Carroll’s Fearless Leader Answers Some Bizarre Questions
By Jack Sherman
To some people, he is known as the guy who has always dreamed of playing Mickey Mouse at Disney World. To others, he was the kid glued to the television set as Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon. But to students here, he is the president. President Hastad.
As the leader of Carroll University, Doug Hastad is constantly answering questions. Students, parents, faculty, name it – he has probably heard every college-oriented question in the book. From concerns about class sizes to providing data on graduation rates, he is expected to have the right answers. But what about the questions one would not think to ask?
The answers reveal a thoughtful man with a refreshing sense of humor. A man with a curious disposition who doesn’t take himself too seriously. Above all, though, the answers reveal a man who is a good sport when tasked with responding to some of the most ludicrous interview questions ever posed.
HOW TO SURVIVE A (POSSIBLY) HAUNTED LOCK-IN: THE HASTAD WAY
Everybody knows it: this school is spooky. The fact that Carroll’s administration hub − Voorhees − shares its name with the notorious machete-wielding, hockey-mask-wearing Jason, does not help. The president agreed that every building on campus can be eery in its own way, but in response to which one would make for the best overnight lock-in, he had a rather optimistic view. “The good news is, most of [the buildings] are haunted anyhow, so you’re always gonna be with a ghost,” he laughed. After deliberating, he settled on somewhere many students already spend the entire night during finals week. “It’s really difficult not to say the library… there’s so many different choices of places to go – but to have access to books and other information while you are locked inside… not a bad place to be.” He made sure to include that having all night access to Second Cup may have also influenced his decision.
EVEN THE PRESIDENT HAS GUILTY PLEASURES
When asked what meal he enjoyed most here at Carroll, the president had a difficult time choosing. With two cafeterias, several coffee shops and a soup and bread bistro on campus, it is not always easy to decide where to go and what to eat. Ultimately, he decided to take the safest route by praising Chef Moe’s cuisine. “I mean, I need to stay politically correct and say that anything Chef Moe cooks… everything he makes, he’s just truly a genius at what he does.” While president Hastad did mention he was especially fond of a Middle Eastern meal that Chef Moe served at his home during a mini cooking class, he admitted that the little breakfast sausages served at breakfast in the Main Dining Room are his guilty pleasure.
TO BE OR NOT TO BE… A MASCOT
Students may not know who Pio Pete really is, but whomever the masked man or woman may be, it would certainly be fun to see the president suit up in the outfit. When asked what it would take to get him into the costume, he replied with a playful grin, saying that he would do it “in a heartbeat.” Has he before? “No I haven’t. Would I? Absolutely. Which is different than how long it would take to get me into the outfit. I would immediately say I’d go. It may take a while to get this body into that outfit,” he remarked with a laugh. The president did not stop at Pio Pete, however – it seems there are other mascots he has considered playing as well. “A story that I’ve shared throughout the years, of the things that I’ve always wished I had an opportunity to be, would be Mickey Mouse for a day, in Disney world. Because you make everybody happy,” he said. “And… and you do it anonymously… it would be nice to put smiles on the faces of people who don’t normally smile,” he continued. Hopefully, to all wearers of the Pio Pete costume, that is their end goal: brightening the days of students who have a hard time smiling.
TEACH ME HOW TO DOUGIE
While the president may not know the Carlton or the Moonwalk, he has done his fair share of dancing. “…my wife is actually a very talented person and a very able dancer, and we’ve struggled throughout the years dancing lots of different things,” he said. But what would a dance called “The Hastad” look like? The president had to stifle a laugh: “Very slow,” he chuckled. “…it would be very slow, if it was named after me. If it was named after us, Nancy and I, it would be anything you could imagine.” Whether president Hastad knows all the steps to the Electric Slide remains to be seen.
HUT, HUT, HASTAD
Would the president be a quarterback? A wide receiver? A lineman? None of the above. “If I were a player on our football team?” he seemed a little perplexed. “I would play the bench. Without question. There’d be a spot assigned for me, it would [be] Doug Hastad’s spot,” he laughed, “and, um, Coach K. would be foolish to put me in any single game.” While president Hastad may not be an avid athlete anymore, it is evident that he is still a very good sport by nature.
U.F.O. MEET M.D.R.
Of all the career related questions president Hastad has ever answered, it is likely that he has never been asked what his plan of action would be if aliens invaded Carroll. While he found the other questions amusing, this one certainly caught the head of the university off guard. “Hah. Hahahah. That’s a good question,” he laughed before continuing. Again, Chef Moe was a very important part of his response. “Um… make friends with them by serving them Chef Moe’s food.” Hopefully the extraterrestrials like Chartwells.
The president took a long pause after that, but he was not finished. “That’s an interesting question to ponder as you look up at the stars every night. Are there [aliens]? …are there? Think about the odds,” he said, lost in thought. He reflected on how far space travel has come since he was a child – nobody had ever even left the atmosphere when Hastad was born. “No. Oh no. I was… ’57 was… was that Sputnik? Yeah, it was the first Russian orbiter I believe, if I’m not mistaken. I was seven years old,” he said. “Well you, you couldn’t even grasp what it meant… and we were the first to step on the moon… so it’s more than just space, it’s everything that leads up to it.” It was reassuring to see such curiosity in a man whose profession demands a love for learning.
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES
Beyond the stress, the perpetual sleep deprivation, and the brutal 8 a.m.’s, college makes for some incredible memories. When asked about what he missed, the president recalled some of the things he enjoyed most about his college experience. “That’s a really good question. I guess you have a certain amount of freedom as a student that you don’t experience as an adult, so to speak – I know it sounds crazy to you, it’ll work a lot differently in a few years, trust me. I miss the opportunity to be with classmates and be engaged in everything from classroom activities, to basketball, to tennis, to the other things that I chose to participate in.” To students trying to create the idyllic college life, the president made sure to emphasize the fact that even he never realized what a true college experience should be while he was in school.
After a slew of rather trivial questions, the president was asked to share any advice he had for students currently attending Carroll University. “Well, if you take advantage of the college experience the way it has been designed for you to pick and choose from, I think you will gain a great deal of benefits that will serve you well long term. But that’s your decision to make. So my advice would be: get engaged in a variety of campus organizations, figure out a way to give back to your community more broadly, and then certainly take advantage of all the academic opportunities you have. Because it only comes along once in your life.”
President Hastad makes a good point – as significant as grades and making preparations for future careers are, it is important not to lose sight of the incredible relationships, moments, and experiences that are forged in school. Take it from the man who eats, sleeps, and breathes college – or, take it from the man who knows how to stave off an imminent alien invasion on campus should the need ever arise.