Kicking off Homecoming Weekend on Sept. 29, Lafayette College hosted a dedication ceremony for the newly renovated Hugel Welcome Center in Markle Hall.

The space—which often serves as the first place future Leopards head to when they arrive on campus, and provides a warm welcome to visitors and alumni—features new furniture, décor, and video screens that feature quotes from Lafayette students, alumni, and faculty. It also offers a pedestrian walkway with native landscaping that beckons visitors from the top level of the Markle Hall parking deck into the first level of Markle Hall.

“In the world of admissions and campus visits, first impressions can mean the difference between ​a​ prospective student becoming an applicant or an admitted student enrolling at Lafayette,” says Forrest Stuart, vice president for enrollment management. “We expect between 6,000 and 7,000 prospective students to visit Lafayette each year, and that translates into approximately 15,000-20,000 people when family members are included. The Hugel Welcome Center serves as the front porch for the College, and we can be proud of the first impression this facility offers.”

Entrance to the Hugel Welcome Center at Lafayette College

The Hugel Welcome Center was made possible thanks to a bequest from Charles “Charley” Hugel ’51 and his wife, Nina.

“Lafayette was in need of a welcome center that invited not only prospective students into the fold, but also alumni, guest speakers, and the like,” Stuart says. “The Hugel family helped Lafayette fulfill that need.”

Charley was born Aug. 9, 1928, in Plainfield, N.J. A graduate of Plainfield High School and Lafayette College, he always felt indebted to the College for giving him a firm foundation that led to his successful business career. Charley began working for New Jersey Bell Telephone Co. in 1952 as a student engineer, and he retired some 30 years later from AT&T as an executive vice president directly responsible for AT&T International, Bell Laboratories, and Western Electric Co. After retiring from AT&T, Charley immediately took on the position as CEO of Combustion Engineering, where he later added chairman of the board to his title.

Image of Lafayette College officials cutting the ribbon at the Hugel Welcome Center dedication ceremony

Lafayette College dedicated the newly renovated Hugel Welcome Center and celebrated with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 29. From left to right: Imani Elson ’25; Robert E. Sell ’84, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Forrest Stuart, vice president for enrollment management; Nicole Hurd, Lafayette College president; Tyler Osipower ’24; and Mukamani Luchera ’25

During his 10 years at Combustion Engineering, Charley was responsible for negotiating the first joint venture between a U.S. company and the Soviet Union. Also of note was his tenure as non-executive chairman of the board of RJR-Nabisco, where he presided over the leveraged buyout of the corporation by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts (KKR), which was documented in the book and associated motion picture Barbarians at the Gate. Charley was also chairman of the PGA Senior Tour, and chairman of the U.S./Soviet Trade Commission and the U.S./China Trade Council.

Charley met Cornelia (Nina) Fischer, a former grade school and high school classmate,

in the lunchroom at the Plainfield New Jersey Bell Labs office in 1952, and they were married in April 1953. Nina was the woman behind the man in their 64-year marriage and shared in many of his successes.

Charley joined the Lafayette Board of Trustees in 1977, after a two-year term as president of the College’s Alumni Association. He was elected vice chair of the board in 1981 and chairman in 1986, a position he held until retiring in 1992, when he was elected to emeritus status.

He was deeply engaged in philanthropy and headed the capital portion of The Campaign for Lafayette, which concluded in 1985 and raised more than $53 million, a record for Lafayette at the time. Ten years later, he signed on to chair the Lafayette Leadership Campaign and helped raise $213 million, more than $60 million above the College’s goal. The College named the Hugel Science Center in recognition of the couple’s $10 million commitment to the campaign. An earlier gift from the couple endowed the Cornelia F. Hugel Chair in History, now held by D.C. Jackson.

Charley’s Lafayette legacy includes sons, Jeff and Chris Hugel ’83, as well as granddaughter, Lt. Lauren E. Hugel ’06.

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