*EDITOR’S NOTE: Candidates submitted their own biographies
I am a founding partner of Andreou & Casson, Ltd. in Chicago, Illinois and have been practicing law since 1993. I primarily practice in the areas Commercial Litigation, Constitutional Litigation and Employment Litigation. Professionally, I have been honored to represent non-profit organizations, charities, educational institutions and religious organizations during my career. I, like many of the Triton College graduates, benefitted from the experience and opportunity for academic growth offered by our community colleges. I attended Illinois Wesleyan University where I played football, and am a graduate of DePaul University of Chicago and Valparaiso University School of Law. I am a member of the United States Supreme Court Bar, Seventh Circuit Bar Association, Illinois State Bar Association, Chicago Bar Association and the Calumet Inns of Court.
I have been a volunteer and supporter for several local charities, including Hephzibah Children’s Association and Oak Park Area Food Bank, a board member for WonderWorks Children’s Museum, the Oak Park and River Forest Historical Society, St. Giles Parish, the Democratic Party of Oak Park, and the Oak Park Cycle Club.
I served on the Triton College Foundation Board from May, 2012, to 2015 and served as its Secretary and to its Governance and Hiring subcommittees. I have also served the Board of Trustees for Triton College as a member of the Finance Committee from May, 2014 to April, 2015. For the past 20 years, I have resided in Oak Park, Illinois with my family.
What is your understanding of the role of a board trustee?
The role of a board trustee is two-fold: the first being defined by the law and function, and the second being defined by the needs of the community. The role of a trustee for the Board of Trustees for Community College District 504 is to identify, assess and develop policy for Triton College which supports the mission of the College, its students, the community, faculty and staff.
While the functions of a trustee are defined by Illinois law, the Board is guided by the mandates of accreditation authorities relating to the most effective methods of governance. As a separate taxing authority, the Board of Trustees also serve as caretakers of public funds. As trustee, I find that this role is of primary importance in fashioning policies which are balance the needs of students we serve and the financial health of the Triton community. It is with this in mind that, as trustee, I have supported and advocated for expansion of curricula which addresses the needs of the students, such as the implementation of the Math Lab, to increase college readiness. Another initiative I have supported has been the continued redevelopment of the physical plant of the College balanced with the preservation of faculty positions necessary to remain a viable option for our students.
A board trustee also serves as a community representative. Triton College serves a large geographic, economic and culturally diverse community from Oak Park to Berkley, and Rosemont to Maywood to Westchester and beyond. I view the role of a Trustee as one requiring consideration of the higher educational needs of the whole community. It has been my particular focus to find solutions for students who require assistance to bridge the gap in educational opportunity, financial wherewithal, and academic success. In doing so, I have supported and driven curriculum improvements in Math, English and English as a Second Language (ESL). I am particularly proud of the College’s successes in the implementation of the Math Lab, which has dramatically improved student success in transferable math skills, our partnerships with union and employers for workforce development, and the commitment of our faculty and staff in adapting the learning environment for the benefit of our students.
Do you believe that Triton College adequately serves the needs of its Black, Brown and otherwise disadvantaged students? Please explain.
Triton College serves a diverse racial and ethnic population and is committed to serving the whole community as well as the whole student. Whether through the extension of the tutoring program or the investments in the Math Lab, Triton has been committed to addressing the needs of its BIPOC student body.
Does the Triton College administration have a healthy relationship with its various bargaining units? Please explain.
Currently, the College maintains fully implemented contracts with all of its bargaining units. Triton currently enjoys a collaborative relationship with the individual staff, professional and support union members. In fact, I have been endorsed by several unions, including our own IUOE Local 399.
Is a Triton College education affordable? Please explain.
The education Triton College has offered its students over the last 6 years has been one of the most affordable among Community Colleges in the State of Illinois, in both educational and financial terms. The cost of education at Triton has remained among the most competitive in Illinois at $133 per credit hour, representing an average tuition increase of 3% over the last 5 years. The Triton College Board has held the line on increasing tuition rates
Triton College offers a curriculum which is not only affordable but among the most competitive in the region. Currently, Triton offers classes to its students in a wide range of subject areas, has institutional partner agreements with the University of Illinois, UIC, Dominican University, Concordia College, Benedictine University, Elmhurst College, to name a few. These partnerships allow our students to achieve their dreams of educational success, many first- time college students in their families. The education and affordability of Triton allows our students to afford and matriculate from these, and many other, prestigious colleges and universities across the country.
Additionally, Triton has partnered with labor unions and employers to develop workforce needs in skilled trades and professions. Currently, Triton College has initiated a partnership with Hire360 to provide training in a variety of trades at an affordable price for students who can then move directly into a skilled trade.
Is Triton College sufficiently engaged with its feeder communities? Please explain.
Triton College is more than sufficiently engaged within the district communities—it has been a draw for local residents and students. From college fairs at each feeder high school, to elementary school visits to the Cernan Space Center, to local high schools competing on Triton College fields and facilities, Triton has become a staple for the district. Even given the challenges to graduation and matriculation of rising college freshman last year, Triton serves as a lifeline for a growing number of students who intended to move on to four-year institutions, but were suddenly felled by the ravages of the COVID pandemic. Triton offered those students a real option to continue with their education at an affordable price without the risk losing ground academically.
In addition, the Triton College campus was chosen as a community mass vaccination site principally for the quality of the facilities, the space the College could afford such a massive undertaking, and skilled administrative and operations staff who could implement the needs of the Cook County Department of Public Health. The strength and reputation of the College’s nursing program, long a jewel among the Triton College curriculum offerings, was a driving factor in the selection of Triton. Again, this was achieved largely because of the College’s continuing strides in community outreach within the district.
Does the college have adequate COVID-19 mitigations and protocols in place? Please explain.
From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, life has been a challenge for all of us. Education has been uniquely impacted by its effects, however. The challenges in providing an educational environment which is both substantive and safe is difficult on its best days, impossible in its worst. The education Triton provides to many of its students is often critical to a student’s employment prospects, ability to earn a living and future aspirations. It is with these mission-critical elements that Triton College has embarked on a process to make the learning environment accessible, productive and safe.
With this in mind, the College has implemented a set of protocols, processes and sanitization designed to maximize safety for students, faculty and staff.