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Sitting in a Claremont beauty shop, three ladies got an unex­pected treat when Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak handed them each a flower from a nearby florist.

Just a bit earlier, Pres­ident Larry Arnn and Sajak were eating lunch in a Cal­i­fornia restaurant when those ladies rec­og­nized a celebrity at the table. Arnn said they kept coming by and glancing ner­vously at Sajak, pointing a little, and gig­gling.

“It was quite a thing, but they never came up to him,” Arnn said in an email.

But when Sajak spotted one of them getting a haircut, he fol­lowed up with flowers.

“They cried out with embar­rassment that he should see their haircuts in progress. I expect they will never forget that,” Arnn added.

Sajak, the host of Wheel of Fortune for more than 30 years now, is also on Hillsdale’s Board of Trustees.

Arnn met Sajak for the first time in a Pasadena, Cal­i­fornia restaurant circa 1984.

“We had a mutual friend, Bruce Her­schensohn, and he told me about Pat. Bruce praised Pat in high terms. I asked to meet Pat, Bruce intro­duced us, and I invited him to lunch,” Arnn said in an email.

Sajak said in an email he had known Arnn from Arnn’s work on the board of trustees at The Claremont Institute. Yet, it wasn’t until Arnn became pres­ident at Hillsdale that he became aware of the college.

“When I came to Hillsdale to look around, it didn’t take me long to fall in love with the place, its stu­dents, and Dr. Arnn’s vision for its future. I was honored to be asked to join the board, and my 10-plus years of serving has been among the high­lights of my life,” Sajak added.

Arnn said Sajak is a good trustee for many reasons – he believes in the mission of the college, has been a student in the college, and has excelled in his classes. Over those ten years, Sajak has dili­gently com­pletely the majority of the core cur­riculum.

“Several have taught him, and all gave him A’s,” Arnn said. “He wanted to take the core cur­riculum, and we arranged for him to do that remotely by lis­tening to tapes of classes and having con­ver­sa­tions with pro­fessors.”

And Sajak earned every A. Arnn said when he taught Sajak the Con­sti­tution course, he decided to do it Oxford style. Each week, Sajak and Arnn spoke over the phone for about two hours, and Sajak had to write a five-page paper over the readings.

“A time or two he men­tioned it was a lot of writing, and I fear I did not pay much attention. Then towards the end I added up what he had written, five or six pages a week for 15 weeks, a long master thesis. And of course this was just for an ordinary course,” Arnn added.

Arnn said he apol­o­gized to Sajak for the extreme workload, yet Sajak won’t let Arnn forget how much work he did.

“The papers, which I still have, are excellent,” Arnn added.

He said he thinks Sajak’s favorite class was English with Pro­fessor of English Stephen Smith.

Sajak said his trips to Hillsdale are a very pleasant change in his normal routine.

“Of course, I don’t have to attend class and finish assign­ments on time, so it’s probably a bit easier for me to relax,” Sajak quipped.

During his regular visits to the school, he meets with stu­dents who received his schol­arship money. Melika Wiloughby ’14 met Sajak for the first time during a Trustee dinner at Broadlawn.

“He was incredibly amused by the fact that I was taking harp classes,” Wiloughby said.

She said she told him all the typical liberal arts classes she was taking — from Aris­totle to Lincoln — and added she was taking harp.

“He was appre­ciative of the fact that stu­dents approach the liberal arts in their class schedules like that,” Wiloughby added.

While telling him a quick story about some­thing that had frus­trated her, she used the term “miffed”.

“He looked at me and said, ‘No one under the age of 75 uses the term miffed’,” Wiloughby said, laughing.

Before Sajak became a game show host, he worked at a radio station in Chicago, and served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam as a DJ for Armed Forces Radio. After­wards, he was a DJ in Ken­tucky, and a weath­erman in Nashville and Los Angeles according to his TV Guide biog­raphy.

Harkening back to the old days of jour­nalism, Sajak said the 24-hour news cycle and social media have increased shoddy reporting.

“My time in jour­nalism helped me learn to observe and try to under­stand the people around me,” he said. “Even in an area as far-removed from jour­nalism as a game show, that expe­rience has proved valuable.”

  • Polit­i­calBrew

    I’m so delighted to know that Pat Sajak is on the board of Hillsdale. It makes my rev­erence for Hillsdale seem all the more jus­tified. You see, my 94 year mother watched Wheel of Fortune every day until she no longer could see.

    By some quirk of fate decades ago, my mom, dad and their favorite married couple got an all expenses paid trip to So. Cal. to see Wheel of Fortune, Pat and Vana. After­wards it seemed not one week passed that mom wasn’t rem­i­niscing about how Pat fed her ice cream pool side.

    She didn’t mention much else about the trip but the way she talked about Pat made me really feel that he was a gen­uinely good person; the kind of person Hillsdale excels at pro­ducing. The fact that he is on Hillsdale’s board cements the truth of my mom’s feelings toward him.

    I can only hope that she might live long enough to expe­rience my boy accepting his Hillsdale deploma from Pat or Larry or both. What a dream come true that would be for some of the whole­someness goodness that still sur­vives in America.