Mayor Richard M. Daley today recommended the appointment of ComEd Vice President Cheryl Hyman as Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago and appointed Gery Chico to the City Colleges Board of Trustees and recommended that the Board elect Chico its Chair.
Hyman, 40, currently serves as Vice President for Operations Strategy and Business Intelligence at ComEd, where she is responsible for developing and implementing strategies that sustain long-term efficiency and productivity for the company.
Chico, 53, has served in many public roles over the past 25 years, including as President of the Chicago Park District Board of Commissioners since 2007 and has practiced law in the areas of real estate, government regulation and business counseling.
“I have chosen Cheryl and Gery because I believe they will bring fresh eyes to the City Colleges,” Daley said in a City Hall news conference.
“The mission of Chicago's City Colleges must be updated to meet the economic challenges of today and tomorrow. Now is the time to bring the same urgency to reinventing Chicago's City Colleges as we have brought to turning around Chicago's public schools for over fifteen years,” he said.
Daley said that during these tough economic times, the focus must remain on turning around the economy so that people can return to work and Chicago can better compete in the global economy for the jobs of the future.
“To do that we must continue to build a public education system that graduates students with the skills and education they need to succeed in life. If our entire education system does not produce that workforce, we can’t compete. And, we'll never establish a solid middle class, which is the key to our city's future. It is as simple as that,” the Mayor said.
He pointed out that since he accepted responsibility for Chicago’s Public Schools 15 years ago, students have made steady progress -- from improving test scores to greater numbers of them going on to college.
“But, providing the skills that our students need through our public schools is only the first step. We can't stop there. We must also reinvent our City Colleges to make sure that they are providing our students with far more sophisticated job training, as well as higher education,” he said.
Daley said the annual budget for City Colleges is almost $500 million and that the system spends almost $89 million of the taxpayers’ money each year on workforce programs alone.
He said he has told Hyman and Chico to review the entire funding and curriculum structure of the City Colleges system so that it is better educating students and better training them for tomorrow's jobs.
“As we're doing throughout government, we must challenge our City Colleges -- their leaders, their faculty and their administrators -- to rethink its role,” he said.
Daley said both Hyman and Chico are experienced managers who know that the primary task of government is to do the best possible job in the most cost-efficient way.
He said they have excelled at the critical job of building partnerships both with businesses and the community-at-large, without which City Colleges can’t succeed.
Hyman is a West Side native who dropped out of Orr High School only to return, graduate and enroll in and graduate from Olive-Harvey College of the City Colleges system.
“Cheryl brings a love for Chicago and a passion for the City Colleges system to this new job,” Daley said. I have told her that City Colleges needs to build many paths for getting students to jobs that pay good wages. Not all require 4-year degrees, but all require more than just a high school diploma,” he said.
The Mayor said he has called on Chico many times in the past to bring his skills to some big challenges – especially the re-invention of the Chicago Public Schools. Chicago also served as Daley’s Chief of Staff from 1992 to 1995.
“I know he and Cheryl are capable of transforming this institution and that is what I have asked them to do,” Daley said.
The Mayor said the importance of educating and training our workforce can’t be overstated at a time when the economy is undergoing a huge transformation.
He said City College’s 110,000 students are part of the population of Chicago that can benefit most from economic advancement. On average, they are:
Only about 20 percent complete a program or transfer to and graduate from a 4-year college and those who do take an average of six years to do it.
“We must do better for these Chicagoans. Because when City Colleges does better for them, it does better for every resident of this City,” Daley said.
The mayor thanked outgoing City Colleges Board Chair James Tyree and former Chancellor Wayne Watson for their years of service.
Chico’s appointment to the Board must be approved by the City Council.