George Wythe University
The Statesman
George Wythe University The Statesman
July 2013

Home / Archive / Campus News - May 2008

George Wythe College Hires New Director of Admissions

The following is an excerpt of an interview with Russell Clarke who joined the college administration as Director of Admissions during the fall 2007 semester.


The Statesman (TS): Mr. Clarke, please share with us a little about yourself and your background.

Russell Clarke (RC): I am originally from southern California, specifically Ventura County. Having begun my undergraduate studies in Utah, I soon fell in love with its four seasons and the incredible mountain vistas so foreign to a beach-bum. Just prior to our graduation, my wife, Cindy, and I met and married one month prior to my attending graduate school for physical therapy. We have been married for nearly 13 years and currently have four wonderful children, ages 2 to 8 years old. My previous work has taken us from living in Iowa to California and now we are back in Utah.  As a family we enjoy the great outdoors and being involved in church, community service and home schooling groups.

My career in physical therapy began with an immediate jump into the specialty of hand therapy, which focuses on treatment of injuries and disorders of the entire upper extremity.  After five years of practicing I became a Certified Hand Therapist. This certification increased my marketability and opened many doors for me professionally. I soon came to realize that the part of my job I enjoyed the most was taking personal interest in the lives of my clients, educating them regarding human anatomy and their various conditions, and empowering them with knowledge to live healthy and avoid future injury. To me, the most effective therapist is one who takes the time to teach and does so in a way that changes the life of a patient for the better.

TS: How did you first learn about George Wythe College?

RC: Several years ago while still living in California, my wife and I were fortunate to become good friends with Gary and Liesl Arnell who shared many insights regarding homeschooling. I told them of my interest in going on to earn a doctoral degree in physical therapy and was thinking about going to Utah to do it. Gary shared his interest in and pursuit of furthering his education through GWC. As he was describing the college to me I remember distinctly saying to him, “What is someone supposed to do with a Bachelors degree in Statesmanship?” It didn’t make sense to my professionally trained mind at that time. What did appeal to me were the books he had in his library. I remember looking at the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Cervantes, Dante, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Homer, Bronte, Dickens, and so on and giving a deep sigh of longing and emptiness. These were works I had always wanted to read but never had time to because I had a career to prepare for. Gary told me these were the very literary works and the great thinkers that are part of the GWC curriculum. I was unknowingly changed in a profound way after that discussion.

TS: Why did you choose to attend George Wythe College?

RC: Shortly after that discussion, we did move to Utah. After investigating options for earning a PhD I didn’t feel I was supposed to continue on that path. I kept working, but inside I felt I was supposed to be teaching and I couldn’t get George Wythe College out of my mind. I scoured the college website to learn all I could about the programs and seminars they offered.  I read the book “A Thomas Jefferson Education" by Oliver DeMille. From that reading I saw the deficits in my own education.  I began to read books like never before and my wife noticed the resulting change in my character and aspirations. I realized I needed a leadership education to help my children achieve their fullest potential. Having a clearer understanding of the value of reading classics, submitting to mentors, seeking practical experience with powerful ideas and eternal principles, and involving God more fully in my life and learning, it was a natural step for me to formally begin my education with George Wythe.  A couple of years ago I began attending seminars at the college and a year ago I was formally accepted into the doctoral program.  Now I ask the question, “How can someone afford not to have an education based on these concepts?

TS: How did your experience as a physical therapist prepare you for your current position as the Director of Admissions?

RC: On the surface, it may seem like a big change in roles, but there are many similarities between the two positions. Both require the ability to work directly with people on a very personal level. As a therapist you learn to become a good judge of character and adapt to the personality and needs of each individual as you help them strive to meet desired goals. You learn to work with a wide variety of people with varying backgrounds and circumstances. You need to be able to communicate clearly and frequently to ensure progress.  These same abilities are called upon daily in my position at George Wythe. The working conditions are different, but I consider this change a wonderful opportunity to learn new skills in leadership and mentoring. I am surrounded with others who continually strive to do what is right and pursue worthy ideals.

Another similarity between these two professions is that both require that I ask people to work hard, to push themselves and give me their best efforts. In physical therapy patients are required to push themselves physically which often causes discomfort and pain. However the end result of this is the freedom to play, work, and live without physical limitations. Similarly, now I extend to applicants what Robert Hutchings calls “an invitation to the pain of learning.” If pursued properly, a graduate from George Wythe will become a life-long learner who continually challenges himself mentally, even though it is painful. He learns that striving to understand and pursue what is right will at times be the hardest, most uncomfortable thing he will ever do in life, but it also gives him the capacity to be truly free. I am learning this lesson as I pursue my degree and serve wholeheartedly as the Director of Admissions, and I love it.

TS: What are your responsibilities in this position?

RC: My main responsibility as the Director of Admissions includes oversight of the entire admissions process. This includes designation of semester application deadlines, assisting prospective students with questions regarding the college, providing clarification of the application requirements, overseeing the receipt and processing of application materials, interviewing and evaluating applicants during the application process, coordinating the Selection Retreat which is new this year, and heading up the selection committee to evaluate applicants for acceptance to the college. As the college grows in the coming years and the number of applicants significantly increases, I will be responsible for anticipating those changes and effectively adapting the admissions process to meet those demands.

TS: What do you enjoy most about being the Director of Admissions and working in general at George Wythe College?

RC: I truly believe I have one of the best jobs in the entire administration. On a daily basis I get to talk with people who are excited about learning and enthusiastic about attending George Wythe. Few people get to have as much fun mail as I do. As I evaluate application submissions and converse with the applicants, I get to see the best in people and the goodness of humanity. I am humbled to hear the stories of success, perseverance, courage, hard work, sacrifice, and determination that most people would never know about these applicants. I relish the moments when I am profoundly touched by the creative samples submitted. I see the budding, as well as the fruits, of genius in each applicant. I am honored and inspired to hear the aspirations and life missions of generations both young and old.  This is truly an enviable position.  It’s great to work with a group of people who honestly strive to live by the mission promoted by the college and their own sense of integrity.  I am humbled to be surrounded by an administration and faculty that give so much of themselves to a cause which is only just beginning and will last for centuries. In such an environment I am continually asking myself how can I be better and feel empowered to do so.

TS: What recommendations do you have for future applicants to George Wythe College?

RC: First, keep an eye on the application deadlines and start early gathering your materials. Sometimes letters of recommendation take a little extra time so be sure to follow up with the people you ask. Also, official transcript requests can take approximately two weeks to be sent out from previously attended institutions.

Most people have questions about the creative sample. This is an expression of who you are, what your interests are, and a demonstration of your pursuit of that interest. It can be related to just about anything from art to science, landscaping to crafts, writing to performing. The sky is the limit. Samples can be sent in any form. Mailing photos of larger projects can be particularly helpful and less expensive. Although, anyone who has special culinary skills is welcome to drop his or her sample off in person to my office. Your cover letter can explain your sample; why it interests you, what you learn as you pursue your passions, and your background in that area. Just be yourself and give me your best work. If you have many areas of interest and accomplishment, feel free to share a couple.

If you have questions about the application process, check the website or give me a call to discuss your submissions. To serve the students is why I am here.

TS: Thank you, Mr. Clarke, and good luck with your work.

RC: Thank you.