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Article updated: 5/8/2013 12:55 PM

COD OKs decision to name building after president

By Christopher Placek

College of DuPage President Robert Breuder's name will be etched in the history books of the state's largest community college, but now it'll be permanently etched on campus, too.

In his last formal action as board chairman Tuesday night, David Carlin proposed the college's 66,000-square-foot Homeland Security Education Center be named in Breuder's honor at the time of his retirement. The proposal, approved on a 4-3 vote, received pushback from three trustees who previously received the endorsement of the college's faculty union and have, at times, been at odds with Carlin.

Carlin finished third in a six-way election contest for two open positions on the board. New Trustee Kathy Hamilton and incumbent Trustee Joe Wozniak were the top vote-getters.

In proposing the facility be named in Breuder's honor, Carlin pointed to the college's $550 million building program under Breuder's tenure that's led to the construction of six buildings and renovation of five others, Breuder's fiscal management of the college, and overall positive performance reviews by the board.

Trustees Kim Savage, Nancy Svoboda and Dianne McGuire didn't take issue with Breuder's performance, but said they believe it was premature to pass the resolution before Breuder actually retires. Breuder's contract runs through June 2016 and he said after the vote he doesn't plan to retire anytime soon.

"When he retires, what are we gonna do at that time, name the campus in Costa Rica after him?" Savage said. "It will be appropriate to do at that time when he retires. That's an appropriate decision for the board at that time."

Carlin said he didn't want to leave it up to trustees years from now to dedicate something in Breuder's honor because they won't have had the same exposure to him.

"If your boss tomorrow told you he wasn't ready to evaluate you -- he's going to leave it to a future board about whether you're worthy of a promotion or honor -- I think you'd be disappointed with that," Carlin said. "Dr. Breuder, in the time he's been here, has accomplished more than some community college presidents will accomplish in a lifetime. I don't know how you argue with bestowing this honor upon him."

Svoboda said the timing of the board's decision to dedicate the building in Breuder's honor could adversely affect the college's chances of getting state and federal funding for the proposed Midwest Regional Training Center, a proposed off-campus training facility for local, state and federal agencies that would be phase two of the college's homeland security initiatives, following the opening of the Homeland Security Education Center in fall 2011.

Svoboda has lobbied federal and state officials with Breuder in an attempt to secure funding for the project estimated to cost between $60 million and $75 million. The college has been looking at multiple locations -- primarily throughout DuPage County -- on which to build the center.

"I'm sensitive to all issues that may make a difference in being able to get the support of partners," Svoboda said. "I think the timing may be a bit off. To make sure there's no doubt the reason for phase two is based totally on the needs of the community, students and nation, we should table this until a later time."

The $30 million Homeland Security Education Center houses the college's criminal justice and fire science/EMS programs and Suburban Law Enforcement Academy, which provides training for local police department personnel. The building also features a "4D immersive street scene" and an emergency management center.

Breuder won't be the first college official to have his name attached to a building.

The Berg Instructional Center is named after Rodney Berg, the college's first president who served from 1966 to 1978. The McAninch Arts Center is named after Harold McAninch, the college's second president who served from 1979 to 1994. The Seaton Computing Center is named after George Seaton, the first chairman of the board of trustees.

Those buildings were dedicated in their honor after they left the college.

Trustee Erin Birt, who was later named the new board chairman at a reorganization meeting, said concerns Savage brought up last week about the timing of the naming dedication were "adequately addressed" when the resolution was modified to say the dedication will take affect upon Breuder's retirement.

Breuder, meanwhile, awarded Carlin on Tuesday with the college's presidential leadership medal. Carlin is only the third person to have received the recognition, after State Senator Kirk Dillard and former State Senator John Millner were awarded it two years ago.

Breuder said he would have given Carlin the award regardless of whether Carlin proposed the homeland security building be named in his honor.

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