WHO: Larry Siegel is vice chancellor for student affairs and university events. Thirty-three years ago, he was hired as the university’s first director of residence life. Now he oversees all of the fun stuff involving student life, from Convocation to Commencement—and some of the not-so-fun stuff, like student discipline.
WHERE: A corner office on the second floor of University Crossing that overlooks the Merrimack River toward North Campus.
THE FUN STUFF: A shallow wall cabinet over a whiteboard opens to reveal three neat columns of dollar bills, $5 bills and a couple of higher denominations—in all, 41 bills totaling $134— mounted on the back of one door. All the bills are signed by people at the university who lost bets to Siegel. “I don’t care about the money. It’s just fun,” he says.
So who’s the biggest loser? Jim Canning, who wagered and lost $20. “I bet him they were going to change the Honors Program to the Honors College and that he would be named the inaugural dean. He said, ‘No way!’” That was in 2015, and Canning has been dean of the Honors College since later that same year.
The bills have also been a target of practical jokes. “One alum who had two bills up there took all the bills off, hid them in an envelope in my office and then started sending me ransom notes, followed by clues. I finally found the envelope taped to the underside of a drawer.”
THE HISTORICAL STUFF: A decade ago, when Siegel and his crew were figuring out where to put a new Starbucks on North Campus, he was scoping out the basement of the Lydon Library stacks when he discovered a treasure trove of water-stained, curled-up documents. “They were literally behind a boiler on the floor,” he says.
He salvaged and framed three of them, including two related to his work with Residence Life. One is a June 5, 1946 photo of Gov. Maurice J. Tobin, surrounded by university officials, signing a bill allowing Lowell Textile Institute to build its first two dormitories for GIs returning after World War II: Smith and Eames. The other is a hand-lettered copy of a bill signed in 1958 by Gov. Foster Furcolo, plus the House speaker, the Senate president and the secretary of state, establishing the Massachusetts State College Dormitory Corp. to build dorms on all of the state’s public campuses.
Most historic of all is another piece of legislation dating from March 21, 1928, changing the name of Lowell Textile School to Lowell Textile Institute, signed by Gov. Alvin Tufts Fuller. Both ceremonial copies of the bills have the original quills used to sign them attached. The quills have colorful ribbons tied around them.
Siegel also has the shiny ceremonial shovel used to break ground for University Suites mounted on his office wall. “That was the first residence hall I built from the ground up,” he says.