College Of DuPage Update: Lawsuit, Resignation, And Probation

Dec 21, 2015

The College of DuPage is the state’s largest community college. 

Credit COD

It serves more than 28,000 students. 

But it has been a tumultuous year for the school.

Trustees voted in the fall to fire President Robert Breuder. He has since filed a lawsuit citing wrongful termination.

This month, Board of Trustees Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton abruptly resigned her post.

After the announcement, several trustees boycotted a board meeting last week, stalling future action.

Trustees Erin Birt, Dianne McGuire and Joseph Wozniak are calling for an "organizational meeting" to elect a new chairperson.

The remaining trustees were behind the so-called "Clean Slate" ticket, running a campaign to make overhauls at the college after a massive severance package for the departing Breuder angered voters and lawmakers. Those trustees-- Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein supported Board Chairman Hamilton, creating a majority voting bloc.

Eric Schelkopf and Nathan Lurz are reporters with Suburban Life Media, a division of Shaw Media, and have both been covering the developments at the college. Lurz says the next trustee will have a lot of power, since there is a split in ideology currently on the board.

"Whoever has that last vote, if you can count on their vote for whatever your side is, you are going to be able to really push through whatever reform you want," Lurz said.

Schelkopf says there are even similarities between what's happening at the College of DuPage and the personalities in Springfield.

"It seems like both parties are not wanting to budge at all, and therefore, nothing is happening."

The Higher Learning Commission recently placed the school on probation for two years. The group says that action is due to concerns with its financial and academic integrity.

Excerpts of WNIJ's Interview with Eric Schelkopf and Nathan Lurz of Suburban Life

Why should Illinois residents care about the in-fighting at the College of DuPage?

You have covered board meetings of various sizes of government. What stands out about what is happening right now at the College of DuPage?