In with Rondeau, out with Joe?

Collins will return to his post as executive vice president

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In with Rondeau, out with Joe?

Bethany Berg

Bethany Berg

Bethany Berg

Lucas Koprowski, News Editor

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With Ann Rondeau preparing to become the next College of DuPage president, Acting Interim President Joseph Collins will step back down to his previous role as executive vice president starting July 1. Although Collins has been handling the responsibilities of both the executive vice president and president of COD since former President Robert Breuder was placed on administrative leave at the April 30, 2015 board of trustees meeting, his future looks unstable given the recent changes to administration.

Collins has been an administrator at COD for the past 11 years. He started at the college as the associate vice president of academic affairs in March 2005. He then became vice president of academic affairs starting in January 2009 and in March 2011 he became the executive vice president of COD.

When moved to the position of acting interim president, the board of trustees issued Collins a $6,500-per-month raise. Collins has since accumulated about $78,000 on top of his annual salary of $244,762, meaning Collins’ salary was about $322,762.

During Collins’ time in the position, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) placed COD on probation until the college meets goals set by the commission by November 2017. Alongside that, he dealt with the instability of COD’s board of trustees, beginning with former Chairwoman Kathy Hamilton’s resignation in late December.

 

Collins believes most of time as president has been occupied by dealing with multiple crises and keeping the college moving forward since the former administration. He is thankful for David Olsen’s appointment, and hopes that the college goes back to business as usual.

“I think my role this last year was to calm the waters, keep people moving forward and work through what seemed to be one crisis after another,” said Collins. “But I feel like things have calmed down. I know that since we’ve had the seventh trustee, the board is functioning a lot better. I feel like I was able to do my job in terms of keep things moving and trying to guide it through these crazy, turbulent times that we have went through.”

Collins believes although he tried his best to avoid the HLC probation, the institution has made huge strides to fix the college’s accreditation status.  

“I feel like I didn’t accomplish my goal there. I’d say my greatest accomplishment has been focusing on doing what we can institutionally to get this sanction removed,.”

Although Collins has taken steps to fix many of the issues facing the college, there are criticisms of his behavior as interim president, in addition to his involvement with the Breuder administration, that raises a question about Collins’ future at COD after Rondeau takes over.

One of Collins’ biggest criticisms while executive vice president was when he justified a $50 million building, which would add to the $600 million in construction costs from 2009 to 2014, with the 5 percent enrollment spike over the previous five years. Local Resident of DuPage County Laura Riegle used data from the ICCB to show a significant drop in student enrollment at COD from 2000 to 2014 to combat his reasoning.

“According to your own legal documents from 2007, the 2000 to 2001 enrollment of COD was 34,085 students,” said Riegle at the July 17, 2014 board of trustees meeting. “The recent 2014 spring enrollment from the Illinois Community College Board shows the spring enrollment of the College of DuPage to be 28,100. Over the course of 14 years, the enrollment at COD has decreased by 5,985 students, which is a decrease of 17.5 percent.”

While interim president, Collins has been heavily criticized by the Edgar County Watchdogs of his behavior at board meetings. Although his behavior isn’t disruptive, the watchdogs believe his lack of attention in previous meetings, as well as what they describe as a “meltdown,” has been disrespectful to the community and the board of trustees.

In reference to a clip from the Jan. 21 board meeting, where Collins is seemingly caught up in thought while Trustee Charles Bernstein is talking to him, an article from the Edgar County Watchdogs stated, “This one shows Dr. Joseph Collins, acting interim president, paying no attention and seemingly out in dream land, wishing for the good old days of free Waterleaf meals and liquor prior to meetings. Whatever the case may be, he is definitely showing disrespect and insubordination to Trustee Bernstein.”

Despite his critics, Collins believes he isn’t ready to leave COD yet, stating, “Well I’m not ready to retire. I hope to be working here, at the College of DuPage, for a long time.”

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