Posted November 26, 2013 by Erin Morrell 

Leaving a Legacy

As many of you already know, my dad, Chuck Morrell, recently retired after 31 years of service to the University of Connecticut and the Student Union. It’s certainly been an interesting few months of conversations, celebrations, and the unexpected as our family (mostly me and my dad) adjusts to him not working full time anymore in student affairs.Morrell

It has been busy in terms of the planning for his retirement. When he made the decision to retire, one of the first things that we talked about was his legacy, not only in student affairs, but more specifically at the University of Connecticut and within the Student Union. It’s been his place of employment for more than 30 years. It’s been his life’s work. It is home. He has touched the life of so many professionals, graduate students, and undergraduate students—hundreds, maybe even thousands, over the years. I am proud of the impact that he has had not only as his colleague in student affairs, but also as his daughter. We talked for a while about what we could do to leave a lasting legacy at the union and finally decided to create an endowed scholarship in his name. The Chuck Morrell Customer Service Award has been established to provide an annual award and gift to a graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in customer service to students, faculty, staff, and guests in the Student Union.

The first week after his retirement was interesting. We had just come off his two retirement parties that brought together so many people from his life, work, and involvement in ACUI. His former supervisor and many retired employees from the Student Union came out to celebrate him. To see some ACUI Region 1 friends in attendance at his party was so special to him, and I know that he considers those folks lifelong friends and not just ACUI colleagues.

Listening to so many people talk about the impact that he has had on them over the years is not new for me, as I have known ever since I was a little kid running around the Student Union. It was special to hear was how authentic my dad is and always has been. That is one thing I have always known about him. His authenticity is apparent when someone meets him. He has always been intentional in all that he does. As some would say, “This is who Chuck is.” He has never pretended to be something he’s not. He takes pride in all the projects that he has worked on—most of all, he was the proud of the renovation and construction of the Student Union. It was truly a labor of love. The Student Union is not just a building to him. It’s a place where people gather, create memories and build community.

It’s an interesting time now. Before, it was hard to catch my dad at his desk, but I knew I could always catch him on his cell phone as he wandered the building before each day began. Now, I’ll randomly get calls or texts in the middle of the day asking how my day is going. It’s so nice to hear from him as he relaxes and enjoys this time to himself. My dad has never been the selfish type, but I hope that he is truly taking some time to enjoy life and all it has to offer. He will get to spend more time with family and friends and make plans to do the things that there was never enough time for before retirement, such as golfing and catching up on his favorite TV shows.

Last weekend at the final Region 1 conference, two people were honored that have recently retired from the field, and my dad was one of those people. I still tear up every time I hear someone talk about him and the profound impact he has had throughout his career. Kim Schwarz, his former graduate assistant, longtime colleague, and friend, spoke about him and shared a T-shirt that my brother and I created to surprise my dad at his retirement party. The front read “Be Like Chuck”—a phrase coined by former ACUI President Rich Steele at an annual conference many years ago. The back was a list of Chuck’s Rules to Live By:

Chuck’s Rules to Live By  

  • Students First
  • You're only as good as the last thing you didn't do
  • It costs what it costs
  • Never apologize; it's a sign of weakness
  • I can’t make this stuff up
  • Never go anywhere without a knife
  • What we have here is a failure to communicate
  • Never take anything for granted
  • It's better to seek forgiveness than ask permission
  • Clean up your own mess
  • It is what it is
  • I know a guy ...
  • When the job is done, walk away

While it will certainly be weird for me to visit the Student Union and not see him as he was a permanent fixture for so long, this is a new adventure, and I couldn’t be happier for him.

Happy retirement, dad. You deserve it!

Erin Morrell

Erin Morrell is the Associate Dean for Campus Activities & Orientation at Albertus Magnus College.

Erin has responsibilities in advising student organizations, including the programming board and student government, and supervising department student employees. She oversees the Albertus@Night late night programming series, and serves as the Director of New Student Orientation.

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