Author Archives: Admin

COD Board of Trustees Election Endorsements

The COD Faculty Association PAC, Friends for Education 502, has made its endorsement decisions for the April trustee elections!

Haroon Atcha is our first endorsed candidate. Haroon is a COD alum who has earned his PhD in political science and is a data scientist and higher education activist devoted to improving equity.

To learn more about Haroon and donate to support his campaign, please visit his website:

Our second endorsement is Christine Fenne, an incumbent board member. Christine running for re-election to College of DuPage Board of Trustees to increase enrollment, improve completion rates and build better board relationships with faculty, students and administration.

You can learn more about Christine on the Friends of Christine Fenne Facebook page:

CODFA PAC Endorsed Candidates: Haroon Atcha (L) and Christine Fenne (R)

Bonniejean Alford, MA Comments to the BOT | July 15, 2021

Chairperson Dunn, Members of the Board, and Members of the Community, I come to you as both an individual within the community that College of DuPage serves and as an adjunct faculty member in the Sociology Department at College of DuPage greatly impacted by the last year and a half due to the fallout from the COVID-19 shutdowns. As Vice President of Policy for CODAA, I am also aware of many adjuncts in the same or worse predicament than I have been facing. 

On a personal level, I lost 2/3 of my income during the last Academic year and received only 2 classes for the upcoming fall, when for 14 years at this institution I have received 4 classes each fall and spring. I hope the classes run. All of this impacts me greatly. And yet, I stand before you as one of the lucky ones. I didn’t lose eligibility and I have been able to find some grant assistance to mitigate a part of the lost income that is directly connected to the drop in enrollment caused by the conditions of this time under COVID-19. My colleagues have already spoken more on this eligibility matter, but this is only part of the impact on a population of employees that serves our students with integrity and a great sense of duty, even in the face of their own struggles – all while wearing a smile (even behind a mask) and remaining ever a source of stability for the students that worry each day about the great unknown that had and may continue to befall upon us. 

They do this – we do this – because our students are a priority to us, just as they are a priority to the college. During the COVID-19 crisis, we stepped up. Alongside our Full-time counterparts, we put in extra time, energy, and care to provide a safe and continuous learning environment for our students. Other local colleges recognized the extra effort and time and compensated their adjuncts for said act of going above and beyond the standard call of duty. But not at College of DuPage. Time and again, we were told it was a compensation matter, and it should wait until bargaining a new contract. Time and again, we were told through inaction that we were not worthy of assistance, even as many of our adjuncts have been financially drowning, barely staying afloat. The small amount of help we asked for, are asking for, will go a long way to show our value, should it be provided. Now, cost is argued as reason for not providing assistance. 

To mitigate this cost, I am aware that the college received funds thanks to the American Recovery Act, of which a portion has yet to be allocated for use. We ask that a portion of these funds be used to recognize the dedication of our adjuncts, especially in light of the struggles they have faced due to the COVID-19 crisis. This is acceptable, provided that the assistance need was created as a direct result of the crisis, which it is and has been. 

For years, Adjuncts have felt the lack of respect, even if we are told we matter. If we do matter, we at least deserve this small consideration. I mean after all, since we teach more than 60% of classes, we must be at least as important as the softball and baseball fields, each of which are being allocated in the college’s budget to receive $375k and $1M in funds respectively. While these are important parts of student life at College of DuPage, the wellbeing and time of our adjuncts is also an important resource that is often taken for granted. Please consider this more than reasonable request to show adjuncts the dignity and respect they deserve. 

Now, I must take my leave, as I do have class at 6:30. Thank you for taking the time to hear me in these concerns.

Negotiations Blog

The starting time of today’s bargaining session with the mediator has been moved to 3:00. We are hoping for a productive session. Thanks for all the support from faculty, students, and community.

CODAA Leadership Statements to the BOT : Aug 15, 2019

At the Aug 15, 2019 Board of Trustees meeting, leaders of the COD Adjuncts Association commented on the positions they and their members took relative to our contract negotiations.

CODAA President Cheryl Baunbach-Caplan

I am Cheryl Baunbach-Caplan, part-time counselor and president of the College of DuPage Adjuncts Association. I have worked my entire adult life in higher education and have been at College of DuPage for 15 years. Many years ago, as a poor student from the south-side of Chicago, I received full funding to attend the University of Illinois and have dedicated my working life to helping other students attain their academic goals.

Teaching Matters. Principles Matter.

When CODAA was presented with the College’s proposed contingency plan in the event of a strike by the full-time faculty, we discussed it as a board and decided we had to take it to our membership for a vote. When voting closed today, our membership had voted overwhelmingly to reject the Contingency Plan offer. Despite the fact that classes have not yet begun, we had a record turnout at attend our membership meeting yesterday and many more members came to our office to vote last night and this morning. Clearly, they viewed this as a matter of great importance.

In the end, they decided that what was a very lucrative short-term deal, was not worth the long-lasting negative repercussions to the College as a whole. By serving as strike-breakers, we would damage our relationship with the full-time faculty and compromise our union values. And we could not possibly do what is best for our students alone.

It did not escape our member’s notice that CODAA has asked for a living wage and some kind of health insurance benefit in every negotiation since 1985. And that only now, and only briefly, are they willing to compensate us fairly for the work we do each and every day.

The CODAA board has made it clear to our members that our contract requires that they MUST honor the assignments they have already agreed to for the fall semester. However, this does not mean that they must cover any of the work that would otherwise be done by the FT faculty, nor do we give up our constitutionally guaranteed rights of freedom of speech to show support for our sister union by wearing Teaching Matters t-shirts, or armbands, or talking with our full-time colleagues.

CODAA is asking the College and the full-time faculty to find a way to reach agreement. We understand that CODFA has made an offer for settlement and we urge the board to seriously consider it.

CODAA Vice President Bonniejean Alford

Good evening Board of Trustees and members of the District 502 community. My name is Bonniejean Alford. I am the Vice President of Policy for the College of DuPage Adjuncts Association. I have taught Sociology at the College of DuPage for twelve years and have worked as a practicing Applied Sociologist for more than twenty. While I serve as an adjunct by choice, it does not change how the students view me at the front of the classroom.

I, along with the other 732 members of CODAA’s bargaining unit, provide value and commitment to College of DuPage and its students. We bring with us years upon years of collective experience and expertise in our respective fields. We sacrifice our time, energy, and even money to provide the best educational experience possible to our students, embodying the college mission to provide “excellence in teaching, learning, and cultural experiences.”

We have doctors, nurses, lawyers, welders, accountants, chefs, counselors, editors, police officers, fashion designers, cosmetologists, high school teachers, writers, entrepreneurs, dancers, actors, politicians, and well the list could go on. We bring to the table a depth of knowledge and teaching experience that is not unlike our full-time counterparts. Both are essential to the success of our students.

Our adjuncts, following the vote taken the last two days, as Cheryl discussed, remain committed to this college and all its stakeholders. We WILL honor our contractual obligations, but we will not be taken advantage of, or divided in the base principles we share with full-time faculty.

Principles matter.

Our members can choose to express their opinions per their constitutional right to freedom of speech. We will continue to show commitment to the college and our students by doing our job with dignity and honor, as we always have. However, we will NOT silence our freedom of speech. We will never silence this.

I have in my hand, ready to present to the board tonight, a petition signed by 122 of our members in the last 36 hours. In it, we ask the college to honor the contact clause, which reads….

No non-represented Part-time teaching Faculty member will be paid a credit hour rate that exceeds the lowest credit hour rate for bargaining unit members unless Human Resources, at its sole discretion and after having conducted an internal search, determines that the course requires a specialized highly-skilled teacher. Postings on the internal search shall include required skills.

To do anything else but honor the contract and find a compromise with the full-time faculty would be disrespectful to our students. Thank you for your time.

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | July 18, 2019

At the end of June, COD lost a valued colleague, Stephen Schroeder, Professor of Speech Communication. We look forward to celebrating his memory in August, but I would like to say a couple things about him right now because he really did represent what is the best in all of us at COD, not just faculty, but all of us.

Steve taught Speech and he was also a passionate faculty adviser to Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. He served on countless committees – including years as a Division Curriculum Committee Chair. All that aside, in a nutshell, he was just someone who made all of us feel like we belonged.

Steve could bring enthusiasm when energy was waning. He could inspire confidence when esteem was not so high. He brought diplomacy, when conflict was around him. But most of all, he brought care and attention and smiles to students. I would often see Steve taking his students to the atrium for some kind of activity. It always reminded me of both the fun and the energy that can and should be found in the work that we do with our students and with each other. We will make sure that this energy and that this sense of belonging lives on.

Faculty are already looking forward to Fall. Some have new programs being launched. Others have new classes. Some have been experimenting with technology or unpacking equipment that they can’t wait to try with their students. Some have been reflecting on the last year and strategizing about how to improve for next year.

Faculty are also anxious to demonstrate to the HLC reviewers the progress we are making on our commitment to good assessment practices.

But we also don’t forget that the reason we have even faced this increased scrutiny from the HLC is largely because of the board and the administration – maybe not all of this board and maybe not all of this administration, but a board and an administration all the same. See, from our perspective, this is an important reminder that the people and personalities may change, but the systems that govern us – specifically, the contract that governs us – endure.

That’s why this work that we are doing right now – and I think you know the work I’m referring to – is another layer in the foundation for the future of COD. We need a thoughtful, strategic foundation that withstands that change but also helps us to move forward and thrive in an increasingly competitive environment.

So we’re coming back excited for a new year, but we’re also coming back ready to stand up for ourselves and our colleagues and our programs and our students.

Because we know that when it’s all said and done…. Teaching Matters.

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | July 18, 2019

Good evening. Tonight we recognize our colleagues whose retirements are listed in the packet: Franz Burnier and Tom Montgomery Fate. It is hard to imagine the COD English department without them. In particular, Tom Fate is a talented and gracious colleague whose departure will leave a cavernous gap within our ranks He’s taught many of us more than he knows about writing and being a generous and inspiring resource to new and veteran artists. We wish them well.

We also mourn the passing of our esteemed colleague, Speech Professor Steve Schroeder. His skill, intelligence, diplomacy, and personality shaped the College of DuPage in so many ways, and it is impossible to catalogue how important his work has been at our school for our students, faculty, and staff. We will miss him tremendously.

In the heat of the summer, as we look towards the start of school in August, faculty do have a sense that the clock is running out. But our sense of solidarity and our commitment to COD is strong, and we look forward to the horizon with a sense of purpose and unity. See you in August at Inservice.

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | June 20, 2019

Even when the weather isn’t telling us that it’s summer, our parking lot does…Summer is a neat time around here.  

We have lots of students who are new to COD.  Some are here to get ahead…some are here to catch up.  No matter what their motivation, I am proud that we have so many full-time colleagues who are here to help them achieve those goals.  I’ve heard our new President talk about the importance of enhancing our image with parents and high school students in our district. One of the ways we achieve this is with high quality experiences for these summer students.  They go home and tell their parents, their friends and maybe even colleagues about COD.

It’s also when we start to welcome students who will join us in the Fall.  We have 29 full-time faculty working as part of the new student advising team to help get these students started on the right path.  In these first three weeks of June, new student advising has served over 550 students. And this is the “slow” summer month.

I’d like to congratulate John Kness for his nomination to serve as Judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.  In the time that John has been here, I have valued his advice and considered him great resource.  And that says a lot when you consider that I was often approaching him as just a faculty member. Honestly, I think I’m glad I didn’t know his full bio before last week because I probably would’ve felt silly calling him with my questions.  I think it says a lot about COD that we can attract this kind of talent, even if for a short time.

Finally, on behalf of the faculty, I would also like to offer congratulations to Dr. Caputo and thank him for his willingness to serve as our President.  We look forward to working with him as we navigate both challenges and opportunities in the years ahead. Ultimately, as faculty, we stand ready to serve an institution that truly values, supports and celebrates our work with students.  

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | June 20, 2019

Good evening. Tonight the Board contemplates a proposed budget that we hope is aligned with the fundamentally instructional mission of the College of DuPage. And it is on the heels of an improved state allocation as well. According to the Chicago Tribune, the recently approved state budget provides that “Community colleges will receive a 12.3 percent increase from the 2018-19 school year, up $33.2 million for a total budget of $303 million.” So in addition to our recently increased student tuition, and this improved state funding, it will be telling to watch how and if COD’s reserve fund balance continues to increase as well.

Over time, it is clear that the COD Board and Administration have been very fiscally responsible and conservative in building up a large reserve fund. And for a lot of school boards, no fund balance is too large, especially as they look to an uncertain future and recall unpleasant memories of the recent state budget impasses. But as the saying goes, we fund our priorities. And when we look at the decisions that have been made over time by COD Boards, especially regarding capital projects at this school that have ultimately made for unpleasant headlines, we are left wondering: when you look at the trends (in our audits more so than in our annual budgets), do expenditures at COD reflect the instructional mission of the College of DuPage? Have instructional expenditures increased, decreased, or remained static over the past ten years? When COD receives higher than projected revenue (say, beyond the conservative estimate of a 1% increase in the tax levy), is that planned into instructional expenses, or is it swept into the fund balance?

Ultimately, you are contemplating next year’s budget, but we urge you to reflect on the trends represented in the past ten years of expenditures at this College, and consider the question: is instruction a priority at COD and is that priority reflected in this proposed budget?

Prof Bob Hazard Comments to BOT | May 16, 2019

Good evening. My name is Bob Hazard, I’m a member of the English faculty, and I love my job.

I’ve had many jobs in my life. Among other things, I was a union carpenter in Minneapolis, a chain hand on oil rigs in Wyoming and a deckhand in the Gulf of Mexico, and I can say without any hesitation that teaching English here at the College of DuPage is the best job I’ve ever had. I get to work with a broad cross section of students, from presidential scholars, to students with blue cards.

From students who know exactly what they want, to students, who like me when I first went to college, have no idea what they want. Regardless, they want to learn, they want to grow. And, I get to work with colleagues who are smart, innovative, motivated and dedicated, who want to help all these students.

When I first got here, one of my favorite things to do was to pause outside classrooms and listen to my colleagues as they taught. It’s still one of the best parts of my day. There are so many innovative faculty members here who love their jobs and it shows in how they reach our students.

As you may know, I’ve been chosen by my colleagues as the Outstanding Liberal Arts Faculty Member for the 2018/19 school year. It’s humbling to be the one chosen when so many are deserving.

We all want the same thing: we want our students to succeed. To become what they can be. They sometimes discover that they want to become something they didn’t know existed. It’s in the spaces we create in our classrooms where they discover their paths.

When we’re at our best, we create spaces in our classrooms that allow our students to learn what they think, to learn how to apply the concepts we teach to their own lives, to learn how to learn.

I do that in my classes by trying my hardest to make assignments applicable in the real world. For example, I ask my students to apply for scholarships so they experience writing outside the classroom. I ask them to research issues that they’ll have to deal with in their careers to get them thinking about what they want to major in, what they want to become once they’ve graduated. During the election season I ask them analyze political ads and examine who the intended audiences are, how well they appeal to those audiences and how effective they are, not to enforce a particular ideology but to encourage them to think critically about those ads and eventually about all the media they consume in their lives.

My colleagues are equally inventive in their own ways. Our professors who teach Film as Literature, don’t teach plot summary, they use film to get their students to examine their own lives. The same goes for our humanities professors who teach religion or philosophy. Our political science professors don’t teach ideology, they teach our students to think critically about their own beliefs and how political systems function. Our history professors don’t teach dates and events; they teach human behavior.

We use our individual strengths to convey our passion for our disciplines to our students. We give our students the tools to learn, the tools to grow. We teach them how to use those tools when they leave our spaces. We do this despite whatever crisis -of-the- day is swirling around the campus, because as disruptive to our lives as those crises are, our students come first.

We love our jobs: because teaching matters.

President Toler’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | May 16, 2019

Good evening. It appears that tonight we have concluded the public part of our Presidential Search Process. You have three excellent candidates to consider and I hope that you are reviewing not just the numerical ratings, but also narrative comments the college community has provided. Please respect that our administrators, staff and faculty have a unique understanding of our leadership needs. You, as the BOT, are the guardians of our resources. This President needs to be the leader of its people.

I hope that there are plans for the Board to think about how this entire process has reflected on COD and that you will be discussing how to improve it in the future. We had two highly qualified candidates, sitting presidents from other institutions, who were not treated like candidates for a top-level administrative position while they were here. We conduct faculty and staff searches that are more transparent, more rigorous and more welcoming and I encourage you to learn more about how we do that.

Your credibility with us, the internal college community, hinges on some of those same things you know your voters and taxpayers demand. We expect to see transparency. We expect to see rigor. We expect to feel respect.

For almost a decade, this internal college community – especially faculty and staff – have kept this institution on track despite dysfunctional board dynamics, changes in leadership, bad reorganizations, and initiative fatigue. This college strives to be a “center for excellence in teaching, learning and cultural expression” – and we can say that with a straight face because this internal college community has never lost sight of that.

And that is why there is a sea of red out there. Faculty are asking you to respect and acknowledge the work that we do to keep things humming along. Project Hire Ed is not really a thing without faculty. Pathways is also not a thing without faculty.

Finally, last month I talked about the responsibility we had to our students. This month, I think that the day before commencement, is a perfect day to express gratitude to those students. When I talk about the fact that our internal college community has stayed on mission and persevered, the real inspiration behind that is our students. Their perseverance, their inquiry, even their occasional indifference – energizes us. They are they are the yin to our yang. They are why we know Teaching Matters.