Open letter to RVC’s Chapdelaine

Editor’s note: The following is an open letter to Rock Valley College (RVC) President Roland Chapdelaine. Since he refuses to speak directly on the record and without restrictions to anyone from The Rock River Times, this is our only recourse. The public’s right to know stands as a principle that any member of the press must protect and promote. We urge other members of the press and those on the RVC Board of Trustees to ask Dr. Chapdelaine these questions. Dr. Chapdelaine: The RVC Board of Trustees, taxpayers, citizens, students, faculty, staff and administrators are entitled to answers to the following serious questions. 1. Did you ignore board policy and instructions concerning administrators’ promotions and transfers by assigning five dean-level employees each an $80,000 salary in June 2002, despite staff objections–an action that costs the college about $20,000 a year? 2. How many employees’ jobs could have been saved had you adhered to the board’s policy? 3. Did you communicate to the board the size of the cost overruns in the graphic arts, dental hygiene and mass communication programs you initiated—overruns that reportedly cost hundreds of thousands of dollars? 4. If so, when and by what method did you inform the board, and how much were each of the cost overruns? 5. During the second week of September, why did you ignore the board’s and your attorney’s advice that you and board members not participate in the faculty/board contract negotiations—an action that reportedly sparked the faculty’s 99 to 11 strike authorization vote? 4. Why weren’t any cabinet members and upper-level administrators terminated during last week’s layoffs of eight employees? 5. Will cabinet members and upper-level administrators be terminated as part of future layoffs? 6. Why has RVC’s yearly, inflation-adjusted legal expenses more than tripled since your presidency began in November 1997? 7. How many employees’ jobs could have been saved had the college not incurred the increased legal expenses? 8. Why did you ignore the Jan. 16, 2002, warning letter from the Northern Illinois Building Contractors Association urging you to use the competitive bidding process rather than awarding the Support Services Building’s $5.6 million construction contract to Robert Stenstrom of Stenstrom Companies, Ltd.? 9. Why did you charge Cumberland County College in New Jersey $770 for three round-trip airline flights for you and your wife from Philadelphia to O’Hare in 1997; while during the same time, you cashed $2,107.53 in RVC checks for your recruitment to RVC? 10. Beginning in 2002, you hired three outside consultants from Arkansas, Florida and Schaumburg, for which taxpayers paid a total of $40,687. RVC Board Attorney Charles Kostantacos said the “firms and individual provided services to consult with Dr. Chapdelaine…” Why were these consultants’ services necessary? 11. How much has RVC paid for consultants this year? 12. How many employees’ jobs could have been saved had the college not hired these consultants? 13. After being exposed by this newspaper for illegal use of taxpayers’ money for contributions to State Rep. Dave Winters (R-69), why did you later write: “In New Jersey, where I come from, it is permissible to make such donations,” and was not your statement called “ludicrous” by John Hagerty, communications director for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice? 14. When Suzanne Berger, RVC’s executive vice president and vice president of Institutional Advancement, later explained you never said it was permissible to use taxpayers’ money for political contributions in New Jersey, and you never used public money for political contributions in New Jersey, she implied you knew it was illegal to make such contributions. Why then did you twice use RVC taxpayers’ money to donate to Winters—once in 2000 and again in 2001? 15. During your Aug. 29 interview with WTVO-TV explaining the contributions, you implied you only made one contribution to Winters by saying, “There was one time in which I wrote a check in which I did not realize that I could not do that, forgot about it and then a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] was requested for all expense reports, and that particular piece came out. I’d forgotten about it, probably still did something I probably shouldn’t have done, but I rectified it, rectified it quickly.” Did you try to mislead Channel 17’s viewers and this community about how many contributions you made to Winters? 16. Also during your WTVO interview, you suggested The Rock River Times’ October 2002 FOIA request prompted your reimbursement of the donation. However, your written Jan. 29 response about the donation reads the reimbursement was prompted by a “routine review.” What prompted you to reimburse RVC for the Winters donation, the “routine review” or the FOIA request? 17. Did you use RVC-issued funds, credit cards or checking accounts for part or all of your daughter’s June 15, 2002, wedding reception at Mauh-Nah-Tee-See Country Club? 18. If so, when and by what method was the college reimbursed? Please provide documentation. 19. Did you ask Gary Kaatz, president and chief executive officer of Rockford Health System; Thomas Furst, president of the Furst Group; and Jay Mathur, owner of Valueideas, to place a Jan. 29 advertisement in this newspaper that read, “There is a real question of integrity here, and it is not with RVC. Rather, it’s clearly biased writing of someone with an axe to grind with the college, and who has passed off slanted, shoddy investigative reporting as proof of facts.”? 20. Considering the overwhelming “no confidence” votes of the faculty, support and professional staff of RVC, how can you effectively perform your daily duties? Again, the Board of Trustees, taxpayers, citizens, students, faculty, staff and administrators are entitled to answers to these serious questions. Your actions and silence call into question the very attributes an RVC president must possess to lead effectively. We look forward to your response.

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