A century at DePauw


Instead of handcuffs, badges and whistles, figurines of Wonder Woman, various framed yearbook pictures of smiling children, kid-drawn doodles and decorative patterned pillows dominate the office at the very end of the hall at 313 Locust.

Charlene Shrewsbury is the walking embodiment of her private office—surprising. Layered. Unique. Perhaps not what one might typically expect from an individual with such an important job: serving as interim director of DePauw University’s Public Safety.

DePauw is nothing short of home to Shrewsbury. After all, it’s where she spent her days patrolling through DePauw’s campus as a street officer over 18 years ago. Street officers are in charge of taking calls (as more calls are placed to the office at night), foot patrols around campus and checking for any propped doors.

Shrewsbury recently assumed the role of interim director in Nov. 2017.

As a person of color who has spent her entire life around the DePauw and Greencastle communities, the recent events have left Shrewsbury nothing short of emotional.

“I chose to come back to live in Greencastle. I take it personal,” Shrewsbury said. “Not knowing who it is doesn’t make me happy; I’m livid. The person who did this is a coward. It’s 2018. I’m embarrassed.”

As interim director, the first thing on Shrewsbury’s list upon swinging open Public Safety’s glass entrance door each morning is to review the daily summary—what happened the previous 24 hours—and then send it out to administrators. She usually has a meeting shortly thereafter that starts anywhere from 9:30-10 a.m. Between sending out the daily summary and walking to her meeting, Shrewsbury will eat breakfast and read through reports.

After the morning meeting concludes, Shrewsbury returns to her office. Shrewsbury says that, around this time of year, she spends a lot of time working on the office’s Clery stats. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act—or ‘Clery stats,’ for short— is a federal law that requires universities to “maintain and disclose campus crime statistics and security information.”

Shrewsbury proceeds to work on Clery or work with either the assistant director or the detective on any cases that are open. This could include typing up supplements, doing follow-up with dispatchers and officers, or asking someone to come in. Shrewsbury also makes time twice a week for open office hours and the “random walk-in questions” that happen from time to time.

Beyond her innate sense of belonging from working nearly 20 years at DePauw Public Safety, Greencastle has always been home to Shrewsbury—quite literally.

Greencastle is where Shrewsbury grew up, where generation after generation of her family sought out work and labored dutifully to create their living, where she currently raises her four children—Hayden, Quincy, Tiana, and Sydney—alongside her husband Chris.

But Shrewsbury’s family ties with Greencastle extend well beyond her days on DePauw’s campus.

Oscar Chapman, Shrewsbury’s grandfather, hopped on a train from Springfield, Tennessee sometime back in the 1920’s looking for a job. “There wasn’t work back in those days,” Shrewsbury says. Oscar wound up 350 miles away from home in the developing city capital of Indianapolis.

She says a job opened up for Oscar “at this place called DePauw” being a hod carrier for one of DePauw’s current upperclassmen dormitories, Mason Hall. Since there “weren’t that many places for black people to live” at the time of Oscar’s arrival, Shrewsbury says, people often rented out rooms in their houses.

Oscar eventually went on to become the Beta Theta Pi fraternity’s “house man” on campus, and even had a room named after him—the “Oscar Chapman Closet,” or “Oscar’s Closet,” which features a large portrait of Oscar on the wall.

Once they settled in, they sent for their two kids: their eldest daughter Dorothy and their son, Oscar Jr.. Shrewsbury’s mother, Dorothy, was in fourth or fifth grade when she joined her parents in Greencastle.

Dorothy Brown has been a highly esteemed figure within the Greencastle community seemingly from the start.

Dorothy became the first African American schoolteacher in Putnam County at Ridpath Elementary School for 16 years. She then taught at Miller Elementary School (which has since been converted to condominiums) before returning to Ridpath as the first African American principal in Putnam County for three years.

Ultimately, Dorothy wound up working at the same spot as her parents did once before: DePauw University. According to Dorothy, DePauw had only 29 African American students and four Latino students when she returned to Greencastle in 1986.

Shrewsbury’s mother served as a faculty member of the education department in one of DePauw’s academic buildings, Asbury Hall, and eventually became assistant dean of students. When DePauw began the multicultural affairs on campus, Dorothy was the first advisor. Dorothy continued working for DePauw until her eventual retirement.

The Cultural Resource Center—another building on DePauw’s campus—was re-named in 2009 to the Dorothy A. Brown Cultural Resource Center “due to Dorothy’s contributions to the college and city,” according to DePauw’s website.

Dorothy will also be receiving an honorary doctorate from DePauw during this year’s commencement ceremony in May 2018.

Today, Shrewsbury is focused on her job as interim director and is working with her team to keep DePauw’s campus as safe as possible.

“I truly want to find who’s responsible,” she said. “I will share more, I’m hoping sometime soon I can give updates. Everyone is working diligently, you know after hours and late at night, in an attempt to find out who’s doing this.”