Q&A with President Ann Rondeau on her Departure from COD

Reanna Comiso, Features Editor

Reanna Comiso: Are you confident that the administration will be able to pick up where you left off on major projects, such as Pathways?   

Dr. Ann Rondeau: Absolutely.  Yes. Guided Pathways is an “All-of-College” endeavor that is engaging every aspect of our College and every expert who serves our students and our academic programs. Guided Pathways encompasses many things and is an important commitment to students’ outcomes, performance at all levels, to diversity in all its forms, to social justice and to alignment of resources toward our main mission of teaching and learning. We are fortunate and advantaged by the talented leadership of our Faculty and Administration throughout the College as we continue on this national movement of student-focused outcomes at all levels of our mission. Resources of every kind – physical, fiscal, human capital, etc. – are being applied toward Guided Pathways. Importantly, our Board of Trustees is holding us accountable for the performance, metrics and outcomes in the context of Guided Pathways and our accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission, is using Guided Pathways and other similar programs in their accreditation criteria. Our Strategic Long Range Plan firmly imbeds Guided Pathways in our organizational mid- and long-range planning.  Our Facilities Master Plan is codifying facilities planning and design with Guided Pathways as a key reference point. Our budget and programming plans include Guided Pathways in both context and content. The new Provost organization that includes the bringing together of Student Affairs and Academic Affairs is, in part, based on how our College is designing Guided Pathways. With extensive experience in ways that Guided Pathways has been implemented in Ohio and Texas, our Provost is deeply committed to ensuring our organizational architecture and our processes are driven by Guided Pathways principles that work. Our Cabinet is measuring itself in balance with the goals and objectives of Guided Pathways. Faculty leaders have been deeply engaged in mapping and examinations of advising and counseling. We are all planning toward better understanding and applying assessment standards and measurements. Notably, even our HR reorganization mirrors Guided Pathways with its objective of a simplified approach to employee support and employment processes. Alumni Relations is also part of the Guided Pathways model.

In some ways College of DuPage lags behind the national Pathways student success movement; in every way, I anticipate that we will surpass and lead the nation as we define, design, plan, and execute our version of Guided Pathways.

What is important to know is this: Following a few years of tumult and then over two years of renewal, we now need to embark on a phase of stability, consistency, constancy, and execution of plans and intentions.  Whether I were here as your President or not, the next phase of the College should be focused on getting things done and following through on standing initiatives – maturing our way ahead, including in the framework of Guided Pathways.

RC: How do you plan on spending your last few months at COD?    

AR: The Board of Trustees and Administration will spend dedicated time ensuring a smooth and steady transition so that our students do not feel any disruption in the services we provide. Our job for the next three months is to ensure a perfectly planned and executed transition that will further ensure stability in balance with forward progress on initiatives and programs to which we have committed ourselves.

RC: Do you have any goals for the school before you move on with your career?   

AR: My goals for our College are the same today and will be tomorrow as they were when I arrived: that we have a culture of trust that infuses creativity, courage, intelligent planning and decision-making that serve everyone and that we are our best and thrive at our core mission of teaching and learning in highly leveraged and value-focused ways.  Most of all, we should have as our goal the joyful engagement with our work, with each other and for each other: accountable for ourselves as well as obligated to each other for success in its best manifestations.

RC: What accomplishment are you most proud of with your time at COD?

AR: It is especially gratifying to see our people smile more easily, work diligently and feel the satisfaction that this privilege of service provides.  Culture is core to all things and our culture has improved. In human organizations, trust is fragile and culture is key. As we go about our work we are doing so with a validated sense of purpose, a renewed sense of trust and a culture that values the integrity, strength, purpose and goodness of that work.  This is really worthy work with worthy people doing worthwhile work. We should just be proud and fulfilled in the meaning of all that.

Specifically and practically, though, together, with the Board of Trustees, Cabinet, faculty, staff and students we successfully achieved several key accomplishments including the execution of a comprehensive process that led to the College’s removal from probation by the Higher Learning Commission; improved governance and rationalization of our processes;  development of a new intergovernmental agreement with the Village of Glen Ellyn; launch of the inaugural Innovation DuPage, a cooperative venture and nonprofit corporation that will promote regional business growth and job creation; and creation of Project Hire-Ed, which focuses on classroom curriculum and on-the-job skills building to help both employers and students succeed. In addition, the College’s strong financial position led to Standard & Poor’s upgrading the College’s bond rating and Moody’s Investors Service shifting its outlook from stable to positive.   

Equally as important is how we are perceived by our District residents and taxpayers.  In the most recent PULSE Community survey our image and standing in the community are markedly improved.  In the end, that perspective is so important. Reputation – our reputation as individuals and the reputation of our College – is priceless.  Our reputation is our most valuable asset: our reputation for service, for delivering on our promises and for always working to do things right and well.  That is a source of enormous pride.