Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.
– George S. Patton
Volume 75 | Issue 6
November 2007

Pro-file: Nadesan Permaul

Q. What do your job responsibilities entail? 

A. “The ASUC was founded in 1887 by students. They managed their own operations and businesses through 1999, after which they entered into an agreement with the university to hire staff to manage their businesses, programs and operations. As director of the ASUC Auxiliary, I have that role, including management and operation of the student union.”

Q. What would your staff, colleagues, or students say about you? 

A. “I am a deep ‘Old Blue,’ the term to describe an alum of UC–Berkeley. Cal is the oldest of the UC campuses, founded in 1868, and this is my 40th year on campus. I earned my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in political science, I teach in both the rhetoric and political science departments (one class each semester), and I am past president of the 95,000 member alumni association. So I am deeply involved in campus life.

Q. What’s one innovation or project of which you’re proud to have helped implement? 

A. “The ASUC is looking at revitalizing their student union. … As we do so, we are looking at bringing new services and businesses to the existing ASUC, and a new program of communication focused around an interactive Web site, a system of plasma screens with student information, a new student calendar of events for the campus, and a new telephone system. Our goal is to restore the market penetration and awareness of the ASUC through the [more than] 33,000 students on the campus.”

Q. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned while working in the profession? 

A. “Trust your students, and treat them with respect. At Berkeley, our students are thoughtful, intelligent, and capable of making sophisticated decisions. In my 30 years of work, I have found that if you treat students respectfully and honestly, they will often exceed the performance of the adults who are supposed to be advising and leading them.”

Q. What is one phrase to live by or bit of advice you might have for future generations of union professionals? 

A. “Trust the students.”

Q. Is there anything else you would like ACUI members to know about you? 

A. “I began my student services career at Berkeley in the recreational sports department, and helped build Cal’s Recreational Sports Facility, which I managed when it opened. That experience and working with students in that program, helped to prepare me for the world I am in now, which I truly enjoy. I think it has also made me a better teacher in the classroom.”

Name: Nadesan Permaul
Title: Director of the Associated Students of the University of California
Union: Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union
Institution: University of California–Berkeley
Location: Berkeley, Calif. 
Years in the profession: 29 years