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Case Study 4.2 Unit Four – Dinner and Drinks are on the College – College of DuPage

Case Study 4.2 Unit Four – Dinner and Drinks are on the College – College of DuPage

Like many community colleges across the country, the College of DuPage in
suburban Chicago has a culinary arts program that prepares students to work as
chefs and managers at fine dining establishments and commercial foodservice
companies. Perhaps less common, however, was a decision by DuPage’s former
president to construct a $25 million culinaryand hospitality center including the 130-
seat high-end Waterleaf restaurant. Opened in October 2011, Waterleaf
accumulated losses in excess of $2 million according to a Chicago Tribune
investigation.
The Tribune also revealed that DuPage senior administrators and board members
ran up tabs of more than $350,000 in food and alcohol at Waterleaf, in many cases
with little or no documentation of who was present and for what purposes. It is
reasonable to expect that some of the extravagant meals may have been organized
to acquaint prospective donors with the college (not uncommon in fundraising efforts
at institutions of higher education), but therewas insufficient recordkeeping to
explain the actions of senior administrators.
The future of Waterleaf was unclear at the time of initial reports of the lavish
expenses; however, the president associated with its establishment and
questionable use was placed on paid administrative leave according to a May 2015
report in Community College Week. DuPage trustees voted to prevent Robert
Breuder from exercising his duties and ordered him to return his keys, computers
and other college-owned property. Despite this suspension of his responsibilities
Breuder was scheduled to be compensated $485,000 that year and was due to
receive a severance package worth $763,000 in 2016. Woodhouse reported in
Inside Higher Ed (2015, October) that the Illinois State Legislature has taken note of
severance packages to be received by Breuder and other highly-compensated
college and university presidents, and haspassed legislation to restrict extravagant,
multi-year payouts.
Meanwhile, in the years since the state took action to limit severance packages,
Breuder sued CoD and the college subsequently filed a countersuit for $25 million.
As litigation continued, both sides claim to have taken the ethical high road.


Questions:
1. Based on your reading of the Tribune articles and Unit Four readings (Ethics in
Leadership), in what context might the actions of DuPage’s former president
have been defensible? As you contemplate your response, keep in mind you
are not being asked to rationalize or condone actions you consider unethical.
The challenge here is to offer possible explanations for why Breuder considered
his actions to be reasonable, if not in the best interest of DuPage.
2. Based on your research of the actions taken by CoD after Breuder’s departure,
which ones do you think were most effective in restoring public trust?