Davis Faculty Association

Archive for July, 2007

Memorial for Charles Presley Nash

by Myrna Hays, Executive Director of the Davis Faculty Association and former Legislative Coordinator for the Council of UC Faculty Associations.

Charlie Nash was a man who loved a challenge and he had a strong sense of fairness and justice. He had spent many years active in the Academic Senate at UCD before I met him in 1992 when he was elected to the Davis Faculty Association Board; it was just a year before he retired. He remained active on the board until his death and his role expanded from the local board to the statewide organization. In his role as VP of External Affairs, he was essentially the voice of the Council of UC Faculty Associations to the California legislature, with a long list of accomplishments on behalf of UC’s faculty to his credit. Many faculty members, including members of the Council of UC Faculty Associations and of the DFA board, have written to me to express their sadness at the loss of such a valuable member of our campus and statewide University community. He was the pillar of the faculty association organization for many years. His encyclopedic knowledge of the workings of the Senate, the details of the APM, and his contacts with faculty and administrators throughout the University made him invaluable. He worked with the Administration and the Senate when he thought it in the best interests of faculty and students, and he was willing to challenge them when it was necessary to maintain fairness. Due to his long history of service in the Academic Senate, he was well-qualified to conduct DFA forums to assist faculty in “finding their way thru the merit and promotion briar patch,” as well as frequently counseling individual faculty members and assisting them with their personnel cases in their departments and with the Committee on Academic Personnel, as well as often testifying in court on their behalf. Many owe their merit advancements to his effort.

He was adept at ferreting out information, logically organizing it, and building a strong case which he expressed in his own unmistakable style, often sprinkling his comments with forceful and colorful language to make his point. He suffered no fools, or in his language, he “took no crap from anyone!” He often rewrote what I submitted, complaining that I used too long sentences. He wanted clear, blunt prose that did not detract from the ideas he wanted to express.

In his dark suit and wearing his UC tie, he walked the halls of the Capitol, representing the Faculty Associations on legislation of importance to faculty. He had a number of accomplishments in that arena. He opposed legislation banning faculty members from using their own books as texts in their classes; he was instrumental in obtaining $10M for library print collections at UC along with $20M to replace obsolete equipment in the teaching laboratories; and he exerted great effort to establish the rights of faculty to their own intellectual property, including sponsoring DFA forums, criticizing the administration’s position, and going to court to sue on- line note takers for violation of faculty ownership of their own lectures. His most notable effort likely was his collaboration with the California Faculty Association — the Sacramento State University faculty union — to enact intellectual property rights legislation that was signed into law.

But there was more to Charlie than the hard worker who fought for faculty and student causes. He took on battles for others, was pleased when he succeeded, but was not one to indulge in self-pity or disappointment for long when things did not go well. He simply picked up the pieces and went on with business. Thus, on the surface he often seemed like a rather gruff guy, but those who knew him well also knew that underneath that somewhat brusque exterior was a very caring individual, someone you could always count on to have your back. As we worked together over the 15 years, we spent much time on long trips to the Bay area or to southern California for Faculty Association business. This lent itself to long conversations in which I learned much about him and his family and became his friend. He talked of everyday events, delighting in phone calls with his children and grandchildren, detailing how proud he was of all of them; he described trips to exotic places, but his eyes lighted up in anticipation of visits to “count the noses” of his grandchildren. He and Lois had a steady love borne out of many years of marriage. They enjoyed quiet times during which they traveled together and worked together, she on the family genealogy, he on academic issues; both in the League of Women voters. They enjoyed good times with their neighbors on Sequoia; he delighted in the potlucks on the Fourth of July and watching the fireworks from his driveway. He was very lonely after he lost Lois. He tried to take it in stride, simply saying, “It’s just me and the cat.” So it was beautiful to see him fall in love with Clinton. She and his step children reinvigorated him. He was almost like a teenager in love, a love that shined through him. She opened him up into a more relaxed individual who finally began to act like a retiree, taking time to go to watch the ocean waves and to enjoy having youngsters around again.

We shared news of our ups and downs. My husband and I invited him and his family members to our home and joined them in celebrations of his birthdays. And we shared sad or difficult times. We visited him the morning he found that Lois had died in her sleep and we were by his bedside with Clinton when his heart stopped. I shall miss him. He is irreplaceable, but his vision and personality will live on in our memories and provide us with motivation to do our best.

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