Triton board hands out hefty raises

Pay hikes to key administrators between 12 and 27 percent

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By Jean Lotus


Departing Triton Community College President Patricia Granados got a generous going away gift when she announced her retirement at the March 25 board meeting: a pension-sweetening raise of 27.4 percent of her salary, bringing it to $312,000 per year. 

Granados will not receive the total amount, as it will be pro-rated when she leaves full-time employment at the end of December, but it makes her — per her salary — the highest-paid community college president in the state of Illinois.

Seven other administrators also got pay raises of between 12.8 to 25 percent of their salaries at the March meeting.

Granados' salary spike will trigger the penalty imposed by state legislators in 2005 called the "6-percent penalty." The fines were instituted to discourage universities and school districts from doling out last-minute pay bumps to retiring teachers and administrators. Typically, a pension raise cap of 20 percent should mean Granados won't be collecting a pension on any final-year pay hike of over 20 percent.

But the Triton school board on March 25 voted to give Granados and other administrators two separate pay raises, one on April 1 and on July 1.

Granados also has use of a car and has an annuity payment subsidized by the college. 

"Triton will be billed for this pay raise," said State University Retirement System (SURS) Legislative Liaison Jeff Houch. 

SURS bills the institution for any pension obligation above the six percent and demands the money be paid up-front. 

"We bill them for the liability associated with that raise," Houch said. 

Triton has been billed $411,000 in "6-percent penalty" fines for 24 employees since 2005, Houch said. The school has disputed two-thirds of those fines and has paid only $81,000.

He said the average fine the school has had to pay was $17,000. 

"Granados's fines will most likely be higher than that," he added.

For the other administrators, the board changed a policy to bump up the low-end of four categories of pay ranges for administrators, starting April 1. They then followed the school president's request for pay raises for several administrators starting July 1.

Administrators in the top tier saw their salary bump up 25.6 percent from a floor of $111,500 to $140,000. The basement level of other admin categories rose by 22 percent to $110,000 from $90,000 and 25.9 percent from $71,000 to $90,000. 

The lowest paid category of administrator got a $1,000 bump-up from $65,000 to $66,000. 

At the March 25 meeting, Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Douglas Olson's salary went from $161,200 to $192,500, a 19.4-percent raise. 

Sean Sullivan, vice president of business services, got a 19-percent boost from $173,252 to $206,250. Cheryl Bowser-Antonich, associate vice president of academic affairs got a 20-percent raise to $165,000. 

John Lambrech, associate vice president of facilities got a 12.8-percent raise to $140,000. Quincy Martin III, associate vice president of student affairs got a 20.7-percent raise to $140,000. Finally, Chief of Staff Lindsey Westley got a pay boost of 12.9 percent to $110,000. 

Triton College Faculty Association President Stewart Sikora said he was "surprised" at the amounts of the administrator raises. The average salary of a full-time Triton faculty member is $66,205, according to the Illinois Community College Board. The college's enrollment has shrunk by 15 percent over the past couple of years. The school has about 4,000 full-time undergraduates and some 10,000 part-time students.

 The average community college president in Illinois earned $192,895 in fiscal year 2013. According to the board's salary 2013 reports, Granados' new salary would make her the highest paid community college executive officer in the state. 

Board Chairman Mark Stephens said the board was united on the raises, which he said were recommended by the school's employment recruiter and consultant, Madelyn Sierra of Performance Executive Search of Coral Gables, Fla. 

"Our consultant told us we were having problems attracting qualified candidates, because our pay was lower than other schools," Stephens said. 

"There were two or three years where the unionized teachers got pay raises, but the administrators did not get any increase," Stephens said. "The consultant looked at our situation and said we'd have a hard time attracting people in the talent pool."

It's unclear whether the school will be penalized for the raises of the other seven administrators unless they retire in the next four years.

Granados herself was a 30-year employee. A Triton success story, she started as an hourly wage earner and worked her way up to college president. Granados will continue to work part-time as a consultant at Triton after her retirement. 

"With [Granados'] work ethic and dedication, we're lucky to have her for all those years," Stephens said.  

"We have a unique district, with wealthy areas and areas that struggle," Stephens said. "There are diverse needs and diverse groups, and we are certainly going to miss her."

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Reader Comments

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Sheila from Elmwood Park  

Posted: April 15th, 2014 11:39 AM

Did you know they cut almost 50% of their faculty positions that were supposed to start in fall? But, they can give themselves all raises. It they were so into student success- why didn't they support the students and faculty with all of that money? We owe it to the students to get better leadership at this college!

New Board Needed  

Posted: April 14th, 2014 1:05 PM

Perfectly awful! Sickening.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 14th, 2014 12:01 PM

@ Dwyer. answer is, apparently, they believe they do a perfect job in which there is no room for improvement. I know, insane, but that's what they said at their retreat.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 14th, 2014 10:52 AM

The info below is from a 2012 report on administrative salaries by the Illinois Community College Board: It shows salaries for Triton administrators are above the state average. So how exactly does Mark Stephens justify the huge raises recently bestowed on Triton administrators? --Chief Executive; Triton, $212,082; average, $194,849--Chief Finance Offcr; Triton, $158,656; avg.,$126,178--Student Services Offcr; Triton, $136,269; avg $102,791

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 13th, 2014 11:40 AM

At the Triton College board retreat in March, Mark Stephens 'turned the meeting over to Mike Monoghan, Ex. Dir., Illinois Community College Trustee Association,' according to meeting minutes. 'Monoghan asked if they could change anything with the Board, what it would be.--- Board members stated they've tried to find things to change and could not come up with anything.' --- So there you have it, folks. From the Triton board itself. Any problems with your conduct? Nope. None that we can see.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 5:16 PM

A GUIDE TO THE ILLINOIS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT-- By The Illinois Attorney General's Office----

Triton FOIA instructions  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 5:09 PM

@ PDerwin is a link to a pdf at on how to file a FOIA to Triton. Not sure but I think that who made FOIA requests and what the request was about is public information and can be FOIAd. However Illinois Att Gen has an in-depth FAQ which among other things states that anonymous FOIA requests are allowed. IAG office has sample request forms. Also a link to a journalist site with suggestions Haven't read this stuff in detail.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 4:52 PM

FOIA REQUEST TEMPLATE-- NAME/TITLE; ORGANIZATION; ADDRESS; TOWN, etc-- Dear ----- This is a request for information under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140.-- I request a copy of the following documents be provided me: -- I ask that all documents be emailed in electronic format to my email address below. In lieu of that, please mail to the address below.-- Thank you. Name; Address; Email; Phone number

Peter Derwin from Brookfield, Illinois  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 1:25 PM

I like Bill's idea, but I think the average or concerned Joe might need a little education abut how to file such a request. Also, although Stephens and his brethren have a lot of money in their war chests, Stephens' past and recent Triton-related financial moves are priceless to the opposition, if maneuvered and disseminated well. Really, what person wouldn't take umbrage at the profligate pay increases and perks the in-crowd gets at Triton? People need to know these facts through a widespread, multi-media approach including, in my view, a website devoted to the allocation of Triton's monies, even handing out explanatory brochures door-to-door. We need to organize to keep monies from our pocketbooks snatched and then pissed away on a favorite few none of whom are J. Q. Public.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 1:05 PM

What if, just what if, every . single . person . who had a question about some b.s. Triton has pulled, if each individual person filed a FOIA request. Or two. Or three? What if every time the Triton board pulled one of their arrogant and sleazy moves, they received literally hundreds or even thousands of FOIAs, from literally hundreds or thousands of people? Hmmm. What if?

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 12:33 PM

Stephens, a 24-year incumbent, is up for re-election in 2015, along with 18-year incumbent and River Grove resident Glenn Stamm. Recently appointed Oak Park resident Glover Johnson, who replaced Thomas Gary, is also up for election in 2015. At least Stephens and Stamm will have effectively unlimited money behind them, along with the powerful Leyden Township and Melrose Park political machines. Keep this one fact in your head- Triton IS NOT run for the benefit of the students, but for patronage.

Heather from Forest Park  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 12:04 PM

I work at Triton. Lots of great people there, but they've dramatically cut every adjunct's hours because they don't want to pay healthcare. I thought it was because they were being fiscally conservative. No one in the trenches at the school is happy about this or how the board is run.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 12:01 PM

Stephens is up for re-election in 2015. And though I promised updated figures, I've decided to not take all the time needed to add the figures up. They're all public record. Let someone else do the math. But be sure to include the Stephens brother's NEW fund, the Stephens Political Action Committee. Created in Jan. 2012, it's taken in $984,850 in just 27 months. It joins the Bradley Stephens Committeeman Fund, the Friends of Mark Stephens and the Rosemont Voters League.

Sharon Daly from Forest Park, Illinois  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 11:44 AM

thank you, peter. it appears that folks in other towns, the one's aware of Triton's latest, are thinking along similar lines. for starters, anyone know if 2015 includes Triton board elections?

Peter Derwin from Brookfield  

Posted: April 12th, 2014 9:29 AM

I read this article in The Landmark and made a few comments there. I'd like to make a comment here since I think many of us share common thoughts about the Triton pay raises. Upton Sinclair said something to the effect that it's difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it. I believe that statement should be coupled with another statement in the context of what I believe to be the blatant and disdainful nose-thumbing by Mr. Stephens and his board at taxpayers: "You keep on getting what you're getting as long as you keep on doing what you're doing". In my view, for far too long, Mr. Stephens has run his Triton dynasty his way with Triton's taxpayer constituency either ignorant of or indifferent to his methods or possibly feeling powerless to attempt to change things. I think that Mr. Stephens and the other members of the Triton Board have crossed a line --- that taxpayers will become aware of this financial affront if they haven't already, and that they will become empowered and mobilized by it --- and that they will take action to stop the squeeze on their pocketbooks that has resulted in, in my view, their monies being frittered away. Mr. Stephens needs to go. The unanimously voting members of the board need to go. And, Triton, with its declining student enrollment and decrepit buildings, just to name a few problems, needs a new direction and a new administration to take it successfully into the future. We need to mobilize and urge others to as well.

Michelle W from FP  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 4:23 PM

I went to Triton before transferring to university. It's a good school, or was circa 2003. For the record, this makes me doubly incensed that the board would act in such an irresponsible manner. I look forward to voting against them.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 11:44 AM

And finally, just a reminder of how things work in Proviso and Leyden townships and at Triton. This copy is from work I did in 2010, entitled Who's Who of Proviso-Leyden Ties. As the recent news of the 12-to-27 percent raises at Triton show, the song remains the same. --

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 11:25 AM

This from the Better Government Association on Community College administrator pensions.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 11:12 AM

More reading on Triton's budget priorities. Btw, the Dorgan in Dorgan-McPike below is Rosemont trustee and now Illinois Republican Party Chairman Jack Dorgan. --

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 11:04 AM

More on Stephen's political clout.,-connections-aid-Triton's-Mark-Stephens/

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 11:00 AM

They'll do whatever's required to retain control. You'll see straw candidates on the 2015 ballot, watering down the vote. Stephens doesn't draw huge vote totals, but he's always in the top three, due to his money (he spent $70,000 in 1991) and support from Melrose Park's Serpico, The more candidates, the better for him. Stephens and Serpico laugh at all the good government goos-goos.-- for more info-'-clout:-cash,-connections/

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 10:57 AM

Getting angry emails might matter to some elected officials. But Mark Stephens, Donna Peluso and the rest of the Triton board could care less. Stephens, from Rosemont, has been the board chairman the past 21 years; up for re-election in 2015. Donna Peluso (Melrose Park and Ron Serpico) has been vice chair the past 20 years. Diane Viverito, of Elmwood Park works or worked in Pete Silvestri's office. It's solely about control of Triton's $70 million a year patronage pie. Not quality education.

EMail Addresses  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 9:28 AM

Here you go:;;;;;;;

For Anyone   

Posted: April 10th, 2014 9:22 AM

For those interested, here is a link to the Triton Board of Trustees page with a link to their email accounts. Feel free to share your feelings with them all. I plan on doing that!

Louise Engert from Forest Park  

Posted: April 10th, 2014 12:27 AM

I sure never got any 27% raise the last year I worked. Plus which SURS bases the pension on the average of the last 5 years worked, so if she is quitting later this year, it will not substantially increase her pension, but is a slap in the face to all the rest of the people working under the administrator level. How did this go through in an election year when the state of the Illinois pension system-including SURS- is under scrutiny because of under funding. Poor use of funds.


Posted: April 9th, 2014 9:20 PM

Well I am sure it is deserved. Bwahhhhaaa.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 8:01 PM

Ya know, you're right, Haha. What was I thinking? Why would someone entrusted by voters to oversee their fiscal interests ever think they needed to be answerable to the people who trusted her? How over idealistic of me.


Posted: April 9th, 2014 7:22 PM

Good luck getting Vanessa to talk.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 3:59 PM

According to the Illinois Community College Board, Triton's fall 2013 total enrollment was just 11,225, a 28.5 percent drop from 2009, and a 19.5 percent decline from the previous school year. That's a nearly 40 percent drop since 2002. Which begs the question, just WHAT is Granados being rewarded for? Maybe Vanessa Moritz can explain hers and the Triton board's thinking.

jerry from forest park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 3:55 PM

I don't know Bill, maybe there's a plan here we didn't see. Maybe Triton now only gets the very best students now.

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 3:39 PM

A year after Granados became president, Triton's enrollment, according to their own figures, was 17,795 (3,622 f/t; 14,173 p/t). Mark Stephens has yammered away for years that he wants enrollment up to 30,000 ("butts in the seats,' he puts it). A 5-year master plan in 2009 called for the same. But enrollment has drifted downward. Triton's 2012 figures show an enrollment decline of 16 percent-plus, to 15,024 (4,071 f/t; 10,953 p/t) --- For that, trustees saw fit to raise Granados' salary 27.4 %.

Deserved? from Forest Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 1:32 PM

Are these reaises deserved? What were the performance evaluations of these administrators like?Isn't our very own village clerk Vanessa Moritz on the Triton board?

Really from Forest Park  

Posted: April 9th, 2014 9:04 AM

REALLY. Do I need to Say more!

jerry from forest park  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 11:48 PM

Glad to see our tax dollars being well spent

Bill Dwyer  

Posted: April 8th, 2014 11:01 PM

Been waiting for this to come down for the past six or seven years. A huge middle finger salute from the arrogant Triton Board to the tax payers who fund their little Rosemont/Melrose Park patronage club. Way to go, Mark Stephens. No one can stop you, can they? You learned well from daddy.

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