MANITOWOC — Don’t call it a retirement. At least not yet.
Dr. George F. Arnold announced last month that he’ll be stepping down as president of Silver Lake College of the Holy Family on March 1.
“I’m quibbling with the word ‘retired,’ because I’m having a great time,” said a smiling Arnold, sitting in his campus office. “My wife (Donna) and I are going to be fully engaged and active in our lives, and sometimes the word ‘retired’ gives the wrong message.
“One of the things she and I were thinking about is that you can’t buy time. So we’re thinking this might be a good time for us to go down a few roads we haven’t traveled. We’re going to make a few lefthand turns, you might say. We’re excited about it. We have a few ideas in mind with what we’d like to do, but nothing is certain yet. We plan on doing some volunteering, too. But who knows what’s going to happen a year from now. The future is wide open for us.”
Arnold, who joined SLC in July 2004, said he’ll miss his colleagues, the students and the family-like atmosphere on campus.
“That is the tough part, it really is, that I won’t be seeing them everyday anymore,” Arnold said. “There’s a sense of community here you don’t find at a lot of places. Our faculty, staff and students value the notion of community here.”
Sr. Laura Wolf, chair of the SLC board of directors, praised Arnold’s leadership, saying many positive things have been accomplished during his tenure.
“Dr. Arnold was instrumental in creating our residence hall on campus. More recently, the college began construction of the Music Education and Performance Center, which will house the college music program as well as the Holy Family Conservatory of Music.
“The college has also experienced the growth of its athletic programs, and successful partnerships have been established in the community. We are grateful to Dr. Arnold for all he has accomplished and wish him the best in the future.”
Arnold said SLC’s board of directors hired a search team to assist in selecting his replacement.
“We’re working very carefully on a successful transition,” he said. “We’re not stopping and waiting. It’s full speed ahead. It’s not about me; it’s about the college.”
Arnold said he’s proud to have been part of many developments at SLC over the years.
“One of the big things I’m proud of is the brand promise we created — ‘Learning to connect the mind and spirit … the Franciscan way.’ And then we developed a tagline, too — ‘Finding the extraordinary in you.’ That came from a student who said to one of our faculty members, ‘I saw myself as ordinary and you helped me find the extraordinary.’ I think one of the cool things here at Silver Lake is the way our faculty and staff help our students develop a better understanding of their own talents.”
Arnold added that bringing a residence hall to campus “has been huge,” and the ongoing construction of the Music Education and Performance Center “shows what an amazing music program we have here, built on the outstanding years of service by people like Sr. Lorna Zemke and Sr. Marella Wagner.”
“And I’m pretty pleased with how we’ve expanded our athletic program,” he said. “When I came here we had just women’s basketball. Now we have women’s basketball, men’s basketball, women’s volleyball, men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s golf, and coed soccer. We’ve had some really standout athletes on our teams compete in national events.
“But even more importantly, I think we do athletics here the way it’s supposed to be — college first, athletics second. Our athletes are great students.”
Arnold also cited flourishing partnerships with businesses and other local education institutions as highlights of his tenure at SLC.
“In a perfect world, the college is good for the community, and the community is good for the college,” he said. “We’re here to support each other. We want to be a good citizen in Manitowoc.”
Arnold, a native of Quincy, Mass., and his wife, from Niagara Falls, N.Y., plan to stay in the Manitowoc area for the immediate future.
What would he hope that people say about him after he leaves SLC?
“That I cared about them as human beings, and I also hope they say I helped to advance the mission of the college,” he said.
“If they could say that I had some small role in strengthening our mission of why we’re here, I’d be thrilled. Because I feel very strongly that there’s a place for Silver Lake College in Wisconsin schools. We’re a special school, we really are. Silver Lake adds an awful lot to the fabric of higher education in Wisconsin, and I’ve been honored to have been a part of all the good things happening here.”