A Tale of Two Charlies

When he needed help, Chuck Rusowicz ’69 found it. He later found inspiration for helping more students in need.

Some years ago, Charles “Chuck” Rusowicz ’69 was a promising student working his way through school when some unfortunate events led to him losing his job, having to spend weeks in a hospital, and worrying about whether he could stay enrolled and complete his degree. But the support he received from the Stevens community put him back on track, and in gratitude, he is now giving back.

During the winter of his sophomore year, Rusowicz was held up and severely injured at his night-job at a gas station, forcing him to endure an arduous rehab, and to face mounting tuition and medical bills, all while falling behind on his classwork. Fortunately, Rusowicz found help from another Charles.

“My ability to continue at Stevens was fading,” Rusowicz said. “Dean Charles Perruzzi came to the rescue by providing me with a scholarship and student loan to cover my remaining undergraduate years.”

Perruzzi, who graduated from Stevens in 1963, was then the dean of student life (or in those days, “the dean of men”). He also earned a graduate degree in 1966, and in 1968, he helped form STEP, the Stevens Technical Enrichment Program for students from diverse backgrounds.

Rusowicz’s professors and classmates also helped him catch up on his coursework during his recovery. And, he was able to get a new job with physics professor George Yevick, which started as a summer internship on a nuclear fusion experiments project, titled Project Chalice. The post extended into a graduate research position, which enabled Rusowicz to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering in 1971.

“Working as a recently graduated engineer with a group of young physicists on Project Chalice is reminiscent of The Big Bang Theory television show,” Rusowicz said. “Professor Yevick, or ‘Jumping George’ as we students knew him, was just as enthusiastic and energetic back at Project Chalice as he was when he was ‘on stage’ during his lectures.”

After Stevens, Rusowicz built a successful career at Con Edison. Now retired, he and his wife, Janet, recently established a term scholarship to help students who may be facing situations that could cause them to drop out, similar to an impact assistance scholarship. The Rusowiczs’ scholarship is named in recognition of Charles Perruzzi, and with a preference for physics students, in honor of Professor Yevick.

“If it were not for these two fine men,” Rusowicz said, “my wife and I would never have our present quality of life. Stevens doesn’t just educate its students, it is a moral supporter of its extended family.”