That individual impacts generation upon generation by inspiring the new ideal. Charles Gildersleeve began his career at the University of Nebraska at Omaha on Sept. 1, 1964.
Chancellor John Christensen spoke on the occasion of Charles Gildersleeve's memorial in 2009. "He brought to the UNO family skills in business, regional planning, and geography, with particular expertise in urban, economic, and educational geography. More importantly, he brought with him a commitment to the teaching/learning process that was, and is, unparalleled."
If Chuck didn't create the construct of being student-centered in all that faculty do, he certainly lived this notion with passion and professionalism each and every day. For many, he was a mentor, model, and inspiration.
Chancellor Christensen continued, "He once told me, 'John, when you suit up for class, you can never prepare enough... you can never give enough to your students, but it's the effort to obtain that unreachable goal that separates the good from the great.' What I know is, Chuck is one of the great ones. Simply said, he is a campus and community treasure and his story lives on with family, with each of us, and his students, and the Gildersleeve way will endure."
Like many entertainer-teachers, Chuck Gildersleeve was a larger-than-life personality, funny and gregarious, but he was also humble, sensitive, and attentive to those around him, especially his students. As a teacher, he imbued the subject of geography with that personality and color that brought the distant up close. Zearing, Iowa, the small town where Gildersleeve was raised, was known to all of his students as "Cupcake Corners and the home of the 40-horse hitch."
Gildersleeve won the highest awards for teaching, both on campus and in his field. He was recognized not only for making a difference in the lives of UNO students but also thousands in the community. He gave hundreds of talks to public school students and teachers in the region. He was co-founder of the Geographic Educators of Nebraska and coorindated the National Geographic Geography Bee for 19 years.
Gilersleeve also served backstage with enthusiasm. He served as chair of the Geography/Geology department from 1981 through 1988 and was proud of his achievements on the Faculty Senate and on the Omaha City Planning Board.