When he began his career at Oswego, Culkin Hall wasn't open yet, Penfield Library was housed in what is now Rich Hall, and men and women lived in separate dorms -- with curfews and parental permission slips for off-campus trips on weekends. After 41 years in the residence life and housing operation on campus, Charles "Chuck" Weeks is saying goodbye.
Weeks, who joined the Oswego staff in July 1967 as one of two hall directors at just-opened Seneca Hall, leaves on a high note. At December graduation he was awarded the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service.
But ask Weeks about the biggest reward of his career, and he'll tell you it's the people. "We get to see people develop and grow - whether they are students or staff," he says. "I've been very lucky to have spent my whole life in this environment and couldn't have made a better choice."
He made that choice straight out of graduate school. As a 26-year-old hall director, he was barely older than the residents under his care.
Seneca Hall at the time housed 600 men, including familiar names like John Hurlbutt '71 and John Krauss '71, both of WRVO, and Interim Dean of the College of Communication, Media and the Arts Fritz Messere '71.
There was no alcohol on campus and no co-ed facilities. In fact, most men lived off campus in college-run housing, like King Hall, which now houses the Oswego Alumni Association, and Hillside, where a nursing home now stands. Onondaga Hall was just under construction and Oneida had not even been started yet.
Weeks enjoys the memories of those days, especially the tricks his residents would play on him.
At that time, hall directors could have pets, and Weeks had a golden retriever named Lang. Every so often Lang would go missing and in the middle of the night a photo would be slipped under Weeks' door. The image would feature the dog in some improbable situation, like wearing sunglasses and sitting between two guys sunbathing.
"I'd get calls from Bucklands and I'd have to come and get him; he was there with students," Weeks recalls. "Or the call would come from Hewitt Union and people were complaining he was resting his head on the table while people were eating."
Weeks would grow in his career as the campus grew, working his way up to assistant director of housing, to housing director and eventually associate dean of students.
He would see many changes on campus. The physical ones are most obvious -- buildings erected, academic departments and new majors formed, campus sprawl.
"Everything was pretty new in those days," Weeks remembers. "The student handbook was about 10 pages long. We used to have orientation and people had to wear beanies and get rousted out in the middle of the night, and learn the alma mater and sing it for the orientation leaders."
Student organizations have taken on a whole new flavor since Weeks began his career.
"Student Association is a lot stronger; makes more decisions," he says. Fraternities and sororities became national chapters.
More subtle were the social changes that Weeks and other employees hired around the same time supported. Soon dorms would be co-ed and alcohol allowed on campus.
While students come to college now with computers, iPods and cell phones, even televisions in rooms were a rarity in the late '60s. Weeks remembers sitting in the lounge of Scales Hall and watching people landing on the moon and the lottery for the draft for the Vietnam War.
"Students were sitting, watching what the fate of their life was going to be, on TV," he says, recalling how upset students would get with a low lottery number, which meant you would be drafted and probably go to Vietnam.
And it wasn't just the Vietnam struggle. The year Weeks started, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated and the Civil Rights Movement was sweeping the nation.
But for all the change, Weeks says, in some ways students remain constant.
"In a lot of ways students will always remain the same," he says. "They're at a stage in life when they're developing their independence and they are learning new stuff, and so to some extent, the stages they go through have always been the same."
Weeks himself is going into a new stage in life, as he and wife Loraine, who spent 14 years as secretary to the Newman Center on campus, prepare for retirement. They hope to winter in a southern climate and spend summer months back in Oswego. They'll start their new life with three months in South Carolina, where they arrived just last weekend.
But Weeks, who is the father of two boys, says he and Loraine will be back for sure in the spring -- to see their son, Andy Weeks '09, graduate from Oswego with a degree in communications.
-- Michele Reed
Upper Photo: Chuck Weeks is retiring after 40 years in Oswego's residence life and housing operation.
Lower Photo: At December graduation, Weeks was awarded the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service.
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