Home / Archive / Campus News - February 2008
George Wythe College Hires New Vice President of Administration
The following is an excerpt of an interview with Gary L. Arnell who was hired as the new Vice President of Administration during fall 2007.
The Statesman (TS): Mr. Arnell, please tell us about yourself and your background.
Gary Arnell (GA): I was raised in the San Fernando Valley region of Southern California. My lovely wife Liesl and I met in college and have been married for 13 years. We have five children ages 12 years to 18 months who, among other things, are responsible for our dog, our cat and selling the output of the 25 employees of our family’s Fun & Fancy Free Range Chicken Company. When we’re not chasing chickens we are active in church and community and love to read, camp, fish and hike and otherwise spend time together.
My professional training led me to a career in software development. I worked for several years in engineering and management positions with firms located along the 101 Tech Corridor in Southern California. I was privileged to work with wonderful, talented people and had a front row seat to the rise and fall of the dot-com era earlier this decade. I saw first hand the impact of excess and crisis in the lives of companies, individuals and families. I learned a great deal about the need for vocational training in addition to the liberal arts education that enables one to adapt to change and take advantage of upcoming opportunities.
TS: How were you introduced to George Wythe College?
GA: In the fall of 2000 my wife and I sent our first child off to kindergarten. Wow! We had reached a milestone of parenthood with all of its accompanying emotions. At the time we lived in a wonderful community in Southern California, our son had lots of friends in his class and his teacher was a wonderful person and educator. Over the course of the next eighteen months however, we noticed that the bright, energetic, happy little boy we had dropped off that first day was becoming morose, angry and withdrawn. We were puzzled too, that his "former" personality came back after returning home for his first summer vacation but disappeared again shortly after starting the first grade.
Long story short, we believed our son needed a different learning environment and after several months of consideration we decided to continue his education at home. We started in January of 2002 much to the surprise of many family and friends. We didn't assuage their concerns much since we couldn’t articulate our reasons beyond “it feels right.” We started reading every article and book we could get our hands on and in May of that year we came across a recording of an address by a man named Oliver DeMille. He described something called Thomas Jefferson Education and the skills necessary to succeed in the twenty-first century. We didn’t know who he was or where he came from but the effect was electrifying. Our son's experience had reawakened within me unresolved questions about my own education and upbringing in middle-class America. Dr. DeMille’s lecture brought greater clarity as to what education and society could be.
Also, it was clear to me that whatever Dr. DeMille was talking about wasn’t just for my wife and my kids – it was for me. My wife and I attended the Face to Face with Greatness seminars after which I applied to the graduate program where I am studying education and political economy. Aside from my degree program, both Liesl and I have studied intently such subjects as history, child-rearing, nutrition, finance and current events - things that impact our family and our ability to raise our children. Quite frankly, the philosophical and practical impact on our family has been nothing short of astonishing.
TS: How did you make the transition to the field of education?
GA: While living on the west coast my wife and I started a private school to provide a peer group for our children in a social and educational environment that was in harmony with the things we were learning. I was privileged to serve as the primary administrator of that institution and to teach several of its classes. Working closely with the faculty, students and their families was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Leaving my chosen profession was not an easy decision, but the path we have followed has been immensely rewarding.
I used to think of educators in terms of "what subject do you teach?" Now I think of education in terms of liberty, perpetuating and improving civilization, and helping individuals fulfill their greatest potential. Education is necessarily holistic. It must encompass our physical, spiritual, emotional, and social selves. This I see as an important failing of the model we've chosen as a society.
You know, at George Wythe College we talk about “good government, every nation, world-wide.” An audacious, absurd goal, unless…unless you think that people really are good, that they really want the best for themselves and their children and that they really can be trusted with education and the freedom to act on what they learn. Realizing this goal will be a long time in the making - not likely in my lifetime. But widespread freedom, prosperity and happiness can never be achieved except when under girded by correct principles of morality and government.
At George Wythe we draw attention to the importance of virtue as a part of education and civilization while the curriculum explores the critical subjects of human nature, society and government. That, I suppose, is why I abrupty changed career paths. The principles of a Thomas Jefferson Education represent, in my opinion anyway, a revolution - in the sense of a return to correct educational principles. Every day I see students who are coming to understand who they are and what they can achieve. They are being armed with powerful ideas, skills and abilities that will put them way ahead in whatever vocations they choose to pursue.
TS: Why did you accept this particular position?
Two reasons. First, our classrooms are world-class. I mean that. Visit the campus and see for yourself. We have the best classrooms in the world in political philosophy, political science, political economy, political history – the science of freedom and preparation for individual mission and purpose. I honestly believe that. The faculty, students and friends of the college must be supported by an administration that is on par with that level of excellence. I believe my past professional and managerial experience can help with that.
Secondly, at present there simply aren’t enough people on faculty and staff to meet the demand for “good government, every nation, world-wide.” I hope to help shoulder that burden a bit and, specifically, to allow the CEO to focus his attention on the development of the Monticello campus, fund-raising and other responsibilities that only he can perform.
TS: What will your new duties entail?
GA: I will oversee the daily administrative operations at the Cedar City campus. This includes managing, coordinating and improving the efforts of various departments including Admissions, Registrar, Finance, Seminars & Events, Information Technology, Public Relations, Marketing, GWC Press, Human Resources, Operations, etc. The college has grown a great deal in the past few years and is poised for significant additional growth in the future. To manage this growth will require significant behind-the-scenes planning and coordination.
TS: Compare your work environment here to other places\people you have worked with.
GA: I can honestly say I have loved everywhere I have worked. I’ve been very fortunate to always work with talented, professional individuals. The difference at George Wythe College, I think, is the commitment to a cause so much greater than any of us. In my former life when I was building Internet banking and human resource software we could finish a project, deliver excellence and give each other high-fives, but in the end it was still just a web site. This college is aiming to change the world in ways that will benefit billions of men, women and children. That is powerful. I’ve never seen people care so much or sacrifice so much in a professional environment. They truly are an incredible group.
TS: Best of luck in your new responsibilities.
GA: Thank you.
Mr. Arnell earned a Bachelor's degree at Utah State University where he studied business administration and computer science. Prior to his professional transition to education, Mr. Arnell was a project manager at Wescom-IDS of Woodland Hills, CA, since purchased by Online Resources, Ltd. Before that he was a software engineer at eLabor.com of Camarillo, CA, since purchased by ADP Corporation, a position preceeded by his time at Integrated Data Systems of Calabasas, CA also as a software engineer. Mr. Arnell is also owner or partner in several business ventures that invest in real estate, financial markets and natural resources. And then, of course, there's the chicken farm.