The Higher Learning Committee (HLC), College of DuPage’s accreditation agency, has reported its findings from its internal investigation conducted in July. COD will remain fully accredited for the time being, but without improvement, that may be subject to change.
Without accreditation, students may find it hard to transfer their credits to four-year universities. As of now, this will not become an issue.
Although the college’s accreditation will remain intact, the results of the report were less than satisfactory. The findings detailed that COD was non-compliant to two of of the agency’s 21 standards. These categories were institutional integrity and effectiveness of administration and governance.
Four of the agency’s criteria were met with concerns. These categories were institutional mission, autonomous governance, degree programs and educational quality.
The report detailed accounts such as mishandlings in finance, poor oversight at the now-closed Waterleaf restaurant and credit hours in the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy courses. The leadership and management of President Robert Breuder was questioned throughout the report.
This comes as no surprise to faculty around campus, according to Glenn Hansen, president of the faculty association. “The overall response appears to be that the report supports what faculty members have been saying for years,” said Hansen.
Hansen and other faculty members are offended that it took so long for their voices to be heard by the HLC. Faculty has had numerous opportunities to voice their feelings to the agency over the last few years, and they feel only now have their comments been taken seriously. Hansen explained that having concerns in academic was personal to all faculty members.
“We are very angry that anything was linked to Academics. It was Academic Administration not Faculty or our Curriculum,” said Hansen. “SLEA is in Continuing Education where there is no faculty oversight.”
Now, COD has the potential to be sanctioned by the HLC. This means that the college will be given a set time period to fix the issues flagged in the investigation. Administration has requested 60 days before they must deliver a formal response to the committee.
Collins sent an email to faculty expanding on the report. He encourages students and faculty to take the report seriously and do their part in making COD the best it can be. “HLC’s team has put considerable effort into its review of COD and its campus visits in May 2014 and July 2015,” said Collins. We appreciate its report and take very seriously its stated views.”
Collins is confident in the school’s ability to make a healthy comeback and have a clean accreditation slate. “I am proud to be a part of COD. I am proud to work with you. We will emerge from this an even better college. I am certain that working together, we will reach a new level of achievement,” said Collins in an email.
Kathy Hamilton, board chairwoman, is dedicated to reaching the HLC’s standards. “COD will take every necessary step to answer the HLC’s concerns,” said Hamilton. “We are accountable for effectively delivering world class adult education so our students can compete successfully in the globalized economy. We will do so in full compliance with the HLC’s criteria.”
Hamilton will lead the board of trustees in a vote to fire Breuder on Tuesday, Oct. 20. The board majority has pinpointed similar issues as the HLC pointed out in their report and fights to remove Breuder as their first step in a positive direction.
Hansen and faculty members across campus are committed to making COD better, fulfilling its long-time strong academic reputation. “We need to be patient and things will get better,” said Hansen. “I along with my colleagues are committed to COD and our students. We’ve invested our careers to the College of DuPage, it’s going to take time, there will be big changes, but we’re going to get it right without worrying about how long it takes.”