Category Archives: BOT

Board of Trustees Meeting Blog
Occasional reports on meetings of COD’s Board of Trustees and committees, particularly those of concern to faculty. For complete coverage of Board meetings, access the live streams and/or the recordings of meetings. For more information, visit the COD Board of Trustees website.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Aug 19, 2022

Good evening. It feels great to be back on campus at the start of a new semester.

Today, the faculty panel on four connections was strong. The break-out session on stress and burnout led by Counseling Faculty Silvia Donatelli and Dennis Emano provided explanations and ways to address the growing challenges a lot of us face. Given the strong faculty turnout I think this panel was timely and needed. We should consider a check in later this semester.

On my way to and from the MAC yesterday I encountered students and parents walking their schedules. Eager to start their college experience from the looks of it.

A big part of this in-service week’s success is due to the diligent efforts of Tina Bures, Jenn Kelley, and Nicole Matos. Thank you for your work. It makes ours easier and allows many of us to focus on Monday morning.

Much of what makes COD a great place to attend is the people that teach and work here. That starts with hiring committees. The search committee process is problematic to say the least, across a number of areas.

To be clear, I am not referencing any current faculty search committees.

There are a number of problems from minor to potential ethical lapses about which we should all be concerned.

The high turnover and missing out on good people from vice-presidents, directors, managers, groundskeepers and associate vice presidents is an issue.

Outgoing employees should not populate committees to pick their successors. That is a conflict of interest without extenuating circumstances.

There are three large issues that need to be addressed immediately:

1. Timing

Most searches in the academic world are announced via discipline and area specific communications earlier in the fall. Jobs are announced internally, externally, locally, nationally and internationally. The committee is convened begins the process and by mid-spring is having on campus interviews and making offers.

At COD recently, search committee work starts at odd times. Some began in the summer when at least 1/3 of faculty are not on campus. This is not the norm and not consistent with our best practices. The outcome is we are not getting the best applicants, who in many cases have already accepted positions elsewhere.

2. Training of Committees and conducting their work

Greater direction and training of all search committees is needed on campus. That’s hard to do when there is so much turnover in HR.

If the will of the committee is routinely ignored or overruled, that has a trickle-down impact on morale. People don’t want to work on committees for dozens of hours over months and months when there is a pre-determined outcome. This is bad for our institution.

3. Lowballing Candidates

From groundskeepers, faculty, student assistants, to upper management, applicants are turning down positions because they can earn a better wage/salary elsewhere. Beyond understaffing key positions, it hurts our reputation as an attractive place to work that attracts the best candidates.

Given the economic circumstances, this is not the time to lose candidates as it is, anecdotally, a reason frequently given.

Replacing permanent positions with interims that last for a significant time also hurts our internal culture and has been noted both internally and externally. It’s time to remove the interim label from so many.

Timing, training and lowballing need to be addressed.

This is not a contractual issue. It is an issue that this board can and should address by clarifying the process for everyone involved.

Thank you.

CODFA VP Elizabeth Arnott-Hill Comments to the BOT | April 21, 2022

My name is Elizabeth Arnott-Hill. I am professor of psychology at COD, and I currently serve as the vice president of the faculty association.

First, I want to express my appreciation of the hard work of the faculty, staff, and administrators who have worked diligently to prepare for next week’s HLC visit. I have every confidence that your excellent work is going to pay off.

As we near the end of the semester, I have been reflecting quite a lot, as I typically do this time of year, about my students and their outcomes, in my courses and also more generally as they pursue future endeavors. Like most professors, I have lofty goals for my students. I want them to develop academically but also as people; growing in general knowledge, but also in cognitive, interpersonal, and even basic life skills. I hope that education changes their lives for the better, as it has mine, and I hope I can be a small part of that process.

It is with those ideals in mind that I struggle when I hear the value of education being reduced to metrics. As a social scientist I am a firm believer in using evidence to make decisions. However, I also know that complex things rarely have simply definitions, much less explanations or solutions.

As we comb through survey results and benchmarking data, I would like to encourage us as an institution to think more deeply about how we are serving students instead of focusing on how to simply improve numbers by developing one-size-fits-all solutions. It is my hope that we can broaden our definition of “student success” beyond a final grade in a course. To draw valid conclusions, we must recognize that one outcome cannot reflect the myriad goals and experiences of our students. Single quantitative measures are not sufficient to measure the multitude of qualitative experiences. And an overemphasis on these single quantitative measures could potentially blind us to the richness of the story our data have to tell.

Thank you.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments at Special BOT Meeting | March 21, 2022

Good evening.

Tonight, the board votes on proposed tuition and fee increases for the fall of 2022. This is not an easy decision, especially given the number of students at COD who face financial hardship before and during COVID. I hope that the board will make the correct decision to propose modest increases for the health and longevity and work to assist students for whom even modest increases can be a significant obstacle in their pursuit of higher education.

Tonight board members will also hear a presentation on student success indicators. According to the presentation in the board packet, the information relies heavily on the Baldrige Criteria.
The Baldrige Performance Excellence Program sounds prestigious and is worthy of a bit more attention.

It is housed at the Commerce Department and applies primarily to the private sector including health care, businesses and non-profits. In 2014-2015 the last two years for which data was available, there were six schools total that applied.

Baldrige was first instituted under a previous administration that, unfortunately, still casts a long shadow over COD. It might be worth considering wandering into the early 21st century in developing appropriate metrics to pursue success at COD.

Before going any further I would like to turn your attention to the slides on pages 8-9 of tonight’s board packet. Please look carefully for use of “students” anywhere on those two pages.

While I was unable to find any mention of students, “customers” appear prominently and account for 8.5% of the total weighted value. I couldn’t find faculty either, but will save that for another meeting.

If we have only customers and no students, it calls into questions the very value of higher education. Customers exchange money for a product or service of value. Higher education is not transactional and should not be treated as such.

Student success is narrowly measured as a grade of C or higher. In looking at a number of other community colleges participating in the benchmarking project, many had goals including increasing enrollment and strengthening retention, but I did not see a narrow, superficial definition that includes a metric that is very specific and cannot be compared across disciplines let alone colleges.

It’s unfortunate that attempts to measure what we do as a college are reduced to a customer consumer relationship and the shallowest of measures of helping students accomplish their goals.

We already have a student success plan. It’s called teaching and learning.

Dr. Sam Mitrani, Prof of History, Comments to the BOT | March 17, 2022

We will soon be losing two of the faculty who most exemplify COD’s excellence in helping students learn how to understand the world they live in, and consciously think through how they want to shape its future – which is, in my view, the real measure of student success. These two exemplify what full-time faculty represent to our students and the broader community.

Ben Whisenhunt is a renowned historian of Russia. He has written or edited eight books, published 15 articles in peer-reviewed journals and about 75 book reviews, founded a major scholarly journal on Russian-American relations, presented at dozens of conferences, was a Fulbright Senior Scholar in Russia — I could keep going, but I can feel Ben getting embarrassed…

Ben has brought this expertise to his students and to the broader community. He has brought four groups of students to Russia itself. He has given dozens of presentations, helping us all understand more fully what has brought Russia and the rest of the world to where it is now – which is today more vital than ever.

Ben is not just a Russian specialist: he has designed three new and popular courses for the history program: History of Terrorism, Native American History, and 20th Century World History. He served as the first chair of the history department and helped us forge new 2+2 agreements with transfer schools. Most importantly, Ben imparts to students a passion to understand the social world they live in, to grapple with the complexity of history, to seek to put themselves in the shoes of people from different times and places – the only way to make sense of the complex, interwoven world we live in.

Ben’s replacement will have very large shoes to fill. But his work will live on in all of us.

Deborah Adelman – also retiring soon — teaches writing, literature, and film studies as a way of teaching students how to think deeply and broadly about their world. To this end, Deb has brought a global, interdisciplinary perspective to our students and the college community.

She has taught a Learning Communities class that links English and Environmental Biology for 25 years. She has helped build – and defend — the Community Farm, where students grow food for students, part of the Food Security Initiative. She has helped launch and build the Sustainability Film and Discussion Series, which ran throughout the pandemic and which made COD one of the venues for the One Earth Film festival, a major Chicago based festival. She has brought students on a service-learning field studies trip to Oaxaca, Mexico in which students lived with host families in a village. She is a key leader of Global Flicks. She has also presented at many national and international conferences – I could go on and on.

In short, like Ben, Deb has brought far more to the college than a list of her classes can summarize. She has helped our students learn to think about their world, the variety of people in it, and some of the key challenges we will face as a human species moving into the future. I can only hope that when we hire her replacement, we seek to find someone with a similar transnational, humane perspective.

These are just two examples among our 300 colleagues, unique but also emblematic of what full-time faculty bring to the school. I hope the board can see in their stories why we need to hire and retain full-time faculty.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | March 17, 2022

Good evening,

I would like to begin by thanking Board Chair Dunne and President Caputo for their efforts to chart a sound fiscal path for the College of DuPage: modest tuition increases and collecting the appropriate tax levy. These are not easy decisions taken lightly. The uncertain current economic environment makes them all the more challenging and necessary. Lifting the hiring suspension contributes to a climate of stability for faculty and all employees and is appreciated.

We recognize the Board takes its role seriously and value the discussions around these issues. I would also like to thank the efforts of CFO Scott Brady. Scott visited shared governance this month to provide some context and will be visiting faculty senate next month to do the same. His willingness to clarify often opaque financial matters with patience and good humor is valued.

I am eager to see a growing turnout of faculty and students sharing their thoughts on a wide range of issues this evening.

Two weeks ago, I had the pleasure to serve on a panel with professors Ben Whisenhunt from History and Joel Quam from Geography on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It was exciting and invigorating to address a group of students, colleagues, and community members on issues of timely significance that animates much of our teaching. Thank you to Joan Dipiero for making that even possible. It’s always a pleasure to work with Joan as she highlights the best of COD faculty.

Together we can drive the snakes out of Ireland. Thank you.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Feb 24, 2022

I would like to offer an optimistically preemptive congratulations to the eighteen colleagues who will be approved for tenure after the board of trustees vote. This vote represents an investment in the future of the institution, not one that should be taken lightly by the faculty involved or the administrators who help facilitate the process.

In the face of a significant number of retirements in the coming months among all groups, it is exciting to welcome new members to our ranks who shape the direction and personality of the college.

I would like to offer the same congratulations to the thirty-seven administrators who see their contracts renewed for another year. It was a pleasure this month to start what I hope will be a longstanding practice of meeting with all deans on a monthly basis. Increased communication between faculty and deans is a recipe to avoid confusion and head off issues before they develop. We look forward to working together.

Manufactured Crises

On February 9, the Budget Committee met and discussed among other things President Caputo’s hiring suspension, which was initially communicated to the cabinet on February 7. After two weeks of repeated requests for information, it was shared on Monday, 2/21.

At the January board meeting, I praised President Caputo for approving fourteen faculty hires next year. In the intervening two weeks was there a dramatic transformation of the college’s financial position and enrollment? No, there was not. This information has been available and known to all parties for at least a year. To publicly announce new hires and then rescind that without additional information is disingenuous at best.

For multiple individuals to discuss the need for cutting faculty, full-time or part-time, without honestly discussing all options available is disingenuous at best. When actors at the college proposed and supported freezing the tax levy year after year, under the guise of fiscally sound judgement, while ignoring the inevitable need to increase revenue streams and paying only attention to the politically expedient scapegoating of faculty, we are disappointed and expect more. Supporting faculty at the College of DuPage should not require courage or leadership.

Is there a budget crisis, or is it manufactured unnecessarily for purposes other than healthy, stewardship of the institution?

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Oct 21, 2021

Good evening,

Tonight’s board packet includes the retirements of Professors Thomas Ruehlman of Biology, Janice Miller of Nursing, Edison Wells of Counseling, and Barbara Anderson also of Biology.

Among her significant accomplishments at the College of DuPage, Professor Anderson has served on the Instruction Committee. This committee is instrumental in the development and implementation of issues related to teaching. Professor Anderson is retiring after 42 years of service to the College of DuPage and the community. Barb shared today that when she started there were 100 full-time faculty. I don’t know the number of FTEs in the early Reagan Administration, was but I’m guessing it was significantly less.

Professor Ruehlman served 32 years.
Professor Wells served 22 years.
Professor Miller 20 years.

That’s nearly 120 years of institutional memory walking out the door to new challenges and opportunities.

How do we as an institution replace that institutional memory? Well, I can tell you how we don’t do that, and that’s by not hiring full-time tenure-track replacement faculty.

According to an extremely informal poll of our colleagues:

English is down at least four FTF not counting those serving in administrative roles.

Music two announced retirements this year, not counting the botched tenure track of a Harvard PhD.

Graphic Design: 2 retirements with a 1 year temp position.

Photography: down 3 full-time.

Accounting/Business: Down 2 replacement faculty.

Math: Ten retirements in the last seven years with two hires.

Welding: Down 1.

Automotive Tech: Down 1.

Interior Design: Down 1.

That’s at least 26 full-time faculty that retired and have not been replaced.

In looking at the budget, I saw that the College received over $60million in COVID-related federal dollars. While some of that money is restricted, the nearly $160 million in the General Education fund has more flexibility.

Why has Academic Affairs not been more aggressive about supporting the core mission of the College? Millions of dollars are spent pursuing the latest academic fad, while the programs that necessitate our existence continue to wither on the vine by design.

Let’s honor the legacy of the women and men who made their careers here by hiring the appropriate number of full-time faculty and stop chasing academic fads.

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.

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.

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.