Newell enjoys a diversity of passions

(06-04-2008)

If your conception of an accountant is a bespectacled, pocket-protector nerd, you have not met Dr. Randall Newell, who definitely dances to his own beat. Newell has a black belt in karate, impresses the band with his salsa moves, plays percussion, and appreciates a good Cuban cigar.

After 25 years, Newell is retiring from Adams State and moving to the hot and humid climate of Florida, where he will teach at St. Leo University.

"I am following the music," he said.

Dr. Thomas Gilmore, class of '67 and '68, emeritus professor of business and former dean of the School of Business, said Newell is an outstanding member of the academic community in many ways. "He was a top teacher with cutting edge knowledge of tax and accounting, a motivator and counselor for students, and a colleague who participated broadly in the life of the School of Business and the college," Gilmore said.

Many accounting firms in the immediate community, and throughout Colorado, actively recruit Adams State accounting graduates. "I have been her so long, half of the CPAs in the valley are my former students," Newell said. He has been an accountant for many private and public organizations in the San Luis Valley.

Certified Public Accountant and business owner Tim Bachicha, class of 1992 and Board of Trustees for Adams State College member, said two things come to mind when recalling Newell's advice in the classroom, never take things at face value and have a good time.

"As an accountant examining records it is valuable to have a certain level of skepticism, but also to remember that it's okay to have fun, not only with one's professional responsibilities, but also with life in general," Bachicha said. "How else can we explain a former drummer in a rock band, becoming a professor, and then becoming a salsa dance aficionado."

Kyle Hurley, graduated in May 2008 with a degree in business administration. She said Newell was "truly an awesome, interesting teacher." She said she learned so much in his classrooms. "It is too bad more generations of graduates will not be able to experience his style of teaching and amazing personality."

Newell co-founded the Pacioli (accounting) Club on campus, founded and advised the Karate Club, and since 2003 has taught Latin dance through enrichment classes.

Art graduate student, Susan Winn, said she enjoyed the salsa classes. "Randy was an excellent teacher. He was always really helpful for all students and spent a lot of one-on-one time with each of them to perfect their skills."

Newell said he started salsa dancing after visiting Cuba. His interests in music and percussion led him to take a hand-drumming class with James Doyle, instructor of music.

"Randy is a true connoisseur of music and percussion, especially Afro-Cuban music," Doyle said. "Randy had a lot to offer the others in my hand drumming class, and as an accomplished salsa dancer and drummer, he was able to make connections about the relationships of drumming and dance for the others in the class."

While he was still an undergraduate, Newell began practicing karate. "I liked the camaraderie," he said. Dr. Brent Ybarrondo, chair of the biology and earth sciences department, has been training with Newell for about 15 years. Ybarrondo said Newell was fortunate to train with Sensei Yaguchi in Denver. Yaguchi is a second generation student from the first master of Shotokan Karate. According to Ybarrondo, there are 20 precepts for karate, including inner development. "In that sense, Randy is a true martial artist," Ybarrondo said.

Newell said he also enjoys outdoor activities including skiing, hiking, fishing and camping. "The nice thing about Randy is his varied interests," Ybarrondo said. "He is a multi-dimensional, open-minded person."

"There is a difference between passion and an ability to make a living," Newell said. "I try and instill in students the difference."

"He taught me how to enjoy some of the hardest classes taken for my undergrad degree; that in itself is an amazing feat," Hurley said.

"I appreciate higher education," Newell said. "There is a balance of life and I enjoy being around students, they keep you young."

Newell has four sons, one adopted. His youngest is graduating from high school this spring and plans to attend Adams State. "My accomplishments would not have been possible without the love and support of my companion and wife of 23 years, Helene Newell."

By Linda Relyea