By Rick Dandes and Gina Morton
LEWISBURG — Charles Pollock, 59, a senior vice president for external relations at Bucknell University, who tirelessly worked to build a strong and lasting relationship between the university and residents of Lewisburg, died Wednesday at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville after an extended illness.
“Charlie dedicated his professional life to higher education and especially to Bucknell,” said Bucknell President Brian C. Mitchell on Thursday afternoon. “He deeply loved the university and this community, as his dedicated service to both so strongly attest. All of us considered it a privilege to know a man of such warmth, humility, and decency, and we will miss him profoundly.”
At public meetings and forums, Pollock was venerated as a highly effective speaker with an incredible knowledge of the facts.
Behind the scenes, to those who worked closest with him, he was even more admired .
“He represented everything good about Bucknell University,” Mitchell said. “I’ve known him for 20 years. Charlie was smart and quick-witted, a humble guy who was fun to be with. He had a terrific sense of humor.”
The first to hold the external relations position at Bucknell, Pollock was responsible for the university’s efforts to help strengthen the local tax base, the regional economy and local schools.
“Charlie really loved that job,” Mitchell said. “As much as anyone at the university, he was a strong proponent of Bucknell, establishing a strong, direct relationship with Lewisburg. It was a passion of his. He recognized that while Bucknell had strategic interests of its own, it also could be a good neighbor.”
Lewisburg Mayor Judith T. Wagner said, “Charlie was very important to everyone who knew him. He was admired, respected and trusted. He loved Lewisburg and loved the community. Anything we worked on with him was a pleasure. He enjoyed leadership and is irreplaceable.”
In one of his many civic roles, Pollock served as president and board member of the Lewisburg Downtown Partnership, a group whose purpose is to promote the economic vitality, architectural heritage and cultural vibrancy.
Linda Sterling, executive director of the partnership, said Bucknell officials made an excellent choice when theyt appointed Pollock to represent them.
“They could not have made a better gift to the community,” Sterling said. “He led the partnership with vision, enthusiasm and a gentle, guiding hand. Charlie really had an understanding of the importance of the downtown and the community. As a leader he inspired and empowered people. He not only taught us how to talk about positive change but also to make things happen. He was a special individual. I know he will be missed beyond words.”
Bucknell’s Mitchell added, “Charlie always had about him a sense of the possible. While he could be patient in laying out a particular strategy, he was also doggedly determined to get things done.
“But what I’ll miss most is simply coming in and working with Charlie.”
“He was the kind of person who made all of us a little bit better,” noted a longtime friend, Wayne A. Bromfield, Bucknell’s general counsel. “One of the things I most admired about him was his selfless pursuit of objectives that were in the university’s and the community’s best interest.”
Pollock also had leadership roles in the Pennsylvania Downtown Center, the Susquehanna Greenway Partnership, the Forum for Pennsylvania’s Heartland, the Greater Susquehanna Keystone Innovation Zone, the Union County Industrial Development Corp., Evangelical Community Hospital (including as vice chairman of the board of directors), and the Lewisburg Neighborhoods Corp.
He was married to Gayle Pollock, a consultant to colleges and universities, who also serves part-time as Bucknell’s senior associate director of admissions.