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*** UPDATED x1 *** Reform and renewal: College of DuPage edition

Monday, Jun 30, 2014

*** UPDATE *** It worked. CoD got the money

Steadily growing College of DuPage is expected to add another classroom building, after trustees last week approved $30 million for the latest project in a half-billion-dollar expansion program.

The Glen Ellyn school plans to tap $20 million in state funding to pay the rest of the tab for the $50 million Teaching and Learning Center.

Man, did we ever get played. This needs to be reconsidered.

[ *** End Of Update *** ]

* Adam Andrzejewski obtained an e-mail from College of DuPage President Robert Breuder to his board of trustees about his plan to make up a project out of thin air in order to snag some state money that the school didn’t actually need. Man, is this ever crass and underhanded. Emphasis added

I am in a bit of a quandary.

We have been working with the Governor’s Office (seemingly forever) to secure our $20 million. Initially the money was to be used for our Homeland Security initiative. When we accomplished our Homeland agenda without state funding, we changed the focus to building demolition. With that initiative soon to be history we need an alternative. I needed to identify a project that would help release our state funding. My idea: a Teaching and Learning Center.

Several Board members want to weigh in on the need for such a facility. I have no problem with that; however, not being able to say how we would use the state’s money (perhaps no real need) could lessen our chances to break the money loose at this time (the political moon is rising).

A building that focuses on teaching and learning is politically attractive; more so than let’s say a student center, PE facility, etc. At COD, general purpose classroom space is our greatest need. (See attached Board agenda item.) A need that will expand with continued enrollment growth. My having to dance around the issue of how we would use the money attenuates our ask.

When I introduce Governor Quinn at commencement, I want to help our cause (getting the $20 million released sooner rather than later) by thanking him for his commitment in front of 3,500 people. There are many voters in our District. Please keep November 4 in mind. The limited state dollars for capital projects will go somewhere in this heightened political season. Why not College of DuPage?

In the attached press release you can see how I have had to dance around how we would use the money. It was a less effective quote than it could have been.

And lastly, who better to know what physical space needs we have than the people who deliver services every day? There is always the option of telling the Governor we want the money, will bank it until we figure out how to use it, and then build something. And is it not better to match money than to provide 100%?

Bottom line: I need some room to breathe on this matter so I can enhance the likelihood we get the $20 million, soon.



P.S. In the last five years, I have led a $550 million transformation of our physical plant. By now I hope all Board members have confidence in my judgment. But, then again, this may be about something else.


* From Adam A

“Is the Board going to let Dr. Breuder continue as President while he concocts schemes to secure funding he admits he doesn’t need, through projects that are unplanned, in exchange for a vague and unfillable promise to deliver votes for Gov. Quinn.”


Hat tip: Illinois Leaks.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - CirularFiringSquad - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:23 am:

    Not sure AdamAnt really makes the case that votes were promised…but that is his usual M.O.
    that is MO as in MOPE by the way

  2. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:24 am:

    Sadly, it would seem this problem is not limited to Dr. Breuder or the leadership of just one public entity in Illinois.

    So many bad apples among the good ones, and so many more dollars being wasted and mismanaged because people in positions of authority are “connected”.

  3. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    “…a building that focuses on teaching and learning…” I think you have one Dr. Bender. It’s called a library!!

  4. - Ty Webb - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:29 am:

    so, this begs the question, why would I guy in his position do something like this?? Because he knows it works… truly sad for our taxpaying citizens

  5. - Upon Further Review - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:32 am:

    Interesting to see how this rates as a controversy at the College of Du Page, but the ongoing embarrassment that is Chicago State University continues without too much attention.

  6. - Colossus - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:35 am:

    My only confusion and frustration here is why he did this in an email instead of in a conference call without a photon trail. I’m not saying it’s “right” or “proper”, but seriously, is anyone here surprised in the least that these things happen? I think most of us are very aware that calling out CoD isn’t uncovering a pocket of corruption, it’s picking on the guy who got caught holding the bag.

    If you privatize government by handing out contracts, people will build business models around securing government contracts.

  7. - ??? - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:38 am:

    Brueder says to his trustees: “By now I hope all Board members have confidence in my judgment.”

    I don’t know…maybe not, after he decided it would be a great idea to put all of that (an admission he doesn’t really NEED the money, doesn’t know what to do with the money, and is going to put Quinn on the spot at commencement) in an email to be sent out to multiple people.

  8. - Arthur Andersen - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:44 am:

    I have to agree with CFS, shockingly, on the pay-to-play allegation not having much to it. The rest of the e-mail is bad enough by itself.

    And what of the Board of Trustees? One wonders what their reactions or responses to this note were.

    The OEIG, having successfully ferreted out $2,153.46 of waste, fraud, and abuse at IBHE while spending 10-20 times that in the ferreting, should check this guy out.

    I’m sure all the $232 million he’s already spent buliding stuff checks out just fine.

  9. - Just Observing - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:45 am:

    Let’s not also forget that this group email is or borders on an Open Meetings Act violation.

  10. - PoolGuy - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:47 am:

    this is where the new “Turn back time” feature in the next Outlook release will really come in handy.

  11. - ParisIllini - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:49 am:

    Unfortunately this is the mindset of many in leadership in the public sector. They are more interested in creating empires than being efficient stewards of public money.

  12. - Wally Kubon - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:50 am:

    Dr. Brueder sounds like a gentleman with a vision for the school. He appears to be playing by the rules. You can question the rules or tactics but I commend him on his goal.

  13. - steve schnorf - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:52 am:

    Just doing his job

  14. - anon - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:53 am:

    The community colleges are the worst, remember when they were originally included in the ethics act and covered by the IG, then they passed a law to get themselves out–might be time to put them back in.

  15. - ArchPundit - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:59 am:

    While I was looking for a job, I applied to several Illinois public schools. I can’t say I’m disappointed at ending up in Minnesota though as this kind of nonsense doesn’t happen with the same regularity. It’s not the googoo paradise it is made out to be, but there is some sense of shame at least.

    Now, I’m not quite in the policy making position I would have been in Illinois so that’s a bit different, but still…and the Illinois reporting requirements in Institutional Research are asinine on top of that.

  16. - walker - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:02 am:

    This happens all the time with state grants, including requests from local villages across the state, all kinds of local entities — where they invent other uses for money, that they don’t really need for what the grant application described.

    This comes to mind every time someone complains about abuses of the grant system by entities in Chicago. It’s common practice in the “Conservative” suburbs and downstate.

  17. - Bobby Hill - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:05 am:

    This post been should be put in the “happens everyday” file. I assume this same sentiment is shared by every public school board, superintendent, president and politician in the state. This stuff is as invasive as the Asian carp in the Illinois river.

    I do have a question though. His first line calls it “our $20 million” To me this implies there is a known amount discussed and decided. I wonder if there is a list of everyone money that has been discussed and decided (perhaps without real need)?

  18. - wordslinger - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:17 am:

    This guy is some chatterbox. Refreshingly candid in his own way.

    I’m shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover hogs at the trough outside of Cook County.

  19. - Precinct Captain - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:21 am:

    ==Interesting to see how this rates as a controversy at the College of Du Page, but the ongoing embarrassment that is Chicago State University continues without too much attention.==

    Ask Adam Andrzejewski and the former Edgar County Watchdogs why this demanded their attention.

  20. - Federalist - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:31 am:

    A copy of this should be on the Governor’s desk as well as every member of the GA.

  21. - Tom Joad - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:38 am:

    Rauner wants to shake up Illinois, and President Brueder wants to shake it down.

  22. - Retired from CoD - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 11:58 am:

    Other than the email getting out, no surprise. Bobby has been building things on campus for years… waterfall, fountain, restaurant, hotel…

  23. - A guy... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:01 pm:

    Odd to see this in writing, that’s for sure. It does highlight a problem with State funding being promised and then delayed forever and a day. Either the project waits, you borrow in anticipation of the funding being freed up (very dangerous) or you move ahead and when the money is available you have a “shovel ready” or “student ready” initiative in the can ready to go. It’s not shocking, but it sure shines an odd light on this guy and his “thinking out loud”.

  24. - Union Man - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:23 pm:

    Bet you he wishes his email went through the IRS’s email servers!!

  25. - DuPage - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:31 pm:

    Disappointed. Obviously they haven’t needed as much local property tax money either. The “local matching funds” for unneeded projects takes away from other areas like pay and insurance for the employees. Also it makes local property taxes go up more then needed.
    I think it is time for a new President, and some of the board members as well.

  26. - Responsa - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:34 pm:

    Yes. This is how it “works”. But thank you, Robert Breuder for your memo demonstrating to all Illinoisans how very casually you view their tax dollars when you want to secure and allocate what you consider to be “our $20,000,000″.

    You didn’t see anything wrong with your position or the confidences you shared in this e-mail before you sent it, did you? Do you now, “B”?

  27. - Keyser Soze - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 12:40 pm:

    Government entities, both large and small, derive funds (their existence) from appropriations. Almost all play this game. It is primal.

  28. - siriusly - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:23 pm:

    Not surprising that a college president who has a wine collection on campus in his office would be stupid enough to put this in an email.

    It’s also not surprising to any legislators who have ever dealt with the guy. He’s a big baby who cries and gets red in the face when they tell him “no.”

    Brueder could not be more insensitive to the irony of pleading poor while acting rich. He is one of the least capable and least suited people to run a community college where the entire mission is about access - not opulence.

  29. - Responsa - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 1:48 pm:

    Heh, siriusly, he can pretend he’s president of Hahvahd–even tho it’s only the College of DuPage, I guess.

  30. - Anon - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 2:13 pm:

    This isn’t the first controvery Dr. B has had in his career. A connoisuer of fine wine, he had his own wine cellar on campus in Pennsylavania. At Harper Community College, he proposed building a wine cellar as part of a big referendum, which was defeated. For his second try, he brought in Dan Proft to run the campaign, with an assist from Terry Durkin, Jim’s brother.

  31. - zatoichi - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    As if this same discussion does not happen in every Board room of public, private, for-profit, and not-for-profit groups in existence. Probably better for executive sessions discussions than open meetings or emails.

  32. - Soccermom - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:04 pm:

    In the Extremely Unfortunate Timing Department…

  33. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:21 pm:

    Sooo, will they get the $20 mill or not after this memo goes public?

  34. - Formerly Known As... - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:41 pm:

    We “need” $20 million from the state for a building we don’t need.

    We also “need” a nice tuition increase for the students starting this fall - Real efficient stewards running the show there.

  35. - Just Me - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    This email is also a violation of the Open Meetings Act if he sent it to each member collectively.

  36. - Anon. - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    No way this looks good, but isn’t anyone here a little curious about why he refers to “our” $20 million or “the” $20 million? “A guy” seems to be the only one who noticed that this appears to be an attempt to get money that was due from the state (or at least promised) and delayed or cancelled, and the college was trying to recoup it by asking for money to help with projects that were fully funded without state help. I expect this will still look sleezy, but would like to know a little more of the backstory before passing judgment.

  37. - Nearly Normal - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 4:37 pm:

    FYI–Former ISU president found guilty of disorderly conduct.

  38. - MrJM (@MisterJayEm) - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 7:56 pm:

    Now, here’s some GOOD community college news:

    – MrJM

  39. - Rahm's Parking Meter - Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 8:20 pm:

    I hate to agree with Adam A., but I know Bob Breuder from my days as a Harper College Student Senate member (yes, I was that guy), and he is one arrogant dude….

  40. - Anon Buster - Tuesday, Jul 1, 14 @ 1:07 pm:

    anon @ Monday, Jun 30, 14 @ 10:53 am Stated “The community colleges are the worst, remember when they were originally included in the ethics act and covered by the IG, then they passed a law to get themselves out–might be time to put them back in.”

    I wish you’d get informed before commenting. CC’s did not get excused from the ethics act. The law suit simply determined that the employees of CC’s are employees of local government (remember the locally elected board) and not employees of the state. This is an important distinction for reasons other than the ethics law. As employees of local government they are still subject to the ethics law unlike the governor and legislators.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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