“Think Deep Thoughts And Solve Tough Problems”: Recollections From A West Point “Mathlete”
David Christopher Arney
Dr. Chris Arney grew up in upstate New York and spent much of his childhood outdoors, hunting, fishing, and playing sports. He chose West Point as an affordable option for college during the height of the Vietnam War, and achieved success in the three pillars of Cadet education (academic, military, and physical), playing soccer all four years at the Academy. He branched into Military Intelligence, and deployed the first Army computer to the National Training Center. Jumping at the chance to earn a graduate degree, he returned to the Math Department, and was soon selected for Academy Professor, spending much of the remainder of his career at West Point, eventually becoming the Head of the Math Department.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood and his love for sports, which eventually led to extensive experience coaching at all levels, and the development of a leadership philosophy he adapted from his father. He describes his time at West Point, and mentions the effect of the Vietnam War on the Academy, as well as his interactions with legendary coaches Joe Palone and Bobby Knight. He discusses his experiences in the operational Army, including deploying the first computers to the field in 1974. He reflects on his time in the Math Department, recalling various Department Heads, math competitions with various universities, and some of the influential academics he has worked with over the years. He ends by addressing the challenges facing the Academy, making recommendations for the future, and expressing what West Point means to him.