By Evan Collotti (Whetstone Staff)
Dr. Tony Armstrong has always had a love and appreciation for music.
While being a part of many small-time bands during his life, he’s aspired to making the big-time. But as a songwriter, he came to a crossroads
“I didn’t see us going anywhere,” he said. “I felt obligated to perform, not to just have fun with it. So I decided to hang the guitar up.”
He has a couple CDs to his name and still plays his guitar but he’s done with trying to make it big.
Armstrong, 61, was born in Sacramento, Calif., but grew up in Idaho with his two brothers and two sisters.
When he started high school, his family moved to a small town, Ontario, Ore., for two years before they moved to San Clemente, Calif., where he finished his last two years of high school, graduating in 1970.
Armstrong, who has taught political science at Wesley for 22 years, has three different degrees, three years of army service, has played music around the world, touring Ireland on a music tour with fellow Wesley professors.
When he was 23, he nearly moved to Nashville to practice songwriting and join a band after returning from West Germany with his Master’s degree.
“Dr. Armstrong has been like a brother to me for 20 years,” said media arts professor Dr. Mike Nielsen.
“He has pulled me out of some dark places in my life when I wasn’t exactly 100 percent mentally there by talking with me and helping me see another way of looking at life,” he said. “He’s a true idealist and seeks to put his idealism into practice every day.”
Sophomore political science major Fred Sottnick has had one of Armstrong’s classes every semester since first enrolling in fall 2011.
“Armstrong has changed my whole view on politics and how the world works,” Sottnick said. “He knows how to get our attention and educate us. He’s a wealth full of knowledge.”
With a Ph.D. from Washington University, a Masters from Philipps University in Marburg, Germany, and a B.A. from Boise State University in his backyard, Armstrong has seen many different parts of the world.
“I always do get a chuckle however when people say I have an undergrad from B.S.U.,” Armstrong said
Senior Mike Mango described Armstrong in one word, “a sorcerer.”
“On a serious note, the man is a pure intellectual,” Mango said. “He focuses on getting students to think more critically and think outside the box.”
Mango is a student in Armstrong’s Introduction to International.
“He has been to Europe for extended periods of time so he knows how things work there in terms of international policies,” he said. “He doesn’t show any bias in our discussions. He explains both sides of a topic including its pros and cons.”
Sophomore Melanie Fischer said Armstrong is a down-to-earth guy.
“He has a feel-good personality that you want to be around but at the same time he knows how to get students on task,” she said.
Fischer sees Armstrong’s class as a different type of atmosphere than typical classroom lectures.
“Although there isn’t much written work, we have debates often and engage in class discussions regularly and I feel that is what getting an education and gaining this knowledge is all about,” she said.
Sophomore Melvin Keldo says he’s the best professor he’s ever had.
“He makes class more interesting and fun and has made me understand politics and how it works,” he said.
Armstrong used to play football in his junior high school days. Although he called it quits his sophomore year in high school, he still enjoys watching football and says he roots for the Seattle Seahawks.
He can play the piano and trumpet and also played the organ in a garage band.
“The Beatles were always one of my favorite bands,” he said. “But I can also appreciate some country-folk music like Bob Dylan and The Steve Miller Band.”
The gray-haired and gray-bearded professor has also written three books. His most recent piece of work will discuss students and their pursuit of happiness through education.
“Students nowadays are going to school for the job and not focusing on the reason why we go to school.” Armstrong said.
Armstrong said he has no regrets.
“I believe whatever path we choose is chosen for a reason and that we as people just want to do what we love and what makes us happy.”