It’s been a blessing to see what happens on this campus and how students are transformed from freshman beginners to confident graduates...it’s a feather in the cap to everyone on this campus
When Gene Durgin met with a friend for lunch back in 1991, he had no idea that meeting would lead him to dedicating more than 30 years of public service to Bridgewater State University.
Back then, Durgin and his wife Carol often spent their weekends biking in the Bridgewater area. They would stop for a drink behind the student union building.
“I admired the campus but didn’t know much about it,” said Durgin, who graduated from Boston College with a degree in political science.
That all changed during the now-fateful lunch when his friend casually asked if Durgin would be interested in serving on the school’s Board of Trustees. Members were looking for someone with a background in finance and Durgin’s resume fit the bill.
“It was an off-handed remark,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Sure, I’d be delighted,’ and a few days later President (Adrian) Tinsley asked to meet with me.”
Durgin, who announced earlier this year his plans to retire as chairperson, joined the board in September of 1991. He has since served under three presidents: Tinsley, Dana Mohler-Faria and Frederick W. Clark Jr.
“I enjoyed working with each of them immensely,” Durgin said. “They all had a different view and a different mission.”
As chairperson and member of the Trustees, he helped support each in their respective goals.
“Adrian Tinsley wanted to rebuild the reputation of the campus, and she certainly did that,” Durgin said. “Dana Mohler-Faria’s mission was to expand the campus and under his leadership I believe we built a dozen new buildings; and Fred Clark has built on that and ensured the success of every student and staff member.”
Clark presented Durgin with an honorary key to the university during commencement ceremonies at Gillette Stadium last month.
“Now we’ll have to change the locks,” Clark laughed.
All joking aside, Clark said, he owes a great deal to Durgin both personally and professionally.
“I know I speak for all of us when I say we are so grateful for everything that Gene has done for us,” Clark said. “Gene has always put the best interest of our students first and their lives have been forever changed because of that commitment.”
Durgin is humbled by the praise. It was always important, he said, for him to not micromanage, but rather support.
“You should never be bigger than the institution that you are serving,” he said.
It was also important to always have a sense of humor. Anyone who has ever heard Durgin speak is familiar with his ability to deliver a joke.
“I’m not sure my jokes are very good, I’m sure people felt they had to laugh at them in certain meetings,” he admits, “A sense of humor inspires a lot of things...hope, encouragement. And it gets people in the right mindset.”
One thing is for certain, Durgin’s humor and commitment to Bridgewater State University will be missed by many.
The feeling is mutual.
“I know it’s a cliché, but I’ll miss the people that are here, not just the current staff and leadership but those over many, many years that have contributed to the university in so many different ways,” he said.
“It’s been a blessing to see what happens on this campus and how students are transformed from freshman beginners to confident graduates...it’s a feather in the cap to everyone on this campus.”
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