College of DuPage Board of Trustees Votes to Terminate Employment of President Dr. Robert Breuder

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The College of DuPage Board of Trustees voted tonight to terminate the employment of its president, Dr. Robert Breuder, effective immediately. Dr. Breuder, COD president since January 2009, has been on medical and administrative leave since the end of April, when Dr. Joseph E. Collins was named Interim Acting President. Last month, COD formally launched a national search for a new president.

“This somber moment for the College of DuPage follows extensive investigation and careful consideration, but it also signals a new beginning by officially ending the fraud, waste, and abuse of the Breuder era and enabling COD to fully embark down a new path toward a better tomorrow,” said Katharine Hamilton, Board Chairman.

“Change is not easy, but we are well on our way to transforming the culture at COD to ensure that the academic priorities of students and faculty come first and we continue to deliver world-class adult education that allows our students to compete globally in the 21st Century,” Ms. Hamilton added.  

The public board vote followed an executive session of Trustees. Two months ago, the Board authorized termination proceedings to begin after receiving the results of an outside counsel’s internal investigation. The College “found evidence of misconduct and mismanagement, which Dr. Breuder participated in, oversaw, or failed to prevent,” according to information presented to the Board for tonight’s meeting. The investigation demonstrated that Dr. Breuder “violated [Board] and legal directives, breached his duties, and engaged in conduct damaging to the reputation of the college and the reputation of the Office of the College President.”

Information presented to the Board cited eight specific grounds, with numerous sub-parts, for termination, including: failing to preserve electronically stored information on his college-issued iPad; electioneering and engaging in prohibited political activity; mismanaging College and College of DuPage Foundation funds – involving the campus radio station, the Waterleaf restaurant, which is being re-purposed for academic use, and financial investments; improper conduct regarding a $20 million state grant; failing to secure confidentiality of Board executive sessions; failing to facilitate the college’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests; inappropriate conversion of locker room facilities primarily for personal use; and conduct that resulted in a 2014 faculty vote of “no confidence,” damaging media attention, possible sanctions by the Higher Learning Commission, state and federal criminal investigations, and a state audit.

COD trustees previously declared Dr. Breuder an “at-will” employee after the Illinois Attorney General’s Office ruled this summer that a prior board violated the Open Meetings Act in 2011 when it extended his employment contract. That action, coupled with his termination, voids the $763,000 severance payment that COD’s prior board voted in January 2015 to give Dr. Breuder to step down in March 2016, three years ahead of his now-voided contract.

The termination occurred as the College is preparing to respond to a draft report issued last week by the Higher Learning Commission, COD’s accrediting body. The 45-page report confirmed the substantive failures of the Breuder era, despite a glowing 2014 accreditation review. College administrators and trustees are planning to heed the HLC’s recommendations, while at the same time demonstrating that they are committed to education first, and adopting governance and oversight practices that will yield renewed trust and confidence among students, faculty, staff, and alumni, as well as District 502 residents and taxpayers.

Contact: Randall Samborn  (312) 214-2300 or
(312) 343-1142