Friday, September 18, 2015

Community College Poo Bah Has Personal Restaurant

By Professor Doom

     I’ve certainly pointed at the excesses of a Poo Bah at a for-profit school, and I’ve mentioned that the same can be found at a non-profit school as well. So I may as well complete the trifecta by showing that excessive Poo Bah lifestyles are to be found at publicly funded schools. As always, it seems the corruption is extreme at community colleges—the foulness at these places is due to the “top down” structure which keeps plunder first and foremost among institutional goals, made all the worse because people actually think community colleges exist to help the community.

      So, today’s school is College of DuPage, a publicly funded community college, which plunders around 29,000 students a year…isn’t it amazing that “community colleges” have grown to the size of significant towns?

      The Poo Bah, and his administrative entourage, live large, eating so high on the hogs that they have to put them on stepladders to really capture the extravagance. The hogs, not the administrators, not that there’s much difference, at the risk of offending hogs.

      Don’t believe me? Consider the food bills of the Poo Bah and his gaggle of cronies:

“…College of DuPage President Robert Breuder hosted a holiday dinner for the school's board of trustees in December 2013 at the campus' high-end restaurant, Waterleaf. The tab — $2,331 — was paid by taxpayers.
The next night, Breuder threw another holiday dinner, this time for top administrators; 18 people were there. On the bill were 18 bottles of wine, with six of them listed at $114 or more. The bill to taxpayers: $3,572, or nearly $200 per person.”

“…A month later, Breuder and his administrators toasted their accomplishments at a "recognition" event over $60 bottles of Champagne and $32 plates of crab tartlet. The check totaled $1,574, again paid by taxpayers…”

     Please note, the first two parties were on consecutive nights. Ok, these are holiday dinners, it was apparently Christmas season, and so time to party down, especially with someone else paying the bill…but there really is excess here.

      The Poo Bah and his cronies don’t eat like this all the time, right? Actually, they do:

“Indeed, hundreds of receipts from the restaurant show that, since it opened in October 2011, Breuder and senior managers at the community college have used it as their executive dining room. Records obtained by the Chicago Tribune show they have spent nearly $190,000 on close to 500 occasions…”

     As a faculty member, it’s amazing how every semester I get a threatening letter about how I must minimize travel expenses (assuming I’m granted any at all), how even a cup of coffee might be disallowed. Many community college faculty have to go to food banks to get food, while this community college Poo Bah gets his meals paid for…extremely fancy meals, at that.

     The restaurant that these plunderers enjoy is beautiful and lavishly stocked:

Waterleaf features a mahogany-accented bar area with a fireplace and a dozen lithographs by artist Richard Serra that cost $60,000. It has spent more than $250,000 to stock its wine cellar, which has won Wine Spectator's Award of Excellence. Breuder himself has been featured in the magazine.

      Hey, did the gentle reader catch the part about this being “the” campus’ high end restaurant? That’s right, this campus has its own high end restaurant. Why would a community college have a high end restaurant? Students are going to community college to save money; unlike the Poo Bah, they can’t blow $200 on a meal, much less do so a few times a week. How is this restaurant staying open on a campus that serves the poor (or at least, non-fabulously wealthy)?

“…Even though state law says that the restaurant should be self-sustaining, it has lost nearly $2 million since it opened, and is budgeted to lose more than $500,000 this fiscal year,…”

     For a student at this school, it must be wonderful to watch the tuition rise, knowing that his education money is going to support a high end restaurant that he’ll never be able to afford to eat in, that, in fact, about the only people who can eat there are those who are getting his tuition money…and I’m not talking about the faculty.

      The gentle reader needs to understand: I’m not picking on this school, any more than I’m picking on any of the other schools I highlight in this blog. These schools are typical in how they are run, the only thing that makes these schools special is the information is very public…but most every school is run like this: an untouchable administrative caste plunders, plunders, plunders its way through the student loan money.

      Bottom line, the student loan money really is going to buy car collections, mansions, jet planes, and ridiculously expensive meals for the Poo Bahs, along with huge salaries and awesome golden parachutes. It’s not going to education.

      This high end restaurant is pretty much the personal playground of the Poo Bah and his crew. How did this ridiculous boondoggle get built?

The 130-seat restaurant was Breuder's brainchild, and he has defended it as a marketing tool that brings community members to campus and wows them with a first-rate dining experience.

     That’s right: the Poo Bah said “Let there be a high end restaurant,” and so it was, never mind that it loses half a million bucks a year. That kind of money is basically a full scholarship for hundreds of community college students, every  year…but that’s thinking like an educator, and not an administrator in higher education. The whole restaurant is the Poo Bah’s personal vanity project.

     The godlike power of our Poo Bahs really is remarkable. Faculty protested this mess, of course, even gave a “no confidence” vote (which used to be a problem for administrators back when faculty had a little power in higher education)…but these guys are untouchable in their plundering.

     Hysterically, the Poo Bah says the restaurant is really a learning tool, that students (in their job training programs) can go there and learn how to run a restaurant. As is always the case when a Poo Bah speaks, he lies:

The college offers two classes — one on Mondays, one Tuesdays — teaching students to run an upscale restaurant. In all, they get 52 days during the year to cook at and manage the restaurant, said Waterleaf's general manager, Jean-Pierre Leroux.
Ted Nagengast, a student in the culinary program, took both classes. He said the experience was valuable, but he lamented the limited access for students. Only a few dozen customers go to Waterleaf on Mondays and Tuesdays, he said.

--the restaurant’s manager, by the way, is paid about 6 times as much as a typical faculty.

      Hey, I agree having students run a restaurant is an excellent idea, but this restaurant only operates for students on average one day a week over a year. I have to emphasize that, because this isn’t how it works anywhere else. Teaching hospitals and dental schools have their students working there practically nonstop. Oh wait, those are places that actually care about teaching and having successful students, whereas this community college is more about supporting the administrative caste.

     It really is stunning how this whole restaurant is just for the Poo Bah:

In all, Breuder charged more than $100,000 to his house account between October 2011 and December 2014, records show. Separately, he has reimbursed the college $833 charged to the account since 2012.

Records show Breuder sometimes eats at Waterleaf twice a day…He has had $19 duck foie gras and a $69 bottle of wine over a dinner meeting, and he has held many "agenda planning" meetings there with his senior staff, including one where they dined on lobster, scallops, rabbit and filet mignon. He has ordered pate and alcohol from the restaurant to the president's lounge...

--do the math here: feeding this guy at his personal restaurant is more expensive than having a faculty member, more like a dozen fairly paid faculty when you factor in how much money the restaurant loses. All those extra faculty would allow for smaller classes. Smaller classes would improve education. There I go again, thinking like an educator again, and cutting into this guy’s foie gras allowance, which we all know is so much more important than education at the school. It’s probably in the mission statement…

     Often, you can find news reports of insane Poo Bah pay, but I really want to point out such reports leave out the ridiculous perks, such as, in this case, a personal restaurant and an endless expense account. In addition to this perk, this Poo Bah gets paid $484,812 a year for his “service” to the school. Yes, they really do call it a service, and by “it” I mean “rapacious plundering.” I’m really just highlighting the outrages here, the article has quite a bit more.

      Luckily, the school soon won’t have this particular Poo Bah. He’s retiring in 2016, with a sweet $763,000 retirement package awarded to him by the trustees, again for his service to the community college. Incidentally, that retirement package is for 7 years of service. Does anyone honestly think creating a boondoggle losing $500,000 a year really deserves such an award? He’ll also get a building named after him. Untouchable, I say.

     Incidentally, my own retirement package, after close to 30 years of actual teaching, helping people achieve legitimate goals, will be zero. A week after I’m gone, there’ll be no sign on any campus that I was ever around. I’m not saying I deserve a golden parachute (I don’t) or that buildings should be named after me (they shouldn’t, but I’d appreciate if many campus buildings were torn down in my honor). I just don’t see why Poo Bahs get such considerations no matter how badly they fail.

      I really can’t emphasize strongly enough how the student loan money is not going to education…

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