My most relevant experience is the time that I have spent on the Board of Trustees. During my term I have contributed to balanced budgets, the hiring of a new president, successful contract negotiations without a strike, the expansion of dual credit courses with our local high schools, an expansion of partnerships with local employers through our Project Hire-Ed apprenticeship program, a successful launch of the Innovation DuPage business incubator, a savings to taxpayers of $9 million of debt service costs, a safe and successful transition to online and hybrid services due to COVID-19, and a proven record of an increase in student success as a result of our Guided Pathways initiative.
I have and will continue to take seriously the fiduciary responsibility a Trustee owes all stakeholders both in the stewardship of finances and quality of education.
As a Trustee, it is important for me to uphold the mission of the college, which is: To be a center for excellence in teaching, learning, and cultural experience by providing accessible, affordable, and comprehensive education.
On a personal note, the community college system, in particular the College of DuPage, has greatly impacted my family. All four of us - me, my husband and our two sons – have been students at the College of DuPage, each of us possess an Associate Degree, three of them from the College of DuPage.
As students we sought and received affordable and high quality education, experienced the unique role of a student worker and launched careers as a direct result of a local business reaching out to the college seeking employees. It is my desire to use my experience, commitment and work ethic to assist in ensuring that this asset within our community stays the course in promoting student success by fulfilling its mission.
The College of DuPage transitioned quickly from in-person education to online learning for the majority of the students at the onset of the pandemic. It was not easy to take so many courses that were designed to be in person and adapt them to the virtual classroom quickly, but through the hard work of the faculty and administration and the flexibility of the students, we accomplished it.
In addition to ensuring the continuity of education, the College has taken care to ensure that students had the tools to accomplish online learning. Through the responsible allocation of funds available to us via the federal CARES Act, students experiencing financial hardship could receive funds to cover a variety of expenses, including food and housing. Laptops and Wi-Fi hotspots were distributed to students and adjustments were made to ensure needed software was available. A Student Emergency Relief Fund was formed and able to assist many students through efforts of the College of DuPage Foundation.
While the method of delivery may have changed to ensure safety for all, the College continued to provide services such as counseling, financial aid, bookstore, library, and career transition.
While at this time our financial position is still healthy, we must be diligent in efforts to reverse a declining enrollment trend. A key step toward that end is to focus on full implementation and monitoring of our Strategic Enrollment Management Plan which aligns all resources of the school to focus on bringing in students, retaining them, and promoting student success.
We all look forward to the full opening of all campuses, activities and events. The plan we are operating under has been effective throughout the pandemic with no known transmissions. Its development included advice from a Coronavirus Advisory Task Force made up of members representing the various constituent groups on campus who analyzed data, prepared risk assessments and developed protocols. This plan, along with the continual monitoring of it, has allowed us to offer additional classes each semester which require in-person learning; thereby we are already successfully transitioning to the goal of a full and safe reopening.
The ability to offer a variety of online/remote classes had been an objective prior to the pandemic as there are known demographics seeking education through this method. A comprehensive assessment of the best practices over the past year for student learning experience, remote delivery methods and technical requirements put us in a good position to meet this goal.
I support the existing practice which requires that Trustees attend regular training pertaining to the performance of their duties. In addition, the Board recently joined the Illinois Community College Trustee Association where we have been able to participate with Trustees from around the state in discussions on best practices, informative and relevant workshops, government relations and public policy. Over the past year, the Board of Trustees has gone through a comprehensive review and updating of the College of DuPage Policy Manual. The process demonstrated the transparency and accountability it also requires within its policies, by seeking input from all stakeholders and requiring notification to the Shared Governance Council and two public readings.
I believe I am extremely well prepared to serve on the COD Board of Trustees.
I retired as an Army Colonel in late 2019. In my long military career, I led diverse teams that addressed some of the toughest challenges in the world. I commanded the rocket artillery battalion just 13 miles from North Korea. In Baghdad, I developed the training that prepared the Iraqi Army to retake their country. In Canada, I helped build the systems that protected their last national election from foreign interference.
I currently serve as the Commandant for the Patton Leadership Academy at Farragut High School in Chicago. I recently introduced a competitive robotics program that familiarize students with critical skills. I lead our school’s career and technical education (CTE) programs. So I understand the challenges students face as they develop their postsecondary plans.
I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and a Masters in National Security Strategy from the highly selective Army War College. I credit these education experiences with informing my decision making. I also earned an MS in Adult Education which provides a foundation for understanding our students and the approaches to serve them.
I have led construction and IT projects. I managed the development of a Resiliency Campus on Fort Carson, Colorado, with a holistic approach to wellness. That project synchronized the construction of five buildings at a cost of $34 million. I hold a current certification as a Project Management Professional (PMP).
As the director of artillery personnel, I managed the careers and set policy for over 19,000 soldiers. In that role, I fully integrated women into the artillery branch for the first time. I also served as the director of HR for organizations of over 600 and 3,000 people. I currently hold a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) certification which attests to my ability to develop personnel policy.
I have a strong sense of duty and desire to serve the community. I believe we all have a responsibility to improve and sustain our public institutions.
In this district, no institution is more important than COD. I understand the challenges of “first in family” students because I was one.
Many years ago, I attended Northern Illinois University and failed. I tried again at Harper College. Two adjunct instructors there inspired me to continue. I subsequently completed my BA and two master’s degrees. I am now studying for a EdD back at NIU, where I originally failed. I understand how a college education can transform lives. I want to contribute to COD continuing that transformative work.
I have committed to promoting a more fair and just society. I serve in a high school in Little Village in Chicago. Nearly all our students are first-generation Americans struggling against poverty, institutional racism, and violence. I know the challenges they face because I am there with them.
I also serve as the Board President for the DuPage Symphony Orchestra. In that role, I learned how much I enjoy the teamwork involved in serving on a board. It has been a privilege to lead the DSO board during this challenging year. I led the early decision to cancel our season. That allowed us to focus on some long-neglected efforts like long-range planning and the developing educational programming. After I analyzed our board size and composition, I made director recruiting our priority. So I recruited and developed directors to double the size of our board. More important, our new members bring several diversity stories, and their impact has been tremendous.
Many observers predicted that the pandemic would drive many students back to community college. Past economic downturns have sometimes pushed workers to go back to school to acquire new skills. That has not happened at COD or much of the country. Postsecondary options around the country are experiencing declining enrollment.
College of DuPage has continued a trend in declining enrollment that begin six years ago. That is not the result in a population decline, DuPage County has experienced a slight increase in population over the past decade. The administration anticipates a continued enrollment decline of 15% over the next five years.
The Community College Act calls for three sources of revenue. One third of the college’s revenue should come from the state, local property taxes, and student fees and tuition. State financial support has been unreliable and varied. COD received a 5% decrease in funding this year and anticipates a decrease of 7.5% next year.
The other two sources of revenue are currently sufficient but that may not continue indefinitely. Property tax revenue increases are projected to continue well below inflation. The operating tax levy also stands well below statutory limits. Student fees and tuition remain well below statutory limits. The college is a bargain for most residents and financial aid exists for students in need.
The board has kept both tuition and taxes low. While admirable, this has put the budget on a precarious glidepath. The current budget forecast shows a total fund balance declining from over $264MM to less than $175MM over the next five years. The board and administration must continue to monitor closely the college’s financial position.
The most likely scenario is a full reopening in the fall. Most adults will have the opportunity to receive the vaccine by the end of the summer. I do not believe any form of hybrid learning will be needed by then.
The college’s options for pandemic response were limited. The College of DuPage is subject to the guidance from the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB). In July, the ICCB published guidance in for the return to campus. This guidance follows the advice of the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) and incorporated input from all 48 Illinois community colleges.
The guidance aligns with the state’s five-phase plan for recovering from the pandemic. Under this plan, schools don’t reopen until Phase 4. I believe it is best to take the advice of our public health officials when it comes to this pandemic.
Every school district is struggling with this question. But our community college has an older population, our average student is around thirty-two years of age. Also, our district is much larger than other school districts. That dispersion complicates the challenge of mitigating the risk of the pandemic.
There are many lessons to be gleaned from this remote learning experience. Many teachers have learned to incorporate online tools into their instruction. I would support commissioning an analysis of this experience that would derive recommendations for improving our andragogy.
We should acknowledge that many students are doing better in remote learning. Undistracted and undeterred by peer pressure, they have thrived with newfound focus. But most experts note that many students at all education levels have struggled to meet learning outcomes. Further, remote learning has exasperated inequities.
When we return to in person learning, COD has a historic opportunity to reengineer and reimagine how we approach operations as well as instruction. It will doubtless be a year of celebration and renewal.
This topic arises every election. Nearly every candidate for the COD Board embraces transparency and accountability. They declare that their election will usher in a new era of good governance.
The truth is that the board is accountable to the people of the district through the election. But with a long term of six years, very few trustees run for reelection. Many do not even finish their one term.
So it is vital to elect trustees that we trust. It is important to choose trustees who are qualified. I have been trusted with confidential information throughout my career. I have held a Top-Secret security clearance. In my last tour of duty, Canada trusted me with “Canadian eyes-only” material. I am also thoroughly qualified for this role.
We should be more concerned with having a board that is capable and willing to hold the administration accountable. The board of trustees is the final authority over COD. The board has too often been filled with underqualified trustees who were unable to adequately oversee the administration. It is essential to elect trustees with the requisite education and experience to perform the duties.
I have led several staffs of comparable size as the COD administration. I have controlled public budgets greater than the COD budget. I have set policy that impacted tens of thousands of employees. The role of college board trustee is not a developmental position or a resume builder. It is a volunteer role for accomplished professionals to give back to the community.
I earned a B.A. in Mathematics from Douglass College (Rutgers University) and a D.A. (Doctor of Arts) in Mathematics and Computer Science from University of Illinois at Chicago. I retired two years ago as Professor of Computer Science from Saint Xavier University, where I enjoyed a 32-year career. During that time, I was a computer science faculty member, department administrator, researcher, grant-writer and member of a contract negotiating team. I embrace the mission of serving students and value the centrality of faculty as the lifeblood of an academic institution. I have witnessed the transformation of my students’ lives through the educational process and was honored to contribute to their successes.
I have a history of community engagement as a volunteer in my house of worship (board member and religious education teacher), Girl Scout leader, and precinct committee person in York Township. Professionally, I have served on two boards of the Association of Computing Machinery (ACM) – the Education Advisory Board and the Public Policy Board. And, I have volunteered many times to diversify the field of computer science, encouraging women and other under-represented populations to study in the STEM field. I organized two Chicago area celebrations of women in computing, and last year, I worked on a STEM initiative with Rep. Casten’s office and arranged his visit to a local middle school during the 2019 Computer Science Education Week.
I have never run for public office before but have volunteered on several campaigns in 2018 (6th District Congressional, IL 48th District Representative), 2019 (Lombard trustee), 2020 (Presidential & Senate candidates, 6th District Congressional candidate). I am a voter protection specialist in WI and GA. After engaging in these campaigns, I became interested in how I could serve my community in an elected position. My experience, insight and passion for public higher education, make me a natural fit for COD Board.
I am a product of public education, having attended K-12 public schools and state universities for my undergraduate and graduate studies. I am a strong advocate for public education and appreciate the role that COD plays in our communities. Our community college provides everyone in our community the precious opportunity to pursue a 2-year or 4-year college degree, earn a vocational license or certificate, train for a new job, engage in enrichment and lifelong learning, and experience the cultural enrichment of the MAC Center. COD is a jewel in our community and is poised to offer so much as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Yet, it is not without its problems. A trend of declining enrollments coupled with diminished revenues from tuition are immediate and ongoing, and must be tackled in the context of an increasingly diverse student population, the precarious nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, and serious economic situations faced by many in our community, largely as a result of the pandemic. The prospect of national legislation guaranteeing free tuition for two-year public institutions presents an exciting challenge that I would love to address.
In September 2019 I saw how dangerously close the COD faculty came to a strike, and how poorly the Administration and the Board handled the situation. They displayed a profound lack of understanding about how to measure student success and a serious disrespect for faculty. My voice on the Board might have made a difference. Another concern I have is the revolving door of four different presidents within the past eleven years, and the impact that this instability at the top has had on the institution overall as it attempts to craft and implement long range plans. There are too many interim administrators. The hiring of the president is the Board's responsibility.
COD is protecting public health during the pandemic, heeding CDC and state guidelines. But learning and community-building within necessary health constraints present significant challenges. Faculty have had to reinvent their pedagogy to address the remote learning needs of their students. This is a massive undertaking. Staff members have had to employ new technologies and reorient to new forms of communication as they go above and beyond to serve students through video chats, emails and Zoom sessions.
Students have had to conform to instructional modes deemed safest for their courses. Remote instruction, synchronous or asynchronous, is not for everyone. Many students face impediments to remote learning, including lack of adequate technology and WIFI and inadequate quiet space conducive to engaging fully online. Significantly, students on the fringes of academic preparedness and nontraditional students, who are most dependent on the community college opportunity, are least likely to flourish in remote learning settings. Despite students' and faculty’s best efforts, they encounter insurmountable hurdles, and often drop out. By Fall 2020, enrollments were down almost 10%, with Hispanic enrollments down 17%, Black and White enrollments down 8% and 9%. Consequently, tuition revenues have dropped as well.
To be true to its mission and values, the College must prioritize outreach and support for students who have fallen away from COD due to impossible personal and economic circumstances. The College must “turbocharge” existing student support programs to take this on. Students, faculty and staff must be able to tell their stories, and the Administration and the Board must listen. New program ideas to prepare students for emerging careers must be considered, so that the College can do its part to contribute to the economic health of our community as we emerge from this very challenging time.
I expect that hybrid instruction and remote delivery of student services will continue into Fall 2021, gradually moving toward more in-person options as the number of vaccinations increases and the number of COVID-19 cases decreases, following CDC guidelines. As the College emerges from the pandemic, it must recognize faculty and staff for their substantial efforts to serve students under very challenging circumstances. Returning to business as usual is not an option. Nor is maintaining the current level of remote instruction and delivery of services. Faculty and staff have the lived experience of what worked and what didn’t, and they must be debriefed and respected as the experts. Moving forward, creativity and pragmatism must both be summoned. It is an exciting time of tremendous opportunity as the College essentially re-invents itself to thrive in a post-pandemic world.
As I stated above, the Board must be more accountable in its presidential hiring practices. Four presidents in eleven years is not conducive to institutional stability and credible long range planning. Numerous administrators are serving in interim capacities, which can result in less accountability. Perhaps there should be a limit on interim positions.
The Board should be forthright in its rationale and intention to propose a policy change and should invite all stakeholders to participate in the process. The Board should welcome ideas from the members and bodies within the College community about policy changes they would like to see. Budget-setting decisions should be consistent with the mission and priorities of the institution. I note that there is a non-voting student Board member but no such position for faculty or staff. The more direct communication among the stakeholders, the more transparency.
Recently, a trustee was named to the Board as a replacement with no public or open process. I think this is a bad practice and contributes to the opacity and lack of accountability of the Board to its community of stakeholders. A process to solicit nominations from the community should be in place and implemented. Every Board position is an elected position, accountable to the community.
For faculty hiring, faculty search and screening committees should have the greatest influence in the faculty hiring process: those in the same discipline can most readily evaluate the candidate's expertise, teaching experience and potential collegiality; they will work most closely with the newly hired faculty member. The Board should ensure and confirm that all decisions are consistent with College policy and priorities but should not attempt to influence them.
Tenure-track faculty enter the path to tenure on the first day of their employment. The process has been negotiated in the contract. Final tenure decisions should never be surprises.
I am the founder of Elêmount Orgañization, a Non-Government Organization dedicated to further human condition with an initial focus on helping talent under distress. Previously, I have practiced engineering and business in financial, telecom, and energy sectors.
I hold a master’s degree in power electronics from the University of Toronto and a Dual Specialties bachelor’s degree in power engineering and industrial management from Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
This is a good way to give back to the community while fostering personal growth. Also it provides a synergistic opportunity between COD and Elêmount Orgañization since both focus on talent development.
In a larger context, I am deeply concerned with the general direction this country is heading. As Benjamin Franklin once said "A republic ... if you can keep it", I aim to do my part.
The year-over-year enrollment reduction numbers I have heard are: 9% for White, 8% for Black & 17% for Brown. I don't have numbers for Asian and other categories. I expect funding and student performance to deteriorate as well since the effects of the pandemic are wide-spread.
Because the pandemic affects everyone, tax or fee increases are not my first response to this challenging situation. Instead, I would focus on increase of efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of accessible education by COD to the community.
My platform is to produce higher caliber graduates with better employment outcome while simultaneously reducing actual costs to the attending families as well as the community at large. I would like to explore the following areas of potential improvement:
* re-introduce the manual labor college concept, an American tradition with contemporary relevance: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manual_labor_college
The relevant work experiences are the means of true education. This exposes the students to the business needs of the real world, while supporting their education with income. The key is to solve the employability issue early on during the college curriculum. I submit that the general education portion, which is a lifelong endeavor anyway, should be arranged along with subject-matter training, not before.
* The majority of teaching at COD is done by adjunct faculty yet their pay is controversially low. This needs to be investigated.
* Tenure was invented to protect academic freedom in research universities, which COD is not. Is tenure necessary at COD?
I believe pay for adjunct faculty is a budge issue. Once verified, the way is to introduce merit-based evaluation system and pay for performance. Potential removal of tenure is a symbolic and fiscal gesture of this approach by introducing measurement and feedback mechanism. “A rising tide lifts all boats”. We need to improve COD without first resorting to asking for more money.
The plan is to follow IDPH guidelines. If the pandemic situation improves to a satisfactory level, we should bring back in-person learning as soon as medically feasible. Even though remote learning works well for lots of students, there is no replacement for in-person learning.
In the long run, remote learning can be a worthy supplement to in-person learning. We should retain as much remote learning as feasible to diversify the education delivery mechanism. For example, while a traditional in-person lecture is in session, it should be streamed online in real-time for students who are not able to be physically present or for later reviews.
Here is my current preference. The Board should announce the rationale behind the creation or revision of policies and procedures, listen to the concerns of the stakeholders, and make determination based on a balance of those concerns. Let the public chime in, and have a voice. Listening to the public before making a final choice can improve the quality of decisions, as well as increasing stakeholder buy-in.
A Trustee sitting on the Board of Trustees needs to have a clear vision for COD and be able to critically analyze any issues brought to the board's attention. I have that vision and I have spent my entire career in a field built around critically analyzing issues while representing the interests of a client. I am 30 years old and will bring a fresh perspective to the Board of Trustees during a time of decreased enrollment and low graduation rates.
I grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago and graduated from Bremen High School (District 228). I graduated from Illinois State University with a double major in political science and English studies. While at ISU, I was involved in the student government association and was elected student body president. It was there that I saw first-hand how institutions of higher learning operated and the importance of shared governance. I was able to work with the administration to help develop ISU's strategic plan for higher learning and helped develop and pass legislation to represent ISU's 20,000 students. After graduation, I went onto the John Marshall Law School and obtained my law degree. I am currently a civil defense attorney in Chicago. I volunteer my time teaching law students at John Marshall Law School trial skills and techniques. My legal background also makes me uniquely qualified to think critically and traverse the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the pending lawsuits against COD. I believe this also ensures that the mistakes of the past will never happen again.
I come from a family of educators. My sister teaches early childhood special education. My cousin, aunt, and uncle are also educators. I understand the important role teachers play in every person’s life. I believe to be an effective member of the Board of Trustees, you have to have a passion for education and have an open mind to new ideas and perspectives. I will be a Trustee that has all shareholders in mind, not just a select few.
I firmly believe that education is the silver bullet to solving today’s problems and creating a more fair, responsible, and productive society. As someone who graduated from a public high school, took classes at a public community college, and graduated from a public 4-year institution, I take pride in our public education system. However, the system is not perfect, and every student did not have the same experiences that I had, every student did not walk away from their school with the same pride that I had, nor the same opportunities that I had. I want COD to be that experience for students and to have its students leave with that pride.
The education of a student is not a one-person or one-group decision making process. It truly takes a community. I am running to put the 'community' back in community college. The community has the greatest stake in the success or downfall of COD. If COD succeeds, that means an increase in their home values and a decrease in their property tax burden. If COD declines, this could lead to decreased home values and increased property taxes. As a member of the community, I felt it was my responsibility to do all I could to ensure COD succeeds. I am running to continue and build on what the “Clean Slate” ticket started: a COD that is accountable, transparent, and is a place of opportunity for all students with the common goal of achieving student success. We need to build upon the Pathways program to identify the individual goals of each student rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. COD needs to be what each individual student needs it to be for them. We need to create and promote stackable degree programs for students to affordably and efficiently progress towards their career goals. The community can play a large role in the success of COD. We need to have a COD that opens its arms to the community and allows the community to help bridge the gap from classroom to career for students. This is my motivation for running.
Over the last few years, enrollment has been decreasing rapidly across institutions of higher learning. The pandemic has not made this easier. With a decrease in enrollment, funds available to COD continue to match this rate of decline. In order to stop this decline, we need to identify not only what educational outcomes a student is seeking, but also identifying the most effective means to allow the student to achieve that educational outcome, whether through experiential, classroom, or virtual learning. A stronger focus on the Pathways program can assist in this regard.
Once we have identified the educational goals of the student, we need to ensure that we have programs in place to allow the student to achieve those outcomes in the most effective and efficient ways possible. COD needs to be a marketplace of ideas and offer greater opportunities, particularly in the technology fields that are continuing to grow and becoming more essential. COD can offer more stackable degree programs and work with local businesses and 4-year institutions to bridge the gap from student to career for students to make their educational investment more affordable and efficient at COD.
In the end, the educational benefits COD can offer students is reliant on a strong foundation of trust built between the students, faculty, administration, and the community. The only way to establish that trust is to have transparency and accountability. Open and honest dialogue amongst all invested parties fosters innovation, creativity, and an educational environment worth the financial sacrifice of the student and the taxpayer. A community proud of their community college invites increased enrollment. A student proud of their community college invites increased retention and graduation rates. Taxpayers are burdened enough and should not have to worry about a tax increase. In order to ensure the taxpayers are taken care of, COD needs to be taken care of.
My plan first starts with following the research and the science in determining how to safely and effectively conduct in-person learning. The next and most critical step in preparing for the transition back to in-person learning would be to ensure that all parties are involved. Students and teachers are at the front lines of education. If they are not involved in the process, then we are doing a disservice to COD and the community. The educational process does not operate effectively unless the teachers feel safe teaching and the students feel safe learning. A clear and concise message would be made from the Board that our institutional goals to foster student success remain undeterred and layout a step-by-step approach to returning, safely, to in-class learning when appropriate and consistent with current guidelines. However, the timetable for in-person learning needs to be set according to the science and not emotion.
The one element of remote learning that was discovered from this was that some students, and even some teachers, found the learning process more beneficial than in-person learning in some circumstances. This further highlighted the point that a one-size-fits-all approach to education is unnecessary and does a disservice to the educational process. Students learn in different ways and can thrive on having more opportunities presented to them with different ways to obtain knowledge. This also presents more opportunities for increased flexibility for students and teachers. With that being said, in-person learning is still a necessity in many cases, particularly in courses that require hands-on experiences such as in the technical or medical fields.
Transparency and accountability are of the utmost importance to me and should be a priority of every board member. Transparency and accountability build trust and trust fosters open dialogue. No substantive accomplishments can be accomplished without first opening a dialogue with all invested parties (faculty, adjuncts, taxpayers, and students). I hope to continue to restore trust in the Board and build strong, long-lasting relationships with all invested parties. Once open lines of communication are made, we can begin to assess the root causes of problems and stagnation at COD and take a community approach to find ways to increase enrollment, retention, and graduation rates. If the community is able to observe that COD retains and graduates its students at a high level, then more students would feel comfortable attending. If enrollment increases, more income is generated for COD. If more income is generated, the taxpayers ultimately reap the reward with a decreased tax burden.
I would propose having an "office-hours" type program where members of the public and those at COD can bring concerns they may have to the members of the board without having to wait for the monthly board meetings. These meetings would be made public and can be held on bi-weekly basis. Additionally, a policy should be in place stating that within 48 hours of a written request made by a stakeholder, the board is required to provide a formal written explanation for such decisions or votes made by the board. This would provide greater transparency to the public into the decision-making process of the board and ensure greater accountability by forcing the members to think critically and have sound reasonings for their decisions.
I am 33 years old and work as a Realtor® full time, I am also a former student at COD and graduate of Illinois State University. Education has been a major part of my life, both my parents are former teachers, who stressed the importance of education on my from a very young age. I currently sit on the board as President of Waiola Elevates, a non-profit that I founded in 2019 to raise money for local charities in our community. Currently, we are raising money for food banks in Dupage County. I also serve on the board of the La Grange Area Historical Society. Our mission is to preserve the history of La Grange and La Grange Park.
I am running for College of Dupage Board of Trustees because I believe the ability to gain knowledge is a human right, not a privilege. When elected, I will advocate for my community's access to affordable education, turning dreams into lucrative, sustainable and fulfilling careers.
With the Fair Tax Amendment failing to pass this past election cycle and Covid-19 pandemic continuing, the governor has begun cuts across the state budget. College of Dupage has strong reserves along with a community in full support of its mission. With a smaller portion of COD’s revenue coming from the state, the college will continue to remain fiscally responsible. Programs and academics are the faculty and administration’s responsibility. Creating new programs can create new avenues of revenue for the college and community. The board should stay fiscally responsible while safeguarding the public’s interest in the college. As enrollment continues to fall, the college needs to offer safe learning for students of all ages. With money allocated from the CARES Act, the college was able to purchase computers students can use to e-learn from home.
With the spring semester in full effect, the board and administration have done a good job in keeping students safe while learning. COD has been following the governor’s orders on gatherings and PPE protections. With the purchase of computers to help with online learning, students need to be made aware they can access these at the library on campus. By prioritizing receiving the vaccine for students, faculty, and administration , it will help return more classes to campus in the fall. All precautions should remain in place with masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing in the event more classes can return during the fall semester. The board should remain in contract with the governor's office and local officials to continue following their guidelines on opening safely. The continued safety of all students and faculty is most important.
As a board member, I will advocate for every constituent in District 502. I will serve every member of the community whose tax dollars go toward supporting COD. Community colleges should be a resource for everyone at every time in their lives. They do not exist to serve only high school students immediately after graduation. They serve the student who wanted to take a year or two off after high-school and travel. They serve the student who stayed home to take care of a family member. They serve the student who was laid-off from work or lost their job due to COVID19 and is looking to start a new career. They serve the 70-year old retiree who seeks new knowledge and community. No matter what path you’re on in life, community colleges offer quality and affordable education. When elected, I will ensure the time that students spend at College of Dupage is beneficial to their overall development and path towards a career. All of their courses should transfer to every public four year college or university in the entire country. I will work with the administration to ensure every student's first two years of college translates to a four year school that best suits their career goals. Not every student needs a path to a four year college or university. In a county of over a million people, the community needs to know about the amazing programs COD has to offer. I will dedicate my time to advancing COD’s access and outreach to everyone in the community, especially the trade skills that are offered and can help members of our community build a new, sustainable career or an alternative source of income.
CEO of Bantix Technologies, LLC – a software development company
University of Chicago Booth School of Business - MBA in Finance
Northwestern University - BS in Computer Science with a concentration in Electrical Engineering
DuPage PADS Development and Taste of Hope Committees
Advisory Board of Vesica Technologies, LLC – a California-based tech company
Advisory Board Member NUvention Web – Northwestern University
Adjunct Faculty History
I started at Harper College (1 semester) then moved to COD (6 years) and ended my time teaching at IIT (4 years). Each time I created my own curriculum, assignments, class website, exams and was able to choose my text as well (in most cases). I really enjoyed teaching and meeting so many great students. I even met some future Bantix employees while teaching them in class. It was a great experience and really afforded me the opportunity to see what is beneath the tip of the iceberg when it comes to preparing, teaching, mentoring, grading and all that happens behind the scenes when teaching a class.
I have always been a supporter and advocate of COD and all it has to offer the community. I also have fond memories of my time there as an adjunct faculty member. However, the most recent faculty contract negotiations and how the staff was treated are my main motivations for running. I am hoping to be part of the board, so we don't have to witness what we did with this last contract. The college's faculty are a very important part of what makes COD so special.
As you may already know, enrollment has been on a steady decline over the last several years and will continue to trend lower for a few more – the pandemic didn’t help. There was some nationwide speculation that community college enrollment would increase given the overall uncertainty, people’s concerns with studying remotely but paying full price at 4-year universities, etc. but, that projection turned out to be incorrect and there was a significant decline across the country (NOTE: COD actually foresaw the decline while others did not).
Funding will continue to see peaks and valleys (just look at the latest COD budget meeting) and I don’t think that will change – whether it’s a pandemic, state budget standoff or some new, unforeseen issue.
From what I have heard, student performance has been a mixed bag with some thriving while others may not have enjoyed the experience or struggled a bit – I am sure we all have our own personal stories for each. However, when it comes to the student, we need to focus on re-engaging those that we unable to attend because of the pandemic. The remote learners adjusted but, those who stopped taking classes because they had to work, take care of family members while others worked or went to school or for whatever reason, will need to be our focal point moving forward. How do we get them back in the swing and what have we learned that will help keep students on the fringe of dropping out from doing so in the future.
During the early stages of the pandemic, too many non-faculty/staff members were allowed easy access to the building. There were not enough screeners or PPE available – the board/administration were being pennywise and pound foolish and were slow to act. As we end this semester and plan for the fall, we need to make sure that we are adequately prepared in these areas.
Going forward, I think it’s most important to follow any guidelines the state and/or CDC have put in place for returning to in-person attendance. If infection rates are declining and the vaccine distribution continues to move forward with lower tiered groups receiving shots or being scheduled to receive their shots, we should be able to return to campus.
We should even adhere to simple, easy to take precautions, like limited elevator capacity or masks while in campus buildings, as a proactive way to reduce risk among building visitors and staff. At this point, we are all ready to get back to “normal” but are used to doing certain things as part of our daily lives. Why not continue doing the same, while we watch the overall infection rate decline, and the vaccination numbers increase.
From any problem or obstacle, whether we like them or not, we will gain some insight that we can use going forward. Now that we know we can move courses online and successfully teach them, I think we should investigate this as a means of augmenting our class schedule and extending our reach from a student demographic standpoint.
On campus attendance is still difficult for many of our working students and any alternative they might have for completing their education more easily will ultimately help them to stay engaged and enrolled – which one of our main goals. And, although we have out of district and out of state attendees already, this online format may help those interested in COD, but too far away to attend classes conveniently, consider this as possible alternative for their education.
This may seem like a non-answer, but I think the board should be naturally transparent and accountable. I think prior boards may have appeared lacking in their transparency given their desire to meet their own agendas or push toward their “next step” in the governmental office holding process. I can assure you that my only agenda is to help the school produce ready and able students via a superior faculty.
I grew up in Glen Ellyn and lived here until I graduated from college, I've been back now for the past 7 years.
I attended college at Valparaiso University earning a Bachelors Degree in Business Administration.
My work career started in Gary, Indiana at the Budd Company, an automobile stamping plant. I was placed in their management training program and after 3 years was promoted as a member of management to their plant in Philadelphia.
When I returned to Chicago 4 years later I started working at a small computer start-up company called ATA, I was able to grow with the company and became the Vice-President. When the company was sold a few years later I left, deciding that I wanted a career in the retail industry.
In my professional career I have acquired a broad variety of skills and I would enjoy being able to use these skills in a completely different environment. The only direct experience I have had in higher education has been as a student myself, but it seems to me that the COD board is a place where the skills I developed over decades at Nordstrom, a large, well known retailer, could be exceptionally useful. At Nordstrom, in my positions as store manager as well as a buyer, I was able to cultivate a broad variety of competence in important management skills including procurement, conflict resolution, negotiation, organization, and communication. I would really enjoy putting those abilities to good use in a completely different, non-commercial environment. I believe that I would bring a fresh set of eyes to the table and would be able to give a different perspective to the issues that are currently faced.
After a lengthy professional career, I am in a position now where I can become more involved in the community. Since education has such a vital role in our society I would like to make some contribution to the success of our young people as they learn and grow.
There is a budget issue caused by the pandemic which seems to be decreased enrollment, and this is a problem that must be urgently addressed. The quality of the of the faculty must be maintained to give students a solid education that will give them the best chance of success. I do not support any tax increase at this time. It’s a hard job, but in difficult times I believe we need to creatively look for ways to trim wasteful spending while maintaining the vision of the College. It has been widely reported that there is an ongoing exodus of people leaving the state because of our high taxes; eventually this will have a greater effect on the number of students that will enroll, and therefore on the quality of the faculty that the college is able to pay. I would encourage taking a close look at the number of administrative positions during the budgeting process in the search for non-essential costs that might be saved.
From what I can observe the College has done an excellent job in keeping everyone safe, particularly considering that our understanding of this new Covid disease continues to evolve. The steps that have been taken -- contact tracing, limited access to the college, virtual classes, and so forth, all of which many experts have agreed will help to stop the spread of Covid -- seem to have been appropriate, and these same measures are being taken now for the spring semester.
On the other hand, I would like to see the students back in classes full time as soon as can be done in a responsible way. I see no reason, with distancing and masks, why that cannot be. Shutdowns and remote learning simply cannot take the place of attending in-person classes, interacting socially with your peer group or participating in and attending events that the College offers. These are vitally important to the students, and the lack of these possibilities are certainly a huge disincentive in attracting students to the college and will have a negative effect on student performance.
Not being a current Board member, I cannot speak to policies and procedures that are in place. As a Board member, however, I would encourage transparent and truthful conversations between members of the Board and the faculty. Faculty should be made aware of decisions made by the Board and why they were made.