College of DuPage Reform Accomplishments

The following reform accomplishments took place under Kathy Hamilton's leadership...

Investigations


  • The Board cooperated fully with all levels of law enforcement investigating COD. This includes the U.S. Department of Justice, the F.B.I., the U.S. Department of Education, the DuPage County State’s Attorney and the Illinois Community College Board.
  • The Board voted to fund a performance audit by Illinois Auditor General, fulfilling a campaign promise to do so and overcoming prior board obstruction of the General Assembly-mandated audit. 
  • The Auditor General’s office was welcomed on campus by the Board chairman and the acting interim president. 
  • The Board retained counsel and a forensic accountant to conduct its own investigation into improprieties at COD.
  • The Board placed the president, chief financial officer and comptroller on administrative leave, pending the results of investigations into their activities.
  • Board Chairman Hamilton testified before the Illinois House and Senate on community college management matters arising from the investigations. At least one bill based on these concerns reached Governor Rauner’s desk. 


Transition Team


  • The Board authorized and initiated the COD’s first comprehensive Transition Team study and report, led by Northwestern University Professor Don Haider and a blue-ribbon set of committee chairmen. The Transition Team determined COD’s progress to stated strategic goals, and Board action, especially regarding Board Policies, that would speed COD’s progress. 


Budget and Finance


  • In June 2015, the Board temporarily replaced two senior finance department officials with AlixPartners, one of the nation’s top turnaround consulting firms, to restore accounting practices and controls at COD.
  • AlixPartners identified more than $160 million in non-compliant investments by COD in the last twelve months. $2.4 million in adjustments to the bond proceeds accounts, caused by earlier improper categorization and irregular reconciliations.
  • AlixPartners brought investment accounts into compliance with applicable law or policy.  It increased the accuracy of COD’s reporting. It moved the College toward a unified data source for COD’s approximately $270 million in assets.
  • AlixPartners suggested an investment manager model to ensure compliant investment choices, accurate reporting and increased investment performance.  
  • AlixPartners identified significant compliance, reporting and performance issues in a report to the Board on August 13, 2015.


2015-12016 Budget


  • The Board performed its own review of the draft 2015-2016 budget.
  • The Board announced its intention to cut COD’s property tax levy by five percent and to cut tuition by $5 per credit hour for the 2015-2016 school budget.  
  • The Board created and funded a $6.85 million special compliance account in the 2015-2016 budget to identify and pay costs arising solely from recent scandals and improprieties for law enforcement co-operation, investigation, personnel action and other necessities.
  • The Board created a Budget Committee, which held COD’s first open budget hearings on the 2015-2016 budget, in advance of the formal, noticed public hearing on September 17, 2015, prior to final adoption, September 24, 2015.
  • The Board tightened financial controls by requiring multiple signatures for checks over $25,000.
  • The Board suspended unlimited travel and entertainment expense reimbursements for Trustees.


Waterleaf Restaurant


  • The Board suspended all internal “house” accounts at Waterleaf Restaurant and the Wheat Café.  They accounted for more than 10 percent of Waterleaf revenue.
  • After an in-depth review, the Board announced that the losses at the Waterleaf Restaurant likely total $1 million per year, for three years, not the $500,000 per year stated by the prior Board.  
  • The Board found that Waterleaf Restaurant had virtually no financial controls, including no salvageable inventory records, and that COD failed to account properly for Waterleaf’s capital costs.  
  • The Board found that COD created Waterleaf Restaurant – at taxpayer expense – with no curricular dimension or student benefit.  The Board found that students were not allowed to work at Waterleaf, and that culinary students were allowed into Waterleaf no more than two evenings per week.
  • The Board challenged staff to present three alternative re-purposings of the Waterleaf Restaurant to benefit students and COD’s educational mission. 
  • The Board decided August 13, 2015 to close Waterleaf Restaurant as such, and to repurpose its space into student education uses.


Board Structure


  • The Board established permanent Academics, Budget and Audit committees, as well as ad hoc Presidential Search and Waterleaf Restaurant committees.
  • The Board questioned staff about virtually all contracts proposed for adoption, including especially regarding competition in staff’s selection process. The Board has sent numerous proposed contracts back for additional work before final consideration.
  • In COD’s first open and transparent legal service acquisition in memory, the Board made a formal request for qualifications for the provision of legal services, whose submission deadline was July 29, 2015. Fifty-five firms requested information from the college, 20 submissions were made in three practice areas.
  • The Board revised, proposed or implemented Board Policies to prevent scandals and improprieties like those just experienced, bring COD into compliance with the Illinois Community College Act, increase transparency, strengthen COD’s accountability, and restore checks and balances. (Those 13 policies are outlined below.)
  • The Board hosted several presentations by COD’s distinguished educators and one notable alumni. The Board heard briefings on COD’s leading meteorology program, Medic-to-LPN program and a talk by a successful author who credits COD for a significant part of his education.


Transparency and Openness


  • The Board released to the public the Martner internal audit of investment practices. The Board released the WDCB fraud report.  The Board released COD’s records of President-on-leave Breuder’s expense reimbursements by the COD Foundation, totaling some $102,000 between 2010 and 2014, according to the Chicago Tribune.
  • The Administration and Board cleared the backlog of FOIA requests.
  • Board meetings were again streamed on line.
  • The Administration and Board are making all vendor payments available online in real time in searchable format.


COD BOARD POLICIES ENACTED OR PROPOSED SINCE APRIL 30, 2015


ENACTED POLICIES


1.  Policy No. 5-5, Board Direction

  • New policy: College President works “at the Board’s direction” -- language that is notably absent in the old policy.

2.  Policy No. 5-10, Board Authority

  • New policy:  Board embraces – and does not delegate – the full range of authority granted it in the Community College Act.

3. Policy No. 5-15, Board Accountability

  • Prior policy, from 2009: Outlined the Board’s responsibilities, and delegated certain duties to the College President.
  • New policy: Returns to the pre-2009 version of this policy.  Of note is the final sentence “The Board of Trustees will not delegate or relinquish its overall responsibility for results nor any portion of its accountability."
  • Note: This Board of Trustees will not delegate its powers, or surrender its responsibility to govern to the College President or anyone else at College of DuPage.  We recognize the importance of the office of College President and its occupant’s vital role in leading the College and managing daily operations.  

4. Policy No. 5-20, Trustee Freedom

  • Old policy: Stated that no member of the Board may speak for the entire Board, or act on behalf of the entire Board.  We agree with that.
  • New policy: Makes it clear that every member of the Board has a First Amendment right to speak his or her mind and to offer his or her opinions regarding the affairs of the Board and the College.

5. Policy No. 5-85, Board Policy Formulation

  • Old policy: Stated that the College President – and only the College President – may formulate new policies for Board consideration.
  • New policy:  Restores Board’s role to write its own policies.

6. Policy No. 5-90, Procedure Approval

  • Old policy:  Delegated to College president the authority to draft administrative procedures.
  • New policy:  Board must approve all procedures and Board may revise them at any time.

7. Policy No. 5-130, Agenda Authority

  • Old policy:  Authorized president, Chairman and Vice-Chairman to set agenda for regular Board meetings.
  • New policy:  Authorizes Chairman and Vice-Chairman set agenda, in consultation with the president.

8. Policy No. 5-165, Secretary and Recordings

  • Old policy:  Secretary of the Board may delegate the duty of maintaining recordings of closed sessions.
  • New policy:  Secretary may not delegate that duty.

9. Policy No. 5-171, Board Office

  • Old policy:  Board had no “home” on campus for meetings, work, materials, etc.
  • New policy:  Board has visible presence for its use. 

10. Policy No. 5-195, Trustee Expenses

  • Old policy:  Encouraged Trustees to travel nationally to attend conferences and seminars.
  • New policy:  Dramatically limits Trustee travel and expense.  Limits travel and entertainment reimbursement to $335 per year without express prior approval.  Trustees can attend seminars, lectures and conferences locally or online. 

11. Policy No. 10-45, Inter-fund Transfers

  • Existing policy: Allowed certain COD administrators to transfer appropriated funds between budget accounts and seek Board approval after the fact.  Note: This was funding mechanism for COD’s political mailings in Spring 2015.  
  • Proposed policy:  Forbids that practice.  Board approval must come before inter-fund transfers.

12. Policy No. 5-220, Audit Committee

  • Existing policy: Board audit committee lacks status and mandate.
  • Proposed policy:  Creates an audit committee on the Board and an independent audit department at COD. 

PROPOSED POLICY 


13. Policy No. 10-65, Payments Online

  • Existing policy: No Board review or approval of COD expenditures less than $15,000.  
  • Proposed policy:  Requires such expenditures be disclosed to the Board and the public in a readable, searchable, online format.