Author Archives: BOT Blogger

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | March 21, 2019

We’ve all had that experience that makes us remember how lucky we are. And that experience is especially profound when at the same time, it makes you understand the responsibility that accompanies your luck. 

Last week, we lost a colleague, Eric Martinson, Assistant Professor of English. He battled leukemia for a little over year. He was admired and valued by both his students and colleagues. He was a COD alum and he came back here because he cared about the work we do and he wanted to build a career at the place where he got started. 

I want to take a moment to thank the people who worked to make Eric feel supported and connected to COD throughout his illness. Tim Henningsen, Jason Snart, Melina Martin, Mary Anderson, Danica Hubbard, Karin Evans, Amy Camp and, of course, Tom Montgomery-Fate, who was Eric’s teacher here many years ago.

They are why I feel lucky. They say that the way we treat our sick says a lot about a culture. This shows me that we have a rich culture here. It’s been challenged by controversy. It’s been challenged by bad leadership. It’s challenged by silos. It’s challenged by initiative fatigue. But it’s still here. We’re still here and we’re not going anywhere. That’s where the responsibility comes in. And the good news is – I don’t have an ask for you. It’s not your job to build or nurture our culture. It’s my job. It’s their job. It’s our future President’s job. We have a responsibility to this institution, to our students and each other to rebuild and strengthen this culture.

We’re going to start by confronting our fears. We’re not going to be afraid to ask questions and challenge each other’s assumptions. Our business is education – we’re supposed to challenge each other.

We are going to be clear about what our vision is for teaching, advising, and mentoring . We are going to be clear about the resources and information we need to not just get that job done, but also continuously improve. We’re going to figure out how to make our systems of collaboration (another word for committees) more effective.

One of the things that Eric was passionate about was technology and how it shaped communication. The first interaction I ever had with him was at the Celebration of Student Writing, held during the Spring Semester. Students were asked to present their typical research papers in unique ways that engaged technology. The students participating in this were clearly energized by their research and projects. Technology can bring out that energy even fuel it at times.

Tonight, we are finally approving the purchase of software that will help faculty engage in assessment projects that support and inspire continuous improvement in our work. The need for this purchase has been on our plate for at least two years and it’s going to serve as a starting point for more great things to come.

Finally, I do want to mention that the Eric Martinson Memorial Scholarship Fund is being established through the COD Foundation. And now I do have an ask. I hope that we can count on you to support a scholarship will help future students as they embark on their journey at COD.

Public Comment by Professor Robert Hazard on Unfair Treatment of BOT Candidate Dunne

I am making this statement on the record today to request that the Board of Trustees for the College of DuPage publicly issues its own statement denouncing the underhanded and unfair treatment of one of the College’s most distinguished alums, Dr. Maureen Dunne.

She is a tremendous person who is running in an election to join this board on April 2. She has received intimidating phone calls to try to get her to drop out of the race, unfounded rumors have been actively spread alleging complete falsehoods, and recently she and her husband even received a threatening note directed at their children. She also was the subject of an attack in the Edgar County Watchdogs blog recently which reported information that has been proven to be completely false. This is utterly unacceptable. 

Maureen is a former student that we, as a College and community, should be extremely proud of in the school’s history, going on to become a Rhodes Scholar, technology entrepreneur, and advocate for people with autism. She is a prominent member of our community, an active Rotary Club member, the founder of the Transition2Success program for high schoolers with autism, and the cofounder of Code DuPage, a program to help high school kids develop greater technology literacy. 

She is everything we should want as a leader in our community and should be given a fair chance to vie for this board without being subjected to harassment and a coordinated disinformation campaign. 

So, I am asking this Board to publicly denounce these tactics and to lend its support for a free and fair election so that we may benefit from an educated electorate voting for who it believes are the most qualified candidates based on factual and sound information.

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | March 21, 2019

Good evening. Tonight we congratulate our colleagues whose retirements are listed in the packet, and we celebrate the creativity and productivity of the faculty whose sabbaticals are listed for next year. Their work is part of what will continue to develop COD into a 21st century site for teaching and learning.

Innovative teaching and learning requires careful budgeting, of course, and we understand the process behind the proposed $1 increase in student tuition for Fall 2019. At this time last year when this board also voted to raise student tuition, we urged you to examine and champion initiatives that could help students manage the cost of college, including an institutional effort to engage with and support the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and a deliberate strategy to address and resolve the chronic and systematic underfunding of higher education in our state over the course of several decades. We are glad COD is working to include OER in a more visible and central way, but there is work to do regarding a deliberate and long-term strategy in Springfield that serves COD’s students and community.

Ultimately, perhaps this Board can focus on making good public policy decisions around the other source of revenue that supports our public school: the tax levy. Going forward, it is clear that a school board that agrees to raise student tuition must acknowledge a need to accept the regular annual tax levy step-up in order to avoid increasing only the students’ cost of college. Taxpayers, community members, and employers share in the outcome of our students’ educations and have a collective interest in and responsibility to contribute to those costs as well. Raising the cost for students only is not fair and balanced public policy.

All of these efforts, in concert, might send the message that we are working on every front, as a College, to address costs for students with imagination, foresight and a full understanding of revenue streams. COD offers an important public good within our district, and a global point of view would focus on sustainable and effective public policies around resources for that public good.

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | Feb 21, 2019

Faculty are creatures of inquiry. We’ve always got questions. We’re always seeking to improve and broaden our base of knowledge. It’s our love of inquiry that is at the root of our appreciation for Trustee Mazzochi. Her leadership brought not just answers, but resolution to questions we had for a long time. Her inquiry has sometime prompted us to think more carefully about our work and the role we play in this community. Her commitment to listening reminded us to listen, too.

Trustee Mazzochi has also been a valued leader in the way that she inspires discipline among those around her. She has continually demanded of us to be deliberate in our approach to things like budgeting, strategic planning and hiring.

We hope that her commitment to inquiry, listening, discipline and process is something that we will continue to see from the board of trustees for years to come. We also hope that she finds a way to use these skills in Springfield as she proudly represents District 47.

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | Feb 21, 2019

Good evening. Tonight we recognize the faculty retirements listed in the Board packet, especially Dr. Sheryl Mylan, whose service as an associate dean and a faculty member has been expert and valued over the past 15 years.

This evening, our College appears to be on the verge of further change, based on the agenda item about a trustee resignation and replacement. As in the past, we are optimistic that the Board will pursue a transparent and public process that welcomes applicants from across District 502. In the all-too-recent past, there was a time when a somewhat different Board could not agree on how to fill such a vacancy, and so we hope everyone on our Board is committed to meeting, achieving a quorum, and avoiding that scenario this time around. A calm, orderly, typical transition is in order, with every effort made to avoid drama, headlines, or disruption for our school. Furthermore, it would be very meaningful and even reassuring to see our board reach a consensus, or even achieve a unanimous decision about this appointment, as it would be one way to show the world that we have truly developed beyond the strife and difficulty of 2016. We continue to hope that each crossroads is another step in the path forward for COD and its faculty, staff, and students.

Thank you.

President Toler’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Jan 17, 2019

Good evening. Happy New Year – or, honestly, at the beginning of Spring semester it feels more like Happy Mid-Year. We have just finished the second day of In-Service activities designed to bring us back together, help us prepare for our students, and get us thinking about the future at COD. While discussions about Pathways were plentiful, other important academic topics like assessment, Blackboard and universal accessibility, and even Frida Kahlo were covered.

The work that goes into these days – from logistical coordination to presentation preparation – does not go unnoticed and I want to express sincere appreciation to Dr. Lisa Stock and her team, numerous faculty colleagues, as well as Dr. Mark Curtis-Chavez and Dr. Brian Caputo who provided some clarity and direction to get us started on what is truly a new year.

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | Jan 17, 2019

Good Evening and happy new year. We are glad to begin the spring semester. As always, It will be a busy term, but faculty look forward to the start of classes and seeing our students on Tuesday.

In retrospect, 2018 was a significant year of change at our school; the coming calendar year promises even more change at every level. We hope, of course, that change also means progress, and progress in the right direction. At this time last year, we spoke about the need to reflect on change, and to evaluate and absorb the implications collectively and in due time, and on some issues, the college community took some time to do so. On other fronts, this wasn’t possible or available, and perhaps we can all keep working to do better. Building ample time and meaningful dialogue into the process always leads to better collective decisions. It also seems clear we are all better off when decisions are made based on good public policy by high-information leaders who care about the common good.

So our wish this year is that our College continues to evolve through dialogue, deliberate collaboration, a culture of rigorous dissent, and honest conversation about real students, as they are, in all of their variety and complexity at our school. As we’ve learned over and over in the past several years, complicated problems require complicated solutions and a longer timeline than anyone can estimate. So here’s to more variety and complexity in 2019.

BOT Academic Committee Meeting 12-10-18

BOT Academic Committee Meeting 12-10-18

The meeting was called to order at 1:02, followed by the Pledge of Allegiance.

Roll call was taken, the following individuals were present:  Alan Bennett, Charles Bernstein, Richard Jarman, Kirk Overstreet (sec. Pro Tempore), Cheryl Bamboch-Caplan, Bob Hazard, Carol Carlson-Nofsinger

Comments:  No comments made by Committee Chairman or members of the public

Meeting Minutes Approval:  A motion was made to approve the November 13, 2018 meeting minutes.  Minutes were approved.  One member abstained, as they had not attended the meeting.

INFORMATION: Strategic Enrollment Management Initiative Update

Dr. Mark Curtis-Chávez, Provost, presented an update on the Strategic Enrollment Management Initiative.

Dr. Chavez offered opening greetings, and began his presentation by providing a definition of a Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) initiative, stating that it is a process to achieve optimal enrollment and achievements rates as defined by an institution.  He continued, stating that strategic enrollment planning is a continuous and data-informed process that:

  • Provides realistic, quantifiable goals
  • Uses a return-on-investment approach
  • Relies on detailed action plans
  • Transparent internal communications
  • Aligns the institution’s mission, current state, and changing environment.

COD’s SEM plan will be a comprehensive strategy that engages the full college community to shape our student recruitment, enrollment, retention and completion efforts.  Dr. Chavez stated that SEM is not a marketing plan, recruitment plan, contain enrollment goals without academic goals, or is only about new students.

Why implement SEM?  Dr. Chavez noted that there are changes in the landscape that are impacting enrollment.

The economy is strong, and that the Department of Employment Security pins the unemployment rate at 4.2%.  When employment rates are strong, enrollment at community colleges typically decline.

High School enrollment is down.  DuPage County has experienced a 5% decline in the number of school aged children (5-17 year olds).   The state’s population has decreased for the fourth consecutive year, and Illinois’ population ranking has dropped from 5th to 6th most populous in the country.  While some of the population decrease can be attributed to retirees moving to presumably warmer climes, according to the Illinois Policy Organization, those in the 25-54 age range are moving out of state, and with them go the children.

Competition for community college students from both public and private institutions is increasing.  While UIUC’s enrollments are strong, student enrollment at all other Illinois public universities are dropping.  In response, many of these schools are changing admission standards, so students with lower GPAs and ACT/SAT scores who might have attended a community college no longer need to do so.  Also, many of these institutions are creating dual enrollment programs, which historically had been the community college’s territory.  Additionally, private schools are discounting tuition, drawing students away from COD.

Student “out migration” is also playing a role in declining enrollment at Illinois institutions. In 2016, 46% of college-going high school graduates went to a college outside the state.  All of these factors adversely impact the institutional revenue streams.

Dr. Chavez discussed how COD could address these issues, including who should be responsible for increasing student enrollment.  At many institutions, the Student Affairs office, which often consists of a small team of employees, are tasked with increasing enrollment.  Dr. Chavez, however, asserted that at COD it’s everyone’s responsibility.  He went on to complement the quality of COD faculty, and noted that full time positions at COD are difficult to get.  Quality teaching happens at COD.  However, he noted that although faculty do a fantastic job, some students still do not return to COD.

Dr. Chavez stated that SEM will help identify ways to get students to return to COD.  However, if enrollment remains the sole responsibility of Student Affairs, enrollment might not increase. Greater success can be realized if constituencies across campus are given a voice in helping increase enrollment.  Dr. Chavez stressed that SEM Council Members (more on that below) will be responsible for working with groups from other teams, gathering feedback and delivering information back to the SEM Council.

Dr. Chavez discussed “Pre-SEM” culture, whereby decision making is made using hunches and anecdotal information; little environmental scanning; poor data management; lack of internal communication; enrollment “isn’t my job;” and financial illiteracy.  He noted that COD has the best institutional research team he’s ever seen, however, others need to see and work with the data.

“Post-SEM” culture includes data-informed decision-making; shared understanding of the impact of market forces and institutional process; broad awareness of the relationship between enrollment and fiscal health; communication and collaboration between the faculty, staff and administration; and enrollment as an institutional-wide function.

The plan for the SEM organization will include eight teams, including

  • New Students
  • Marketing
  • Current Students
  • Stop-out students
  • Retention
  • Momentum Points
  • Graduation
  • Processes

SEM plan will have four priorities:

  • Process efficiencies
  • Enrollment
  • Improved retention
  • Heightened completion

Dr. Chavez outlined a four phrase plan, including:

  • Preparation and Data Analysis (KPI, Data collection, Situation analysis)
  • Strategies (Strategic Development, prioritization, ROI considerations)
  • Enrollment Goals (Enrollment projection, goal setting and written plan finalization)
  • Implementation and continuation (Implementation of plan, SEP council reconstituted to include SEM function, monitor, evaluate, and update the plan)

The goal is to begin implementing the plan in April, 2019.  However, a fully-developed plan will not be implemented at that time because of time constraints.  The plan’s goal is to address student enrollment, marketing to students from the time they are in elementary school to when they find employment. Full implementation will take approximately 1- 1 ½ years.  He also stated that instituting Pathways is essential for the success of the plan.

Several questions were asked by committee members, including how long it will take to implement each phase of the program.  Chavez answered that it will take at least a full year to implement.  While the full plan cannot be implemented quickly, parts of the plan can be, such as looking at new markets, focusing on the increasing student enrollment at the Centers, and working with local high schools to create dual enrollment programs.

Question – How will SEM success be measured?  Chavez answered that increased enrollment, and how courses align with academic and local employer needs.

Dr. Caputo noted that the COD Cabinet has discussed and supports the plan, and hopes that the BoT sees its value. He also noted that SEM does not displace other COD initiatives but rather complements them.

Dr. Chavez was asked how the SEM groups will collaborate.  He responded that there will be conversation between group members, and teams will meet with the Council and vice versa.  He will update groups, and a team website was created that contains readings and presentation.  It is open to all employees to view.  He will provide the BoT with a list of council members.  He also noted that McHenry CC instituted a SEM plan, and he thinks they are the only Illinois CC that has recently seen an increase in enrollment.  Dr. Chavez noted that COD is currently working with local school administrators, and is reaching out to Hispanic students.

Dr. Chavez mentioned that the College has been trying to follow up with a student who spoke at the last meeting.  They have now scheduled a meeting with that student.

The meeting adjourned at 1:56pm.

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | Nov 15, 2018

It’s been three years since COD’s Board fired a past college president, and three years since COD was placed on accreditation probation. Our school suffered through the headlines in the wake of that time, and we all worked hard to repair the damage done to the College. While our national accreditation and our local reputation is largely restored, and we celebrate the work President Rondeau did to move our school forward and wish her well in her next endeavor, it is fair to say we continue to uncover work that needs to be done at COD, even as we enjoy an improved outlook overall for our school and our students.

But hard work and general resilience cannot fully insulate us from the challenges posed by yet another crossroads. As we head into the next year with another presidential vacancy and significant changes in state-wide leadership, it is important that the COD Board and administration continue to build collaborative and responsive relationships with faculty and staff in order to understand and resolve issues for our students and our school. After all, Board members come and go; Administrators come and go; even students, as important and central as they are to our work, individually spend a very short time at our school. It is front-line faculty and staff who persist, and our institutional memory, knowledge, and experience keep the engine running while the other pieces change around us.

While change is inevitable, and it can be argued that higher education on the whole is facing similar challenges, we really do seem to experience more than our fair share at the College of DuPage. We can’t help but wonder if it may be possible to mitigate some of the whiplash and change fatigue by asking ourselves, as we contemplate various significant issues, will that change actually create improvement, and does it really need to happen right now? Or can we take some time and gather more ideas and dialogue about it before we decide? In that vein, we appreciate efforts to revisit the SLRP (Strategic Long Range Plan) in whole and over time, and we hope for increased time to incorporate and uphold stakeholder input on that document. We appreciate efforts to contemplate and discuss the appointment of an interim president (and we look forward to working with Vice President Caputo in that capacity). As in these two examples, we hope that other searches and organizational decisions will take time, not haste, and rely on the expertise and take seriously the point of view of the stakeholders who are here for the duration.

President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Oct 18, 2018

Of course one cannot let the night pass without some reference to the announcement last week by Dr. Rondeau of her imminent departure to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. I look forward to my invitation to visit. While coming out of the blue at this juncture, I balance the sense of loss with the realization that this was a calling that she could not deny. It is not yet time for the heartfelt farewells since we have two more months of shared work ahead, but I will say that for these past two years it has been my honor to work with Dr. Rondeau as the faculty representative. She has modeled the covenant leader to the maximum.

Thanks in large part to her work, the college is in excellent shape to navigate the transition. The selection of fine senior cabinet members has been a hallmark of her presidency. I don’t wish to prejudge your discussion of the succession planning (item 10), but I am quite confident that our members would be accepting of an internal appointment of an interim president.

In similar vein, I see no reason at this point to alter course on major initiatives like Pathways, for example, about which you will receive an update this evening. More than fifty faculty members are involved or have been involved in this complex, evolving, multi-dimensional undertaking and I sense a high degree of shared commitment in this work. Not everyone shares that view of course.

I do need to share a sense of, for want of a better word, change fatigue among a significant fraction of our members as they see the disappearance of another president, the appointment of another interim, the installation of a brand new provost, even for some the consequences of Pathways, and the prospect of a reorganization, with pieces moved around big and small. I know that change is part of the business, but I am urging careful consideration of all the issues and proper engagement of all the players so as to minimize any unintended consequences.