Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasn’t kidding when he talked about breathing new life into boards overseeing education, public safety and housing. He’s getting out the broom again — this time at the City Colleges of Chicago.
Emanuel is appointing four new members to a seven-member board he hand-picked to boost graduation rates and preside over a colleges-to-career makeover that prepares students for jobs in emerging industries.
Leaving the board isa clout-heavy group: Paula Wolff, former president of Governors State University; Ellen Alberding, president of the Joyce Foundation; Everett Rand, perennial airport contractor; and Larry Rogers Sr., an attorney whose son and namesake serves on the Board of Review.
Chairing the revamped board will be Dr. Charles Middleton, retiring president of Roosevelt University. During Middleton’s 13-year tenure, Roosevelt made the transition from a commuter school serving mostly part-time adult students to what City Hall calls a full-time university with “traditional-age” students.
The number of “full-time equivalent” students at Roosevelt rose by 16 percent during the past decade.
Middleton will be joined by Gary Gardner, president and co-founder of private equity firm PFG LLC. Gardner is a former president of Soft-Sheen Products and a co-founder of Namaste Laboratories, the nation’s largest minority-owned hair-care company.
Bringing financial expertise to the new board is Sandy Goldman, senior portfolio manager at Front Barnett Associates. Goldman’s resume includes a 22-year stint as partner and investment committee chairman at Stein Roe & Farnham.
Goldman has contributed $35,300 to Emanuel’s mayoral campaigns and $9,250 to the political campaigns of Forrest Claypool, the mayor’s new chief-of-staff.
The new City Colleges board member has also contributed $14,500 to campaign committees controlled by Ald. Edward Burke (14th), chairman of the City Council’s Finance Committee and $2,000 to Burke’s wife, Il. Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke.
Goldman was a reliable contributor to former Mayor Richard M. Daley as well.
Rounding out the mayor’s new majority is Karen Kent, president of Unite Here Local 1 representing 15,000 hospitality workers.
During the mayor’s winning re-election campaign, Unite Here Local 1 unveiled a six-figure advertising campaign with the slogan, “Rahm Love.”
The campaign included “Rahm Love” buttons and T-shirts and three television commercials featuring African-American airport and hotel employees touting Emanuel as their political champion.
Veteran board members Clarisol Duque and Marisela Lawson are being re-appointed. The Rev. Darrell Griffin will continue to serve, along with student trustee Eliana Blancas.
“I am grateful for the tireless service of the departing four board members who helped implement our City College reinvention efforts that have resulted in a doubling of the graduation rate and significantly increased job placement for our students,” Emanuel said in a news release.
“Our City Colleges will benefit from the knowledge and experience that these four new trustees bring to the board. These new trustees will support the outstanding leadership of Chancellor Cheryl Hyman, who will continue to serve as she has done admirably for five years, making CCC a national model for education and work force development reform.”
Emanuel considers the colleges-to-careers makeover of City Colleges such a cornerstone of his education agenda that he made Hyman the star of one of his earliest campaign commercials.
The mayor has unveiled plans to build a new $251 million Malcolm X College to train students for careers in health care and a $42.2 million transportation, distribution and logistics center at Olive Harvey College.
He’s also offered free City Colleges tuition to Chicago Public School high school students who graduate with at least a B average, and he persuaded five technology giants to join forces with CPS and City Colleges to open six-year public high schools that allow students to graduate with an associate’s degree.
Emanuel telegraphed his decision to sweep out the oldboard during an hourlong interview with the Chicago Sun-Times that preceded his second inauguration.
“I’m thinking about all of the boards. Not just [the school board]. . . . Who’s got the energy? Who’s got the drive to stay doing this? And if you don’t, be honest with me. Not CPS alone. I’m looking at every educational, every public safety [board]. I’m looking at housing. You’ll be hearing more in short order,” he said on that day.
The mayor got the ball rolling on the board housecleaning by choosingformer federal prosecutor Lori Lightfoot to chair a Police Board with a history of overturning the superintendent’s recommendations to fire wayward officers.
Earlier this week, Emanuel replaced four of seven members on a Chicago Board of Education who approved and defended the $20.5 million no-bid principal training contract at the center of a federal investigation with a company that once employed former Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett.