ECC's David Sam a finalist for College of DuPage job
Elgin Community College President David Sam is one of three educators in the running to become the next president of the College of DuPage.
Officials at the Glen Ellyn-based college Thursday night identified Sam, Barbara Kavalier and Ann Rondeau as the finalists being considered by the school's board of trustees. Kavalier is district president of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas. Rondeau is a retired Navy vice admiral who now is a consultant and partner with IBM Watson Group.
After doing interviews and public candidate forums, the board is expected to make a final decision about who will replace former President Robert Breuder.
"Each of the candidates is fully capable of leading the college to a new and exciting future," said Lee Daniels, chairman of the search committee that recommended the three finalists. "Each has a vision of excellence that will serve the college's student population and community well. Each will serve with pride and distinction."
After Thursday's announcement, Sam released a written statement saying it's been a privilege to serve as president of Elgin Community College.
"Over the past decade, the college has experienced tremendous success, from increasing student graduation rates to receiving a perfect accreditation score from the Higher Learning Commission," Sam said. "Our success is a testament to the vision of the board of trustees, the dedication of our outstanding faculty, staff, and administrators, and the commitment of our vibrant student body.
He said he was encouraged to apply for the presidency at COD, where he previously served as an assistant professor and coordinator of international studies from 1988 to 1990.
"I am honored to be one of three finalists being considered for the position," Sam said. "It is a wonderful opportunity for me to explore."
In the meantime, Sam said he remains fully committed to ECC "and the robust set of goals for student success that are dear to me and on which I am currently focused."
Sam has 22 years of administrative experience as a president, vice president, dean or coordinator at seven colleges. He taught at the collegiate level as an adjunct and as assistant/full professor at five institutions. The courses he taught include international relations, business and government.
Daniels told COD trustees Thursday that Sam stood out because he's a local resident who knows the area. "I'm sure many of you know of him and already met him," he said.
COD officials describe Sam as a lifelong learner who holds six degrees, including a master of business administration from Northwestern University and a doctoral degree in international relations from Tufts University.
"Dr. Sam expresses his commitment to academic excellence, transparency and openness, and inclusiveness in decision making," COD officials said in a statement. "He understands the interests of the college's many stakeholders and points to his success in reporting to and working with a governing board, including the ability to develop healthy working relationships in engaging board members."
As for Kavalier, she has three decades of experience as a president, vice president, associate vice president, dean or executive assistant at five colleges. She has taught at the collegiate level as an adjunct or visiting scholar at four institutions. The courses she taught include education, human development and developmental education.
Kavalier also co-authored a book used in national leadership programs for up-and-coming college presidents, officials said.
COD officials said in a statement Kavalier "hopes to focus on leadership, advocacy and diversity, student access and success, and community partnerships and workforce development."
Daniels said Kavalier has "a great background in presidential positions in other colleges and universities."
Rondeau, the third finalist, is a past president of the National Defense University, a consortium of five colleges and nine research centers in Washington, D.C.
COD officials said Rondeau has 26 years of experience in significant military and educational roles, including deputy commander of the U.S. Transportation Command in Illinois, Pentagon director/chief of staff for the U.S. Navy, commander of the Naval Service Training Command at the Great Lakes base in Illinois, Pacific Fleet chief of staff in Hawaii, commanding officer of Naval support activity in Tennessee, "and other staff and commanding responsibilities with policy, support, and student service."
Daniels said Rondeau "has an incredible resume and would be a great leader for this institution."
Deanne Mazzochi, the COD board's acting chairwoman, said each candidate will visit the campus and participate in a series of public candidate forums.
"The board has designated a night for each candidate to come before the members of the community to speak about what they want to do here and to take questions from the public," Mazzochi said.
The candidate forum featuring Kavalier is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. April 18. The forum featuring Rondeau is slated for April 19. Sam will be featured during an April 20 forum.
"As we all know, we faced some considerable institutional changes this past year," Mazzochi said. "But we now have three fine and incredibly talented candidates. And I think we as a board have some great work to do."
Acting Interim President Joseph Collins has been overseeing the daily operations of the Glen Ellyn-based school since last April, when Breuder was placed on paid administrative leave amid state and federal investigations into COD's spending and administrative practices. Breuder was fired in October.
• Daily Herald staff writer Sara Hooker contributed to this report