Should COD building be named for Breuder or Medal of Honor recipient?

A decision to name the College of DuPage's Homeland Security Education Center after college President Robert Breuder is drawing criticism from some area veterans and others who say it would be more appropriate to name it in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, a Medal of Honor recipient from Wheaton.

The college board of trustees voted 6-1 last week, and then again Wednesday, to approve a $762,000 buyout package for the school president who is scheduled to retire on March 31, 2016.

As part of that agreement, the board also agreed to name the Homeland Security building after Breuder as long as he maintains “conduct that is not materially detrimental to the reputation of the board and/or the college.”

More than 300 people attended Wednesday's board meeting to protest the agreement, with most of the criticism leveled at the amount of money it involves.

But some also are now taking aim at the decision to put Breuder's name on the Homeland Security center — a decision officials say was made nearly two years ago.

Several critics said they would prefer the building be named after Miller, a Wheaton North High School graduate who was killed in 2008 during combat in Afghanistan. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2010.

Miller died protecting his fellow soldiers while they were under attack by insurgents.

An online petition created by Heather Armstrong of Winfield urges the board to name the center in Miller's honor and already has garnered more than 500 signatures.

Armstrong could not be reached for comment Thursday, but in creating the online petition she wrote: “Due to the scandalized nature surrounding President Breuder's tenure at College of DuPage, I believe the board's decision to name the (center) after him would be a grave mistake for both the college and community. I propose instead that the board consider naming the building for the Medal of Honor recipient Robert J. Miller.”

Bobby Kaye, a veteran from St. Charles, spoke at Wednesday's meeting and told the board he would like to see the building named after his fallen friend.

On Thursday, Kaye said Miller was like a brother.

“Quite simply, he is a local hero,” Kaye said. “His story and his name should never be forgotten.”

Kirk Allen, the co-founder of Edgar County Watchdogs — a group that has been critical of Breuder — also said the building should be named in Miller's honor.

“It makes no sense to put (Breuder's) name on that, especially in light of the controversy,” said Allen, also a veteran. “I think the people spoke loud and clear they're dissatisfied with the man, so why would you put the guy's name on a building when your own citizens don't support him?”

COD Trustee Kim Savage said the resolution to name the building after Breuder was approved in a 4-3 vote in 2013.

Records from that meeting indicate Savage and trustees Nancy Svoboda and Dianne McGuire opposed the naming decision, but trustees Joseph Wozniak, Erin Birt, Allison O'Donnell and then-Chairman David Carlin approved the resolution.

“It was shortsighted for the board to make that decision when they did,” Savage said. “I think there are many worthy people that the building or parts of the building could be named after, that there are ways we could honor veterans and first responders, and that the board really hasn't had an opportunity to consider that.”

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