Good evening, current members of the College of DuPage Board of Trustees, my name is Erich Hauenstein, a Mathematics Professor. I do not know any of you personally, but I have been teaching full time here at COD for the past 30 years and am speaking you tonight on behalf of many of my seasoned colleagues who have 15 or more years of experience at our college. We make up a majority of the full-time faculty and have devoted the prime of our lives and given our best to this institution and our students. Many of us have put down roots, have families like you, and raise children here. In turn, we have trusted in the commitment of the college to support the plans for our lives.
In the early years of COD we saw record enrollments and tremendous growth. Personally, I was fortunate to be an athletic coach and to see my teams blossom to earn multiple National Championships. It was a time of many national accolades for our college.
However, as you well know, these later years have been speckled with controversies and struggles for our institution. The Breuder years were difficult and left a stain on our good reputation. HLC accreditation problems and athletic probation have tarnished our image, and we too have not been left unscathed throughout all of this.
Many of my colleagues including myself have endured a stagnant yearly income, earning less now than we did 6-10 years ago while not only performing the same duties, but being asked to take on more. Our out-of-pocket healthcare costs continue to rise and eat into our salaries, thus the consequences of recent contracts have left our buying power dwindling while the cost of living has steadily risen. And while money isn’t everything, it is the currency that allows us to provide good things for our families.
In Chairman Napolitano’s e-mail today he mentioned a couple of times the need for the board to be fiscally responsible with the taxpayers’ money, and while I agree with that, it does not mean that in an affluent district like our own, where consistent tax money is apportioned towards maintaining excellence in our institution, the board should be tightfisted and miserly with the compensation for the educators that these same taxpayers intended those moneys to support.
In the face of these recent obstacles, this faculty still stands ready and eager to move forward to forge a better, brighter, renewed College of DuPage. In light of all this, we can’t understand why the board’s negotiation team has chosen to take such an antagonistic and adversarial role to these current contract negotiations. It leaves many of us longtime, experienced faculty feeling the board doesn’t really value our extended tenure here and frankly would rather replace us with a newer, cheaper model.
As son to a father who was lead negotiator for the Board of Trustees at a community college in Michigan for over 10 years, I know that you the board have the power and ability to change the current course of these negotiations for the better. We as your faculty ask you to reconsider your stance, so that together with Dr. Caputo we can usher in a new era of refinement and prosperity here at College of DuPage.