Dean Grissel reflects on her time at Chaminade


Courtesy of Dean Grissel

After 14 wonderful years as the Dean of Students, Chaminade will say goodbye to Dean Grissel Benitez-Hodge.

By Brittain Komoda, Staff Writer

Keeping a promise to her husband that she would retire when she turned 65 so they can reconnect with family in Connecticut, New York and Puerto Rico, Grissel Benitez-Hodge gave notice to Chaminade president Bernie Ploeger last May that this would be her final year.

After 14 years of being the Dean of Students at Chaminade University, she will be embarking on a new journey in Orange County, Calif.

“It was very hard [to make this decision to leave] because Chaminade is a good place and I wasn’t unhappy at my job, but it feels right because it was my decision,” said Grissel.

After officially retiring on June 30, Grissel will take a few months to visit and reconnect with family on the East Coast and then settle into her new home in Orange County, Calif., to be closer to her two grandsons, who are now 9 and 11. She plans to stay active with professional organizations, volunteer work and become connected with churches on the West Coast.

Grissel started her career at Chaminade in Fall 2002. Relocating almost 5,000 miles away from her home in Connecticut, she said it was “the grace of God” that brought her here. Throughout her 14 years at Chaminade, she oversaw the student affairs division, which included athletics, residential life, student support services, dining, security, counseling, judicial affairs and the Office of Student Activities and Leadership (OSAL). Her accomplishments are endless, ranging from facilities upgrades and curricular development to building a strong athletics department.

“My biggest memory and growth has been in the Catholic faith as well as the Marianist traditions and the Hawaiian traditions,” Grissel said. “That has really enriched my tenure at the university. It has been very valuable, an experience I probably would have never learned anywhere else.”

Grissel initially committed to Chaminade for just three years, but she stayed more than a decade longer than that because she and her husband love the weather.

“Hawaii has been beautiful, it makes everything easier because of the weather and beauty,” she said.

She plans on returning to Hawaii in the future for a Maui Invitational or for upcoming celebrations the university will have in the next couple of years and says “Chaminade and Hawaii will always be part of our connections.”

She is leaving her job in the trusting hands of Allison Jerome, who has worked under Grissel as the associate dean. She knows the future of Chaminade lies within its mission, saying “it should be a priority in the university to ensure that the student that they bring here value that mission, the people that work and teach here should value that mission and if it continues to be strong, Chaminade can really strive.”

When asked to describe Chaminade in one word, she responded with “undiscovered, it’s the best kept secret in Hawaii.”

Her days at Chaminade are slowly coming to an end, but the accomplishments she led the university to achieve will always be remembered.

“I will miss my president, who has been extremely, extremely supportive of me since I’ve been here in the beginning,” Grissel said. “I will miss the staff and faculty, my colleagues. I’m going to miss Hawaii, but most of all I will miss everyone at this institution who I have been in contact with. I will never be able to replace the experiences and the people that I’ve met here.”