Large salaries, family connections questioned at Lewis & Clark Community College

GODFREY, Ill. – A husband and wife are reportedly pulling in almost $700,000 a year. The big salaries are being questioned at a small Illinois community college.

Lewis and Clark President Dr. Dale Chapman not only brings in a large salary, but he’s paid such a large sum even after retirement.

State Universities Retirement System records show he took a near $1.8 million retirement payout in 2010, then returned to work two months later. Then in 2015, his salary was featured in an Illinois Senate investigative report.

New board member David Heyen says he feels alone in his fight to fix it.

At a recent board meeting, Fox Files investigator Chris Hayes asked Dr. Chapman, “Tell me what has changed since the Illinois State Senate put you at the top of compensation for community colleges.”

“What has changed? I’m not sure what you mean by what has changed,” Chapman said.

Chapman said the senate investigative report got his compensation numbers wrong, so Fox 2 News pulled them straight from Lewis and Clark’s own tax filings. The college’s 990s list “reportable compensation” to Dr. Chapman totaling more than $1.5 million from 2014 to 2016.

Is that too much for somebody in Chapman’s position?

“Well, you know, what you’re picking up on is I’ve been president for 25 years. So there’s a longevity issue in there,” Chapman said.

Heyen fears what could happen to property taxes if the college doesn’t cut spending.

“I think if the state would regulate the president’s salary at any university, not to exceed what the governor gets, I think you’d still fill those jobs with good people because people like being presidents,” he said. “They like the prestige. I’ve noticed Dr. Chapman really likes his prestige.”

Heyen also points out the school is paying Dr. Chapman's wife $223,000 a year.

“She is supposedly in charge of education there, but they have several people in charge of education. They have department heads,” he said.

Fox Files investigators Chris Hayes asked Dr. Chapman, “What does your wife do to bring in $223,000?”

“That’s a sexist comment you just made,” Chapman said. “I’m surprised you’d make such a sexist comment.”

“Well, Dr. Linda Chapman is the Academic Vice President. She has a doctorate from Harvard, worked in New York State for 12 years, and was chosen by the Board of Trustees here to be the Academic Vice President before I became president.”
Lewis and Clark spokespeople wrote a follow up email, pointing out the Chapmans were hired at the same time in 1988.

“For almost three decades, they have been integral to the college’s growth and success,” the email said.

Heyen wonders about another family connection. Jeff Watson, the son of Board Chairman Bob Watson, makes more than $180,000.

“He makes the computers work the way I understand it, on the campus. So I looked up from the Collective Community College Board, the cost of similar type people. I took the highest salary that was paid and the highest salary I could figure out got near $85,000 for that job.”

Chris Hayes asked Dr. Chapman, “You’re not overpaying him at $188,000 for that job?”

“No, I think he’s – it’s a very market driven environment and he’s incredibly qualified,” Chapman said.

“Did you research what that entails and what the competing salaries would be for that job?”

“Well, you know, yes; we’ve had people from IBM in that position,” Chapman said. “They’ve actually made more than he did.”

Lewis and Clark spokespeople said Jeff Watson was already “Associate Vice President of Network and Systems” when he added new duties of someone who left. They wrote, “No positions were replaced and no additional compensation was awarded to Jeff to assume this leadership position of the IT division, which resulted in a substantial savings...”
Board member Heyen says it’ll take more community involvement to make changes. Right now he says he’s the only one asking questions.

“We have three members on the board that were employed there and retired from the college,” Heyen said. “They don’t ask any questions.”
To compare, the Illinois Senate report polled all Illinois Community Colleges. They ranked Dr. Chapman near the top, with a base pay of $279,661 in 2015.

They found Frontier Community College reported paying their president the lowest – just over $105,000. The median salary the study found was $175,000 – at John A Logan College and Black Hawk College.

You can read the full statement from a Lewis and Clark Community College spokesperson below:

Mr. Hayes,

I realize you are working on a story about Lewis and Clark Community College. I assume you will find this information useful. Please let myself, or Laura Inlow know if you need any further information. I believe Dr. Chapman provided you his most recent salary and benefits number as well.

Dr. Linda Chapman and Dr. Dale Chapman were hired at Lewis and Clark Community College on Jan. 1, 1988.

Dr. Linda Chapman began working as the Coordinator and soon thereafter, Director, of Research, Testing and Counseling. She was named Dean/VP of Academics June 27, 1991. Dr. Linda Chapman is in charge of planning and managing curriculum, instruction and instructional technology, conducting learning assessment, managing grant projects, and developing and managing learning support services. She has worked as a community college administrator in Michigan and New York community colleges and has held research positions with The College Board, Educational Testing Service, Harvard University, and the Carnegie and Ford Foundations. She serves as a peer evaluator for the Higher Learning Commission and on several committees with the Illinois Community College Board. She also holds a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard.

Dr. Dale Chapman was hired as the Vice President of Administration and Finance at Lewis and Clark in 1988, was named the Executive Vice President of Administration and Finance in 1990 and on July 1, 1992 became the President of Lewis and Clark Community College.

The Chapman’s came to Lewis and Clark after serving Suomi College (now Finlandia University). The two met previously at Harvard University while working on their doctorate degrees in education. Both graduated with this advanced credential and the two always sought to work together, side-by-side in academic institutions with openings that matched their qualifications.

President Dr. Dale Chapman and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Linda Chapman hard-working administrators who each came to Lewis and Clark Community College and were hired independently nearly three decades ago. During their tenures, which are largely unique among community colleges, each has been integral to the growth and success of Lewis and Clark. L&C’s enrollment has more than quadrupled in that time, and its campuses have not only grown significantly from a physical standpoint, but programming has been expanded and strengthened by the unique, iconic partnerships forged under the Chapmans’ leadership.

Lewis and Clark has grown into an economic boon to the community, contributing $369.4 million annually to the community college district (approximately 4.7 percent of the region’s GRP). The college is able to give students an affordable and valuable education, with an annual 19.7 percent rate of return on their investment (or $5.70 in higher future earnings for every $1 spent). Taxpayers, too, see a benefit – at an annual rate of 9.1 percent, or $3.20 in benefits for every $1 spent on taxes toward the college.

Drs. Dale and Linda Chapman have each been with Lewis and Clark for almost three decades, and in that time have been integral to the college’s growth and success. Under their leadership the college’s enrollment has more than quadrupled and the campuses have grown and expanded to better serve the needs of students and the community. Major projects have included The McPike Complex, which includes the Olin Science Building, The Commons, the Robert L. Watson Math Building and the Templin Nursing Building; the George C. Terry River Bend Arena; the renovation of the Trimpe Advanced Technology Center; the construction and renovation of the historic N.O. Nelson Campus in Edwardsville; the construction of the Macoupin County Community Education Center in Carlinville; the renovation and construction of music facilities, including the Ringhausen Music Building, the renovation of Gilman Hall and the relocation of the historic Benjamin Godfrey Chapel; the construction of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center campus in Alton; the renovation of the Hatheway Cultural Center; the renovation of the Scott Bibb Center in Alton, and the renovation of the Historic Lincoln School in Edwardsville into the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities, as well as many other campus construction and technology improvements.

Their leadership has also resulted in numerous unique, iconic partnerships that have expanded educational opportunities for students throughout the college district, including Phillips66, the Olin Corporation, the University of Illinois, Steinway, the Great Rivers Land Trust and the Conservation Fund, the Missouri Botanical Gardens, Greenville College, Missouri Baptist University, Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Edwardsville, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Southern Illinois Healthcare Foundation, Southern University in Baton Rouge, the U.S. Department of Labor, and more. The college currently boasts more than 43 career programs and numerous transfer agreements with four-year colleges and universities throughout the region and the state. Their leadership has produced three maximum accreditations from the Higher Learning Commission.

Dr. Dale Chapman serves not only as president of the College, but also as executive director of the Lewis and Clark Community College Foundation, chairman of the National Great Rivers Research and Education Center (NGRREC) and Secretary/Treasurer of the Mannie Jackson Center for the Humanities Foundation. He holds a Doctorate in Education with a concentration in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University.

Mr. Jeff Watson was hired by the college on October 5, 1992 as a Computer Programmer in Academic Computing, by then division chair Mr. Bill Fink. Jeff Watson worked in the IT division for the past 25 years, completing an associate’s degree, bachelors’ degree and eventually earning an MBA from Missouri Baptist University, all while advancing through the ranks of the IT division. Jeff most recently served as the Associate Vice President of Networks and Systems, when in the spring of 2016 the college’s then Chief Information Officer announced his resignation to move with his family out of state. At the time of his resignation, the college was in a hiring freeze due to the State of Illinois’ budget impasse. In an effort to save funds and assess the IT division’s needs at the time, Jeff Watson was named Interim CIO, receiving no additional compensation. After months without a budget, and following solid leadership from Jeff, the decision was made not to spend additional money on creating a search for a new CIO, and instead to reassign the duties of CIO to Jeff Watson at that time. The duties of CIO were absorbed into his position as Associate Vice President of Networks and Systems. No positions were replaced, and no additional compensation was awarded to Jeff to assume this leadership position of the IT division, which resulted in a substantial savings for the college.