Chapdelaine’s use of N.J. funds questioned

n Former college charged for 1997 airline flights to O’Hare while RVC issues checks

In 1997, Rock Valley College (RVC) President Roland Chapdelaine charged $770 to his former college’s credit card for three round-trip airline tickets from Philadelphia to O’Hare Airport at the same time he was being considered for his current RVC position. RVC also issued Chapdelaine two checks during the same period totaling $2,107.53 for his recruitment to RVC.

Documents show Chapdelaine charged Cumberland County College for two July 17, 1997, airline tickets to O’Hare, the day after he secured the RVC presidency on July 16, 1997. Chapdelaine charged $612 to Cumberland County College for tickets and flight insurance for himself and his wife on July 17, 1997.

“Chapdelaine…announced his resignation in a statement late Thursday [July 17, 1997, from Cumberland County College],” reads the July 18, 1997 issue of The Press of Atlantic City (N. J.).

Chapdelaine was president of Cumberland County College in Vineland, N.J., from 1989 to1997. Chapdelaine took the helm as RVC’s president in November 1997, after former RVC President Karl Jacobs retired Oct. 31, 1997. Jacobs was president from 1969 to 1997.

According to RVC Board of Trustees reports, the first RVC check to Chapdelaine was $636.37 issued in June 1997 for “Recruitment-Pres Search.” The second RVC check to Chapdelaine was $1,471.16 issued in July 1997 for “Recruitment-Interview.”

According to Cumberland County College documents, Chapdelaine’s first airline charge to Cumberland County was Friday, May 23, 1997, for himself for a $144 round-trip flight from Philadelphia to O’Hare. Chapdelaine also bought flight insurance for $14.

The Rock River Times attempted to obtain all of Chapdelaine’s Cumberland County contracts and expense accounts since 1989. However, Dorthy Zila, Cumberland County College’s director of purchasing and custodian of government records, said most of Chapdelaine’s documents had been “destroyed” or were “unavailable.”

Zila submitted contracts from 1993 to 1997 and expense account documents from July 1995 to October 1997.

A Thursday, May 22, 1997, memorandum written by Randy Schaefer, chair of RVC’s presidential search committee, suggests Chapdelaine knew he was one of five finalists. The memorandum was directed to other members of the search committee and reads: “I encourage you to read the applications of the finalists…A schedule of interviews is also included—note we are down to five candidates,” Schaefer wrote.

Schaefer is currently a member of the RVC board.

RVC documents and members of the search committee indicated Chapdelaine interviewed for the presidency at the Clock Tower Resort on Monday, June 2, 1997.

Chapdelaine also participated in an “open forum” at RVC on Friday, June 13, 1997.

RVC Board of Trustees’ Monday, June 16, 1997, report shows RVC faculty “unanimously” endorsed Dr. Ron D. Wright for the presidency rather than Chapdelaine. The search committee ultimately rejected the faculty’s endorsement. The search committee consisted of 18 people—two trustees, 10 employees and six community members.

Wright is currently president of Cincinnati State Technology and Community College in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The June 16, 1997, RVC trustee report also reads, “there is a contingent going out this week to check out the campuses of the three finalists in the presidential search.”

At the time Chapdelaine charged the airline expenses to Cumberland County College, Ron Casella was the college’s board chairman. Casella is presently Cumberland County’s prosecutor.

Cumberland County College sociology Professor Frank Phillips said “they [Casella and Chapdelaine] had a good working relationship.”

Paul Krivonak, a retired Cumberland County College professor, echoed Phillips by saying, “They presented a united front to the public, but I really wasn’t that close to say what type of social relationship they had.”

Casella was faxed the Cumberland County documents last Wednesday and again Friday, along with questions. The questions asked if Casella might investigate misuse of public funds by Chapdelaine. Casella’s receptionist said Monday: ”He’s [Casella] not granting any interviews concerning this subject, and there was no wrongdoing in New Jersey.”

Chapdelaine was also sent a list of questions last Friday concerning these issues. Mike Robinson, RVC’s public relations director, said he received the questions and submitted them to Chapdelaine last Friday. Chapdelaine did not respond by the time of publication.

RVC Board Chairman Chris Johnson was given copies of the Cumberland County College and RVC documents last week. Johnson said he asked Chuck Kostantacos, RVC’s board attorney, to verify the information. “We’re taking the information seriously that was supplied, and we need to take the time to verify the information,” Johnson said. Johnson would not speculate on the board’s action, should Kostantacos verify the information in the documents.

The July 18, 1997, issue of the Rockford Register Star reported that Chapdelaine also received from RVC “moving expenses, a guaranteed price on his house sale in New Jersey and assistance finding employment for his wife.”

Chapdelaine later used RVC money twice for political donations to Illinois State Rep. Dave Winters (R-69). See The Rock River Times’ Jan. 22, 2003, articles, “RVC leaders may be investigated” and Sept. 3, 2003, ‘No Confidence’ in RVC’s Chapdelaine.”

Again, Mike Robinison, RVC’s public relations director, and Chapdelaine did not reply to faxes or return phone calls concerning this article. Faxes and/or phone calls were made to both officials on Friday, Monday and Tuesday. Also, The Rock River Times Editor and Publisher Frank Schier personally called both officials on Tuesday at press time, and they did not reply.


n 1989—Chapdelaine becomes president of Cumberland County College in Vineland, N. J. RVC documents indicate Chapdelaine was previously vice president of

Mohave Community College in Kingman, Ariz., from 1986 to 1989.

n Thursday, May 22, 1997—RVC board member Randy Schaefer’s memorandum to RVC presidential search committee members about the five finalists is issued. Chapdelaine is one of the finalists.

n Friday, May 23, 1997—Chapdelaine charged Cumberland County $158 for a round-trip flight from Philadelphia to O’ Hare.

n Monday, June 2, 1997—Chapdelaine interviewed for the RVC presidency at the Clock Tower Resort.

n Friday, June 13, 1997—Chapdelaine participated in an “open forum” at RVC.

n Monday, June 16, 1997—RVC Board of Trustees’ report reads “there is a contingent going out this week to check out the campuses of the three finalists

in the presidential search.”

n June 1997—RVC claim sheets for June 1 to June 30, 1997, show Chapdelaine was paid $636.37 by RVC for “Recruitment-Pres Search” (check 0071178).

n July 1997—RVC claim sheets for July 1 to July 31, 1997, show Chapdelaine was paid $1,471.16 by RVC for “Recruitment-Interview” (check 0071371).

n Wednesday, July 16, 1997—RVC Board of Trustees report shows “a motion to make an offer of presidency to Dr. Roland J. Chapdelaine…Following the close of the meeting, a call was placed to Dr. Chapdelaine. A press conference followed.”

n Thursday, July 17, 1997—Cumberland County documents show Chapdelaine charged Cumberland $612 for two round-trip flights from Philadelphia to O’ Hare for himself and his wife. The Friday, July 18, 1997, edition of The Press of Atlantic City reads, “Chapdelaine…announced his resignation in a statement late Thursday [July 17].”

n Friday, July 18, 1997—The Press of Atlantic City reports Chapdelaine’s announcement of his resignation from Cumberland County College.

n November 1997—Chapdelaine becomes RVC’s president.

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