Chicago Tribune: College of DuPage: 'Taxpayers do not count. Insiders do.' IL6

January 24, 2015 01:33 PM


By Mike Mantucca
Chicago Tribune


College of DuPage Trustee Katharine Hamilton urged fellow board members to fire President Robert Breuder rather than give him a lucrative exit deal.

Trustees at the College of DuPage moved last week to catapult President Robert Breuder a few years before his contract expires. But don't feel bad for him. He will float pleasantly to Earth with a golden parachute worth more than $750,000 in severance.

No, feel bad for yourself, especially if you pay taxes to the College of DuPage.

The public knows the details of Breuder's exit deal only because the Tribune obtained a copy of it. The trustees didn't publicly debate the terms. They didn't air why they want Breuder to leave, or why they think they had to fork over so much money to accomplish the trick. It was all hush-hush.

The trustees want Breuder to leave early, but they've pledged to name a new Homeland Security Education Center after him — providing his conduct is "not materially detrimental to the reputation of the Board and/or the College."

There has been one exception to this circle-the-wagons, avoid-prying-eyes nonsense. That's COD Trustee Katharine Hamilton, who was the only board member to vote against the Breuder exit deal.

"To award a golden parachute to Dr. Breuder today, at this meeting, is nothing other than a wanton betrayal of our constituents and our students," she said. In public, no less.

Hamilton urged her fellow board members to fire Breuder. "We should show Dr. Breuder the door. But instead, this board falls over itself — to give him a golden handshake. Here, tonight, taxpayers do not count. Insiders do."

Taxpayers do not count. Insiders do.

The other COD trustees don't much like Hamilton. Four of them voted last summer to censure her because she had the audacity to question, in public, how the board has been conducting business.

She "publicly embarrassed her fellow elected board members and the college administration" through her "desire to communicate with the media, press and/or political publications rather than directly with the board...," the six-page censure resolution read.

Why did the trustees offer such a deal to Breuder, who earned a "no confidence" vote from the faculty, the first such vote in the school's 57-year history? How do they explain a still-developing scandal involving a campus radio station engineer who billed the college from his private company for nearly two years after he was convicted of using that business to steal from another local college?

Why did they defend Breuder last year when his embarrassing emails about a scramble to wheedle state money out of then-Gov. Pat Quinn were made public?

State Rep. Jeanne Ives took a welcome step on Friday, filing a resolution that asks the state's auditor general to look into how COD spent its state funds over the last three years.

Golden handshakes have been quite the rage in Illinois higher education. Illinois State University President Timothy Flanagan resigned abruptly last year in the midst of a scandal, with a fat paycheck to partially buy out his three-year contract. In 2012, University of Illinois trustees awarded former President Michael Hogan a $285,100 history professorship after his disappointing run at the top. The list goes on.

Public bodies should not be allowed to enter into these secret exit deals. The Illinois legislature needs to block this practice.

These deals get made, and rarely do you hear the people involved explain why taxpayers have to shell out the money.

To her credit, Katharine Hamilton succinctly explained it: Taxpayers do not count. Insiders do.

Original Article, click here.

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