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Gene Rockey To Retire After 31 Years At Penn State

Few employees here at Penn State have put in as many dedicated years as Gene Rockey, or loved it as much as he did.

Rockey worked at the university for 31 years, starting his days off working a number of different jobs. He spent his first five years in mailing services, paint crew, and landscaping. For the last 26 years, his second home has been located in the HUB working full-time in Copy Services.

His time at the university will come to a close very soon though, as he’s retiring and pressing “print” on the final page of his Penn State story on Wednesday, September 26.

Rockey was born and raised in Pleasant Gap, PA — about eight miles from Penn State’s main campus. He knew Happy Valley was the place to be when it came time to look for a job.

“This was the place to work,” Rockey said. “Working at this university opens up a lot of doors and opportunities in different places for people.”

Rockey helped numerous student organizations and gave credit to the students for helping him feel young over the past 31 years. He said the best thing about working here has been the people, giving a special shoutout to Mike “the Mailman” Herr.

“I’ve built a lot of great relationships with faculty and staff,” Rockey said. “I’ve been telling a lot of them when my last day is, and they’re freaking out saying, ‘We don’t want you to go.'”

A lot has changed between the start of Rockey’s career in 1987 and now. He said life in Happy Valley used to be much simpler, but added that the university has evolved in a very positive way with the use of technology.

However, he’s seen the greatest difference in Penn State’s students. Rockey feels like students nowadays are so involved with electronics that a true, meaningful face-to-face interaction is rare. This is why Rockey felt like it was so important to be a positive role model for students and to try and put a positive spin on everything.

Rockey has been here to witness many historic moments in Penn State’s history, but he says some particularly memorable moments were the shooting on the HUB lawn in 1996 and the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal.

Although he’s seen many students pour through the HUB on a daily basis, Rockey will most remember the people he’s met during his time in Happy Valley. He’s made hundreds of meaningful friends throughout his career and will be remembered as someone who was always there for students when they needed some positivity in their lives.

Rockey plans to decompress and take in concerts and sporting events in the area during his retirement.

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