Giving Credit to Collins

Acting interim president creates controversy

It’s safe to say that the College of DuPage community is worried about its future. After the chaos of this past year, there’s obvious reason to be skeptical of anyone put into a position of power at the college. With three school officials recently fired, including former President Robert Breuder, it’s understandable that people want major change. And while Breuder is blamed for causing most of the issues the college has faced, even the employees he hired during his presidency, including Acting Interim President Joseph  Collins, are under fire as well. The question is, does Collins deserve the blame?

Although a large percentage of faculty, community members, and maybe even some students think yes, we disagree. Since being hired last spring as acting interim president, Collins has already made a better impression on students than his predecessor. While Breuder was largely absent at campus events and rarely sent emails to students and faculty, Collins checks in on COD students and staff on a regular basis and can be seen walking around campus almost every day. There is an obvious effort on his part to be not only present, but also involved in school functions.

Even his demeanor is a welcomed change. Unlike Breuder’s cold and unapproachable exterior, Collins is open to communicating and seems to genuinely have student interest at heart. He may have been hired as Breuder’s right-hand man, but Collins couldn’t seem more different from him. However, this doesn’t stop some in the COD community from wanting a clean start, with no remaining members of the Breuder era.

This opposition was especially obvious at the Oct. 22 board meeting, when Collins was brought under fire. A community member quoted Collins during public comment, pointing out that the quotes could have come from Breuder. The quotes touched on the defense of additional spending and even the money the board spent at Waterleaf restaurant. The comment made it clear that while Collins does not initially appear to be anything like Breuder, people still have their doubts.

Those who are fearful of Collins’s authority have a solid argument. Collins was present throughout every scandal Breuder brought to COD. Some wonder if he ever opposed Breuder’s behavior or if he is just as corrupt. It’s a valid question, but the only way it can be answered is with time. So far in his new position, Collins hasn’t done anything to suggest that he could be another mistake for the college. In fact, he’s gone above and beyond to distance himself from the Breuder administration and create a new name for himself. It’s worth our time to at least give him the benefit of the doubt.

With the search for the new college president under way, there are obvious mixed feelings about whether or not Collins, or any other member of the Breuder administration, deserves a chance at the title. It’s a fair stance to want a completely new administration, free of anyone that took any part in past corruption. However, there’s also something to be said of Collins, who stood up to the challenges and the backlash he was sure to get by becoming acting interim president. Let’s face it, Breuder was an act that not many people would ever want to follow, but Collins has made it clear that he wants to help the college and its students, despite any past mistakes he may have made under Breuder’s control.

At the end of the day, everyone’s concern stems from their hope to improve the college. We all want what’s best for the school, faculty, and students, and while it makes sense to want a brand-new administration, we should also consider that someone who was present through past issues could possess insight as well. At the very least, Collins shouldn’t be excluded from consideration for presidency simply on the basis of who hired him. If he wants the opportunity to prove himself worthy of serving COD, we ought to let him try.