When Nadesan Permaul first arrived at UC Berkeley as an incoming freshman in 1967, he probably did not anticipate that he would devote much of his professional career to the campus.
A native of the eastern San Fernando Valley, he had not even visited before he made his way up for orientation. But it was not long before he became enamored with his surroundings.
“Literally, the first day I arrived here, I walked up to Memorial Stadium because it was a Sunday and the Bears had just played Oregon the day before, and I went into the stadium and looked around and I thought ‘wow, this is big time,’” Permaul said. “I think it was a romance from the moment I walked here.”
Fast-forward about 44 years and the romance is still alive, even as Permaul, the outgoing director of the ASUC Auxiliary, prepares to finish his administrative duties on campus.
He leaves in the midst of a pivotal time for the ASUC. The June 28 announcement of his retirement came the day before it took effect and just three days before a controversial realignment of the Auxiliary to the Division of Student Affairs, though Permaul has been continuing on a voluntary basis until Sept. 1.
But Permaul had already intended to retire within the next year, and he said his reasoning for doing so this summer instead was based on the best interests of his family. Additionally, he said his decision came as the result of discussions with Ron Coley, associate vice chancellor for business and administrative services, to whom the Auxiliary reported prior to its realignment, and Jonathan Poullard, assistant vice chancellor for student affairs and dean of students to whom the Auxiliary now reports.
“Now it’s time for somebody younger, hopefully somebody who cares for and appreciates the ASUC as much as I do, to take the reins and work with student leaders,” Permaul said.
Looking back on Permaul’s time at the Auxiliary and the host of projects he undertook, Marilyn Stager, acting Auxiliary director and former financial services manager, said Permaul’s involvement with the B.E.A.R.S. Initiative will likely be one of his longest-lasting legacies.
The initiative was passed in the spring 2010 ASUC General Election and provides for the renovation of Lower Sproul Plaza — a project which includes the demolition and reconstruction of seismically unsafe Eshleman Hall and the enhancement of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union.
“Nad is a visionary, so in a way it was kind of hectic to work under him because he always had so many things he wanted to have happen,” Stager said. “The students are, and they’ve always been, his number one priority — he loves students.”
ASUC President Vishalli Loomba said she appreciated Permaul’s work as an ally for students in many respects, including an overall attitude of helpfulness and an investment in the success of students.
“He has made so many incredible contributions to this campus,” Loomba said. “The amount that he gives to students is immeasurable.”
For his part, Permaul noted that the initiative’s passage has also enhanced the relationship between the ASUC and the campus because the two groups are now financially tied together in order to fund the project.
But Permaul’s time at the Auxiliary is far from his only involvement in the campus administration. Prior to becoming Auxiliary director in 2006, Permaul was the director of Parking and Transportation for about 10 years. Before that, his various roles on campus included positions at UCPD and the Department of Recreational Sports.
As far as finding a permanent replacement for Permaul, a hiring team composed of student and campus officials will conduct a national search to find a new director, and Stager will continue to serve as director until a permanent replacement can be found.
Previously, because of the expedited timeline for Permaul’s retirement, concern had been raised about whether his departure was entirely voluntary, but Permaul declined to comment directly on that topic.
“I don’t think it serves any purpose for me to talk about that at all — I think the people who are working on the transition team for the ASUC Auxiliary … if there are issues that needed to be addressed that are still outstanding, I’m sure they will be addressed in that process,” he said.
Looking forward, though he does plan on continuing to teach, Permaul said he does not plan on being formally involved in the ASUC once his departure is complete.
“When I left the presidency of the alumni association in 2005, I had the good sense to remember what I did when I was student body president in high school … stay out,” he said. “Give the next person the chance to do their thing.”