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After 45 Years in Classroom, Professor Emeritus Still Supports UConn Students

By Grace Merritt | 2 Minutes to read

You could listen for hours on end to Professor Emeritus Curt Beck tell stories in his soft German accent and gentle sense of humor about his early days at UConn.

With grandfatherly charm, he recalls stories about UConn in the 1950’s when North Eagleville Road used to be called Oil Can Alley. It earned the name because it was lined with drafty, temporary housing for married faculty who would have to use cans to get oil from barrels along the road and bring it in to feed a small oil heater in the house.

Or he might tell you about how he emigrated from Berlin, Germany in 1938 to escape the Nazis during the lead up to WWII. Or about the three wives he has outlived, each holding a special place in his life. Or that he just wrote his memoir.

Curt has lived nearly 100 years, about half devoted to UConn. He spent 45 years teaching political science to thousands of undergraduates. He’s contributed to the university in many ways during those years, serving on the faculty senate, heading the department and running the internship program. More recently, he has donated to the university, creating funds that support students.

Inspired by his late daughter, Meredith, and her struggles with mental health at college, he decided to set up a fund to help UConn students get counseling and mental health services.

“To avoid serious deterioration in mental illness, you need to avoid stress,” he explained. “Anybody knows that going to college is stressful. So I thought it was obvious that the university should do something to provide help for people who show the first signs of needing help for mental health.”

The Meredith Beck Mental Health Information and Support Fund is designed to help students get access to help more quickly.

More recently, he established the Curt Beck Law and Public Service Opportunity Fund, which funds scholarships for students pursuing a pre-law internship. He was inspired by a former student, Hope Seeley, ’86 (CLAS), ’89 JD, who had asked him about internship opportunities for pre-law students when she was an undergraduate.

Curt discovered there were no such internships available at the time. He was so impressed with Hope, he decided to set up the pre-law internship fund. Hope eventually found an internship working for the public defender’s office. Ironically, it was in the same judicial district where she is now a Superior Court judge.

“I am pleased that he set that internship fund up because I think, for students, the ability to have the internships can certainly change their lives, add much to their education, and lead to job opportunities and real-life skills,” Hope said.

Provide life-changing opportunities to pre-law students with a gift to the Curt Beck Law and Public Service Opportunity Fund.

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