Category Archives: Leadership

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

VP McGrath’s Comments to the Board of Trustees | May 10, 2018

Tonight we congratulate the COD students who will walk across the stage next Friday night to receive their diplomas. It is an important ritual and we are proud of them and the work represented by the conferral of degrees.

We also want to congratulate all COD retirees; we celebrate their service and we will miss these valued education professionals. And of course, we welcome our new faculty hires and we are proud of our outstanding faculty colleagues as well as the professors who are being promoted tonight.

It’s been a busy year at our school, and teachers and students at COD continue to absorb significant changes—from various reorganizations of people and space, to the lifting of COD’s HLC probation and how we must prepare for our next site visit, to changes in federal law and policies that impact many of our students. Many of these changes have been a long time in the making; some are welcome, and some are not. So it is important in an education environment to value and build into the change process a period of evaluation; to ask the question, did these changes accomplish what we hoped? How can these concepts be improved or corrected? Enacting change without methodically evaluating its impact can create questions and doubt, and cultivate resistance to the next big idea—even if it’s a good one.

As we move into the next academic year, it will be important for faculty and administration to work more collaboratively on establishing the priorities for our college and our students. As we revisit the Strategic Long Range Plan and the Facilities Master Plan, we must do so through processes that are inclusive and that tolerate and then integrate dissenting views in order to reach rigorously vetted conclusions. And it means relying on experienced education professionals to evaluate the outcomes of those plans, and cultivate an institutional openness to re-evaluate and change based on an honest assessment of what is right for our students, for real students, overall.

President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | May 10, 2018

The term gallops at an ever-increasing frenzy to its conclusion as we look forward to Commencement just one week away; and even the weather has finally deigned to acknowledge the appropriate season, lending an of colorful and much-admired splendor to our campus.

It is a season of celebration and in the packet tonight I find much to celebrate. Of course, I am biased. Under item 6, Outstanding Faculty are being recognized. Congratulations to all of them for their outstanding service. A note on Tom Carter – Outstanding College-wide faculty member from physics. One generally first encounters Tom by his voice. I heard him before I met him, back in 2003 in my first division meeting. As loud and as forceful as may his advocacy be, he is as humble and unassuming in all other regards, and has lent his tireless hand to many significant STEM initiatives. It has been my personal pleasure to have worked with Tom on some of these projects, and he is always one to enjoy a really good argument with. Totally well-deserved is this recognition.

Then, under 8.q we have seven faculty members being recommended for promotion to the E range, which marks the pinnacle of professional development for our members at College of DuPage. Congratulations to them as well.

It has been a year of substantial achievement for our college as we have faced down previous challenges and embrace new ones. You will hear later about the Pathways initiative. That noun entered my consciousness about one year ago. I don’t want to detract from the presentation but I can assure you that we are fully engaged in the process and committed to working collaboratively and constructively as it moves forward.

We learned recently of the move of many of the areas of administration into the BEEM building across the street. The objective here was to increase space for instruction in the BIC that research has shown is in demand (don’t we all know it). I would like to take this opportunity to commend our Cabinet members for taking the initiative in this selfless move, along with Mr. Schmiedl who no doubt has contributed to the logistics of this not-insignificant effort.

See you next Friday I hope.

President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | April 19, 2018

It was a particular honor and privilege to attend the event Wednesday morning to celebrate the Innovation DuPage initiative along with so many members of our community partners from all walks in attendance. This new business incubator provides tangible evidence of the restored union between the village (my village actually) and our college that was so needlessly and unnecessarily sundered years back.

From the paper dresses to the music to the flower arrangements all done by students, along with the galaxy of initiatives shared in the presentations, it made me proud to be a part of this college. I look forward to our members contributing their skills towards, and hopefully benefiting from, the entrepreneurial adventures soon to begin downtown.

Not wishing to pre-empt Trustee Bennett’s report on the academic committee, but you will hear about the first report due to be submitted to HLC. From our side, we are very satisfied with the outcome, and I think it represents a model for collaborative work on a challenging issue across different constituencies to meet a common goal. Now we can look forward to addressing the weightier issues surrounding assessment that we have made reference to in previous presentations to this board.

Co-curricular activities are among those items cited by HLC for evidence of assessment. Our colleagues in Student Life can provide qualitative and quantitative evidence that involvement in co-curricular activities promotes retention and success. Which brings me to item 11.f in the consent agenda: BTE Agreement Renewal and Funding. You heard my advocacy for BTE in the past. You have seen the financial targets hit but I wanted to highlight the student engagement data: 450-500 students directly engaged in BTE each season, 52 students working on BTE productions, and other items besides.

BTE provides the kinds of co-curricular activities that sets COD apart from the norm. We heard Dr. Rondeau proclaim Wednesday that the MAC is a center for great art. Rightly so. Both for the community at large and our students within, let us continue and expand that tradition.

Thank you.

President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Mar 15, 2018

I wanted to acknowledge the good news recently received about Standard & Poor’s upgrading the College of DuPage bond rating from “AA” to “AA+” and affirmed its rating outlook of “stable” on the College’s outstanding general obligation bonds. It is a notable achievement in an era, particularly in Illinois, where few institutions of higher learning can only dream of having even one A letter beside their name.

While an argument might be sustained that the visitation of probation that prompted the down-grading really had nothing to do with the actual financial health of COD, it is gratifying nonetheless to see its return up the ladder. Though I am moved to point out that what provoked the ire of the HLC in those days did not include non-compliant syllabi. On the latter, I think you will hear at some point this evening some encouraging news re the audit.

But I will stick to a financial theme as I note item 8 in tonight’s agenda, APPROVAL: Tuition and Fees Effective Fall 2018 Term.

As the information supplied in the packet demonstrates, COD has had an exemplary record in its tuition rate since 2015 (how many colleges can boast of a negative increase in these challenging times?). During this era, COD moved from the top of the table to below midpoint. However, at some point, as the cost curve inches inexorably up, increasing revenue becomes inevitable. The modest $1 seems entirely reasonable.

What makes this proposed increase more palatable is the evolution of the board’s attitude towards the reserve fund. No longer is it referred to as the “rainy day” fund for rains that will never come (at least in recent memory), and no longer is it treated as something sacrosanct. We note a logical rationalization of the allocations and a willingness to put part of it to productive use.

I would only advocate that, as the plan to generate revenues evolves, the burden fall not only on the fee payers but equally on the community that benefits from our services and even beyond in any creative ways possible.

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

Good evening. Tonight we congratulate our colleagues whose retirements are listed in the packet, and we recognize the creativity and productivity of our colleagues whose sabbaticals are listed for approval. It is the culmination of a rigorous and collaborative process, and it is part of what makes COD a great incubator for teaching and learning.

Great teaching and learning requires careful budgeting, of course, and we respect the process behind the proposed $1 increase in student tuition for Fall 2018. But parallel to such necessary increases, we encourage stakeholders at the College to examine and champion initiatives that could help students manage the cost of college, including an institutional effort to engage with and support the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) and a deliberate strategy to address and resolve the chronic and systematic under-funding of higher education in our state over the course of several decades. These efforts, in concert, might send the message that we are working on every front, as a College, to address costs for students with imagination and foresight. COD offers an important public good within our district, and a global point of view would focus on sustainable and effective public policies around resources for that public good.

President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Feb 15, 2018

Good evening. Just a few brief comments. Item 7.a under resignations, I wanted to acknowledge our colleague’s Gary Roby resignation this coming May. Gary has been here too few years but in that time has made considerable contributions to the chemistry discipline and the college in general. He has been recognized as outstanding divisional faculty member.

Further, under item 8.o retirements, I wanted to acknowledge the contributions of three faculty members, David Ficht and Bea Jaynes in mathematics and Robert Nichols in Computer Information. Collectively, they have contributed over 53 years’ service.

I also note the impending retirement of one Charles (Chuck) Currier at the end of June. Chuck is the longest serving senior administrator in the Cabinet and I could say we go back a long way. I wanted to acknowledge Chuck’s service to the college in all things computational. He has always been someone willing to have a conversation to discuss issues.

Under item 6, I am looking forward to the presentation on progress in mathematics being given by Professor Hill. Good to see in-depth work by faculty presented to the Board. While this work was and is intensively faculty-driven, I would like to recognize the administrative leadership of the math and natural sciences division in this project.

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

Good evening. Tonight we congratulate our colleagues whose retirements are listed in tonight’s packet. We also support the hard work of our faculty, administrators, and staff throughout the college (some of whom are presenting tonight) to improve our programs and plan for our probation-free future.

But we also grieve yet another school massacre in Florida yesterday. Words fail as we contemplate the violence perpetrated on educators and students in Parkland. Schools should be safe, but in America too often they aren’t.

On April 20th, a National Day of Action for Safe Schools will take place throughout the country, calling on Americans to march and compel action from legislators that improves the safety and security of students, via common sense gun control legislation, improving student access to mental health resources in our schools and prioritizing curriculum that develops student interpersonal communication skills. Students, education professionals, school boards, and community members must raise our voices and work against murder by guns in our schools.

Pres Jarman’s Comments to the BOT | Jan 18, 2018

Good evening and a somewhat belated Happy New Year.

One year ago the college welcomed 22 newly tenured faculty members at the January 19th board meeting. One year on, it is gratifying to see under Item 8.A in the consent agenda that our President recommends that 26 faculty members be granted tenure.

One year ago we were anticipating and discussing a number of changes and additions at COD: the reorganization of academic affairs into six divisions, the concomitant creation of several new discipline chairs, the expectation of new faces on the board of trustees in the April election. And of course the lingering uncertainty regarding HLC.

All these things came to pass and the uncertainty around HLC was mercifully vanquished. It would be appropriate to acknowledge the contribution of the Accreditation Task Force that earlier today was recognized with an I AM COD award. Congratulations to them – well deserved. Now the conversation has evolved into how do we respond to the demands that HLC has made of us when it withdrew the yoke. I see that as a lot healthier and more productive discussion, and one that we spent some of our Inservice day addressing. On that note, it was gratifying to see Trustees Fenne and Walker in attendance, and thank you for your commitment to our work.

On the one hand, the need to undertake activities and file reports to fulfill these HLC obligations could be seen as a massive inconvenience and drudgery; but on the other, that obligation encourages us to take a deeper and more authentic embrace of the kinds of assessment and analysis around curriculum, educational outcomes and program review that can only improve our work and the quality of education at COD. As we think about, reflect on, and respond to the likes of the Noel Levitz and CCSSE surveys, this can only be a good thing. Hopefully, next month we will have opportunity to share some of that work with you in more detail.

VP McGrath’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Jan 18, 2018

Good Evening and happy new year. We are glad to return for a new semester and we look forward to the start of classes and seeing our students on Monday. It is already turning into a busy semester, but we are optimistic that our work matters and that our expertise is respected and utilized for educational work, in all of its variety, at the College of DuPage.

We are glad to see our third-year colleagues recommended for tenure tonight. And we recognize our colleagues whose retirements are listed in the Board packet as well.

In retrospect, 2017 was a significant year of change at our school; the coming calendar year promises even more change. We hope, of course, that change is progress, and progress in the right direction. As scholars and educators, we are aware of how important it is to allow for time after intense change and learning to absorb what has come to pass. It is also essential to pause, reflect, and evaluate, especially in order to understand and ensure that we agree we’re on the right track in so many ways. As teachers, we know that a timeline is a good organizational tool, but it can be hypothetical, and if the material isn’t mastered, it’s usually necessary to regroup and allow more time for study.

Our wish this year is that organizational change is made through dialogue, deliberate collaboration, and honest conversation about real students, as they are, in all of their variety at our school. As we’ve learned over and over in the past several years, complicated problems require complicated solutions. So here’s to complexity in 2018.

President Jarman’s comments to the Board of Trustees | Dec 14, 2017

As the curtain closes on another year, it is hard to avoid resorting to clichés of the kind I just used. So no more of those. It has been a busy year, and one with perhaps a few more challenges than I might have expected when it began lo these many months.

This evening you will hear a presentation on Pathways from Jane Smith. Pathways had entered my consciousness in early May. By October, Inservice was dedicated to it, and it had become a major conversation. I spoke then that CODFA leadership has encouraged our members to engage fully in this discussion. I can now tell you that the Faculty Senate has created nine research groups, that will involve a significant number of our members working with other constituencies in the college to examine many aspects of Pathways, with a view to providing recommendations as to how this initiative can move forward successfully. We were invited, even challenged, to participate, and we will. This work will be completed by the end of next term, and our plan is to tell you about it then.

You will also hear from Trustee Bennett in his report on the Board of Trustees Academic Committee about the work being done in regard to the HLC response. CODFA leadership contributed significantly in the report to this committee, which was concerned primarily with the syllabus compliance. We have committed to having syllabi for the spring semester posted by January 8th so that a preliminary audit of compliance can be completed prior to the official audit in February. I anticipate that the full board will be hearing more about our HLC activities in regards to assessment and outcomes in future months.

Nor have we been idle on the Noel Levitz front. A Senate task force has developed a set of questions that will guide its analysis of the data and requests for additional information as we attempt to probe the origins of the apparently problematic responses contained in that survey.

All this while we continue to teach our classes and engage in all the other normal activities of the faculty. I want to emphasize that we engage in these activities because, at the end of the day, we are dedicated to optimizing our students’ pathways to success.