College of DuPage president reflects on past year's 'fascinating journey'

College of DuPage president reflects on past year

As we head into a new year, I would like to take this opportunity to reflect on 2019.

It was a big year for College of DuPage. I had the great privilege of being named president, and it has been a fascinating journey. I am pleased to tell you about some of the college's major accomplishments of the past year.

In terms of regional economic development, I was proud to be part of the opening celebration of Innovation DuPage, or ID, which moved into its permanent home in the Glen Ellyn Civic Center last spring. The newly renovated 8,500-square-foot space enables startups and early stage businesses to share ideas, grow, learn and develop public and private partnerships.

It also promotes student success by opening the doors for COD students and other entrepreneurs to participate in internships, interactive programming and hands-on learning.

Also moving into the Glen Ellyn Civic Center from its previous location in Lisle was our Business Development Center, or BDC. The center is comprised of the Illinois Small Business Development Center, Illinois Procurement Technical Assistance Center and Illinois International Trade Center.

By having both entities under the same roof, they now are able to work in tandem to provide local entrepreneurs and small business owners a comprehensive range of assistance and opportunities.

So far, the results have been even better than projected. More than 30 companies have graduated from ID's Owner-to-CEO Accelerator program, with six participating companies earning more than $4.5 million in collective revenues. During the past year, ID formed 30 new strategic partnerships while staff members have provided consultative services to more than 180 potential members and mentors.

Innovation DuPage is a major addition to the economic landscape and I expect we will hear many more success stories in years to come.

COD also forged a partnership with our district high schools and created the Community College Transitions Commons on our Glen Ellyn campus, which serves students with disabilities. The space includes a learning lab and lounge area for use by students and their respective high school transition coordinators.

It is important that we provide students from various backgrounds with access to college. The Transition Commons takes services that we previously offered and creates an environment that better integrates this group of students into the fabric of COD.

As for our transfer students, we continually work on creating agreements that provide for seamless transfer to four-year institutions. I am excited that we implemented a progression agreement with the University of West London. COD graduates with an associate in applied science degree can now transfer to West London to pursue a bachelor's degree in subjects including business, criminology, computer information systems, cyber security, culinary arts management, travel and tourism management, and hospitality management.

I applaud our faculty and staff for exploring new and exciting opportunities for our students, and I look forward to hearing from our students about their experiences.

This past fall, COD hosted the inaugural Certified Nursing Assistant Symposium, which attracted participants from across the region and state. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment rates for nursing assistants are projected to grow by more than 11% through 2026. This made the symposium an important venue to share information and knowledge, promote networking and increase visibility for the profession.

More than 200 people attended the event, which gave them an opportunity to visit with more than 40 health care representatives from 20 organizations. They also toured our Health and Science Center to explore the cutting-edge labs and simulation facilities used by the college's programs.

I want to thank the College of DuPage Foundation, BrightStar Care and Southern Illinois University Nurse Aide Testing for sponsoring this first-time event and creating opportunities for professional development.

Finally, I want to applaud all of the achievements of our students during the past year and mention several noteworthy accomplishments.

Amna Razi was named a 2019 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate. Amna was the only community college student in Illinois to be recognized as an academy laureate.

Melissa Wang received the 2019 Jack Stone Award for New Music. The award earned her a cash prize and the opportunity to travel to Texas to hear her composition performed live by the Line Upon Line Percussion ensemble.

Five segments of Courier TV (the student-run on-campus television broadcast) and students from the Motion Picture/Television program were recently honored - including three first-place awards - at the 2019 Illinois Broadcast Association Student Silver Dome Awards.

I thank all of the faculty, administrators and staff for their hard work during the past year to help our students fulfill their potential and excel in their pursuits. I am confident the College of DuPage will continue to offer high-quality, innovative programming in all areas that will best serve our students and the community at large. I look forward to sharing these stories with you.

• Brian Caputo is the president of the College of DuPage. His column appears regularly in Neighbor.

Brian Caputo
Amna Razi was named a 2019 Lincoln Academy of Illinois Student Laureate. Courtesy College of DuPage
Melissa Wang received the 2019 Jack Stone Award for New Music. Courtesy College of DuPage
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