College of DuPage President Chand ousted

No reason given for sudden ouster

  • Sunil Chand

    Sunil Chand

Published: 5/27/2008 5:42 PM | Updated: 5/27/2008 11:13 PM

In an abrupt move, College of DuPage trustees Tuesday removed President Sunil Chand from his job.

No reasons were given for the immediate separation, though the college is obligated to pay for the remainder of his contract, with a base pay of about $200,000, which expires next year.

Later in the day, a former COD president, Harold McAninch, accepted the board's offer to fill the role in an interim position.

Chand's departure is reminiscent of the scenario present before his arrival. Trustees in April 2002 accepted the resignation of former president Michael Murphy in 2003 -- though his contract expired in 2004. That final year, after he stepped down, his salary and benefits totaled $297,098. He worked as a consultant and Chand was installed as president.

Now Chand will serve in the reverse role to the incoming leader.

The relationship between the board and Chand was rocky in recent months, with two trustees going behind the backs of the president and administration to hire an outside public relations firm for $15,000 a month.

Trustee Kathy Wessel was the lone dissenter in the Tuesday vote to have Chand "transition to president emeritus immediately." She said Chand brought a rational approach during recent contract negotiations and that they were without "anger and rancor present in years past." He also formed a partnership with Benedictine University to share nursing and art programs.

"Sunil Chand being the president of the college is the best scenario," she said. "I think his vision and leadership are what the college needs. I hate to see him leave."

The board met Thursday in closed session to conduct Chand's annual performance review. Late Saturday, the board e-mailed notice of another closed session meeting early Tuesday that dealt with the vague topic of administrative contracts. Members are scheduled to meet again for a special meeting Thursday to officially appoint McAninch, after whom the college's art center is named, as interim president.

Glenn A. Hansen, the COD Faculty Association president, said the staff didn't learn of Chand's departure until Tuesday -- the first day of the summer semester.

"We're quite surprised and shocked by the timing of the announcement and lack of information that was shared," he said. "We don't know any of the details or the reason behind it."

He added: "Dr. Chand has been supportive of the faculty and renovation of the Berg Institutional Center."

Board Chairman Micheal McKinnon did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

Chand, 62, took over for Murphy July 1, 2003. Chand left his job as an executive vice president for academic and student affairs at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. He also is the former dean of Triton College in River Grove.

The board spent five months in late 2002 and early 2003 searching for a replacement for Murphy.

Former Trustee Jane Herron, who chaired the search committee, said at the time that Chand stood out because of his intelligence, personality, experience and his global view of community colleges.

But Chand's tenure was not without controversy -- at least recently. Public concerns arose earlier this year after the Daily Herald reported on a continuing education program its dean, Michael Perez, wanted to start in Costa Rica, where he was buying a retirement home. He spent about $6,000 on two trips there exploring the idea, and staying at his future residence. Chand as well as McKinnon both initially said they were in favor of exploring the out-of-country plan. The officials later said they would re-examine the plan, which has not been put back on the agenda.

And, earlier this month, McKinnon and Trustee Dave Carlin negotiated a $90,000, six-month public relations contract for the school, then presented it for a vote without asking the school's existing news bureau. Chand was not involved in the deal with Res Publica Group in Chicago because the trustees said they'd asked him -- unsuccessfully -- for action earlier.

Chand, though, said he told board members the process was delayed because a new infrastructure system was not in place to support the related changes, such as a Web site redesign.

A message left at Chand's home in Wheaton was not immediately returned. Bill Troller, the college's director of public information, said a news release will be issued today.