Serving the College of DuPage

Motivated by a desire to give back to the community, and recognizing a need for principled leadership and true fiscal expertise at the College of DuPage, Kathy Hamilton announced her candidacy for the College’s Board of Trustees.

Hamilton’s platform was simple and clear: ensure that education is accessible and affordable to everyone, ensure that the curriculum is relevant to the needs of students at the College of DuPage and guarantee that all administrators and educators are held accountable to the taxpayers for their work and responsibilities.

Upon winning election to the Board in April 2013, Hamilton was elected vice chairman by the Board of Trustees.

In February 2014, College of DuPage administration recommended a $6 tuition increase. Facing opposition to the increase from Hamilton and other trustees, administrators reduced the recommendation to a $4 increase. Citing the College’s $140 million cash reserve as evidence that the increase was an unnecessary burden to place on students, Hamilton led several trustees in opposing any increase at all. Ultimately the $4 increase passed by a single vote.

Hamilton played a pivotal role in exposing and opposing an effort by College of DuPage President Robert Breuder to secure a $20 million state grant to the College, based not on need but instead would be “politically attractive.” In email correspondence Breuder himself acknowledged that there was “no real need” for the money. Hamilton was the lone vote opposed to the politically-motivated project, part of a $500 million expansion program. Writing in the Daily Herald, Hamilton explained that “the project warranted further analysis” and should have included “a complete assessment of current and future needs.”

After emails from Breuder were made public by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request from For The Good of Illinois exposed a plan to apply political pressure to Governor Pat Quinn to acquire the grant money, Quinn called the revelations “extremely alarming” and canceled the grant.

Subsequent FOIA requests from For The Good of Illinois revealed that the President Breuder’s office operated a concealed “imprest fund,” where payments were hidden from the scrutiny of the Board of Trustees. The fund was used to pay for an array of personal expenses for Breuder, including almost $28,000 in membership dues to a private shooting club and expenses for an African hunting trip. In the wake of the revelations, Hamilton spearheaded a successful initiative to have the College post all payments made through the imprest fund online for taxpayers to view.

Following the exposure of these controversies and Hamilton’s outspokenness on behalf of taxpayers, members of the Board of Trustees with a vendetta passed a baseless and vindictive censure of Hamilton in August 2014. The move drew widespread criticism with the Chicago Tribune described the behavior of the trustees who voted to censure as a “teeny-bopper temper tantrum.” The Chicago Tribune went on to editorialize:

“Public bodies are supposed to have sharp, vigorous, full-throated debate. If COD officials want to secure state money again, they had better show they run a place that respects free speech, that tolerates dissent. In short, that they run a college.”

In January 2015, Hamilton vigorously opposed a move by the Board of Trustees to approve a more than $750,000 severance package for Breuder in exchange for his agreement to retire from his position as President in March 2016. The golden parachute package also included a promise to name the College’s $25 million Homeland Security Education Center after the Breuder. The package was approved in a 7-1 vote with Hamilton as the lone objector. 

Undeterred by the Board’s censure and motivated to do right by the taxpayers and bring a sense of accountability and fiscal responsibility to the College of DuPage, Hamilton backed a “Clean Slate” of candidates for the Board of Trustees in the April 2015 election. The three candidates Hamilton supported – Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein – were all victorious, creating a new reform majority on the College of DuPage Board of Trustees.

With the new reform majority in place, Hamilton was elected Chairman of the Board of Trustees.

Under Hamilton’s leadership, the Board was able to expose several scandals that had been hidden from the taxpayers. Among them:

  • $95 million in spending that had been hidden from taxpayers that included more than $243,000 in liquor and millions of dollars to companies connected to college leadership,
  • $190,000 of expenditures by President Robert Breuder at the College’s Waterleaf Restaurant while the restaurant lost nearly $2 million since opening,
  • $443,000 in fraud at the College’s radio station by an employee in a fraudulent billing scheme.

In October 2015, Hamilton led the Board of Trustees in a vote to terminate Robert Breuder’s contract with the College of DuPage, citing evidence that Breuder "participated in, oversaw or failed to prevent" various instances of "misconduct and mismanagement," and that he "engaged in conduct damaging to the reputation of the College." 

Hamilton also led the board in passing 65 specific reforms to the way the College of DuPage does business, including:

  • A reduction in tuition costs of $5 per credit hour,
  • A reduction in the school’s property tax levy of roughly $4.2 million, or about 5 percent,
  • Retained counsel and forensic accounting services to investigate irregularities and improprieties at the College,
  • Established tighter financial controls by requiring multiple signatures for checks over $25,000,
  • Closed the Waterleaf Restaurant and transformed it into a student-run facility for the College’s culinary students, 

Hamilton and the Board also established a commission tasked with identifying the College’s next president. The commission’s work resulted in the hiring of U.S. Navy VADM (Ret.) Ann Rondeau, D.Ed.

Citing personal reasons, Hamilton resigned from her position as Chairman in December 2015.