It was a standing room at the Board of Trustees Meeting on Oct. 8, 2019, as this was the night that the decision whether or not to renew Lewis and Clark Community College President Dale Chapman’s contract would be made.
Many of those attending wore stickers in support of Chapman, approximately two dozen members of the Local 218 Union attended, along with many current and former students, LC staff, LC faculty, business owners, the mayor of Alton and other concerned members of the community packed the room. When the board opened up the floor for public speaking 26 people stood at the podium to have their voice heard, and all but one of those voices supported Chapman.
The first to speak was retired Madison County Judge Duane Bailey, who first held up the phone book-sized copy of the agenda above his head, asking the board to stop wasting tax dollars. He then went on to say that he doesn’t think the new board members know Roberts Rules of Order and claimed that they are violating the Open Meetings Act.
Another speaker was LC employee Dianne McDonough, who gave a statistical comparison of other community college presidents, pertaining to the new board members claim that Chapman was overpaid, and other arguments.
“I found some figures that actually speak the truth,” McDonough said. “If you take the current community college presidents within our ICCB cohort, figure in a two percent raise each year, and figure that to the length of time that Dale has been president, Dale’s salary is right in the middle. The study was done in 2016, at that time eight presidents together had a total of 34 years. Dale Chapman alone had 25 years as president, no one was even close to Dale. Their years as president were five years, two years, six years, three years, one year, three years and two at seven years. Again, Dale Chapman 25 years,” McDonough continued.
McDonough also stated that Chapman has never negotiated his contract and that he has always just signed what the board presented him, asked if they had tried to negotiate with Chapman, and that she thought Chapman would be willing to make some compromises to stay. These points and pleas were a common theme of many who decided to speak. McDonough and other speakers also pointed out that Board Chairman David Heyen pleaded guilty to income tax fraud. A case in which the prosecuting attorney was the daughter of former Chairman Bob Watson of whom Heyen unseated.
The current president of the Student Government Association and Advertising Manager of The Bridge Ashtyn Britt was also one of the 25 people to speak on behalf of Chapman.
“This school has offered many resources and opportunities unlike any other community college I have ever heard of, such as the visit of Ivanka Trump, Fareed Zakaria of CNN and recently the state supreme court …” Britt commented. “You tend to see the school as a business rather than a place of education. If you must see the school as a business, then I encourage you to remember that we as students are not your customers, we are the product that you are trying to sell to the rest of the world who partner with the school to give us access to jobs and internships.” Britt said.
Britt also gave a statistical analysis demonstrating that due to Chapman’s guidance, the college provides services to the community at a lower tax rate and a lower operating budget.
Bob Wills, the chairman of the board for the 100 Black Men of Alton, Madison County, John Keller president of the Riverbend Growth Association, local Ford dealer Sam Roberts, business manager for the Labors International Union North America Local 218 of Alton, Illinois Bob McDonald, State representative Monica Bristow who also spoke on behalf of Sen. Rachelle Crowe and Student Trustee April Tulgetske were all of the 25 community members who spoke on behalf of Chapman. McDonald also expressed concern that the board was considering not to renew the Project Labor Agreement. Later in the meeting the board would vote not to renew this agreement.
In the end, the board voted not to renew or renegotiate the contract of Chapman with a 4-3 vote. With the four votes coming from the newest members David Heyen, Julie Johnson, Kevin Rust and Chris Hanfelder. One board member who voted in favor of Chapman, Dwight Werts, made a closing comment.
“This board has always been a nonpartisan board. We left our politics at the door, and we didn’t care, nor did we ask what somebody else’s politics are. And, my only problem is that this new administration has brought politics into this board, and you can thank the Madison County Republican Party who supported them,” Werts said.
Photo caption: Students, faculty and community members stand in support of Dr. Chapman, during the BOT’s vote on whether or not to negotiate. Photo by Trevor Ayres.