Most COD candidates don't want Breuder's name on building

As the outgoing chairman of the College of DuPage board in May 2013, David Carlin proposed naming the Glen Ellyn school's Homeland Security Education Center after college President Robert Breuder.

Now as a COD trustee hopeful, Carlin is the only candidate in the crowded 12-person race who is defending the board's decision to put Breuder's name on the building when he retires.

During an interview with the Daily Herald's editorial board, Carlin said he voted to name the building in Breuder's honor “based upon the many accomplishments that he made” when Carlin last served as a COD trustee.

“Like Hal McAninch's name is on the McAninch Arts Center, it's a fitting tribute for people that contribute ... to an organization and the community,” the Naperville resident said.

Other candidates pursuing three seats on the college's board in the April 7 election don't see it that way.

“There's no way I'd want to name the building after Mr. Breuder,” candidate Dan Bailey said.

In fact, the Wheaton resident said he doesn't want any distinction bestowed on Breuder when he retires next year, despite trustees approving a $762,868 retirement buyout package for Breuder that calls for naming the building in his honor.

Candidate Frank Napolitano said other parts of the deal he opposes include provisions that have Breuder involved in the search for his replacement and that give him “emeritus” status when he retires.

“Anything that we can do legally to recover that ($762,868) and reverse any of those courses of action should be explored,” said Napolitano, a Bloomingdale resident.

In the wake of the buyout package, some have argued it would be more appropriate to name the Homeland Security Education Center in honor of Army Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller, a Medal of Honor recipient from Wheaton.

Miller, a Wheaton North High School graduate, was killed in 2008 during combat in Afghanistan. He died protecting his fellow soldiers while they were under attack by insurgents. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously in 2010.

When the resolution to name the building after Breuder was approved in a 4-3 vote in 2013, incumbents Nancy Svoboda and Kim Savage — who both are seeking re-election — were among the three trustees who voted against it.

“It's on record that Kim Savage, (Trustee) Dianne McGuire and I all spoke against it,” Svoboda said. “We voted against it, but it passed.”

In addition to Carlin, trustees Joseph Wozniak, Erin Birt and Allison O'Donnell approved the resolution to have the facility named in Breuder's honor.

As for those who say the building should be named after Miller, Svoboda said that wasn't an option trustees were given two years ago.

“Had that name been there, we might have been able to name it after him,” said Svoboda, who became emotional talking about her own son's military service. “But that wasn't the case in the moment.”

The Homeland Security Education Center houses COD's criminal justice and fire science/EMS programs and the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy, which provides training for local police department personnel.

While the Berg Instructional Center and McAninch Arts Center are named after former college presidents, candidate Deanne Mazzochi said she doesn't believe it's appropriate to name the Homeland Security Education Center after a COD administrator.

The Elmhurst resident said she would like to see the 2013 decision repealed.

“It will be interesting to see what can and can't be done with the naming,” Mazzochi said. “But that is also something that people have expressed great outrage over.

“If there is a lawful pathway to do that,” she said, “I think that's something that should be considered.”

Meanwhile, candidate Roger Kempa suggested another option.

The Darien resident said the board could make sure the sign with Breuder's name is small and hard to find on the building. Then, after some time goes by, action could be taken to remove his name entirely.

“What's to stop you from later renaming it?” Kempa said.

The other candidates in the race are Claire Ball of Addison, Charles Bernstein of Wheaton, Matt Gambs of Naperville, Sandra Pihos of Glen Ellyn and Joseph M. Wozniak of Naperville.

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