Stuart Van Horn, Ed.D.
Bachelors, Social Sciences, 1982
Member, Argo basketball team, 1980-1982
I arrived in Great Falls in August 1980 after a three-day journey from home in Southern California with long hair, a beard, beach shorts and flip flops. I left four years later with a degree, clear vision, goals for my future, and some lasting friendships. In between, I learned many valuable life lessons that have served me well in my postsecondary educational administration career. Above all else, my time in Great Falls taught me that wherever you go is what you make it. I was the only California community college transfer recruit on the team, had never seen snow fall from the sky, and thought a sweatshirt and shorts was sufficient apparel in winter. I adapted, with help of teammates, Coach Steve Aggers, and incredible people like Ed Coghlan, who remains a close friend today. My roommate at the Villa was our point guard from Sheridan, Wyoming. I remember the first time we met. Kevin Fuller was wearing Wrangler jeans and a cowboy shirt. I was in board shorts, tank top and flip flops. We adapted well with help of friends like Scott Thomas and Mike Towne, the retired sportswriter at the Tribune. I would need them late in my senior year, when my younger brother died tragically during a camping trip in Mexico. It was this group that helped me finish the spring semester to be the first in my family to graduate from college and earn a degree.
Our Argo basketball team won consecutive conference championships, I was the NAIA national free throw champion, and shortly after graduation, was hired by Ed Coghlan as a sports anchor at KRTV-3. I still have no idea why Ed hired me but I took advantage of the opportunity. During that time, I honed my writing, communication, observational and public speaking skills. These were essential skills as I assumed a variety of administrative roles at California community college headquarters in Sacramento, and now, as Chancellor of West Hills Community College District.
Today, I serve as CEO of the district, which includes two comprehensive, public community colleges and an educational center near Fresno in California’s central valley. Like the University of Providence, our 850 employees are dedicated to a relentless pursuit of student success and we are not bashful about capitalizing on our organizational agility to out innovate other postsecondary educational institutions. My time in Great Falls was a period of seizing opportunity, learning to adapt, overcoming barriers and obstacles, and instilled in me an inner, internal urge for reaching personal and professional goals. I wouldn’t change any of it.