GMC News

COL Fred Van Horn Honored During Presidents’ Day Parade

Georgia Military College hosted a parade in recognition of Presidents' Day on Friday, February 12 at 2:30 p.m. on Grant Parade. COL Fred Van Horn was the distinguished speaker and commemorated his formal retirement from GMC after 21 years of faithful and honorable service.  In recognition of his retirement, COL Van Horn was named Executive Vice President Emeritus of Georgia Military College by Mr. Randy New, Chairman of the GMC Board of Trustees.

COL Van Horn came to Georgia Military College after a long and distinguished career in the U.S. Army.  With more than two decades of service to GMC, COL Van Horn first served as the Commandant of Cadets and then for many years as the Executive Vice President to two GMC Presidents – Maj. Gen. Peter J. Boylan and LtGen William B. Caldwell, IV.  COL Van Horn also served as Interim President, bridging the gap between the retirement of President Boylan and the induction of President Caldwell in 2013. 

President Caldwell remarked that, "Fred is an icon here at GMC.  Like the leaders of our country for whom this holiday is noted, Fred is the personification of our ideals of Duty, Honor and Country.  All of us at GMC have been blessed to know and have the opportunity to work with Fred.  He is a true selfless servant, always giving of himself for the betterment of our students."

View video of the parade here:

View photos here:


Colonel Fred Van Horn is the Executive Vice President Emeritus of Georgia Military College.

Colonel Van Horn and his family moved to Milledgeville and Georgia Military College (GMC) in August 1995 shortly after retiring from the U.S. Army following thirty-three years of enlisted and commissioned service. During his time at GMC, he served as Commandant of Cadets, Dean of Students, Adjunct Professor of Ethics, the GMC Director of Character Education, Executive Vice President, and Special Assistant to the President.  He was Interim President of Georgia Military College from July 1, 2014 to October 31, 2014.

Colonel Van Horn received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in History from King College in Bristol, Tennessee; his Master’s Degree in Military Arts and Sciences from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; and completed his post-graduate work at the U.S. Army War College.

He commanded Army units in war at company-level and during peace at battalion, brigade, and Army-school level. He completed senior staff assignments at Army, Corps, and Division level.

While in the Army, Colonel Van Horn served three overseas tours of duty in Germany, one in Italy, and a two-year combat tour in the Republic of Viet Nam.  His military awards include decorations for valor, achievement, and service and he is a Purple Heart recipient.

Colonel Van Horn’s civic service covers over 20 years.  More specifically, he served as President of the Rotary Club of Milledgeville 2004-2005; Chairman of the Milledgeville-Baldwin County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors 2003-2004 and Commissioner, Milledgeville Housing Authority 2010-present.

Colonel Fred Van Horn and his wife, Tomi, were born and raised in the mountains of western North Carolina. They have one daughter, Mary Jennifer Myers, and two grandchildren, Declan Christopher Myers and Betsy Kate Myers.

2016 President’s Day Parade Remarks

Colonel (USA, Ret.) Fred Van Horn
February 12, 2016

Georgia Military College believes, and I share the belief, that the essential drama of life is the drama to construct character. On a First-Things-First list, this should always be number one.

I believe that character is formed in community, that each member raises the standards of excellence for the others, and we do this by setting a good example.

I believe that example is the best teacher.

I believe that the most important character development skills we can impart to our students are the instinctive skill to see the good examples that abound and to translate those examples into an engraved set of disciplined habits and a settled disposition to do good.

For me, Georgia Military College is a character development laboratory filled with good examples.

The following examples make me a better person.
Mrs. BeeGee Baugh and Secretary W. J. Usery, Jr. are here. I could say more than this about them, but I know both to be self-effacing, gracious, and dignified citizens of this community and passionate supporters of our college. I want to be that kind of person. Both display a loftiness of spirit that enables them to bear trouble calmly, to disdain meanness and pettiness, and to display a noble generosity. I want to be like that. The same can be said for so many others like Miss BeeGee and Secretary Usery, men and women such as David Sinclair, Inez Hawkins, Maidana Nunn, John Williamson, and Rusty Kidd. There are so many.
Theirs is a dignified magnanimity that I admire. I want to be like them. 

Generals Boylan, Caldwell, and Rauhut do more than their fair share of the grunt work in everything they undertake, whether it be leading the college or advocating for their community. They are senior leaders who could, if they wished, delegate everything—they could remain aloof–but instead they do not hesitate to get their hands dirty, and, at the same time, they go to great lengths to guard against tendencies to be prideful, self-congratulatory, and hubristic. In short, even from their elevated positions, they do not see themselves as centers of anyones universe.
I admire the leadership ability of these three men and I am in awe of their accomplishments. I want to be like them.

Mr. Randy New, George Hogan, Dudley Rowe, John Ferguson, George Echols, and Patricia Thompson—and, again, so many others—all display a loyalty to this school that dazzles me. But more than that, they do not hesitate to give to GMC their time, their energy, and their enthusiasm. I want to be like them. I cannot run through this particular list of men and women without also thinking about Bill Craig. When it came to GMC, Bill Craig did not spare himself. Bill Craig was unable to use the word “no” when it came to GMC. That man provides me even today with an extraordinary example to live by. I want to be like Bill Craig.
I admire the loyalty and passion for our college displayed by Bill Craig and these men and women. I want to be like them.

As you and I look at these buildings and these grounds, we cannot help but marvel at the day-in-and-day-out devotion to duty that Jeff Gray and supervisors Jay Knight, Ken Franks, Wayne Spiller, Daniel Anderson, and Darlene Thigpen exhibit. On display here is their pride—our pride—in this institution. The grounds are immaculate, the buildings shine, facilities are spotless, and down in the cafeteria the meals are on time. Their example is reflected in the work done by their hard working crews, and crew members like Aaron Jackson, Mark Tolbert, Genene Peavy, Francisca Hoppe, Randy Jones, Martin Burke, and Nancy Mitchell. Thank you Bruce Thomas.
I admire their work ethic and their sense of duty. I want to be like them. 

President Emeritus Boylan and President Caldwell make many great decisions, but certainly General Boylan’s decision to elevate John Thornton to Prep School Principal, and at the same time, Pam Grant to Assistant Principal was one of his best decisions. General Caldwell’s decision to promote Pam Grant to Principal following John Thornton’s retirement was equally brilliant. Let loose by these promotions was the great leadership skill of John and Pam. The application of their skill inside and outside the walls of Usery Hall is reflected in the quality of the faculty, the prep school programs, the impressive list of regional, state, national, and world championships, and the successes of so many prep school graduates.

I want to be as good a leader as they are and I want to be as good a teacher as Jennifer Spencer, Linda Brown, Emily Boylan, and Clay McElheny. I want to motivate students the way Mark Weaver, Julie Brooker, James Lunsford, David Lewis, Brent Gebel, Christine Giles, Steven Simpson, and Kim Leben do.
I want to be just like them.

I want to be like Jody Yearwood who at the same time is Vice President for Information Technology, Vice President for Enrollment Management, and Executive Director of the Online Campus. His capacity for hard work is bottomless and his ability to produce excellence in everything he touches is amazing. Jody and his team of technology whiz’s and online master minds make it look easy. I want to be like them. Names like Johnson, Kirkwood, Milner, Parks, and Smith leap to mind. Will Sinski has saved my computer’s life more times than I can count.

I want to be like Bert Williams who can take 75 football players to a national bowl game almost every year, make the most challenged of his athletes successful college students–and successful GMC cadets–while at the same time elevating their character such that they leave GMC as young men respected for their self-discipline, work ethic, their academic potential, and their leadership experience. Coach Williams will hasten to say that all of this is possible because of Rob Manchester, Paul Mills, Sean Gillespie and the rest of his coaching and support staff. 

I want to be like them.

I want to be like Mike Holmes who with comsumate skill guarantees the success of GMC academic operations on 12 campuses such that more than 12,500 students get the very best education. With the assistance of campus executive directors like Leslie Hafer in Valdosta, Ted Ramsdell in Warner Robins, Shana Reed in Augusta, and Rock Donahue in Fayettville, Dr. Holmes watches over approximately 300 faculty members who must teach a challenging set of associate and bachelor of applied science programs. His patience, intellectual strength, and his courage are on display every day. With the assistance and impressively brilliant work of Dr. Susan Isaac, Dr. Derek Stone, Katie Johnson, Robin Knight, Erin Newton, and Jane Simpson, the Academic Affairs Team accomplishes a difficult mission while still leaving members of the team enough energy, encouragement, and time to make even better things happen every succeeding day. I want to be like them.

I want to be like Mark Strom, Vice President for College Relations, whose candor and business instincts give him an ability to see opportunity invisible to most of us. This, coupled with his ability to sell a good idea, make up a skill set that is invaluable in an organization as risk averse as ours. He excels at the thankless task of convincing others to share the fruits of their lifetime labors to further the College’s mission. In this especially, he is aided by two of our greatest treasures, Sally Thrower and Janeen Garpow, and a tight knit team of other superstars. Carol Vance, thank you for looking after my family today.

I want to be like Colonel Jim Watkins, the College’s Chief Financial Officer. In his every action Jim implies trustworthiness and incorruptibility to a degree that everyone knows he is incapable of being false to a trust, responsibility, or pledge. In short, he embodies the definition of Integrity. As well, I am envious of Jim because he has working for him three women whom I greatly admire. Jill Robbins, Vice President of Human Resources, for her energy, enthusiasm, and natural inclination to care deeply and personally about every GMC employee; Alsia Stephens, Director of Financial Aid, for her attitude and incredible ability to manage the financial aid traplines of this college; and Susie Meeks, Associate VP of Business Affairs and our Controller, who is all of the above and more. Each of these ladies leads a team that exhibits a work and customer service ethic we should all emulate. Where would we be without Jill Towns, Donna Bradley, Linda Sovereign, and Michael Lil. Michael Newton, thank you for getting my mail to me today.

I want to be like them and all the others.

I want to be like Colonel Ralph Kauzlarich. I admire his quiet competence and his ability to think for himself. He is our Lt. Rowan. The President said I want a Milledgeville and Dublin Campus. Someone said I know a man who can do that and his name is Kauzlarich. The President said, hire him and get it done. No one could tell Colonel Kauzlarich what a Milledgeville or Dublin Campus looked like or how to build one, so he did not ask. He just built them and put them into operation in record time.

His team, led by Blair Dietrich, Nanette Simmons, David Bill, Karen Seagraves, and Karen Ambellas-Cates, Priscilla Smith, Yancey Walker, and Leigh Aldheizer made it look easy.

An all-star team of faculty and other staff members did their part. There was Judy Ely, Donna Estes, Sonny Harmon, Judy Parks, Amy Zipperer, Moona Yu, Linda Moore, Ramona Rice, Ed Shelor, Mary Helen Davis, Tony Mayo, and Rob Sherwood —to name only a few. Did you hear that Rob Sherwood’s Women’s Cross Country Team was named an Academic All American Team?
I want to be like them.

And then there is Colonel Pat Beer. He is at the end of the line because that is where so many student-generated slings and arrows fall.

I want to be like Pat Beer because of his patient but stern disposition and his ability to solve what too often are the unsolveables—the problems brought to his door by 17 and 18 year old cadets who are determined to test the limits of every rule and determinded to find the end to every TAC officer and faculty member’s patience. He remains calm through every storm, philosophical about every set back and every victory, and passionately devoted to his mission and to his staff and our cadets. Colonel Beer is backed up by some great men and women. There is Barbara Johnson, Jackie Lee, Duane Clayton, Randy Wiggins, Simon Ryan, and three men that I have great personal admiration for, Larry Swint, James Hodnett, and Terry Nickelson. Brenda Brown, now in retirement, deserves a place on that list.

I want to be just like them.

Well, I have overstayed. For that I apologize, but this is the last chance I have to thank these people and the last chance to say to all, in your hearing, how much I learned from them, how much I admire them, and how very much I think they contribute to the many successes of this college.

Thank you Kay Niblett, Sharon Leverett, and Ed Madden.

Thank you Gene Moore, Ray Olivier, Steve Stoner, and Robert Ritchotte.
— and I do believe that example is the best teacher.
End of Mission.