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Pacesetter of the Year
Dr. Robert L. Breuder
College of DuPage
Glen Ellyn, Illinois
Dr. Robert L. Breuder’s four-year tenure as president of the College of DuPage (COD) has been described as the most dynamic period of the college's history. A colleague says that Dr. Breuder has “taken an already great institution to a higher level” and calls the transformation of the school “nothing short of amazing.”
Since Dr. Breuder’s arrival at COD in January 2009, marketing and communications have taken center stage. Prior to that, telling the COD story was not an institutional priority. Within the first few months of his presidency, Dr. Breuder created cabinet positions to oversee marketing, media relations and community relations. The goal was to ensure that Chicago-area citizens knew COD as a world-class institution at their disposal and worthy of their support.
Dr. Breuder has championed both new and traditional marketing practices at COD. A self-acknowledged “non-techie,” he understands the importance of an engaging, well-organized and user-friendly website. He supported the complete redesign of COD’s website, including a mobile version. Dr. Breuder also oversaw the creation of “impact,” COD’s district-wide magazine that focuses on the countless educational, cultural and community services the college provides to the region. In addition, he instituted a yearlong examination of the college’s customer service practices, which led to a plan for enhancing the complete student experience at COD. He also encouraged an overall update of the college’s marketing practices – including moving away from general advertising to creative direct marketing, Web marketing and social media. The college now has a comprehensive presence on Facebook, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Laurie Jorgensen, director of marketing and creative services, appreciates Dr. Breuder's forward-thinking approach: “As a marketer it is a blessing to have such a phenomenal product to promote, and yet another to have the support of such a visionary leader. Dr. Breuder understands how critical marketing is to the success of College of DuPage now and in the future.”
Dr. Breuder’s tenure is marked with many other notable milestones.
He enhanced the college’s financial position and increased its reserves by more than $46.5 million. This increase was achieved during a $550 million construction and renovation project -- the largest in the college’s 45-year history. Slated for completion in 2016, the project will improve more than 2 million square feet of educational space, including a brand-new culinary and hospitality center, a homeland security education center, a student services center, a simulated hospital lab and the only operational CAT scan machine in the nation on a community college campus.
Working with administrators, Dr. Breuder helped develop 49 new programs and certificates, as well as 21 program accreditations. He also oversaw the development of innovative “3+1” partnerships with area universities that allow COD students to complete all work toward 13 bachelor degree programs on the COD campus.
COD has enjoyed overwhelming support from the community. It received the 2012 Annual Award for Business Excellence from the Daily Herald Business Ledger and is the first community college to receive the Governor’s Award for Excellence in Education from the Illinois Department of Veteran’s Affairs. In addition, Dr. Breuder’s efforts helped secure passage of a $168 million capital referendum during a particularly tough election cycle. And after he refocused the College of DuPage Foundation, it doubled the amount raised in nearly every other year of its 45-year history.
Dr. Breuder earned his doctorate in higher education administration from Florida State University in 1972 and began his career as an instructor of botany at Paul Smith’s College in New York. At the age of 36, he was named president at Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pa., and was the youngest community college president in the nation at the time. Before arriving at College of DuPage, he had served as president of William Rainey Harper College in Palatine, Ill., for 11 years.