After the passing of President Sue Wesselkamper on Jan. 3, Chaminade University’s Board of Regents with the help of an executive search firm, R.H. Perry & Associates, was challenged with the task of finding a new leader.
By early March, R.H. Perry had narrowed the candidates down to three people; Chaminade’s acting president, Bro. Bernard Ploegar; former president of Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, Dr. David House; and current Dean of the College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science at Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne, Dr. Gerard Voland.
All three candidates were invited to speak to the Chaminade community about the theme “Students of Today, Students of Tomorrow,” followed by a question and answer session.
After a short deliberation, the Board of Regents unanimously decided that Chaminade’s next “head honcho” would be “Bro. Bernie,” as he likes to be called.
A member of the Silversword staff was able to have a one-on-one interview with him in order to find out just what Bro. Bernie’s thoughts are.
One of the main issues that were discussed was school spirit.
“I think there’s a good spirit here,” said Bro. Bernie. “With only about 200 students living on-campus, it gets pretty quiet around here after regular school hours. One thing we want to do is to have about 500 students living on-campus. [Bringing] people on-campus creates a richer campus life.”
This is but one of the ways Bro. Bernie plans on strengthening school spirit. (Sorry, sports fans, having “Maui Monday” as a school holiday is out of the question for now.)
Another issue on students’ minds is that many feel they are paying too much for the quality of staff and facilities available here at Chaminade. Many even feel their education and cultural beliefs comes second to the campus aesthetics.
In response, Bro. Bernie said, “In general, we try to enhance the educational facilities to fit the needs of the department. We need the facilities to back the programs. ”
Possibly the most important issue on peoples’ minds is that the late President Sue had a charm and wit about her that is unmatched by her colleagues.
When asked what Bro. Bernie was expecting to face as far as replacing her, he said, “The giftedness she had was singular. I’m not trying to duplicate Sue.”
There are some concerns some faculty and staff have about Bro. Bernie replacing President Sue. These concerns have been expressed privately so as not to upset the administration.
An examination of the candidates professional backgrounds suggests that Dr. House and Dr. Voland have far more experience than Bro. Bernie. It is believed by many that Bro. Bernie was selected because he is the chief architect of Chaminade’s current strategic plan.
Despite the lukewarm reception to his presidency, many faculty and staff still expressed confidence that Bro. Bernie will lead the university as best he can.
“Personally, I love Bro. Bernie and I have faith that he will lead to the best of his abilities,” said Minister for Retreats Margret Uiagalelei, “ I back him all of the way.”