Category Archives: Leadership

CODFA Leadership Blog
Announcements and commentary from the CODFA President and Vice President.

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.

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.

CODFA VP Monnier Comments to the BOT | Feb 20, 2020

Good evening, my name is Christine Monnier, vice-president of the COD Faculty Association.

Over the past year or so, the Arts have been at the center of many discussions at the College, and often here at these meetings.

We all hope and expect that the upcoming Frida Kahlo exhibit will have a powerful impact on the college community and that many come to see College of DuPage as a center for the arts in our district.

But Frida will come and go. There have always been Arts at the college. Maybe not on the scale of Frida Kahlo, but we have always had arts. Arts that are part of the daily life of the college. Arts as an integral part of a well-rounded education, irrespective of major.

There have always been Arts at COD because of Art Education and Arts Educators. We grow artists here. Not all of them may end up with their name on an auditorium, but some students who pass through our doors end up in the local artistic world, and many get at least exposure to artistic productions that broaden their horizons.

Arts at COD never waited for Frida. For decades, there have been music ensembles, jazz orchestras, choirs, art galleries, and theater.

A few years ago, the Board of Trustees made the absolutely correct decision to bring back Buffalo Theater Ensemble. Tonight, the Faculty Association asks you to vote in favor of the item in your packet pertaining to BTE.

BTE deserved your support when you brought it back. It more than deserves your support now. Over its seasons since its return, BTE has provided our communities with brilliant productions across a variety of genres and was awarded Best Non-Profit Organization in Glen Ellyn by members of the community and the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce.

I’m sure you’ve been to some or, maybe, all of those productions. You know how valuable BTE is to the college community.

So, the bottom line is this: there is no art at COD without Arts Faculty.
Thank you.

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

Good evening. First, I’d like to offer congratulations to my colleagues being recommended for tenure tonight. I am especially pleased that three of these newly tenured faculty are counselors who are truly at the front line with classroom faculty in supporting student success and retention.

Unfortunately, there are a couple names missing from that list, and as I’m sure you can already tell, faculty are disappointed, confused and concerned.
At In-Service, I joked about disagreements on the horizon. They arrived sooner than expected, but here we go.

Just because an action is legal, that doesn’t mean it stands up to the highest standards of moral character and ethical behavior.

In a complicated world, in a complicated profession like teaching, truthfulness should consider multiple streams of information and data. And trustworthiness, well that is earned. It is difficult to trust a system that changes midstream – especially when those changes are not even communicated to those of us doing the swimming.

There is no courtesy or dignity in putting off difficult conversations or even simply not having them.

The first step in fulfilling obligations and taking accountability is communicating the measure of those obligations.

In case it isn’t clear, I am weaponizing the stated core values of this institution. Much the same way this administration is preparing to weaponize the gathering and utilization of student performance data.

I don’t doubt that the best of intentions guided the creation of these core values, but they feel especially hollow right now. I don’t doubt that we have good intentions around using student performance data to help us improve, but I don’t have confidence in this administration pulling it off.

Any administrator who tells you that once tenure is awarded, that means we’re stuck with someone for the next 30 years, is basically warning you that they can’t do their job. That’s like me walking into a classroom of Intro to Business students and telling them that anyone who’s on academic probation should probably drop now because there’s no way you’re going to be able to succeed in this class.

Student success is our “main thing.” Student success is also a really complicated thing. This is a challenge that requires innovative, sometime experimental, individualized solutions. And… you need these solutions to play out in our classrooms.

The administration seems to view our contract as a collection of carrots and sticks. Carrots and sticks may be able to motivate those engaged in rote, mechanical work. There is nothing rote about teaching at a community college. You are thinking about extrinsic motivation when you need to be thinking about intrinsic motivation, and you are destroying it. It’s been dying a slow death all over this campus for a while now, and this kind of thing just accelerates it.

The biggest disappointment to me over the last week is the characterizations I heard of these faculty and the vehement declarations of needing to protect our students. These came from people who have never met these women. From people who have never seen them teach. From people who apparently didn’t view the classroom observation reports as even remotely credible.

If, as a faculty member, I let a narrow data point drive my impression and reaction to a student like this, you and my colleagues would be so disappointed in me. And that’s where I am. Disappointed.

CODFA Pres Toler Comments to the BOT | Jan 16, 2020

We are in the midst of In-Service days that reconnect us all to each other and the institution before students return next week. Yesterday, we participated in advising training that will help strengthen classroom-based advising activities. Today, we rolled up our sleeves and worked on rating more than one thousand assignments that were collected as part of our critical thinking general education outcomes project. This assessment data will be reported out to all faculty later this semester so that we can begin discussing how best to further support the development of our students critical thinking skills. This work is an important part of the story we will tell HLC when they return next year.

You may remember approving a software purchase to help facilitate these kinds of activities – well, we put it to the test. Thank you for that, and much gratitude to Faon Grandinetti, Director of Assessment and Lisa Stock, AVP of Assessment & Student Success, for their organization and facilitation of todays work. And thanks to John Santiago, professor of philosophy and David Smith, professor of engineering for their leadership as co-chairs of the SLAC.

There is something special about the start of a decade. You don’t just reflect on the last year…you reflect on the last 10 years. And your hopes – they aren’t just for the next year, they are also for the next 10 years. I will not launch into a detailed retrospective, but, just as a point of reference, in January of 2010, we were one year into the “Breuder era” and we were on the verge of starting the major physical transformation of our campus. We’ve come a long way.

There is one word that sums up the pride I have in my colleagues and this place when I think about the last 10 years and that’s resilience. Turmoil, embarrassing headlines, probation, uncertainty, none of that stopped the people at COD from focusing on students and the community. My hope for the next decade is that we can use this resilience not just for survival, but use it to propel us forward. I hope that in 10 years, we look back and say “wow, who even knew this was possible?”

I don’t have any real predictions for the next decade – but, one thing that I am pretty sure of is that in 10 years we will look back and remember that this is the year we hosted the Frida Kahlo exhibit. I hope we remember not just the number of people it brought to our campus, but that everyone in here also remembers which painting was your favorite. And that everyone takes a moment to think about how Frida Kahlo is an incredibly appropriate exhibit for this institution at this moment in time. Because Frida Kahlo pretty much personified resilience.

So, as we start this new decade, CODFA looks forward to collaborating with all of our colleagues – adjunct faculty, administration, classified and managerial staff, and the Board – to crack the code of student success, to prepare the people of DuPage county for the 30’s and beyond, and to make this not just a first class institution, but a first choice institution.

Happy New Year!