ECC president Sam: I welcome challenge of leading COD
Elgin Community College President David Sam said Friday he would welcome the challenge of leading College of DuPage during "an unprecedented crisis of historic magnitude" if he's named president of the Glen Ellyn-based school.
The Ghana native and Streamwood resident is among three finalists being considered to lead the state's largest community college. Other contenders are Barbara Kavalier, district president of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, and Ann Rondeau, a retired Navy vice admiral now a consultant and partner with IBM Watson Group.
Sam said he was tapped to apply for the job. He said the COD presidency appeals to him, partly because he previously served there as an assistant professor and coordinator of international studies from 1988 to 1990.
"That opportunity has shaped and defined my career in the community college environment," he said. "I believe in inspiring collective action, empowering others, and fostering a shared commitment to a vision for the future that is actionable on a daily basis."
Sam, 58, described himself as "a collaborative leader" who can bring people together. It's that management style he hopes to bring to COD.
"I have a strong and long-standing commitment to the community college system, its mission, and responsiveness to the constituencies it serves," Sam said. "My skill set, professional experiences and continuing affinity for COD will enable me to lead the institution out of the quagmire it faces today."
By next month, the COD board likely will pick a replacement for former President Robert Breuder, who was fired in October.
Acting Interim President Joseph Collins has been overseeing daily operations since last April, when Breuder was placed on paid administrative leave amid state and federal investigations into COD's spending and administrative practices.
At ECC, Sam makes roughly $380,000 in yearly salary and benefits. If he lands the COD job, he could make upward of $500,000. But he says that's not his motivation.
"Compensation is not the driving force for my interest in this position," he said in a statement Friday night. "I am motivated by the opportunity to help students achieve their dreams and to help raise the level of excellence of the institution."
Sam has 22 years of administrative experience as a president, vice president, dean or coordinator at seven colleges. He taught international relations, business and government at the collegiate level as an adjunct and as assistant/full professor at five institutions. He also holds six degrees, including a master of business administration from Northwestern University and a doctoral degree in international relations from Tufts University.
Sam's candidacy for the COD presidency did not come as a surprise to the Elgin college's board members.
"I've known for some time," said Donna Redmer, ECC board chairwoman, adding, "It would be very sad to lose him. Dr. Sam has served Elgin Community College, as well as the entire District 509 community for over nine years. The board of trustees has come to know him as a very ethical and planful leader who leads with integrity, openness and commitment to our students."
During Sam's tenure at ECC, the college has seen increasing student graduation rates, received a perfect accreditation score from The Higher Learning Commission, and narrowed the achievement gap between Latino and white students.
"Elgin Community College is now a destination college, where people choose to come to learn and work," Redmer said.
Each finalist will visit COD's campus and participate in a series of public candidate forums. Sam will be featured during an April 20 forum.
COD's three finalistsDavid Sam Current position: ECC president since February 2007
Professional background: Former president of North Harris College in Houston, Texas; former dean of the community and technical college and professor of social science and business management at the University of Akron, Ohio; vice president for faculty and instruction at Harrisburg Area Community College in Pennsylvania; and acting vice president for academic affairs and dean of natural and social sciences at Mott Community College in Michigan. Held professional and teaching positions at College of DuPage and Harold Washington College.
Education: Bachelor's degrees in economics, political science and history from Illinois State University; master's in law and diplomacy and a doctorate in international economic and political relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University; MBA in finance and marketing from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University; doctorate from the University of Akron Law School.
Barbara KavalierCurrent position: District president of Navarro College in Corsicana, Texas, since 2013
Professional background: President, San Jose City College in California; vice president of student services, San Diego Mesa College in California; associate vice president, Tacoma Community College in Washington; dean, director and executive assistant to the president, Dallas Community College District in Texas
Education: Associate degree from Mountain View College in Texas; bachelor's from Texas Christian University; master's in business from Amberton University; doctorate in community college leadership from the University of Texas.
Ann RondeauCurrent position: Retired U.S. Navy vice admiral
Professional background: President, National Defense University in Washington, D.C.; deputy commander, U.S. Transportation Command in Illinois; Pentagon director/chief of staff, U.S. Navy Staff; commander, Navy Personnel Development Command in Virginia; commander, Naval Service Training Command at Great Lakes; commanding officer, Naval Support Activity in Tennessee
Education: Bachelor's from Eisenhower College in New York; master's from Georgetown University; doctorate in education from Northern Illinois University