While Guy Arnesen has been working at Colorado State University for 30 years, his interactions with the institution reach back much farther. Boston-born Arnesen moved to Colorado Springs with his family when his father was offered a job coaching at the newly opened Air Force Academy in 1957. He grew up in the Black Forest area, where he and his siblings were slowly introduced to CSU through trips to Fort Collins to watch track and field meets with their dad.
One by one, the Arnesen siblings joined the Ram Family. His older sister and two older brothers all obtained their degrees from CSU, clearing the path for Guy to make his way to Fort Collins. Between his junior and senior years in high school, Arnesen had the opportunity to spend the summer in Fort Collins
“My brother was working for Conference Services, running one of the residence halls,” he recalled. “He decided to get me away from home for the summer. I came up and stayed with him and worked in Parmelee. Fort Collins in the summer time: everything is green — I just fell in love. Then I went back to Colorado Springs for the longest year of my life. I didn’t apply to any other universities; I knew I wanted to go to CSU.”
Arnesen studied social work during his time as an undergraduate, and became involved in many areas across campus, including three years working as a resident assistant for Housing and Dining Services. After graduating, Arnesen worked as a social worker for Larimer County, and then spent five years running athletic clubs. In these roles, Arnesen focused on organizational communications and called on his strength of leading teams — skills that he obtained throughout his time at CSU.
“If you think about it, it all comes back to my social work background — from what I was learning my freshman and sophomore years, to really being challenged by the faculty and my classes, or even the work I was doing around campus,” Arneson said. “All of those things were getting me excited about a whole approach to helping others. It’s been a pretty common theme for me in every position that I’ve had.
After eight years away from the University, Arneson’s wife, who he had met during his senior year at CSU, decided that she wanted finish her degree in business. While she did so, Arnesen got a master’s in College Student Personnel Administration — a program that has since transformed into the well-known Student Affairs and Higher Education program. He has been at CSU ever since, working across campus in various roles, all centered around student and staff success.
Helping students succeed
In his current role, Arnesen coordinates staff trainings centrally for Housing and Dining Services. As one of the largest employers on campus, this is no small task. The training initially focused on safety, communication and collaboration in the workplace and were designed for students and staff. About two years in, the focus shifted to provide trainings for supervisors.
“The supervisor’s role is to help staff be successful, so that staff can help students be successful. And that’s been our philosophy and our approach,” Arneson said. “We’ve put together 50+ hours of training that our staff go through. Our focus has shifted from just keeping people accountable, to asking how we can help people learn and grow successfully in what they’re doing. I think we’ve really created a healthy community.”
Looking back on his 30 years with the University, Arnesen feels that he has always been supported by a community that is committed to students. He has witnessed powerful discussions in the trainings that he organizes, focusing on the innovative ways in which he and his coworkers can approach their jobs and translate the skills gained into the interactions they have with students.
“Having spent my time in student affairs, it’s been neat to see that area of the University focus on different ways to help students be successful,” he said. “I’ve loved seeing different areas of campus coming together and working together. And, to tell you the truth, that’s what has kept me here — the feeling that we do amazing things for students. We’re helping them create a future once they get here. And we’ve got very committed people doing that.”
Outside of the workplace, Arnesen focuses on family and fitness. He has been playing handball for 40 years. Staying healthy has always been a priority for him, and handball has been his way to fulfill his goal of maintaining his health. Above all, however, Arnesen cherishes the time that he is able to spend with his family. He and his wife have three children and a few grandchildren, all living in Fort Collins. As he spoke of his family, his face filled with a smile, citing his children’s numerous and notable achievements, including master mechanic status, Teach for America Service and Semester at Sea, just to name a few.
With a laugh, he said, “we have 10, working on 11, CSU degrees in our family. It’s a family affair.”
Arnesen is clearly a very dedicated and driven individual and we thank him for his 30 years of commitment to the development of students at Colorado State University.