50 Influencers: Wayne Arnold, the mainstay

INA, Ill. (April 1, 2017) - Mainstay might be a bit of an understatement for the next of the 50 influencers. There aren’t many who could tell you their first-hand account of the Rend Lake College groundbreaking or transferring classes from Mt. Vernon to the new campus, but come to a home basketball game, and I’m sure Wayne Arnold would be happy to oblige.

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Arnold, a Bonnie native, graduated from Goode-Barren Township High School (now Sesser-Valier High School) in 1950 and is a longtime resident of Mt. Vernon.

After serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years he returned to the area. He earned an associate’s degree from Centralia Junior College — now Kaskaskia College — and went to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physical education. He later earned a master’s degree in recreation and outdoor education from SIU-C.

Following college, Arnold got his start by coaching and teaching at Dahlgren High School — now Hamilton County Senior High School — for three years before accepting a health and driver’s education teaching position at Mt. Vernon Township High School.

The long time Mt. Vernon resident stayed there for a year when in 1963 he went to Mt. Vernon Community College where he helped develop the school’s P.E. program and taught hygiene in its science program. He has never left.

Like several of his colleagues at MVCC, Arnold made the transition from MVCC to RLC when that change occurred on July 1, 1967, and served professionally with the college for 22 years. For the past 26 years (and still counting) following his retirement he has remained active on campus, volunteering with several athletic, service and wellness projects.

In addition to being a decorated member of the Rend Lake College faculty and a seasoned coach for a bevy of Warrior programs, Arnold might be best known as the father of the Fitness Center and the RLC Sports Hall of Fame.

For those contributions, he was granted a place in campus immortality by being inducted into the Hall of Fame with the Class of 2008. During the fall of 1995, the fitness center attached to the newly-christened James E. “Hummer” Waugh was officially named the Wayne Arnold Aerobics Super-Circuit Fitness Center.

He headed the Sports Hall of Fame Steering Committee of seven individuals in the summer of 1999 to establish the constitution and by-laws of the group, which were approved by the Board of Trustees in the fall of 1999. The first class was selected and inducted in the spring of 2000.

Arnold also had his share of successes in the classroom. During his tenure, he served as Health, Physical Education and Recreation Instructor; as well as Department Chair. Speaking of tenure, he was in the first group of faculty members to receive that honor in 1968. The 1980 Student Senate also gave him the “Teacher of the Year” award. He was also the keynote speaker at the 23rd Annual Commencement Ceremony on May 11, 1990.

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But, the accolades didn’t stop there. He was recognized May 1982 with the Faculty Service Award. And, during the 1988-89 school year, the Rend Lake College Foundation presented him with the Faculty Excellence Award. At the state level, he was honored by the Illinois Community College Trustees Association in June of 1989 for his contributions and commitment to quality education.

On the diamond and hardwood, Arnold served as head coach of the men’s basketball team at Mt. Vernon Community College from 1963 to 65, and then served as assistant coach under Hummer from 1969 to 71.

He is credited with establishing the MVCC Baseball Program in 1963, serving as head coach for two seasons. He also had a one-season stint and the RLC assistant baseball coach during the 1970-71 season.

Not content with just starting the baseball program, Arnold also launched the RLC Men’s Tennis team in 1975-76 and acted as the head coach that season. He was also: Assistant Coach Women’s Basketball 1990-91, 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, and 1994-95 and Assistant Coach Softball 1991-92, 1992-93, 1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96, 1996-97, 1997-98, and 1998-99.

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