Not a moment too soon

ICCB appoints a seventh trustee

No one expected a new member of the College of DuPage board of trustees would be appointed on time. Amid the chaos of missed meetings, ignored agendas and a clear division of sides between veteran members (Dianne McGuire, Erin Birt and Joseph Wozniak) and “Clean Slate” members (Deanne Mazzochi, Frank Napolitano and Charles Bernstein,) there was no hope that the board could accomplish this task alone.

It was impossible to assume that six fully-grown adults could put aside their differences and find a candidate that best suits the school by the set deadline on Feb. 11. And they didn’t. Luckily, Illinois Community College Board (ICCB) Chairman Lazaro Lopez stepped up to the job neglected by our college’s board and made a decision that was finalized on Feb. 13. That decision named David S. Olsen of Downers Grove as the new board member.

Before going into who Olsen is, it’s important to note who we want him to be. Though it was just another example of the dysfunction on our board, we wanted the new trustee to be chosen by the ICCB, and we are glad he was. We hoped that if an impartial third party elected the newest member, that member might also be impartial, which is key with the COD board in particular.

The disagreements, distrust and distaste that exist between the two sides of the board are not hidden or discreet; each member is outspoken about their differences, which materialized more recently in the veteran members’ boycott of a series of meetings beginning over winter break. If there’s one thing the board needs, it’s a seventh member who will pick what’s best for the college, and not their own agenda.

This will be an especially important factor when it comes time to appoint a new board chairman after the abrupt resignation of “Clean Slate” head honcho Kathy Hamilton. It is expected that Mazzochi, who is presently the acting interim chairwoman, and McGuire will both campaign for the position. Once again, the two sides will come head to head, only this time we’re hoping that the newest trustee will serve as tiebreaker vote.

So do we think Olsen can do it? It’s hard to tell. From the looks of it, Olsen, an ethics and compliance analyst for BP Corporation North America, Inc., has already found a backing with the Clean Slate; he was endorsed by Hamilton on her Facebook page and received statements of warm wishes from Mazzochi, Napolitano and Bernstein. If this is any indicator of where his loyalty lies, we may be in for another perpetual 4-3 split on board decisions, based solely on picking sides once again.

Of course, at the end of the day what we really need is to move forward. With Olsen’s appointment as the seventh member, the board will no longer be without quorum if McGuire, Birt and Wozniak decide to continue their previous boycotts. That means essential board responsibilities will no longer be ignored, and no longer have a negative impact on the entire school.

Just recently, we at the Courier met up with student trustee Gloria Roark and discussed what she and other students wanted in a new trustee. This was before the decision was made to choose Olsen, but our expectations remain the same. Above all, we hope Olsen is an objective, open-minded trustee who is willing to compromise and, of course, has the students’ best interest at heart.

Roark also showed us her board book, complete with agendas from past meetings and notes taken. In it, we were baffled by a board agenda from one of the recently boycotted meetings. Nearly 20 items on the agenda were riddled with pink highlighter—Roark’s way of indicating a timely issue that directly affects students. Every one of these issues was pushed to the side due to the board members’ own personal agendas; at least now with Olsen in office, they can’t be ignored any longer.

In her statement regarding Olsen’s appointment, Mazzochi reminded us of what we’ve been saying this entire time: COD is for students. She cited Olsen’s “unique experience as a Student Body President at the only Illinois higher learning institution larger than the College of DuPage [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]” as a way for him to help the board “ensure [its] focus remains on providing [COD] students with a quality, affordable education.” While it’s too early to tell if this focus will last, we’re looking forward to seeing positive change come with the appointment of our new trustee.