Politics & Policy

This College’s Strategy: Get the Money, Figure out How to Spend It

Despite high tuition and loan default, this college deliberately wastes taxpayer dollars.

The president of the College of DuPage (COD) in Glen Ellyn, Ill., is trying to secure $20 million in state tax money for — well, it doesn’t matter really, as long as it’s “politically attractive.”

An email from the community college’s president, Robert Breuder, to the Board of Trustees outlines his plan for acquiring the money from the Illinois governor’s office. Adam Andrzejewski, the founder of OpenTheBooks.com and watchdog organization For The Good of Illinois, worked to expose the school for its political strategy of lavish spending, excessive building expansion, inflated presidential compensation, and tuition spikes. He describes the results in an article in Forbes.

Breuder earns more than $450,000 each year including base salary, 56 paid off-days, a paid cell phone, deferred compensation, retirement annuity, and allowances. He was also reimbursed tens of thousands in fees for a shooting club.

In his email, Breuder suggested building a $50 million Teaching and Learning Center in order to coax the $20 million from the state. Several board members wanted to analyze the need for the 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,” he wrote.

To seal the deal, Breuder planned to pull a few more political strings. When introducing Illinois governor Pat Quinn at commencement, he would thank him for his commitment “in front of 3,500 people. There are many voters in our District. Please keep November 4 in mind.”

Breuder thought a learning-centered building would boost chances of receiving the money because it is “politically attractive; more so than let’s say a student center, PE facility, etc.”

The school hasn’t always been so prudent.

COD has purchased nearly $200,000 worth of wine and wine accessories since 2011 for the school’s pricey French restaurant, not including the cost of building the wine cellar. The French restaurant lost $560,000 in its first year of operation (2012).

The school also justified $600 million in construction spending by citing a small enrollment spike. The executive vice president, Joseph Collins, said the school needed a $50 million building because enrollment had grown 5 percent in five years. Documents on the college’s website indicate that enrollment has actually decreased by almost 6,000 since 2000, according to OpenTheBooks.com employee Laura Reigle.

COD already currently has $180 million in assets. Out of 39 colleges and universities in Illinois, COD had the largest tuition increases, and 20 percent of student loans defaulted within students’ first three years after graduation. COD covers expenses with local property taxes and student tuition. Area homeowners were subjected to a 59 percent tax hikes during a period when property value declined.

This college’s practices raise questions about how colleges and universities spend taxpayer dollars and high tuition. College presidents have long been criticized for high compensation. A 2003 article in the New York Times described the competition among schools to lure more students by offering superfluous and extravagant perks. The University of Houston, the University of Wisconsin in Oshkosh, Washington State University, Pennsylvania State University, and other schools indulged in excesses such as indoor batting cages, a Jacuzzi, golf simulators, and facilities for massages, manicures, and pedicures.

A Boston Globe report recently accused former Westfield State president Evan S. Dobelle of extravagant spending, including personal trips and electronic equipment and having a portrait made of himself. The report also found that he often filed false reports to hide his habits.

— Celina Durgin is a Franklin Center intern at National Review Online.

Most Popular

U.S.

In Defense of Coleman Hughes

Picture the scene: A young man walks into a congressional hearing to offer witness testimony. His grandfather was barbarically brutalized by people who are now long dead. The nation in which he resides built its wealth of his grandfather’s brutalization. The question: Should his fellow citizens pay the young ... Read More
Film & TV

Toy Story 4: A National Anthem

The Toy Story franchise is the closest thing we have to an undisputed national anthem, a popular belief that celebrates what we think we all stand for — cooperation, ingenuity, and simple values, such as perpetual hope. This fact of our infantile, desensitized culture became apparent back in 2010 when I took a ... Read More
Film & TV

Fosse/Verdon and the Dismal #MeToo Obsession

In the final episode of Fosse/Verdon, one of the two titular characters, Bob Fosse, is shooting one of the greatest films of all time. The other, Gwen Verdon, is having a quarrel with her unspeakably dull boyfriend about whether he approves of her performing in a road-show production of a Broadway musical. These ... Read More
Elections

Joe and the Segs

Joe Biden has stepped in it, good and deep. Biden, if he has any hope of ever being elected president, will be dependent on residual goodwill among African Americans from his time as Barack Obama’s loyal and deferential vice president — so deferential, in fact, that he stood aside for Herself in 2016 even ... Read More
Politics & Policy

The Madcap Caution of Donald Trump

The worry last week was that the Trump administration was ginning up fake intelligence about Iran blowing up oil tankers in the Strait of Hormuz to justify a war against Iran. Then, this week, President Donald Trump said the Iranian attacks weren’t a big deal. The episode is another indication of the ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Elizabeth Warren’s Terrible Plans

Elizabeth Warren is being lauded as the serious candidate in the race. Her motto, “I have a plan for that,” is accepted as proof that she is thoughtful and conscientious. That’s too generous. One should expect a grown-up to evaluate costs and benefits, to understand tradeoffs, and to pay for what they ... Read More
Education

College Leaders Should Learn from Oberlin

Thanks to their social-justice warrior mindset, the leaders of Oberlin College have caused an Ohio jury to hit it with $44 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a case where the school couldn't resist the urge to side with its “woke” students against a local business. College leaders should learn ... Read More