FOUNDER CELEBRATING 30 YEARS OF PROGRAM
When Norb Schedler reflects on the achievements of the Honors College at the University of Central Arkansas since its origin in 1982, he is filled with a sense of awe,
There is no denying that the Honors College, launched under the direction of Dr. Schedler, marked a significant turning point in the life and reputation of the academic community.
And it is no wonder that the university is indebted to this astute and scholarly academician and has deemed that the Honors College be named for Schedler.
Of course the honoree is quietly appreciative of this homage. Tom Courtway, president of the university, and its faculty share similarly in cheering the selection.
Courtway calls it a “significant development for the university” and said of Schedler, “He has had a great influence on many people and changed lives. I’m thrilled for Dr. Schedler and happy that the Board of Trustees and a select committee also honored Schedler.”
Dr. Rick Scott, dean of the UCA Honors College, makes note of salient facts that, under the strong leadership of Dr. Schedler, the Honors College has taken its place among the most complete models of living and learning communities in collegiate honors anywhere “That includes high impact practices of undergraduate research, study abroad, internships and service learning.”
The honoree greeted a visitor warmly at his home off Donaghey the other day. Schedler, as is his custom, was nattily dressed wearing his ubiquitous bow tie. “My high school professors wore bow ties and they looked so good” he recalls.
He is retired and says of that condition: “I don’t handle retirement well”. Yet he visits his office at UCA every day and finds himself involved in many ventures, the most important being fund raising for the Honors College students. “I’d like to raise about 2 million for study abroad.”
Through it all, Schedler continues his war against a degenerative problem that sought him out six years ago. He is apologetic for his shortcomings in speech, but he endures and seeks no sympathy.
Currently he is at work fashioning remarks that he will make at an upcoming celebration. “We’re going to celebrate my 80th birthday and the 30th birthday of the Honors College,” he explains.
He chuckles when he tells of his first association with UCA.
“I was on leave from Purdue and involved with study at the University of California at Berkley where I was a research associate. My wife was tired of cold weather and wanted to go south. And when I saw an ad from UCA, I applied. They thought I was joking. But they hired me regardless.”
His vita is so striking — no wonder the attitude of UCA officials. He graduated from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, served as a vicar at Christ Church in Washington, D. C. and studied at Washington University before enrolling in 1950 at Princeton University were he studied religion and philosophy. While completing his thesis, he accepted a call to ministry in the parish of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Philadelphia.
As a minister he tried to help people better negotiate their lives. He supported theater performances in the chancel and also religious plays while being threatened with expulsion “My concern was teaching the gospel to people in the contemporary world.” From there he became a professor of philosophy at Purdue.
Moving on to UCA in 1976, he noted that “I particularly enjoy the eagerness of the Arkansas students to learn and their eagerness to do hard work. I find them every bit as capable as any student I have had. I called them ‘severely gifted.’ My joy in teaching is discovering how good a student can be.”
It wasn’t long after that he sought to inaugurate a program offering talented students an intensive approach to learning. President Jeff Farris agreed with the idea and the Honors College became fact.
Dr. Scott, president of the National Collegiate Honors Council representing 900 universities in the United States and abroad, reveals that this May some 1,439 students will have graduated from the UCA Honors program; that 900 students have studied abroad or undertaken formal research or internships supported by the Honors College; that over 80 percent of honors college graduates pursue post-baccalaureate training; that the college has graduated a Rhodes Scholar, and has produced a Truman Scholar, Fulbright Scholars, Rotary Ambassadorial Scholars and a Jack Kent Cooke Fellowship.