Candidate Questionnaire: Matt Gambs

Running for COD board of trustees

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Joash Mencias

Board candidate Matt Gambs at a March 24 forum.

Quick Biography

My name is Matt Gambs, and with my wife Chris and sons Charlie (14) and Mike (10) we live in Naperville Township.  I was born on Jan. 8, 1970 in North Platte, Neb. I served in United States Marine Corp before receiving a BAS in Economics and Political Science for Regis University in Denver, Colo. This past year I completed a Masters in Arts from North Central College in Naperville.   For past 22 years, I have worked in the financial services industry.  I started as teller, and over the years worked my way up to the CEO position.

What do you want students to know about you?

I would like students to know that I work to keep the College of DuPage a great asset for our region.  I pledge to always have their interest at heart and to work diligently as their trustee.

Why are you seeking office?

I’m running for trustee at the College of DuPage, because career education is critical to success in today’s economy. The College of DuPage is a career-training center and an asset for our region. I’m running because my experiences as a veteran and business leader will help the Board of Trustees more effectively provide management, perform financial oversight and make strategic decisions so that the college continues to meet its mission and serve the students.

What factors determine whether or not tuition should be increased?

I feel strongly that in-district tuition needs to last consideration to solve budgetary or revenue issues.  The mission of COD is to offer “affordable” quality education.

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?

I believe the president’s proposal should be used to start an evolutionary conversation about the future of higher education.  I believe every young person in this district should have access to career education that will lead to economic security.

What would your top three priorities be if elected?

The highest priority is starting and completing a search for the next president of the college.  In addition this three priorities will guide my board involvement:

A Curriculum that Drives Results – For thousands of residents the College of DuPage is their pathway to rising wages through certifications, certificates and diplomas. We need to continue to teach courses that lead to success for students after they graduate.

Quality Instruction – The college’s professors are the lifeblood of the college and student experience, and it is important to constantly evaluate the mix of full-time, adjunct, and on-line instruction to meet student demand in the 21st century.

Strong Oversight – Given its size the college is also a massive business enterprise with hundreds of millions in revenue. My decades of experience running, turning around businesses and advising executives will enhance fellow trustee’s knowledge of the college’s financial statements.

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

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?

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

I am hoping to answer three of the questions (listed above) with the following answer:

Having world-class facilities has been a high priority of the current board and administration. This has been a positive investment and the taxpayers have been well served by the transformation of the campus. However, while adequate space was an issue, the college’s buildings and facilities don’t teach students – our educators and curricula do. So it is important to pivot from the physical transformation of the campus, and to a focus on online and non-traditional learning environments. The college should, and must, welcome this evolution of learning. This will require the administration and board to balance competing infrastructure, management and staffing needs. The board must insist the administration review and report on the current capacity of the college’s data infrastructure and put a greater emphasis on meeting online and non-traditional growth, as opposed to solely focused on expanding the physical campus. Whether it be parking, technology or student services, the student should be surveyed, and their issues given serious and high priority.

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 current administration can point to many successes it accomplished at the college during his time, but this package is inappropriate, and if I were a board member, I would vote against it. However, this race for trustee and the entire College of DuPage organization are not about Dr. Breuder or his administration. It’s about the hardworking students, faculty and staff who are focused on economic mobility and educational attainment. I have inherent concerns about the package and its terms, and I believe the stakeholders of the College of DuPage deserve the whole story.

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

The preeminent challenge for the next president is communication and trust building within the college, its faculty, staff, and students, and with the broader community. We need to evaluate how, when and why we communicate with our staff. The faculty is the lifeblood of the college and they key to our students’ success. The president must lead by example, including how we communicate at the board with each other and accept differing points of view. We need to facilitate open and honest conversation with the faculty, and the college’s students, staff and district taxpayers.