Category Archives: Leadership

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

CODFA Pres Goldberg Memorializes Prof Tom Robertson in Comments to the BOT | Dec 15, 2022

Good evening. Tonight we mourn the loss of Professor Tom Robertson. Tom was a professor of Automotive Technology who passed away unexpectedly over Thanksgiving weekend. After serving as Treasurer of the College of DuPage Faculty Association for more than ten years, he decided to turn his energies elsewhere. Faculty Senate had planned to honor Tom’s service in advance of his passing. That planned resolution took a decidedly different turn after his passing. The comments below were written by English professor Tim Henningsen. Thank you, Tim, for your eloquence in the face of adversity.

While Tom won’t be in our presence to hear the following words, many of them would still be the same if he were here.

First and foremost, Tom was an outstanding teacher. He was beloved. Students in the auto tech lab were proud to have him. They would brag to other faculty about him. They were excited to showcase their diagnosis of the vehicles when they’d learn something, hoping to impress him. He’d often keep his poker face on while inspecting his students’ work, and he’d push them to learn more.

Tom was a generous and ever-present colleague. He was our CODFA Treasurer. He was a division curriculum chair. He was always reliable, and stepped up when colleagues couldn’t. His long tenure with CODFA meant we relied on him for institutional history. He had an incredible memory.

Tom was simultaneously a mechanic and an academic. He was a community college graduate himself, attending Baltimore CC where he studied automotive technology. He earned his bachelor’s in automotive science from the Pennsylvania College of Technology, and later obtained a master’s in teaching and learning from the University of Illinois. He had industry experience, working for Ford and Chrysler. He was always tinkering with something, always craving learning.

Tom was a noonballer, that’s our colloquialism for a bunch of old and slow COD employees who play gym rats over our lunch breaks. Tom wasn’t the most athletic player. A colleague recently joked that he would “cringe when [Tom] launched a 3-pointer.” But Tom was often the happiest guy out there, and it was a joy sharing the floor with him.

Tom was a midwesterner. Minnesota-bred, which usually means kind, honest, hard-working, and a sense of humor which was admirable, though not always enviable (his email signature for years, read: “No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.”). That’s Tom.

Tom was a husband and an adventurer. Many of our faculty colleagues know Tom’s widow, Pika, quite well. They traveled the world together, enjoying jaunts to Australia, Dubai, Germany, Japan, Ireland, Morocco, France, Spain, England, Alaska, Hungary, and Hawaii. He was, it seemed, in constant motion. We wish the very best for Pika, and hope she knows that we love and support her.

Tom was a volunteer. He worked locally for Sycamore Youth Baseball, umpiring and coaching kids in the community. He volunteered with the Boy Scouts, teaching worldly survival skills. And there are countless other community programs, ranging from Minnesota to Maryland, where Tom helped his fellow neighbors.

Tom had just turned 43.

In the face of this adversity I am proud to say that our institution is rallying together. Dean of Business and Applied Technology Kris Fay has been beyond supportive to help Tom’s students and colleagues on Monday morning, and in helping establish the scholarship in his name.

Ellen Farrow of the College Foundation has been helpful and supportive as well. Tom’s friend Bob Clark, professor and coordinator of the HVAC program. Bob has been tireless in his efforts on Tom’s behalf. I can say with some certainty he hasn’t had much time to sleep in the intervening days as he works to make personal and professional arrangements.

Tomorrow the College will undertake the Celebration of Life in Tom’s honor at the Automotive Tech center at 3pm. Bob assured many “Tomisms” will be shared.

Last week, Faculty Senate voted to make a sizable donation in Tom’s name. In addition, noonball players also have taken up a contribution.

Colleagues and friends across the institution have come together in Tom’s honor, his wife and his students. This is a testament to how stand together to support each other.

Please visit foundation.cod.edu to contribute in Tom’s name.

CODFA Pres Goldberg Comments to BOT Special Meeting | Nov 10, 2022

Good evening.

Tonight is an important milestone in the past, present and future of the College of DuPage.
The Board of Trustees deserves our respect and admiration for the work they have put in to close this chapter. Thank you.

In September of 2014, under the leadership of my predecessors Glenn Hansen and Richard Jarman, the College of DuPage Faculty Association overwhelmingly passed a resolution of no confidence in the presidency of Robert Breuder. By that point faculty concerns and complaints had been expressed through every available channel, including to the board of trustees and the press. We were summarily gaslit and ignored until Breuder arrogantly played fast and loose with an Illinois governor and millions of tax payer dollars. It took potentially criminal action until faculty concerns were taken seriously. Reporters from the Chicago Tribune listened to our concerns. Thank you, Stacy St. Clair and Jodi Cohen.

Trauma is a word that has entered our national lexicon. This institution was traumatized by Robert Breuder’s presidency. A climate of fear and intimidation, violation of public trust, misuse and mismanagement of taxpayer support, and outward displays of substance abuse at a minimum. All of which occurred with the explicit support of his sycophants on the board of trustees and in senior administration.

The subsequent board, the Clean Slate, did us no favors. They betrayed our confidence and exacerbated the existing dysfunction at the college, while further weakening the relationship with faculty and college employees. This included jeopardizing our accreditation and lowering our much-vaunted bond rating.

No, trauma is not too strong a word.

We can’t fully move forward until Breuder’s craven, self-serving minions are no longer associated with and employed by the college, but you could start by removing the bronze deer at the foot of a failed water feature. That would be another step in the right direction.

So, thank you to Chair Dunne and this Board of Trustees for helping us move forward with this chapter.



CODFA President Goldberg Comments to the BOT | Oct 20, 2022

In March 2019, CODFA’s table team and the board’s emissaries met for the first time. Those negotiations went on more than six months until the end of September. In between we met bi-weekly, required a federal mediator, and COD faculty voted overwhelmingly to authorize a strike. It was a contentious process.

Today the current and predicted internal, local, and national conditions are different.

  • A Pew Research poll from September 2021 shows a strong bi-partisan majority of Americans view unions in a positive light. Workers at Starbucks and Amazon have made unprecedented gains.
  • 9% inflation is the highest in 40 years.
  • Recession fears loom on the horizon, nationally and globally.
  • Locally, COD students, faculty and employees are returning to a “new normal” with some trepidation and a high level of change fatigue.

Against this backdrop, our members were surveyed, and a strong majority supported entering into talks on extending the existing full-time faculty contract, as opposed to full negotiations. We asked administrators, as the board’s representatives, on three separate occasions. Each time, the request was rebuffed with little serious explanation.

It is unfortunate, to put it mildly, that the board has no interest in engaging in extension talks and prefers full negotiations.

We think the interest of the institution as a whole is best served by a limited discussion. Several years of peace and stability across the institution are well deserved.

Therefore, our preference is to have a serious conversation about extending the existing contract and discussing an MOU for any current issues – but this should not be misinterpreted as weakness or lack of resolve on our part.

Our Negotiations Team has been hard at work over the past several weeks, focusing on scope and content of proposals. Our resolve is strong, we are disciplined, and tireless in our efforts.

The faculty who are here tonight in support, as well those you will hear from shortly, are reasonable and fair, and they expect the same in the coming weeks and months.

We are eager to begin negotiations and engage at the table.

Thank you.

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.

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.