Known for hosting the “Wheel of Fortune” game shown, Pat Sajak, vice chairman of Hillsdale’s board of trustees, will serve as the next chairman after Chairman William Brodbeck ’66 steps down. External Affairs

After decades of faithful service to Hillsdale College as its Chairman of the Board of Trustees, William Brodbeck ’66 is stepping down and will be replaced by Vice Chairman Pat Sajak.

Unlike Brodbeck, Sajak — who is famous for running the TV show “Wheel of Fortune” — did not attend Hillsdale, though he’s served as Vice Chairman of the Board for 15 years. But Brodbeck said Sajak’s lack of a degree won’t hamper him at all.

“Pat is a bril­liant mind. He brings a sound knowledge of the school,” Brodbeck said. “He can dra­mat­i­cally move Hillsdale forward, both on campus and around the country.”

And that’s what Sajak plans to do: He intends to keep Hillsdale on the path shaped by Brodbeck, Arnn, and the rest of the board, improving the “physical plant” of the school through ren­o­va­tions, and mon­i­toring the aca­demic stan­dards it has set.

Sajak said he would like to see Hillsdale’s national reach con­tinue to expand.

“Our funding comes from people who have never stepped foot on campus,” he said. “And that’s the chal­lenge: the outreach.”

As Brodbeck pru­dently led the Board of Trustees for many years, Arnn said Sajak will do the same, with, perhaps, one dif­ference: he’ll bring his wits.

“Pat is a man of calm and steady judgment, pos­sessed also of a wicked wit. He is a man of selfless service, famous and yet not inter­ested in celebrity, hilarious and yet serious. He knows the pur­poses of the college and is devoted to them,” Arnn said.

Brodbeck said he decided to step down from the chair­manship because he felt his time had come.

“I don’t want to be in the way,” he said. “It’s time for me to go and let Pat have this oppor­tunity. And I can do it knowing he will fulfill his duty well.”

Brodbeck’s service to Hillsdale is one of ines­timable worth, Arnn said.

“I have dis­couraged this suc­cess­fully for a couple of years, but now he says, ‘It is time,’” Arnn said. “Of course he has lost his sight. In the face of that sore trial, he has been the brave and cheerful man, the high-minded and self-dep­re­cating man, that I have known these 19 years. I think he makes but one mistake about his blindness, which is to think that it causes others incon­ve­nience. It does not. Rather it gives others oppor­tunity to repay in some small way the large kind­nesses he spreads about himself wherever he goes.”

Sajak said he is thankful Brodbeck will con­tinue to serve on the board, adding that he will con­tinue to look to him for “wisdom and guidance.” Brodbeck said he isn’t planning on going any­where, noting that he and his wife, Jan, will still live in Hillsdale and con­tribute what they can to the school.

“Our intent is to stay here as long as we’re useful,” he said. “We deeply adore this place.”

This tran­sition has been about a year in the making, according to Sajak, who has spent more time on campus, sitting down with staff and stu­dents, to get a “closer look” at the school and better under­stand its “daily ins-and-outs.”

Since returning to Hillsdale to serve on the board in 1996, Brodbeck said he has seen the school grow and transform in tremendous ways. When former Pres­ident George Roche III stepped down, Brodbeck spear­headed the effort to bring Larry Arnn, then the pres­ident of the Claremont Institute, to Hillsdale. Brodbeck guided the school through the tran­sition and has since been apart of major changes on campus and around the country.

Under Brodbeck’s direction — though he credits the board’s action and Arnn’s vision — Hillsdale has ren­o­vated and built dozens of buildings on campus, developed the Wash­ington D.C. Kirby Center, expanded the school’s online courses as well as Imprimis’ reach, which now arrives in the homes of nearly 6 million people nationwide. 

“There’s no aspect of the school that hasn’t improved under their watch — under the vision of Arnn and the passion of Bill,” Sajak said.

Arnn recalled the day Brodbeck called him to ask if he’d come to Hillsdale, and said he wouldn’t have accepted if anyone else had asked.

“It matters very much to my life that he was the one who called me about this job,” Arnn said during his remarks at an event hon­oring the Brod­becks. “At a good college with a beau­tiful idea behind it, being the pres­ident is unique. And it would not be so except for the service of Bill Brodbeck.”

The number of chairmen at Hillsdale College, in its 175 years, has been small, and Sajak said it is the honor of a lifetime to be among them.

“I’m in an industry where we’re always patting each other on the backs for dif­ferent awards we’ve won,” he said, “but this one is at the top of my list.”