Invasion of Privacy: Union director seeks to foster community

Everyone calls Director of College Union and Activities Charles Matthews "Chip." Before his father died two months prior to his birth, he expressed the wish that his unborn son be a, "chip off the old block."

Matthews went to Roberts Wesleyan College for a degree in business management, but after trying his hand in computer resale, he found that his, "personality was not congruent with corporate thinking."

Matthews returned to school, receiving his masters degree in public administration from Brockport and returning to Roberts as a residence director. This position transferred to Geneseo, where he moved from RD to associate director all the way to director of the College Union and Activities, which has been his position for two years.

Matthews ensures that, "the building is here for people to come and utilize." His first years working at the Union showed him first-hand the value it could offer the campus. "It is symbolic of the philosophy of community," he said. "A community is a place where people can come together and feel safe."

He emphasized the value of such a community, particularly with respect to diversity. This past week's Urban Sophisticates hip-hop performance as well as the Week of Welcome's Jabali drummers represent just a few efforts in this direction. The Union is also working to implant MOSAICs, or Multi-cultural Organizations Space for Activities of Inclusion and Collaboration, a space for multicultural organizations and education about cultures.

Matthews finds the most rewarding part of his job in seeing students develop and grow. At the same time, he often finds it difficult to deal with such a rigorous institution.

"It's sometimes difficult to tear students away from their schoolwork and come to events. But students need more than just books. Co-curricular events are just as important. A well-balanced person is what society is looking for."

Outside of the Union, Matthews said his biggest hobby is mountain climbing. He climbed Mount Rainier in Seattle, which is the largest peak in Washington state at an elevation of 14,410 feet and one of the most active volcanoes in the Pacific Northwest. He has also climbed mountains in California, Utah and the Adirondacks.

Matthews is inspired by, "the idea that if each of us does a little, together we can do a lot to improve the world." This is an idea he hopes to instill in every student he meets.

Matthews' life is not without hardship. Ten years ago, he was diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes, which requires him to wear a device that continuously pumps insulin into his pancreas.

"It truly changes how you look at life," he said. "You have to look to the value in adversity and learn to adapt and overcome it."