Michael Arndt to retire at end of semester


Photo by Sara Topliff - Reporter

Michael Arndt, professor of theatre arts, has taught at California Lutheran University for over 40 years. During his time at Cal Lutheran, he has taught children of former students.

Sara Topliff, Reporter

Michael Arndt, professor of theatre arts, will be retiring after this semester following 41 years of teaching and directing at California Lutheran University. Aside from theater, Arndt has been involved in campus government, helped create an interdisciplinary program that became the university’s multimedia major and minor, started the Veterans Resource Center on campus, formed the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company and more. 

“I’ve been able to work with a lot of wonderful students, thousands of students. At Cal Lutheran I’ve had generations of students,” Arndt said. “One of my seniors, Jennie White, her father was a student of mine and her mother went here at the same time, so I’ve had a number of second-generation students, which is kind of fun.” 

Arndt said that once he retires, he will continue to be involved with the Kingsmen Shakespeare Company, a nonprofit theater organization started in 1997, and he will continue his work with veteran reintegration without pharmaceuticals. He also said he looks forward to traveling and other things he wants to do.  

Arndt said that he will miss the uniqueness of this university and the collegiality of his colleagues. 

“The faculty at Cal Lutheran are some of the best people in the world, some of the smartest people, some of the best teachers. We’re small enough, so I know people in a lot of other departments,” Arndt said. 

Associate professor Andrea Heilman said that Arndt is “an incredibly genuine and caring person” and tries to connect with each of his students.

“We are going to miss him terribly. There will be a hole in the heart of the department when he is gone that no one will be able to fill…We will never be able to replace him because he is such a part of the heart of the department,” Heilman said. 

Professor of drama Kenneth Gardner, who worked with Arndt for 38 years, said Arndt’s retirement wasn’t necessarily a shock, but he will be sorely missed. Gardner said Arndt’s greatest quality is that he listens and treats everyone equally. He also said there are a lot of people who look up to him for guidance and ideas.

“He’s been a really good colleague and a strong support for the department…It’s hard to imagine the department without him, so it’ll be a big change when he’s gone,” Gardner said.

In his childhood, Arndt said that he would create stories and characters and act them out since he spent “a lot of time in his imagination,” as he was raised on a farm in Minnesota and did not have neighbors to play with. In college, Arndt said he was first exposed to William Shakespeare after being cast in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He said this led to a lifelong “hobby, love, and vocation as well.”

“I was really creating theater and creating my love for theater at that very early age and that sort of launched me into my career,” Arndt said. “I’ve managed to balance both professional theater and educational theater my whole life.”

Jennie White, a student and mentee of Arndt’s, said Arndt has “so much passion” about theater and theater history, as well as about passing his knowledge and passion to his students. She said her favorite memory of Arndt was in the fall when Arndt wrote a poem based on “The Nightmare Before Christmas” that included the shows performed from the last two semesters and the people who worked on them. 

“I’m definitely gonna miss being able to walk in and say hi to him..he’s just always been there,” White said.