Author Archives: BOT Blogger

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Aug 19, 2021

Good evening,

Monday starts the fall semester and, for many, a return to campus. I am grateful for the opportunity to do so.

While our pandemic challenges are not finished, Monday represents a sort of new normal. My classes are hybrid. For me that means one day in class face-to-face and the second day a mix of assignments. A challenge I relish.

Coming back to campus this week in preparation and to participate in in-service has been comforting and odd, simultaneously. I missed the rhythm of campus and interacting with students and colleagues. Like many I have experienced a bit of zoom burnout, finding it increasingly difficult to establish the connections that best create an environment conducive to teaching and learning.

Which is why today’s keynote address on recovering bandwith from Cia Verschelden was so effective. Her comments on recapturing bandwith, helping students reclaim cognitive resources, addressed the issues many of us struggle with in class and our society and at large in an accessible manner. Reaching out to students by name and connecting seems simple and something most of us do, but is more important than ever.

Her comments were also impactful in addressing the varieties of traumas that our students bring to the classroom. Poverty, race, and social marginalization are both apparent and invisible. Recognizing those challenges in a functional and progressive manner is a task we can all embrace.

Thank you Jenn Kelley, Nicole Matos, and the Office of Academic Affairs for bringing Dr Verschelden to campus.

I also want to mention college-wide faculty of the year English professor Jason Snart, whose comments were a reflection of the best of COD faculty. Beyond his mention of noonball and Star Trek, I was particularly struck that he took time to thank people that often escape public recognition, administrative assistants and adjunct faculty. These individuals help facilitate all of our success.

We will hear from Professor Snart at next month’s board meeting.

Walking to my office on Tuesday, I ran into someone who works in the mail room and copy center that I hadn’t seen since March 2020. We stopped to talk about a variety of things but what struck me was his gratitude toward President Caputo and his office for their support during the pandemic. It would have been an easy decision to lay off a number of college employees during the worst of the last 18 months. Although federal money helped facilitate these decisions, I would like to thank President Caputo’s office for helping finding creative ways to minimize the material cost of the pandemic for college employees. These are the kinds of actions that make us all proud to be part of a larger college community.

Finally, I’m excited to hear from COD alum and relatively newly minted PhD Dr Haroon Atcha, who will be addressing student preferences on delivery modalities. Dr. Atcha is also a prime example of the best of the College of DuPage.

CODAA President Baunbach-Caplan Comments to the BOT | July 15, 2021

Good evening.  My name is Cheryl Baunbach-Caplan, president of the College of DuPage Adjuncts Association.  

I am here tonight to ask that the College follow core Values listed in its Mission statement by treating our adjunct members in a respectful and equitable manner.  The College can do this by allowing CODAA members, who will be losing eligibility this fall, to remain in our bargaining unit.

Adjuncts teach more than 60% of the courses at College of DuPage.  In some departments, more than 80% of the courses are taught by CODAA members.  

Due to the pandemic and the subsequent loss of enrollment, seventy-three CODAA members are faced with loss of eligibility in fall 2021.  This is a record number – more than double that of a normal year. Loss of eligibility means loss of income, loss of benefits such as professional development funds, and loss of right of assignment over non-CODAA adjuncts. It takes a minimum of three years teaching at College of DuPage to become a CODAA member.  This means CODAA members have demonstrated their dedication to the College and its students as well as honed their teaching skills.  Some of those losing eligibility have taught at the College for more than 20 years.  

President Caputo is rightfully proud of the fact that the College showed compassion and respect by protecting the employment of almost all employees during the pandemic, even if it meant shifting some individuals to other work.  How then can the College decide that adjuncts – those impacting more students than any other constituency group – do not deserve similar treatment when the impact of the pandemic on enrollment was beyond their control?

Allowing our members to retain eligibility costs the College nothing – the higher compensation members receive has already been budgeted.   

Due to the anticipated impact of the pandemic, CODAA began talking with the College about a Memorandum of Understanding to retain eligibility on a one time basis for one year only as early as December 2020.   Those facing loss of eligibility have suffered long enough wondering if the College will protect them like they protected others, wondering if the College values them at all.  A simple MOU can demonstrate that the College truly believes in its core values of respect and equity for all.  

The College should not look at allowing these CODAA instructors to retain eligibility as a “union matter” for which the College bears no responsibility. Rather, it should view these dedicated instructors as valued employees, who like everyone else, suffered more than just a disruption of employment during the pandemic.   Showing them compassion, respect, and equity should be an obvious choice.

Thank you.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | July 15, 2021

Good evening,

With a little more than a month remaining in summer before faculty return to campus, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the summer so far.

This week I reconnected with a student who dropped out of classes in March of 2020 and is seeking to finish the course we had together. Their eagerness to discuss the outstanding work and finish the class was instructive. They were also unaware of college resources available to help students struggling during and after the current difficult circumstances. I hope we are doing all we can as an institution to make students and the community aware of the resources dedicated to this.

Tomorrow I’m meeting with a student who had their academic career interrupted to complete military service for the purpose of completing a course.

Next week I’m having lunch with a former student who, after completing COD and a BA at Lewis University, went on to pursue a graduate degree at Arizona State University. Haroon Atcha earned his PhD in Political Science in 2020. Today Haroon does data science at a large private sector company. When I reached out to ask his approval to mention his story, he insisted that I share much of his success should be attributed to Business Professor Jane Murtaugh and retired Political Science Professor Chris Goergen.

A recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education entitled, “Your Most Important Resource is Eyeing the Door,” emphasized qualitative research in which students underscore the importance of a mentor relationship as pivotal in students accomplishing their goals. The article goes on to focus on trusting faculty in and out of the classroom to be innovative. This involves a high degree of trust between college administrators and faculty. The degree of trust that is currently spotty and incomplete here at COD.

This week we were notified of the arbitrator’s ruling in a case involving tenure. The ruling clarified that changes to the tenure process have to be negotiated with the faculty association. There can be no unilateral changes to the process. Management rights do not extent to arbitrarily changing conditions of employment for tenure track faculty. This is the second arbitration, intending to unilaterally change tenure, that ruled in favor of the faculty, the contract, and state law as pertaining to tenure.

These arbitrations are tremendously costly. Beyond the thousands of dollars both sides expend along the way, it takes time. A resource better spent in and around the classroom. It is our hope this ruling will be internalized more effectively.

Finally, I serve on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee. Equity is receiving a greater focus these days at our the College of DuPage and rightfully so. One area where our institution can walk the talk is in discussions with CODAA and eligibility requirements. No faculty should lose their position or ability to participate in CODAA (and enjoy better working conditions) due to COVID. Where classes were cancelled and faculty lost their ability to teach, they should not be additionally penalized due to circumstances beyond their control. This is not a difficult equity issue. Some of the tens of millions of dollars COD has received from the federal government should be allocated to address this issue. Make diversity a real priority and do the right thing.

Thank you.

CODFA President Goldberg Comments to the BOT | May 20, 2021

Good evening,

Tomorrow marks the conclusion of another semester and for several thousand students the end of their time at COD. Whether it be an associate’s degree, a certificate, enhanced skills for the job market or transfer to another institution, tomorrow’s virtual graduation will be the conclusion of their time at our institution.

The last fifteen months have been especially challenging for students and our community. While tomorrow’s graduation is the second under the specter of COVID, it is my hope it is the last. Under the best of circumstances faculty are inundated with requests to accommodate unique personal and professional situations. While those might often be viewed with skepticism, under the circumstances of the recent past I think most faculty work to be more understanding. I’m reminded of a student who became homeless last semester in my Intro class but managed to complete the class. This semester I have had several students with family members navigating COVID related issues, the challenges of parenthood and full-time jobs.

I am reminded of how resilient our institution and community are. It is my hope we emerge stronger in the face of these challenges.

I can speak for many faculty when I say we are excited to hear VP Bente’s updated plans for the return to campus in the fall. I have appreciated working with Jim Bente and Shared Governance Council as these details unfold. With the updated information that Illinois will be transitioning to Phase 5 and something approaching normalcy, many of us are excited to transition back to the routine of the classroom, face-to-face meetings and office hours.

As our institution faces this constantly evolving challenge, faculty ask that our unique circumstances be taken into consideration. Those include immune-suppressed family members, the absence of a vaccine for children under 12 and the task of addressing schooling and day care issues. We need advanced notice to order our family and work lives if significantly more faculty are expected to return in person to campus. Faculty do not treat our students with a one-size-fits-all approach and expect the same as we begin the next phase.

While she has an additional month in time at the College, I would like to take a moment and thank Marianne Hunnicutt for her service to the College. I have had the pleasure of working with Marianne as my dean for many years. She has served in so many different roles, we developed the term “Super Dean” to capture Marianne’s ability to pivot on a dime and serve an ever-expanding number of faculty and disciplines with her tireless work ethic, commitment to students and fairness. She has served as a model for what a dean should be and how faculty and deans work together. That does not mean that Marianne always agreed with faculty, but it means I always knew her door was open and she would engage in a real exchange about the accomplishments and challenges we faced. You will be missed.

I wish to call attention to the increase in abnormalities related to the search committee process for faculty and administrators. The general outlines of the process have existed for some time and served the College of DuPage well. Hiring committees are time intensive and richly rewarding as we have a say in determining our colleagues at all levels. Recently, that process has lost elements of transparency and accountability. That loss comes at a high price of trust and morale, and I ask that the board and administration reconsider these ill-conceived changes. We are all better served when the process is clear and arbitrary decisions are avoided.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the outstanding full-time faculty member English professor Jason Snart. Jason is a wonderful colleague known for his innovation in online teaching, commitment to students and colleagues. I look forward to returning to playing basketball with him in the not-too-distant future.

CODFA President Goldberg Comments to the BOT | April 29, 2021

Good evening.

Thank you to Frank Napolitano and Chuck Bernstein for your years of service to the college. We hope that you enjoy your newfound freedom on Thursday nights to the fullest.

On behalf of the full-time faculty, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations to Heidi Holan on her reelection and Flo Appel and Nick Howard on their election to the board of trustees.

We look forward to working with you all to write the next chapter of the College of DuPage with a renewed focus on students, faculty, staff and the community.

Among the first requests of the new board, I would like to ask the following: that there be no interruptions in service from the first day of the semester to the last day of finals involving technology that we use to teach and students need to learn. These interruptions are disruptive and make an already challenging environment all the more so.

Instability and uncertainty are not limited to information technology.

Over the past five years the division of nursing and health sciences has had three different deans, several of which were removed amidst allegations of wrongdoing. This kind of instability makes it difficult for faculty to teach, preparing students for jobs in the field of health care or the next stop in their education. And it makes it difficult for students to learn.

As in the previous cases, the current case came after more than a year of substantiated faculty concerns expressed through a variety of channels. Instead of partnering with faculty to address the issues and move forward, the response has been to ignore or minimize faculty concerns. These actions come at a cost, as is now apparent to all.

I ask that this latest example serve as an opportunity not to continually view faculty as adversaries but as partners in addressing issues. The continued drain in resources for the school and taxpayers is unhelpful and detrimental to the goals of the college.

I would like to congratulate the new dean who is being approved tonight and wish him well, to a long and stabilizing career in a division that badly needs it.

Finally, Monday begins contract negotiations with the College of DuPage adjuncts association. Our adjunct colleagues work hard under difficult conditions for meager compensation. Since they teach the majority of classes at COD, these negotiations should be viewed as an investment in the future of our students and the institution.

Thank you.

CODFA President Goldberg Comments to the BOT | March 18, 2021

This evening Academic Affairs will outline a plan for the fall semester. I can speak for myself and a few colleagues and students when I say we are, under the right circumstances, eager to return to the classroom, our offices and the campus. We appreciate the efforts made in Shared Governance and Academic Affairs to include faculty in the process. That does not seem like much to ask for at a college.

Unfortunately, that same inclusive respect cannot be applied to much of the current relationship between CODFA and Academic Affairs. In 2020, there were a record twenty-two grievances, and four grievances this year so far. We had an arbitration last week, another one scheduled for April and two more pending. That costs tax payers in excess of $10,000 at minimum.

These facts should not be viewed as an argumentative position by faculty. Rather they reflect a breakdown in the communication and functioning between Academic Affairs and faculty. We have expressed our growing concerns at all levels of the institution without a serious response. So tonight I bring our concerns to the Board of Trustees.

The grievance process is intended as a mechanism to resolve, not escalate, differences of contract interpretation. Meetings that average less than five minutes, with minimal interaction and responses that feel perfunctory, as well as principals who can’t be bothered to participate, are additional evidence that the process is not working.

Since November, faculty leadership have tried on multiple occasions to engage in conversation with the administration on a number of contract-related issues of significance. Those efforts have been stymied without any real effort to engage.

Last Thursday, on March 11, 2021, Faculty Senate passed the following resolution:

Be it resolved that the Faculty Senate hereby expresses the faculty’s growing concern at the administration’s persistent unwillingness to engage productively in the grievance process. This process is vital to the operation of the college, and to the implementation of the contract to which we are both parties.

These and related actions serve only to weaken legitimate attempts at resolving conflict, building trust and strengthening our institution.

Thank you.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Feb 18, 2021

Good evening. My name is David Goldberg and I am the College of DuPage Faculty Association president. I teach political science and started here in 2003.I look forward to working with the board of trustees and administration on our coming goals of strengthening the institution, the students and community we serve.

Reading the board packet on Tuesday evening left me feeling bittersweet. I was filled with relief and joy to see that fifteen of our colleagues have been forwarded for tenure. These faculty have committed to making a career at the College of DuPage and I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on this moment. Investing in the future of the institution is something we can all celebrate.

The retirement of colleagues represents the culmination of this phase of their professional lives. Professor Erich Hauenstein has been a center piece of the Math Department and faculty life at COD for thirty years. Anyone who interacts with Erich is immediately struck by his professionalism, calm, reasoned demeanor and his commitment to students and colleagues. Erich’s collegiality and willing to work with and for us all is a testament to the man. He will be missed across the institution.

Dr. Richard Jarman has served in many roles at the college and has helped the institution to navigate some of its most difficult challenges. As CODFA president and vice president he faced those challenges with confidence, resolve, poise and a wit that is unmatched. His accomplishments in industry, the classroom and his field are worthy of our respect. Thank you, Richard, for your leadership. You will be missed.

Best of luck, Erich and Richard, in all of your future endeavors.

Faculty Comment to the BOT by Prof Shannon Toler | Jan 21, 2021

Happy New Year! I hope that you all enjoyed a nice holiday season.

It feels food to be back…I was actually in my office one day this week for the first time since March 16. I did not expect to feel such an overwhelming sense of peace and satisfaction when I walked into the BIC. But it grounded me back to my role and purpose as an educator in a way that I did not expect. Frankly, I have a job that has translated very well to online. I did not fully realize how much I missed being on campus. I hope that you all can get back to some kind of socially distant, face to face format for your meetings soon, especially because I wish for you to have time with our Student Trustee, Samiha Syed, who so clearly embodies some of the best of what happens at COD.

Today was our second day of In-Service and we had some interesting speakers. I am grateful to hear voices from outside COD that can give us ideas and insight to ponder as we look to our future. I hope that you all have a chance to watch their presentations, especially Dr. Lowery-Hart because he really brought home the notion that it is an entire institution’s coordinated efforts that support student success. And those efforts are an investment.

One of the institutional efforts that received special recommendation from Dr. Lowery-Hart was tutoring. He suggested that it was the one very reliable predictor they had to a student succeeding in a course.

I hope that there will be further discussion about that. COD is very fortunate to have a Learning Commons that does outstanding work, including tutoring, to support teaching and learning at COD. There is no area on campus that embodies individualized attention to student needs more than our Learning Commons.

And this is an area that has thrived remarkably in our pandemic times. While there are many people we have to thank for that, including but not limited to, Ann Guenther, Margaret Hernandez, Sandra Marchetti, Jane Schubert… I want to especially applaud their leader, Manager of Learning Support Services, Diane Szakonyi. The things they have been able to accomplish – in both the Learning Commons and Testing Services – are because they have a leader who listens to them, supports them, inspires them, and advocates for them. This sounds like run of the mill leadership stuff…but it’s really not. The concept of leadership is easy to talk about, but not so easy to live by.

Leaders like Diane are why COD can thrive even during a pandemic. Leaders like Diane are the reason that I have a workplace that gives me goosebumps when I return after a long time away.

I hope that everyone is healthy and stays healthy.

Take care,

Shannon Toler
Professor & Chair, Business/Management/Marketing/Business Law

CODFA Pres Toler Comments to the BOT | Aug 20, 2020

Good evening. First and foremost, I hope that all is well in your households. Sitting on a college board right now is a unique kind of stress and I appreciate your service.

We learn a lot about ourselves and the people around us during challenging times. The words, the lack of words. The actions, the inaction. We figure out who we can count on. We gravitate toward competence. We identify who inspires us. We determine who our real leaders are.

All faculty have been working hard throughout the summer in preparation for this very unusual Fall. We are ready to bring our best selves to this environment, and on Monday we will start to help our students figure out how to bring their best selves to a virtual classroom.

I am especially grateful for the work that our adjunct faculty have put in, even when the support they’ve received has been uneven and sometimes absent. They deserve our full support – and that includes not just offering training sessions, but compensation for the time spent in those training sessions and the resources needed for this format of teaching. COD should better honor the work and resources these faculty have dedicated to our students and remember that COD doesn’t function without adjunct faculty.

Tonight, you will notice two full-time faculty resignations in your packet. Both of these faculty were hired away by universities – during a pandemic that has brought much uncertainty throughout higher education. That says a lot about the quality of our faculty.

I applaud that this board has added equity as a core value for COD. Our keynote speaker today was very impressed with that, and her review of our website left her thinking that we are quite advanced on the equity front. I suppose that’s what a web site is for… to project our best self. But I’m sure many of us grimaced a little bit at this praise.

We know that professing equity as a core value is not the same as living it. And while we have a host of initiatives underway to help us move in the right direction, we are most definitely not there yet. Faculty have work to do. Administration and Staff have work to do. This Board has work to do.

You also need to reflect on the role you have played to reinforce white privilege on this campus.

You can’t be fully responsible for the diversity of the Board of Trustees. The realities of running a campaign in a large district like ours make it difficult for COD to attract economically and racially diverse candidates.

However, this Board has had several opportunities to reach into the community and invite diverse participation on Board work. For example, you appointed a replacement for Deanne Mazzochi. Did you consider any candidates of color? Did you publicly promote the open position?

You populated the Presidential search committee with community members that look like you. The CODAA President and I even questioned you about that at the time – and your response was to suggest that we could perhaps recuse ourselves from the committee in favor of diverse faculty members. Because somehow, your friends in the community had more valuable input to offer than COD constituent leaders who had been elected by their peers.

Equity is not an issue that you can point to and tell us to fix. It’s not a word we put on our web site and just let it speak for itself. Everyone one of us needs to engage in developing and implementing solutions. Campus leadership in all areas — teaching, administration, and the board — should look more like the students that walk our hallways.

I truly believe that we all want to do better. COD is incredibly fortunate and I know we want to right by that good fortune.

The next time we have a keynote presenter offer up praise – hopefully in person – let’s all feel good about. And let’s reflect back on how hard we worked to get there.

Thank you.

CODFA Pres Toler Comments to the BOT | Mar 19, 2020

Because of public health measures in place, public comments were not given at tonight’s meeting. President Toler’s statement has been distributed to the Trustees.

Good evening. My comments to you tonight are mostly about gratitude and flexibility. Things we will all need strong doses of in the days, weeks and months to come as we figure out where and how to bend without breaking.

First, thank you to Jasmine Schuett for her service as the Student Trustee. You have been a wonderful advocate of student activities and the important impact they have on COD and on individual students. And welcome to Samiha Syed. We look forward to working with you.

I would like to offer special gratitude to our Learning Technologies team who are working tirelessly to support both full-time and adjunct faculty as we transition to remote teaching responsibilities. They anticipate our needs. They answer questions without judgment. They are a steady presence at an uncertain time.

While faculty are on the front lines of responding to student needs and we are committed to doing everything possible to support student success under these challenging circumstances, we know that many other groups are also providing critical college services at this time. Academic Support Services, Student Development, Records & Registration, Financial Aid, Admissions…are just a few of the essential functions we are grateful for and will continue to count on in the weeks and months ahead.

I think special gratitude also needs to be extended to our operating engineers, our groundskeepers and the COD police who will continue to keep our campus safe and secure long after the doors are locked.

As we offer flexibility to our students, we hope that the same flexibility will be evident throughout the institution. These are unprecedented times that will call for unprecedented measures. I am confident that we are capable of being remarkable in our response to this crisis. I am confident that full-time faculty, adjunct faculty, classified staff, managerial staff, the administrators and this board are ready to work together to figure out just how and where we need to bend.

On behalf of the faculty, I wish you all safety and health.