Brutally Honest: The grandfather you wish you had

Denny Patterson

It is extremely unfortunate that students, faculty and staff will have to bid farewell to another Millikin icon. Known as the “Godfather of Grades,” Walt Wessel announced last week that he would be retiring from his position as the university’s registrar. As a man who has taken care of thousands of students, it would be disrespectful not to say that Wessel is truly a Millikin legend.

We already know that the institution’s administration is in limbo, but it’s a real shame that numerous faculty members who have been here practically forever are stepping down or retiring. It is unknown if the administration transitions have impacted his retirement decisions, but we must respect it. It’s been said before, and I’m going to say it again – we are losing faculty at an alarming rate. Seriously, they are dropping like flies. With Wessel leaving, I am sure the institution’s stability is going to be questioned once again.

Wessel is a man I always had great respect for. I stated in a previous “Brutally Honest” article that students automatically click with certain faculty members. Wessel didn’t have three to four students who sought out his help, he had hundreds. After a few meetings, you learn that he is a family oriented man with the heart of a teddy bear. More so, he is the man who has secured the futures of many students.

When you first meet Wessel, do not fret. He might be a little gruff, but don’t let the outer appearance fool you. When I first met him, I automatically perceived him as a villainous curmudgeon who had all the power. Would he use his power for good or evil? I didn’t know. I was just a poor, lost transfer student trying to figure out this crazy game we call life. But, I did know that this was a guy I was going to need to be on good terms with – needless to say, challenge accepted.

Because I was always the kid who tried to maintain a good relationship with my school’s authority figures, I was considered a suck up. Is it really sucking up when these people can benefit your future? It’s the beginning process of networking. They have the contacts that can help you in so many ways, and I wish students would realize that. Building a strong relationships with any faculty member can and will help you in some way.

We might not always see Wessel outside his office, but he is always available when needed. No matter the question, he has the answer, or knew where to direct you. Wessel is the kind of resource a college should have. He is more than willing to sit down and figure out your future. I’m graduating in December, and I wasn’t sure what credits were counted and which credits transferred in – it was a hot mess. Wessel went through my entire degree audit and pin-pointed what credits transferred in, and what classes I still needed. Thanks to him, I can finally relax and breathe.

As for whoever will be taking over the position, I hope they will follow in Wessel’s footsteps. He is like the grandfather you wish you had. He watches over every one of us and makes sure we are on the right track to graduate. By encouraging us, I believe that is the number one way to earn the respect.
I might not have known Wessel as long as many others, but he has definitely left an impact on me. He will surely be missed.