COD Hopes to End Its $9 Million Legal Battle With Ex-President Breuder

The board of trustees voted to approve a release of claims between the College and the former president, bringing an end to a 7-year legal battle.


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Former President Robert Breuder

Devin Oommen, Staff Writer

Former COD President Robert Breuder will receive a $4 million settlement, bringing a close to a legal battle that has been ongoing between the college and the former college president since October 2015. 

The COD Board of Trustees voted to approve a mutual release of claims between Breuder and COD, a necessary step for a settlement agreement between the college’s insurance provider and Breuder to proceed. The board voted to approve the release in a special board meeting on Oct. 10, resolving all claims between COD and Breuder. 

According to court documents, the college’s insurance company, Illinois Community College Risk Management Consortium, has paid $9 million in legal fees related to the case up to this point. 

Breuder was hired to serve as president of the college in 2009 and was terminated by the board of trustees in October 2015. He filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the college, and the college subsequently filed a counterclaim against him.

At the board meeting on Thursday, David Goldberg, president of the faculty union, said the college was traumatized by Breuder’s presidency. 

Goldberg said Breuder’s time as president was characterized by “a climate of fear and intimidation, violation of public trust, misuse and mismanagement of taxpayer support and outward displays of substance abuse, at a minimum.”

Before he was terminated, Breuder’s contract was declared void by the board of trustees. The court later found the reasoning the board used to declare the contract void was invalid. 

Breuder was set to receive a severance package that included a $763,000 payout as part of a deal that he would retire in March 2016, three years before his official end date. The board at the time argued the college was not required to pay the severance amount as a consequence of his contract being void. 

We can’t fully move forward until Breuder’s craven, self-serving minions are no longer associated with and employed by the college.

— David Goldberg

The reasoning used to terminate Breuder included claims of excessive spending and poor financial oversight. 

Inspection of college records revealed expenses including over $200,000 spent on wine, events hosted at the Waterleaf for school officials that included gourmet food and expensive drinks sometimes totaling over $1,000, and the commissioning of what the board deemed to be vanity projects, such as the Chapparal water statue, that totaled over $500,000.  

“We can’t fully move forward until Breuder’s craven, self-serving minions are no longer associated with and employed by the college,” said Goldberg. “But you could start by removing the bronze deer sculpture at the foot of a failed water feature. That would be another step in the right direction.”

During Breuder’s time as president, the college invested over $500 million in renovations. 

Faculty, local watchdog groups and community members voiced complaints about COD’s spending and decision making. The  Higher Learning Commision, which oversees community colleges, investigated the claims, and COD’s accreditation status was put on probation after the HLC found faults in the college’s decision making and processes. The college was later taken out of probation after additional visits from the HLC. 

College officials released the following statement after the meeting:

“The board’s vote brings closure to a case that began more than seven years ago, before any current trustee was a member of the board, and resolves all claims at no direct cost to the institution beyond the initial deductible incurred by the college, as all other legal costs were paid by ICCRMC.

The board believes that its fiduciary responsibility to the college and community is best served by supporting the settlement agreement between ICCRMC and Breuder and putting the lawsuit behind the institution. The college looks forward to continuing to provide high-quality affordable education and a wide range of services to students and the community of District 502.”