Community Forum: Post 2, audience questions

First question was about the PE mural. This was deflected by McGuire who said she did not know very much about it. Referred questioner to Trustee Svoboda.

Question about the campus restaurants and their purposes. Collins answered, explained the difference between the two restaurants. Acknowledges that the Waterleaf has lost money. Plan is to see how it does over the next couple of years.

What are the programs that support minority students’ needs? Collins responds with info about Latino Outreach Center and mentions increase in Latino students, followed by new Diversity and Inclusion Center which will initially focus on African-American students. Mentions statistics of minorities, higher representation at COD than in overall district population. McGuire added a comment about David Swope’s programming with mentoring by retired African-American men. There was also a question about minority representation in an at-large election. Alvarez responded that it’s unclear how this could be addressed in the DuPage environment but that allowing¬†16 and 17 year olds to vote in local elections could raise interest in COD since they might be planning to attend.

Question for Torres, what areas of improvement does she suggest? She mentions several initiatives for improving student engagement. McGuire adds that recent renovations have greatly improved the public areas for students such as the “living room” lobby.

Breuder asked for relief from FOIA requests. Asked Collins to explain college’s position on these requests. He said he could not speak directly to Breuder’s comment. COD abides by all public laws including FOIAs. 150 FOIAs in the last 12 months, cost $100k. Alvarez responds that this is the cost of doing the public’s business. She suggested that putting information into a data portal would eliminate the need for the requests. (This got the first significant audience response w/ chuckles and applause.)

Question about facilities master plan. McGuire says there is an agenda item for January.

Comment/question about fund balance and tuition cost. Collins responds defensively, says that the question is based on wrong information. McGuire mentions that Rauner has said that community colleges should expect 30% cuts in state funding.

Question about the radio station fraud case to McGuire. She read a one-page statement insisting that COD did not receive information from Elmhurst College as claimed in the Tribune article. Says there will be a further investigation and that COD has cooperated in every way with states atty.

Question to Hansen about the decreasing number of full-time faculty, impact on education. Loss of core knowledge of people to drive curriculum. We now have 1200 part-time faculty. We are always advocating for full-time faculty to provide best quality education.

How is this related to class size? Hansen: use of adjuncts does not increase class size, they are unrelated. However, there is a trend to use adjuncts and increase class size in order lower costs.

Collins: 40% classes are taught by full-time and 60% by part-time. In line with national ratios. Number of full-time faculty increasing from 308 to 312 this year. Recently created Lecturer positions (not full time), one of first colleges to do so.

What is expectation for enrollment? Collins: We are up 10% while state overall is down 11%. If we had followed this trend, would have lost $8million in revenue.

Question to Collins about survey. Question assumes it was a student survey but Collins corrects that it was a community survey, done to find out whether complaints from community are representative.

If COD is toying with becoming a 4-year college, will taxpayers vote? McGuire says, indirectly through representatives since it would be a legislative act. ICCB is still studying the question. She is hoping to see legislation. Alvarez comments that there could be an advisory referendum to test public opinion. Hansen comments that faculty wants more details – not enough information to know whether to support. What will it cost – unlikely that a 4-year degree would have same pricetag for credit hours. We are open admissions, what requirements will be in place? Follow-up question to Collins about details – he deflects by saying that discussion will be state-wide. We would be allowed to offer only a very select set of degrees in technical areas. A great deal of community support showed in survey for 4-year degrees in areas of job opportunity.

How does the Waterleaf Restaurant fit into a student’s learning experience? Collins: on Monday and Tuesday, students use the restaurant for their classes. Money we lose on Waterleaf is like advertising money, 16,000 people went through Waterleaf. (Audience laughs at this.)

Where would someone find the revenues and expenses for the Waterleaf? Is it online or would it have to be FOIA’d? Collins says that it could considered to be put online. He responds defensively that many programs lose money, no one asks about those.

Question to compare Waterleaf to the Buffalo Theatre Ensemble. McGuire responds that fundraising efforts were put in place and that BTE did not meet its goals.

Question about manufacturing programs. Small program, why would we offer 4 year degree? Collins responds that we can’t even keep students in the program because they get hired away before they can graduate. Local businesses want these graduates.

Can you explain the expenses that have been reported in the news related to the president? McGuire explains the “hunting club” as an educational conservation organization, agreed to in contract negotiation with Breuder by a previous board. $24k/year.

Is there a timeline for the BOT to respond to the faculty about the vote of no confidence? McGuire says we did take it seriously and that it is incorporated into the evaluation of the president but that is confidential. Everyone should know that the BOT took it very seriously and that is all she can legally say. Hansen adds that it should not have been news to the BOT. It was not until recently, after the last board meeting, that there would be a meeting with McGuire and Birt. Accumulation of six years of grievances with this president. Our questions are never responded to.

Question for Collins about the purpose of the foundation. Raises money primarily for scholarships, gave out $700k last year.