Board of Trustee elections spotlight
Meet Dan Markwell - The de facto 2nd Student Trustee on the BOT
April 11, 2017
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A total of 44,037 voters from across Cook and DuPage Counties voted for Dan Markwell, a 23-year-old student here at the College of DuPage in the April 4 trustees election. A total of 125,851 persons voted, giving Markwell 34.99 percent of the ballots. After the elections, the Courier reached out to Marwell to have a feel for some of the things he wants to accomplish during his time on the board of trustee. Here’s how it went:
Vandy Manyeh: How do you see your role as a member of the BOT and a student of the College of DuPage?
Dan Markwell: I see my role as adding the students’ perspective to the board discussion and to advocate on behalf of student needs. I also believe it will help keep me focused on the real goal of our college: providing high-quality education to our students.
VM: Why do you think we need more full-time teachers and faculty members at the college?
DM: Having more full-time teachers is important because it gives students easier access to their instructor via office hours and gives teachers peace of mind to focus on their students, rather than on making ends meet for their families. I would like to see adjunct faculty more invested in the college, both financially and time-wise, to allow them the same focus. Teachers are the foundation of education, which is itself the foundation of our society.
VM: Do you think it is right to build a bridge between the HSC and the TEC right now with the struggle for the college to have a balanced budget?
DM: Given the state of the college’s reserve fund, I believe building the bridge is reasonable at this time. Revenues are down at the college, due to a drop in enrollment, but we are in are stable financial position, and I think the enrollment drop is a temporary setback that we will overcome in the coming years. The bridge would not only be of service to students during peak traffic hours and poor weather, but it would also make it much easier for students, staff and community members with disabilities to cross Lambert road.
VM: You have an interest in pushing the college to have food service in the TEC. Why is that so important to students who have classes in the TEC?
DM: I don’t think there is much argument that eating is healthy and that students perform better on a full stomach than an empty one. It can be very difficult for students, and even staff, to find time to eat in between classes; especially if they lack their own car on campus. Expanding food service can make it easier for those students.
VM: What problems at satellite campuses do you think your ascendency to the BOT will solve?
DM: I think the college needs to look at expanding programs offered at the satellite campuses, to allow more students with their own car, or with busy schedules, to be able to take courses required for their degrees. I think the biggest problem with the satellite campuses is the public’s lack of knowledge about the facilities and what courses can be taken there. To that end, I hope to assist other members of the board in increasing the public’s awareness and familiarity with all of the college’s campuses throughout the county.
VM: Why do you think the student trustee should have a binding vote on the BOT? Don’t you sense any conflict of interest there?
DM: I believe that all constituencies should have a voice and a vote. The student trustee offers the student body a voice, but not a vote that is counted. Part of it is straight out of the history books: taxation without representation. Currently, the student tuition comprises almost half of the revenues generated by the college, yet there is only one student trustee, now two, on a board of eight. Now, I do not think that the current board, or any past board, has held or acted with malice towards the student body, but I do believe the student body should have at least the one permanent vote on the board. As far as conflict of interest goes, I think any student trustee has the exact opposite: every student has a vested interest in seeing the college improved and successful, as that directly impacts their ability to transfer to another university or find a job after graduating. The only time I could see a conflict would be in regards to the tuition rate, as I doubt any student would ever advocate for raising tuition costs. That being said, the students would only have that single vote (unless students like myself run and are elected to multiple positions on the board), and I believe any student who puts in the time and energy to be the student trustee would recognize the need to think larger than themselves and do what is best for the college.
VM: What plans do you have to help the college settle its accreditation problems with the HLC as soon as possible?
DM: I plan to assist the board with implementing several new policies that aim to improve oversight and transparency at the college. I also think it will be necessary for the board to continue to work to make themselves and the college’s administration more transparent, and look forward to working with the board to that end. I look forward to hearing about the HLC’s upcoming visit to the college, and to work with my fellow trustees to follow any additional guidelines or recommendations the HLC gives us.
VM: Some members of the current BOT didn’t endorse your candidacy to run for a trustee position. How open are you to work with these board members after your induction?
DM: Elections are elections: we all have people we want to win. The campaign for COD trustee was remarkably positive and issue-oriented, especially compared to some of the past decade’s more contentious races. I am completely open to working with the other members of the board, many of whom I have spoken with since the election and shared my desire to put politics and personalities aside so that we can work together to help the college.
VM: What issues would you like to see resolved as a member of the BOT?
DM: I want to see the HLC restore full accreditation to the college, first and foremost. I would also like to see the 19 recommendations from the auditor general implemented, which really goes hand-in-hand with the HLC situation. Both are focused on the transparency of the board. In a more long-term sense, I want to see the student completion rate at COD increase, as well as enrollment overall; both are clear measurements of the success of the college, and I look forward to working with the entire administration, board and staff of the college together to get more students to come to COD and to graduate from COD.
VM: What should the college expect from you for the next six years?
DM: The college should expect every trustee to devote their time, energy and focus upon the college. Trustees should be expected to show up to meetings, to make themselves informed of the state of the college and the issues facing it, and to work with an open mind with the other trustees to ensure the continued prosperity and success of College of DuPage. That is what I believe the trustees are elected to do, and that is what I plan to spend the next six years doing as trustee at COD.