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College of DuPage to proceed with teaching facility despite leaked email, loss of $20M in state funds

Published: Wednesday, July 23, 2014 5:54 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:35 a.m. CDT

GLEN ELLYN – Despite recent controversy, the College of DuPage will move forward with plans to build a teaching and learning center with reserve funds.

College officials have announced they will pursue a scaled-back version of the original plan.

In June, the Board of Trustees approved spending $30 million in reserves on a new building and anticipated receiving $20 million from the state. The building was reportedly needed because classrooms were up to 90 percent capacity during "peak hours," which the board defined as being between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The proposed teaching and learning center was expected to be 75,000 to 100,000 square feet, including a large number of 35-seat classrooms, a few 25-seat classrooms, two 50-seat science classrooms, four 25-seat computer classrooms, two 25-seat computer labs, offices of two associate deans and 15 faculty members, an adjunct faculty work center, a student commons area, a multi-purpose room and a food option, according to board documents. That facility would have cost $50 million to build.

The governor's office announced the $20 million in state funds would be withheld after an email from college President Robert Breuder was leaked. Breuder has contacted the governor's office to clarify why the $20 million is being withheld. An in-house and an independent audit both cleared the college of any mismanagement of state funds.

The email reflected negatively on Breuder in the eyes of many taxpayers and suggested the college may not have a concrete plan in place for a building. But Vice President of Marketing and Communication Joe Moore said there have been plans for a teaching and learning facility for several years.

In 2002, the state announced the College of DuPage would receive $25 million in funds for demolition of temporary buildings. That money was not placed into the state budget until 2010. Since then, the college has received $5 million.

Two years ago, the college submitted to the state a Resource Allocation and Management Plan, which is required for state-funded capital projects. That document lists a line item of "advanced learning and instructional center," which requested $23.8 million in state funds, coupled with $7.9 million in local funds.

"The teaching and learning center wasn't fabricated last month," Moore said.

He said the administration plans to proceed with the teaching and learning center using a $30 million price tag.

There are no education specifications in place for what the building would look like, Moore said. But they will continue talking with the governor's office to see if the $20 million can still be allocated.

"If that money should appear, it would most likely go toward the teaching and learning center," Moore said.

Board Chairwoman Erin Birt echoed Moore's comments, saying that – pending board approval – they anticipate moving forward with a $30 million building plan.

Birt said the board has not considered alternative funding sources for the building, as opposed to entirely using reserve funds, but would look into it.

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