Ken Trzaska Speaks at Presidential Search Committee Forum

Alison Pfaff, Features Editor

Photo from

Ken Trzaska has had many accomplishments in his career in academics, and some of those tie back to his own days at College of DuPage. While he is currently the president of Seward County Community College, he was an adjunct faculty member at COD from 1994-2004. Trzaska worked in the writing center and taught English literature and composition.

I feel there is a tremendous level of opportunity here at College of DuPage,” Trzaska said. “Being in the Writing Center on Saturday mornings, helping assess papers, ultimately direct students in where we felt the best for them would be moving forward. [Also] teaching English at Addison, Westmont and here on campus on Saturday mornings, it means a tremendous amount to me to, maybe, possibly be able to bring this full circle back here.”

Trzaska has a large emphasis on teamwork and standing out from the crowd in terms of leadership.

“Let’s not think outside the box because everyone else is doing it. Let’s eliminate. Let’s think if we want to be the COD that follows, or the one that leads. I’m all about the team, and it would be crazy if a leader wasn’t about the team, but I’m unique in how I bring that together. It is a tireless effort, as many of you saw today that’s everyday, whether it’s 7 a.m. or 7 p.m. this is what you get. This is the energy you get, the philosophy you get, and the vision that you get,” Trzaska said.

When asked about students being dropped for nonpayment, Trzaska expressed an emphasis on helping students to find a pathway to success.

“Certainly there’s a level of accountability, but you also have to understand this: If we all kind of step back from ourselves for a second and ask what vulnerabilities do we face in our lives, what vulnerabilities are we willing to admit that we’ve faced and think about our student. It’s hard to think about our student because every single one of our students is unique, is different. A backpack on their back that invisible that’s full of all kinds of stuff that they’re trying to figure out,” Trzaska said. “So absolutely in the flexibility in the accessibility model, helping those students find a pathway to success is our responsibility. It’s got to be in your heart as a leader to make that happen. So absolutely, I would do everything in my power to help that student, and I empower my team, every single one of you, to do whatever you feel we can do to help that student. ”

Trzaska said he took a similar approach to teaching his own students. “I used to tell my students when I taught, ‘listen, if we were all to leave and head to Los Angeles, Calif., some of you would fly. Some of you would drive. Some of you hitch hike. Some of you would walk. Some of you may take the really long route, but at the end of the day, you’re all going to get to Los Angeles, Calif., or wherever you’re going.’ So there’s no particular pathway that works best for one. It’s a matter of how we facilitate that as leaders and as mentors and as citizens of our community to help every single student, no matter what their unique circumstances are, get to that goal. Period.”


For more information on Ken Trzaska and his accomplishments, visit:

Interim COD President Brian Caputo also re-entered his name to be considered for the full-time role of president. Caputo, through a college spokeswoman, announced he was dropping out of consideration last week. He offered no explanation. On Tuesday, a statement by college officials said Caputo resubmitted his name for consideration after being asked to do so by the college’s board of trustees. Caputo will participate in a public forum at 5 p.m., Thursday, in the SSC atrium.