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College of DuPage board votes to censure trustee

Kathy Hamilton
Kathy Hamilton

GLEN ELLYN – The College of DuPage Board of Trustees voted Thursday to censure a trustee because of her actions after an email from the college president leaked.

The censure of Vice Chairman Kathy Hamilton passed by a 5-2 vote, with Hamilton and trustee Kim Savage voting against it. Trustee Nancy Svoboda abstained.

A censure has no actual ramifications, but serves as an expression of disapproval of Hamilton by the other board members.

According to the resolution for censure, which was read into the record by Chairwoman Erin Birt, Hamilton was censured because of "inappropriate and embarrassing conduct."

The action came as a result of comments Hamilton made after an email from college President Robert Breuder was leaked to the public. In the email, Breuder requested board members publicly support an initiative for a teaching and learning center in an effort to free up $20 million that had been promised to the college by the state, but not delivered.

The governor's office announced it would withhold the $20 million after the email became public.

Among the things Hamilton is accused of doing in the resolution is speaking to members of the media instead of board members about her disagreement with the teaching and learning center plans. Hamilton was the only trustee to vote at the board's June meeting against spending $30 million in reserve funds to build the center.

While Birt said Hamilton could speak to the media as a member of the public, she could not "misstate the action the board has taken."

Birt also said Hamilton had been disrespectful by texting during meetings, making rude and intimidating statements to other board members and failing to read an agenda prior to agenda planning meetings.

Hamilton disagreed with the resolution, calling it "slanted."

"This censure represents a tremendous need for reform on this board," Hamilton said. "We are not in touch with the taxpayers, what they want."

Hamilton said she has no intention of stopping her fight against tuition or property tax increases.

She also said she did not have a copy of the resolution more than 48 hours in advance of Thursday's meeting, which she stated was a violation of open meeting laws.

Hamilton's attorney, Dan Kinsella, introduced himself to board attorney Respicio Vasquez during a meeting recess Thursday, saying, "We'll be seeing each other in court."

Trustee Savage, who voted against the censure, said she wanted to see the board work together.

"A foundation of trust within the board does not exist," she said.

The whole meeting lasted almost five hours and the board took several recesses during the censure process, at one point drawing chants of "Shame on you!" from the crowd.

Members of the public in attendance came to Hamilton's defense throughout the evening, providing more than an hour of public comment on the issue.

Morton West High School history teacher Richard Skoda said he was "very saddened" by the actions of the board.

Board documents indicated a trustee would be censured Thursday, but did not say whom. Skoda contended the vote would be illegal because members of the public did not get a chance to review the resolution prior to the meeting.

That was also troubling to Darien resident Roger Kempa. He called the president's office and the communications office Thursday morning in an attempt to find out who was being censured and why. Both offices told him they did not know, he said.

"What it has become sickens me," Kempa said of the college's decision to have a censure vote.

Glen Ellyn resident Randy Given said he was surprised by the fact a censure even happened. He expected the board to be professional and work together.

"We have a meeting that's lasted over four hours and you've spent most of it dealing with your bruised egos," he said.

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