Dean of Students Retires Suddenly
By Jess Masulli
After 24 years as a member of the Mary Washington community, Bernard Chirico retired effective of January 2009.
Chirico was the vice president of student affairs and dean of students since May 1, 1996.
Chirico would not comment on the reason for his sudden retirement.
“I am happy to be spending this time with my family,” Chirico said. “I plan on returning to private practice in clinical psychology.”
According to an e-mail by Teresa Mannix, the director of news and public information, Chirico came to UMW as a part-time consultant to the Counseling Center and then as a part-time professor in the Psychology Department.
He later became the director of the Counseling Center until he took his former position in Student Affairs.
Cedric Rucker, the dean of student life, will fulfill Chirico’s duties in Student Affairs until a national search can be completed.
As the acting Vice President for Student Affairs, Rucker is overseeing the Athletic Department, Counseling and Psychological Services, the Health Center, Career Services, Judicial Affairs, Student Activities, the Multicultural Center, Residence Life, and Campus Recreation. Student Life is a division of Student Affairs.
“I am serving as a voice for student perspective and to represent the president in student affairs,” Rucker said.
Rucker is currently working in Tyler House and Marye House to fulfill both positions.
Carter Hudgins, a professor in the Department of History and American Studies, will be the adviser for the Honor Council this year.
Ranny Corbin, the executive assistant to the president, said that President Judy Hample has selected the search firm Witt/Kieffer.
“The search firm maintains a database of candidates,” Corbin said. “They will advertise for us and help us find candidates.”
There is also a search committee in place composed of staff and students to profile and interview the candidates before making a recommendation to Hample. Hample makes the final decision on hiring.
Corbin is hopeful that a replacement for Student Affairs will be announced by July 1, 2009.
Sean O’Brien, the president of Student Government Association, worked with Chirico as a student representative on the Board of Visitors. O’Brien is also going to be a member of the search committee.
According to O’Brien, Chirico was always concerned with student needs.
“The replacement needs to be a real student advocate,” O’Brien said. “They need to have a vision of student life so they can understand who we are and where we are going.”
The replacement will need to bring student concerns to the president and executive staff so that change can be implemented.
Nicolas Perilla, the president of the Judicial Review Board, worked with Chirico since JRB falls under Student Affairs.
“We are running smoothly because Chirico was not involved with the day to day decisions,” Perilla said.
According to Perilla, Chirico’s decision for retirement was a personal one.
“I respect his decision to retire,” Perilla said. “I had a great time working with him.”
“I am going to miss the relationships I formed with students,” said Chirico. “I felt that Honor Council was making significant changes.”
In an email from Mannix, Hample extended her best wishes to Chirico in his retirement.
“Bernie has served Mary Washington with distinction for many years, but his greatest legacy will be the positive influence he has had on the lives of the many UMW students he counseled and advised,” Hample said.