Candidate Questionnaire: Claire Ball

Running for COD board

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Candidate Questionnaire: Claire Ball

Board candidate Claire Ball at a March 24 forum.

Board candidate Claire Ball at a March 24 forum.

Joash Mencias

Board candidate Claire Ball at a March 24 forum.

Joash Mencias

Joash Mencias

Board candidate Claire Ball at a March 24 forum.

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Quick Biography

I’ve been an Addison homeowner for the last nine years. I’m 32 years old, an almost Halloween baby, Oct.29, have two cats. I hold my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting and finance and work as an accountant for U.S. Cellular.

What do you want students to know about you?

I want students to know that I’m totally approachable. There is not enough communication with the board members and everyone else and that has to stop. How are they supposed to make the best decisions for students if they don’t actually talk to students? I can also juggle. Seriously.

Why are you seeking office?

I was homeschooled through high school and my first structured learning was through Moraine Valley Community College. It left an impact on me and when first heard, then did my own research on what’s going on at COD I felt I could use my skills on the board to bring some much needed positive changes to the board.

What factors determine whether or not tuition should be increased?

I can’t give more than a vague answer on this one until I see what factors impact the students most directly. I had to cover my schooling while working full time so I understand how difficult it can be and would do my best to make the most economical choices. I can say with certainty that I would discuss my reasons for voting for or against tuition increases with everyone.

In regards to President Barack Obama’s proposal for free community college, what do you believe the threshold should be for a free education at COD?

Nothing is ever truly free and the costs are allocated at some point among people, so I don’t see how this can be offered without increasing costs in a variety of other areas. I believe people should be offered assistance when they really need it in trying to accomplish their goals and will work hard to make sure COD is an affordable option.

What would your top three priorities be if elected?

  1. Fiscal responsibility – the books should be examined, the policies reviewed, and both tested to see that the rules are being followed. I’m talking specifically at the top, the board and executive staff.
  2. Communication – board members don’t communicate with the students, the teachers, or the community on their reasons behind anything and that’s a problem. I don’t need to spend money on a PR firm to change that either, I want to meet with the various groups on campus, talk with people individually and make myself accessible to everyone.
  3. Honesty and transparency – OK, that’s technically two but they go hand in hand. The board is working for the community (students, teachers, taxpayers) and needs to keep everyone informed on what’s going on and how they’re handling things. The behind closed doors meetings, vague board packet detail, and “trust me and don’t ask questions” mentality doesn’t work.

What is your opinion on the possible addition of a new Teaching and Learning Center?

Right now I would say I am cautiously optimistic about it. If more classroom space is needed, and we cannot get what we need from existing facilities, then it sounds like a good option. If we have the space without having to incur the additional costs, however, I would say let’s increase space within existing facilities first and if the classroom needs aren’t met after that then let’s discuss.

In your opinion, does the college need more parking? How would you go about creating more parking if you do believe it is an issue?

I think so, yes. Rather than continuing to eat up land I would propose vertical parking, through garages. I’m sure it’s been proposed in the past but I don’t know why it wasn’t done and think it’s time to revisit that as an option.

A recent satisfaction survey said students are unhappy with the current counseling options on campus. How would you improve it?

I would start by reviewing both the counseling options available and the survey responses. I would reach out to people across the campus for their options on the situation, compare COD’s options to other college options and see where things stand. I would give my recommendations after that and push for change, working with my fellow trustees. I would also encourage people who agreed or disagreed with my course of action to come talk with me on why.

The full-time faculty has voted to express no confidence in President Robert Breuder. Breuder has also been granted a severance package. Do you support this decision? Why or why not?

The vote of no-confidence did not lead to the early retirement of Breuder, there were many other issues involved. I do not support the board decision to pay Breuder to retire early. The man has brought a good deal of negative attention to the college in the past year and many of his actions call question to his loyalty and judgment and I don’t think we should be paying him to leave. I think he should be released from his contract, thanked for his contributions, and sent on his way. He has cost the college a great deal of money and bad publicity, which may result in losing funding from the state, and I believe these things far outweigh any positive contributions.

What qualities do you seek in a new president when President Breuder’s term is up?

Other than the obvious experience in college leadership I would look for someone who is honest and forthright, and someone who is willing to work with people to further the goals of the college. To me the mark of a good leader is someone who can compromise and work with people instead of simply commanding them.

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