Illinois Bans Golden Parachutes for Community College Presidents: New Laws Prevent Excessive Severance Packages and Enforce Stricter Regulations

By Botelho, Stefanie | University Business, November 2015 | Go to article overview

Illinois Bans Golden Parachutes for Community College Presidents: New Laws Prevent Excessive Severance Packages and Enforce Stricter Regulations


Botelho, Stefanie, University Business


Earlier this year, former College of DuPage President Robert Breuder almost won himself a $763,000 golden parachute to leave the institution in March 2016, three years before his contract expired; that contract has since been voided by the colleges board, and the package reduced to $495,000. In an apparent response, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has signed two new laws limiting terms for community college presidents and restricting their severance packages.

The first law, House Bill 303, forbids confidentiality agreements around severance deals, as they include funds sourced from the public. House Bill 3593 limits presidential buyouts to one years salary and benefits. The latter also limits nonunion employment contracts to three years, bans automatic rollover or renewal for presidents and mandates public disclosure of contracts before approval.

In a highly competitive market, these bills could hamper community college president recruitment and retention, says Raymond D. Cotton, an attorney in Washington, D.C., who specializes in drafting and negotiating presidential contracts. "Most often colleges offer five-year contracts--now Illinois community colleges are going to be at a disadvantage," he says. "Recruiters will match their best candidates with better benefits--institutions that offer longer contracts and larger severance."

The laws also reduce the decision-making power of Illinois' community college trustees. Cotton contends that if the highest legal advisors at a college cannot make effective severance decisions, they should be replaced by more suitable trustees. …

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