Flashback Faculty Friday: Sue Ellen Markey Charlton

In celebration of CSU’s sesquicentennial, the College of Liberal Arts asked emeriti faculty to share memories of their time at CSU. Their stories will be featured each Friday during the month of February. See all “Faculty Friday” features here.  

Sue Ellen Markey Charlton headshot
Professor Emerita Sue Ellen Markey Charlton, 2007

Sue Ellen Markey Charlton

Years at CSU: 1967-2010
Department: Political Science
Academic specialization: International Relations, Comparative Politics, Gender Studies

1. Describe a memory you have of teaching at CSU.

The memories are hazy given the number and diversity of courses taught, from the quarter system (with 3-3-3 loads) when I started my career to my transitional retirement. Likewise, the diversity of student interests and personalities stand out, from the very best students to those who struggled with basic vocabulary. In the end, the interdisciplinary course on women and international development, which I introduced and taught for a long time, was special because it drew students from sophomore to Ph.D. levels, from every college, and a variety of countries (Saudi Arabia, China, Yemen, Ghana, Britain, Mexico….).

2. Describe a memory you have of the building you worked in.

In the five different offices where I “lived” on the third floor of the Clark building, what stands out were the pigeons on the south and west ledges. In 43 years the only time the windows were washed was when one of my graduate students did it, balancing one foot on the ledge and the other in a “pigeon hole.” There was so much pigeon gunk that in two offices I couldn’t close the windows tightly and didn’t dare open them.

3. Describe a success you had while at CSU.

Watching (and working for) the number of women in my department grow from two part-time positions in the 1960s to parity by the time I retired. How many search committees did I serve on to help make this happen?

Sue Ellen Markey Charlton

4. Describe a special moment, experience, or relationship you had while in the spaces of the Liberal Arts.

Often overlooked is the role of the department secretary. During my tenure as a department chair, our senior secretary was Earlene Bell–a terrific person who kept me going when the job lost its appeal. My predecessor as department chair was John Straayer—a “class act”, then and now. My colleagues in the Asian Studies Program from the 1970s to the early 2000s and the friends from the early version of the Faculty Women’s Caucus became important friends and a continuing source of support.

5. Share any other stories or memories you’d like us to know.

It’s hard to believe how much CSU has changed since the 1960s, not just the buildings but the atmosphere. Despite the persistent problems with racism, sexism, and some xenophobia, it’s not likely that a new female faculty member will be asked by a colleague (as I was) whether my husband approved of my working.