Day 20 Talent Abounds

Drop Out

It’s the weekend and I feel like walking down memory lane today. Of course I have a stack of online assignments to grade, but for now, let’s take a step back. College of DuPage boasts a remarkable group of alumni including Olympians, NFL players, animal rights activists, actors and comedians.  But one of the most notable students I often heard about was John Belushi, the actor made famous for movies like “Animal House,” “Blues Brothers,” and his memorable and comedic role as a cast member of the television late night classic show, “Saturday Night Live.”

John and his brother Jim both attended COD.  They grew up in Wheaton.  John dropped out of the University of Wisconsin after his first year.  Apparently he was having problems with discipline and attending class.  He transferred to COD in the late ’60s.

My former colleague, Mary Daly, was John’s English professor.  Mary was a powerhouse in our department.  I first met her in 1994 when I started at COD as a new full-time faculty member. She frequently wore a navy blue skirt and white starched shirts to school.  Mary meant business. She commanded attention when she walked into the room.  Back then we worked together in an area called The Center for Independent Learning where students had individualized appointments with faculty in a variety of classes.  Mary would sit poised at one of the long tables in the middle of the room, waiting for her students to arrive.  Students made appointments to review their writing assignments and Mary held nothing back.  If a student was more than 30 seconds late she would yell, “Did you come to see me today?  Well . . . you’re late!  Don’t you own a watch?”  She would wave their papers in the air and bellow, “Do you really want me to read this?  It’s crap.  Go back and look at it.  I won’t accept it.”  And a few moments later her voice would soften and she would say, “Okay, listen . . . it needs revision here in the third paragraph.  Let me help you.”

I can only imagine what a pair Mary and John made in the classroom.  A teacher-student relationship involves trust, a positive attitude and motivation to learn.  Was John anything like his movie character Bluto, the college fraternity brother who wreaked havoc in the 1978 “Animal House” feature film?  Did he pay attention in class?  Did he ask questions?  How did Mary spark his interest in writing and reading literature?  And would a different relationship transpire if John was an online student?  What would that relationship look like?  Unfortunately both Mary and John were taken too soon.  Mary died in a house fire at the age of 65 and John died of a drug overdose at 33 years old. They both lived large.

Jim Belushi also attended COD and graduated in 1974 before transferring to Southern Illinois University and beginning a successful movie and television career. In fact, the performance hall at COD’s McAninch Arts Center was renamed after the Belushi brothers.

More history about COD can be found on our website:

On Sept. 25, 1967, College of DuPage opened under the leadership of President Rodney K. Berg and Board of Trustees Chairman George L. Seaton. Classes were held in office trailers and at leased suburban sites throughout the newly formed Community College District 502. Driving from class to class, the students, faculty and staff of this “campus-less” community college became affectionately known as road runners, hence the school’s nickname, “Chaparrals.”
College of DuPage’s origins can be traced to two signature events. First was the Illinois General Assembly adoption of the Public Community College Act of 1965. Second was the approval by DuPage high school district voters of a 1965 referendum. Their foresight created a new community college to serve the dynamically growing and prospering DuPage area.
In 1968, a 273-acre Glen Ellyn campus site was acquired, and a year later, three interim buildings were constructed west of Lambert Road. The first permanent building, today’s Berg Instructional Center, opened in 1973. Four years later, the top floor of the BIC was completed. The year 1979 marked the appointment of Harold D. McAninch as College of DuPage’s second president, and in 1983 the Student Resource Center (SRC) and Physical Education and Community Recreation Center opened.
Over the next decade, the McAninch Arts Center (1986) and Seaton Computing Center (1990) opened on campus, while new Naperville and Westmont centers (1991) offered an even greater regional presence.
Michael T. Murphy became College of DuPage’s third president in 1994. Under President Murphy, College of DuPage became America’s largest single-campus community college, a distinction it held through 2003. Today, with more than 26,000 students, College of DuPage is the largest community college in Illinois and third largest among the state’s public colleges and universities.
Capping the 2002 academic year, voters approved a $183-million bond issue that provided funds for the renovation and rebuilding of the Glen Ellyn campus and several off-campus locations.
The arrival of the College’s fourth president, Dr. Sunil Chand, and the opening of the College’s expanded Bloomingdale Center highlighted 2003. Throughout 2004 and 2005, Chand launched major initiatives for the College’s academic accreditation through the AQIP quality improvement process and curriculum conversion from quarters to semesters that officially began with the fall 2005 semester.
College of DuPage opened its Carol Stream Community Education Center in 2004 and West Chicago Community Education Center in 2005. The year 2006 brought the Frontier Campus in Naperville, a collaboration between College of DuPage and Indian Prairie District 204. Year 2007 included completion of the Early Childhood Center, along with construction of efficient new campus roadways and revamped parking lots.
College of DuPage in 2008 received a maximum seven-year reaccreditation through the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Institutions of Higher Education.
Dr. Robert L. Breuder took over for Interim President Harold McAninch in January 2009, and that summer both the Health and Science Center and Technical Education Center opened on the Glen Ellyn campus. Construction and other physical improvements, including landscaping and signage, intensified under Dr. Breuder’s leadership, boosted in November 2010 when District 502 voters approved a $168-million capital referendum initiative.
Funds from the 2002 referendum have been used for construction of the Robert J. Miller Homeland Security Education Center, the Student Services Center and the Culinary & Hospitality Center. The 2010 referendum supported the renovation of the Student Resource Center, the Seaton Computing Center, the McAninch Arts Center, the Campus Maintenance Center and the Physical Education Center. Under Dr. Breuder’s leadership, the College realized several major outcomes, including significant semester-to-semester enrollment increases, the addition of approximately 50 new academic programs, and the creation of the 3+1 degree program that allows students to earn an entire bachelor’s degree with a partner university without leaving the COD campus.
On April 30, 2015, Executive Vice President Joseph E. Collins, Ph.D., was selected by the Board of Trustees to serve as Acting Interim President.

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