ECC president Sam: I welcome challenge of leading COD

  • Elgin Community College President David Sam is among three finalists for the College of DuPage presidency.

    Elgin Community College President David Sam is among three finalists for the College of DuPage presidency. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Updated 4/8/2016 8:46 PM

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."

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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.

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