Morton College president cites attorney meddling for school’s shaky academic status
Morton College is on a slippery slope of losing its accreditation, and its president and director of operations are placing at least part of the blame on the school’s attorney, Michael Del Galdo, a source close to the situation told West Cook News.
“They (Morton President Stanley Fields and Director of Operations Frank Marzullo) told the (Higher Learning) Commission that Mike del Galdo oversteps his bounds as an attorney, that he is too involved in the day-to-day operations of the college,” the source said.
The account was confirmed by multiple sources.
The Commission’s Institutional Actions Council (IAC) is recommending that Morton’s accreditation status be placed on probation, according to an August 1 e-mail written by Fields and obtained by West Cook News.
“The IAC further determined that because of the College’s longstanding and unresolved governance issues, dating back to 2005, to recommend to the Board of the Higher Learning Commission the placement of a sanction of Probation on the College’s accreditation status,” the e-mail said.
The commission’s board of trustees, which accredits colleges and universities in a 19-state region, is next scheduled to meet on November 1 and 2.
Del Galdo said that he was not authorized to speak for Morton and referred questions to the school. Fields and the college's trustees did not reply to requests for comments on the school’s status with the commission
Fields’ tenure at the school has been a rocky one. Just nine months after being hired as president in January 2016, the faculty gave him a vote of “no confidence,” according to a report in the Cook County Chronicle.
Per the report: “Fields, a former Berwyn South D100 elementary school superintendent, was ‘autocratic, ‘adversarial and ‘unqualified,'” a faculty letter to the Morton College board of trustees stated. Furthermore, Fields ‘created an atmosphere of fear and distrust.’”
Fields was also one of the subjects of a July 2011 investigative report by the Chicago Tribune, “Superintendent merry-go-round yields fat severances.”
“Stanley Fields resigned after just a year as superintendent of a suburban Cook County school district where he was put on leave, faced with firing and ultimately required to apologize to the community,” the report said. “Still, he walked away with a $100,000 severance payment.
“He also had prematurely left his prior job at a Lake County high school district, cashing out $30,426 in unused vacation. The school board waived a $60,000 breach-of-contract payment from Fields, now superintendent in another Chicago-area school district.”
Fields has had a long-term business relationship with Del Galdo. He was superintendent of Proviso District 209 in 2007 when the district hired Del Galdo. And in 2014, Berwyn South hired Del Galdo when Fields was superintendent there.
Founded in 1924, Morton is one of the state’s smallest, and oldest, community colleges. On its website, the south Cicero school lists a student body of 6,681 credit and 272 non-credit students, and 433 employees.