On Jan. 2, Associate Dean for Student Engagement and Registrar Connell Alsup retired after 22 years with MSU Law. He earned his Juris Doctor from Detroit College of Law in 1990, and he joined the law college staff in 1994 as assistant dean for student affairs and financial aid director. As Alsup enters this new chapter of his life, he reflects on the many roads he traveled.
“Specifically, I have been asking myself whether I achieved the legacy I desired,” he said.
Alsup came from a working-class family, grew up in the inner city of Detroit, and attended Detroit public schools. Neither of his parents attended high school.
“My mother would always say that she did not feel equipped to tell me how to achieve my goals, but wanted me to know that she would always be there to support me,” he said.
Her support was more than enough. Alsup earned four degrees and was a role model for his two daughters.
“By the way, my daughters and son-in-law are all Spartan graduates. Go Green!” Alsup said.
He can pinpoint a moment in his childhood where he chose his first route to success.
“When I was in my preteens, I recall playing football in front of my house when I noticed my grandmother’s life and health insurance agent at the front door,” Alsup said. “I became mesmerized by this man. Although he wasn’t in a suit, he was dressed like a business man – dress slacks, dress shirt and tie. The other thing that made an indelible impression on me was the car he drove – a 1964 Chevrolet Impala.”
Alsup decided to emulate the insurance agent.
“When I was 17 years old, I bought a used Chevrolet Impala, and have driven Chevrolets my entire life,” he said. Then, when Alsup was only 19, he began working at Chevrolet as a typist. He went on to serve as a buyer for both General Motors and Ford Motor Company. He also worked for 14 years at Comerica Bank, where he rose to assistant vice president in the Special Assets Group.
He later realized that he strove not just to become a businessman, but a professional.
“For me, there were so many qualities I needed to master,” he said. “These included possessing the utmost integrity, ethics, and respect for others. I also strove to perfect the way I express myself in verbal and written communication and to complete tasks efficiently.”
Alsup said he received many opportunities throughout his career from individuals who believed he possessed those qualities, even when he did not initially see them in himself.
“In fact, the Detroit College of Law believed in me and provided me an opportunity to obtain my JD degree, even though my entering credentials placed me at risk,” he said.
As a student at DCL, Alsup was a member of Law Review, president of the Wolverine Student Bar Association, and a teaching assistant for Research, Writing, and Advocacy. He graduated cum laude.
He never took the opportunities he received for granted.
“I approached each with several goals in mind,” Alsup said. “First, I did not want to disappoint those who took a chance on me. So I tried to go above and beyond the call of duty to perform. Second, and equally as important, I believed that I had an obligation to pave the way for others who needed to be given an opportunity. Third, I wanted to take the opportunities and the insights I had to help others achieve their life goals.”
Alsup specifically requested the law college not throw him a retirement party. So faculty, staff, and students compiled their parting words to him in a booklet instead. Their reflections and comments helped him answer the question of whether he achieved the legacy he desired.
He has. Alsup helped thousands of students earn their law degrees, and he has been a fixture of the institution for more than two decades. His legacy will continue after his retirement, as the law college recently created the Connell Alsup Emergency Student Loan Fund in his honor.
“My family tells me that I am always doing for others, but never allow others to reciprocate. So I am humbled that you have tapped into who I am by creating the Connell Alsup Emergency Student Loan Fund that helps others,” Alsup said. “Additionally, this is not the time to change who I am, so I am also making a contribution to the fund.”
MSU?Law associate dean, registrar Connell Alsup retires after 22 years