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Chairman Napolitano Comments on Presidential selection process

I do want to say a few words about the Board’s role – it’s legal duty and authority – in hiring a President, because I think it helps put into the right perspective what we’ve done thus far in this search. In short, under Illinois law, the Board has the ultimate authority and responsibility in hiring a President. Sections 3-21 and 3-26 of the Illinois Public Community College Act say that “The board of community college districts shall have the duty to make appointments and fix the salaries of a chief administrative officer” That’s what our state law has to say about hiring a community college president.
The Board’s duty and authority under state law is echoed in the Policies of the College. Policy 5-5 says, in part, “The Board will appoint a president to organize and manage the institution within Board policy, and at the Board’s direction.” Policy 5-15 says, in part, “In exercising its authority to govern the College, the Board shall appoint the President, who will be the chief administrative officer of the College and the executive officer in dealing with the Board.”
What these laws and rules mean is that it’s the Board’s job to decide who to hire as the President. That duty should not – really cannot – be delegated to any other entity or any other part of the College.
In terms of a Board’s obligation to follow specific steps in selecting a President, State law does not spell out any required processes or rules. Obviously, the Board can’t discriminate against candidates on the basis of race, gender, and other protected classes of persons, but there are no other rules saying that the Board must conduct the hiring process in any particular fashion. There was and is no law saying that we were required to conduct a nationwide search, use an outside search firm, from a search committee, establish minimum qualifications for candidates, interview multiple candidates, or solicit feedback from the College community before making our selection. But even though we weren’t required to do these things, we did them. We did them because this Board is committed to the principles of sound governance and doing things the right way and because we value the opinions of the community. We’re glad we took these steps, and we’re proud of the work that’s been done in this search.

We are mindful of the public comments made at the previous meeting concerning the Board’s invitation to Dr. Caputo to re-enter the search process. We are always grateful for the well-intentioned comments of the public. But I would like to point out that, contrary to the suggestions of a few commenters, there was nothing untoward about extending this invitation to Dr. Caputo. After all, Dr. Caputo emerged as a finalist in a fair and open process well before his temporary withdrawal. Dr. Caputo has also been the Interim President for several months, and he and his work have been visible to the entire College during that time. We asked Dr. Caputo to re-enter the search process – and to participate in an open forum – based on our wish to see him continue as a finalist. That was a decision that the Board was entitled to take. Dr. Caputo agreed to re-enter the process freely, without pressure or coercion, and in full view of the public by way of an open forum identical to the open forums attended by our other two finalists.

On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I would like to sincerely thank our Presidential Search Committee for its hard work and commitment to community service. This diverse group of leaders included a 16-member team from a cross section of College of DuPage faculty and staff as well as business, legal, financial, government and education areas throughout District 502. These key stakeholders volunteered their time to present the Board with three qualified presidential candidates, each of whom possesses valuable leadership skills.

Following a thorough review and deliberative process, the Board has reached a consensus on Dr. Brian Caputo as the best fit to serve as president for College of DuPage. My fellow Board members and I thank everyone involved in this vital process, including those who participated in and provided insightful feedback on each of the candidates. We are now moving forward in working to finalize a contract with Dr. Caputo and dutifully position the largest and in my opinion, the best, community college in the state for the great future that lies ahead.

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