Class of 2023 encouraged to ‘build a better world’
As part of the Connecticut College Reunion Weekend 2022, the College will join the Luce family in honoring the life of Charles B. “Charlie” Luce Sr., professor emeritus of physical education at Connecticut College, who passed away at his home this past January, one day after his 93rd birthday. The memorial event will take place on June 5, 2022 at 1 p.m., at the Charles B. Luce Field House, the main athletic department building, which was renamed in Charlie’s honor upon his retirement from the College in 1992. All are welcome to attend.
Charlie came to Connecticut College in 1974 to direct physical education, coach basketball and, most importantly, develop a new varsity athletics program. Charlie was an accomplished coach and administrator, working at the College for 18 critical years, from 1974 to 1992. During this time he not only elevated athletics but he also, quite literally, built the foundation on which the athletics program rests today. He more than doubled the number of sports, adding men’s ice hockey, men’s lacrosse, women’s soccer, and men’s and women’s crew. He also helped oversee the planning and construction of Dayton Arena, in 1979; Dawley Field, in 1986; and what would later become the Lyn and David Silfen Track and Field, in 1996.
Beyond these notable—and visible—achievements, perhaps the greatest legacy Charlie left was his orchestration of Connecticut College’s entry into the New England Small College Athletics Conference (NESCAC), the most prestigious Division III athletics conference in the nation. He recognized that if the College wanted to enhance its position in the world of higher education, athletics needed to be an important match to its outstanding academic program. The result was an athletic program well suited to the mission of Connecticut College and a model for small colleges around the country. It is particularly fitting that this year the College celebrates 40 years as part of NESCAC, having become part of the conference in 1982 under Charlie’s leadership.
Former Trustee Kevon Copeland ‘76 spoke highly of his early mentor. "In my senior year, Coach Luce entrusted/challenged me to recruit and coach a junior varsity team. He further boosted my self confidence by implementing my strategic and personnel suggestions during varsity games! Many have contributed to the evolution of Connecticut College, but no one contributed more to co-education than Charlie Luce, with his boundless energy and far-sighted vision, as he led the development of Dayton Arena, the Athletic Center and the College’s entry into the New England Small College Athletic Conference.”
Charlie is also remembered for his collaborative leadership style and strong rapport with faculty, staff and students. Former basketball and field hockey player Kathryn Smith ’84, who will speak at the memorial, joining President Bergeron and the Luce family, said, “Charlie Luce was the kindest soul, adored by so many in the Connecticut College community. As athletic director, he cultivated a collaborative environment and led with passion and integrity. He truly cared about people, enriching the lives of everyone around him. The admiration and respect he garnered is a testament to the significant impact he had on so many student-athletes and colleagues. Charlie lived a very full life with infectious enthusiasm and a delightful spirit—and I considered him among my dearest friends. His legacy will endure forever as the original Head Camel.”
Charlie stepped down as athletic director in 1992 but remained with the College as an advancement officer for two more years. In 1996, he was inducted into the Connecticut College Athletic Hall of Fame, and, in 2000, received the College Medal in recognition of two decades of transformative leadership.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that gifts in his memory be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society or to Connecticut College, directed toward student financial aid.
Charlie was predeceased by his first wife, Gay Devine Luce, mother of his four sons: Chuck P’97; Mike; Tim ’79, P’11; and Bill ’81 P’14. He is survived by his wife, Marjorie; his sister, Claire; his stepson, Bill, and stepdaughter, Heather; his 12 grandchildren, including fellow Camels Emily ’97, Erin ’11 and Nick ’14; and his three great-grandchildren.