led to the vote."
The union, for example, offered several times to discuss its concerns with the school's board of trustees, but the board never took it up on the offer.
As a result, the Higher Learning Commission says in its Dec. 16 action letter that "practices that led to faculty concerns continue unchanged."
With Breuder gone, board Vice Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi has asked Acting Interim President Joseph Collins and faculty leadership to explain what outstanding concerns remain from the vote of no confidence. Then trustees can develop a plan to address those concerns, she said.
After tonight's presentations and "further open faculty comment," the board will discuss what it heard, according to the agenda for the meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Room 2000 of the Student Resource Center.
Other reasons the Higher Learning Commission found COD out of compliance with accreditation standards include breaches of investment policies, lack of documented response to problems found by an auditor, alcohol purchases at the Waterleaf restaurant, money paid to a former employee for unneeded items, awards of noncompetitive bid contracts to members of the school's foundation board, irregular review of financial statements, ineffective faculty governance, and limited or no ethics training for faculty, staff and students.
The commission indicated that COD officials have until February 2017 to "provide evidence that the college has ameliorated the findings of noncompliance" that resulted in it being placed on probation. A comprehensive evaluation is scheduled for April 2017.