The night before the big game, he stood astride the door to the crowded bar with a half-full beer in his hand, welcoming all, offering hugs, and never taking a sip.
As Christine and I approached, his arms flew wide and welcomed us into his circle, a private moment in a sea of people, excitement, and drinks. President Brian Casey asked us about work, life, everything. As other alumni and friends approached, he said happy hellos, gave hugs – and kept the focus on us.
After we shared where we were – living in Indy, Christine’s working with another DePauw alumnus he knows, and so on – I became the topic. And I mentioned I was thinking about going back to school.
“You’re not done with school yet,” he said. “You’re not done yet.”
Then he offered to write me a letter of recommendation, and after a few more minutes of catching up, we entered the bar to find others.
It wasn’t lost on us how much time he had spent with just us. Or how big that offer was.
His departure for an amazing opportunity is bittersweet. Starting in 2009, when we sat in his office once a week, my small red recorder taking in our conversations for The DePauw, I got to know him and got to watch how he impacted a place I love. DePauw has gained new buildings, new programs, new partnerships, and, I think, a new sense of self.
And he wrote that letter, which helped me get into my master’s program, which led me where I am today.
Last summer, I was at DePauw for a wedding of two classmates. I caught up that night with the professor who taught my first-year seminar, the first DePauw professor I ever met.
As we chatted, she offered her assessment of where Christine and I were in life.
“You guys are definitely President Casey people,” she said. “You’re Casey people.”
Yeah, I think we are.