Dr. Robert Breuder, College of Dupage president at 2014 commencement - Image Source
DUPAGE - An email circulated to the College of DuPage's Board of Trustees from the school's president may have cost the school $20 million in state funds, local news reports indicate Thursday.
Governor Pat Quinn will not be pushing promised funds to the college after all, a governor's spokesperson told the Daily Herald.
"We are suspending the possibility that they can submit a project for that funding," David Blanchette said. "The tactics used by the president in his email" convinced the governor not to release the $20 million the school hoped to use for a Teaching and Learning Center.
As Illinois Review reported Wednesday, in a May 9th email, College of DuPage President Robert Brueder connected encouraging the governor to deliver the $20 Million to the governor's public appearance at the school's annual commencement.
In the May 9th e-mail, Breuder wrote:
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?
And indeed, at the commencement, following Quinn's speech, Dr. Brueder reportedly told the audience, “We thank the Governor for all that he has done and we look forward to working with him and I know he will continue to provide the leadership that we look forward to having from a governor."
The whole controversy came to light when a transparency group requested Brueder's COD emails from May 4th to May 19th, 2014. Adam Andrzejewski, CEO of "For the Good of Illinois" said Breuder's email revealed unethical behavior on Dr. Breuder's part. He encouraged the trustees to re-assume their authority.
“The COD trustees have the next move in this scandal. Are they going to tolerate unethical behavior from their President? Has Dr. Breuder demonstrated the fitness to continue to serve as COD President?” Andrzejewski said.
“$50 million building projects shouldn’t be fast tracked based on political calculations and schemes. Trustees must start exerting their duty of oversight and furiously resist a public executive acting in an unethical manner. Only COD trustee Kathy Hamilton battled this project and scheme.”
Brueder's strategy email pointed out three ways to “spend” a $20 million state grant: 1. on a Teaching and Learning Center, 2. other buildings like a student center or P.E. facility, or 3. to bank the money and decide later.
"But in the end, further emails shows that political calculations were driving the decision to spend $50 million on the Learning Center," Andrzejewski said. "That’s not a style of leadership conducive to good fiscal stewardship.
“The COD trustees quite obviously have a President whose leadership style and public actions are very troubling. The trustees need to reassert control of school governance.”