Casey to retire June 30
By Carol Stender
Date Modified: 06/25/2012 1:59 PM
CROOKSTON, Minn. — Chuck Casey smiles often when he talks about his University of Minnesota career.
Casey will retire June 30 as University of Minnesota-Crookston chancellor.
Casey earned a veterinary medicine degree from the university in 1963, served on its board of regents and was the Extension Service director.
The people he's met and the students he's served provided the best experiences, he said.
Casey said he upheld values learned growing up on a Prior Lake farm. Education was important to Robert and Mary Esther Casey.
"It was understood," he said. "My mother went to school in Mankato and taught for awhile, but my father never graduated. Once he got through the eighth grade, he returned to the farm. He also wanted us to get an education. He wasn't heavy handed when talking about it, but it was clear that they expected you to stay in school."
Casey attended St. Thomas University.
"I remember going home one weekend and telling my parents that I wanted to be a vet," Casey said.
Casey was impressed with the local veterinarian and he liked working with animals.
He transferred to the U of M in 1959. After graduation he servved in the Army until 1969.
Casey joined a veterinary practice in West Concord. A partnership was created with other veterinarians and the practice also served Dodge Center and Hayfield.
Casey was elected to the U of M's board of regents while he was a practicing veterinarian. The partners covered his workload during the week so Casey attended meetings. Casey repaid their efforts by working weekends and holidays.
"I liked working with the farmers and being outside, but I also wanted to do something different," Casey said.
He found a new job in 1992 with the U of M's continuing education and Extension program. In 1999 he was asked to become the interim and later director of the Extension program.
Both the state and federal government faced tight budgets, which meant reduced funds for Extension.
"We had a lot of great staff members, but dairy herds got larger and the swine industry grew,'' Casey said. "Counties were wondering why they were supporting Extension when the local elevator had agronomists. Farmers were getting their information from private sources."
County commissioners were in a bind because they didn't have the money to continue funding Extension.
"We had to downsize," he said. "We didn't have the resources or the potential to get those resources."
Eighteen regional Extension centers were established and staffed with specialists in livestock, agronomy, 4-H, nutrition and family development. Counties, together or separately, could fund their own Extension educator.
U of M president Bob Bruininks asked Casey to become chancellor at UMC in 2005. Casey's wife, Barbara, was excited to move to northwest Minnesota because she was raised near Fosston and Bagley.
"We are country folks and we feel that the university is important to this part of the state,' he said. "If there was some contribution we could make that would impact northwest Minnesota, we wanted to do it."
The Crookston campus was one of the first to offer students laptops. Crookston has a great online education program and a growing student body. For the third time in 10 years, the college is building a residential hall.
The couple will continue to live in the area, although they haven't ruled out a few trips south in winter.
"The University of Minnesota has offered me so many opportunities," he said. "I got a great education, my three children have all graduated from the U of M and it's provided me with so many opportunities that I never imagined."