The sequence started with RU alumnus Pat Miller '83, a former stand-up comic who occasionally adjudicates Virginia High School League Theatre Festival competitions. A few years ago, Miller spoke to a group of competitors who had just finished a scene.
"You always have to be in control of your movements and motions. You always have to be in control because art is control," he advised them during the critique, hearing in his head the voice of Professor Hayes. " 'Art is Control' is something Chuck beat into our heads regularly and religiously—and still does," Miller said.
There are many Chuck-Hayes-isms that have gained similar popularity since 1968, when Hayes came to what was then Radford College. In his four decades of service, Hayes has influenced, inspired and affected generations of students. He was granted professor emeritus status in 2008, and his influence is still touching hundreds of people.
Hayes played leading roles in numerous areas beyond theatre: administration of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, hosting the Governor's School at RU for the first time, bringing the Virginia Thespian Conference to campus, a student exchange program with Middlesex University in London and, most recently, helping to coordinate a redesign of the RU website.
An area in which his contributions may be less well known is sports. For eight years, he was the faculty athletics representative.
Known early on as one of the campus grammar police, Hayes seemed particularly attentive to adverbs, so much so that another tattoo might read, "-ly, that's an adverb!"
"Chuck was always a stickler for proper grammar and correct word usage," said Mark Curran '82. "If a student would say something like, 'Tonight's rehearsal went by quick,' Chuck would immediately respond with, 'Quickly! That's an adverb!' He never let lazy or sloppy language slide."
This worked as an advantage for Hayes, Curran said. "As students, we never wanted to let him down because we knew he had very high standards. We worked hard to make sure we lived up to those standards."
Hayes is also passionate about promptness, stating it this way: "To be on time is to be late; to be early is to be on time; to be late is to be dead."
Beyond the philosophy, grammar and promptness, a quality mentioned time and again when people speak of Hayes is his professionalism.
Professor Joseph Scartelli, dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts, said his first thought of Hayes is, "Very professional. He even dressed it. He was always very white-shirt-and-tie, everything pressed, everything extremely presentable."
Hayes set an example for his students throughout his 40 years of teaching at RU. To prepare for his daily role of professor, he rose at 5 a.m. and was in work mode by 8 a.m.
"I went to military school," Hayes said. "Probably some of that is from there. When I first came to Radford, coat and tie were required of all professors."
A certain aloofness is associated with the professorial stereotype, but it does not apply to Hayes's relationship with his students.
"He's hard to describe because he was always very professional but at the same time, he wasn't stiff," said Leah Morehead '04. "He knew how to have a good time, especially when working on shows. He knew that there had to be an element of fun in it or else it was just miserable."
At the same time, she said, "He didn't tolerate a lot of nonsense. If you were trying your best, he would go out of his way to help you. If you were fooling around, he was very firm. He had patience. He knew that we were young and a little crazy sometimes."