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Gifts from Longtime Math Professor Add Up to Help for Deserving Students
Dr. Charles L. Getchell, attracted to Lycoming because it "fostered a love of learning through experience, intuition and analysis," joined the College's faculty in 1967 while earning his Ph. D. at Harvard.
Raised on a farm in northeast Massachusetts, he attributes his own love of learning to his humble beginnings and a grandmother who, in addition to raising Getchell, was a firm believer in the value of education.
He recalls one of his own college semesters during which he took a load of seven courses, receiving six A's and one B, in German. Always encouraging him to strive for the best, his grandmother's only comment was, "You were never very good at languages."
Getchell taught math at Lycoming until 1988 and served as a department chair for several years. "I was able to teach math in a way that encouraged discovery and intuitive thought, not just rote memorization of rules," he reflects. And Getchell left a lasting impression on the College. He was founding president of Phi Kappa Phi, helped design the student computer center and worked with an art student to create a geodesic dome in the Academic Center.
In last years, he became fascinated with computer science and operations research and created a sorting algorithm. This work led him to the corporate world and optimizing algorithms for what is now the Nielsen Company, helping clients worldwide understand what consumers watch and buy. His son David '85 still works there.
Getchell, 71, and his late wife Joan each brought 4 children to the marriage (including alumni Michael '86 and Christine '91). He also has 17 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. In addition to gardening and cooking, he still plays the organ at weddings, funerals and other "gigs" and passes his payments on to Lycoming.
To honor the College's role in his life, Getchell has established several gift annuities. They fund the Joan C. and Charles L. Getchell Endowed Scholarship for deserving students who perform extensive community service, preferably in healthcare. The scholarship was established both as a memorial to Joan and to honor the role of the college in their lives, and the lives of their children. "I receive income for life and tax benefits, while leaving a legacy for Lycoming and the students who will benefit from my support," he says.
And Getchell gives back through service as well, having volunteered for Hurricane Katrina relief and twice traveled to Guatemala. From humble roots himself, he appreciates the fullness a passion to learn and educate has brought to his life and wants future generations of Lycoming students to enjoy the same. His grandmother would be proud and his wife, Joan, very pleased.