COD commits itself to transparency after the HLC’s lifting of probation

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College of DuPage was placed into the spotlight for the wrong reasons. The board of trustees was “dysfunctional,” according to a report from its accreditation agency. There were visible problems associated with integrity and governance.

These were signals that the state’s second-largest provider of higher education was running into trouble. Months later, the Higher Learning Commission handed down a “gut-wrenching” decision — probation for two years. This scathing verdict sent everyone to work.

This is now history.

“Fix the problem that led us here, and don’t allow the mistakes to be repeated.”

This was a caveat that came from retiring faculty member, Glenn Hansen on the night Ann Rondeau’s contract was approved.

Two years later, COD is a place where transparency has been the hallmark of a series of administrative reforms. The HLC’s “go and sin no more” letter last week is a testimony to this fact.

“HLC took this action based on the college’s ability to demonstrate that it meets HLC’s criteria for accreditation,” said the letter.

This doesn’t mean COD is off the HLC’s radar when it comes to monitoring. The college is also expected to address some key academic issues by May 15, 2018.

Fortunately, Rondeau has committed herself to transparency from the first day she came to campus. At last Thursday’s board of trustees meeting, Rondeau said she wants to continue her constructive dialogue with stakeholders.

Although Rondeau wasn’t our clear-cut pick during the presidential search period, the Courier wrote in its endorsement editorial: “She has a plan for COD, and she intends to see it through.” Our assertion was true.  Her desire to have our accreditation status settled was unwavering, and she must be commended.

As a leader, she has demonstrated through words and deeds that she is transparent. However, despite her good leadership skills, it is imperative to know that there is still work to be done. Regardless of that, the effort that she puts into the college is truly remarkable and it was enough to be noticed by the board of trustees.

“I want to thank the entire college community for their hard work especially the great leadership of Ann Rondeau,” said Trustee Frank Napolitano.

Exercising their oversight responsibility, the board of trustees is on the same page with Rondeau. Chairwoman Deanne Mazzochi, who described the December 2015 letter as an “institutional shock,” is dedicated to improving board policies.

“The HLC accreditation is about meeting basic foundational requirements,” said Mazzochi. “We still have critical work to do in that regard. And we can’t shy away from that work.”

On the other side of the aisle is the faculty association. Although excited that probation has been lifted, they remain committed to addressing future challenges and concerns raised by the HLC.  

“Tonight it seems worth pointing out that the HLC response team was a very multidisciplinary group of education professionals,” said Jacqueline McGrath. “It was, in fact, a good model of collaboration between faculty and administration, and one we should look to as we are moving forward in taking on new challenges at COD.”

With this level of commitment, we are sure that when the HLC visits the college by September 2019, COD will again meet their criteria for ethical behavior and institutional performance.

Work needs to be done. This is a fact Rondeau alluded to in her email notifying the college that probation was lifted. Everyone on the board wants to see this college succeed. Board meetings are no longer a place for confrontation. The future is definitely bright for COD.