WMU News

Founding business dean dies in Florida

March 26, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Dr. Arnold E. Schneider, founding dean of Western Michigan University's Haworth College of Business, died today (March 26) in Florida. He was 94 years old.

Schneider, who lived in Sarasota, Fla., retired as dean of the college in 1974 and remained a member of the faculty as a distinguished professor of business until his retirement from the University, after 32, years in 1979. During his tenure, he worked under three of WMU's six presidents--Paul Sangren, James Miller and John Bernhard. Schneider also knew presidents Diether Haenicke and Elson Floyd, and he recently met with Interim President Daniel Litynski.

"Arnold Schneider's impressive contributions to the growth and development of this University spanned nearly a third of our 100-year history," says Litynski. "I had dinner with him recently in Florida and found him to be an absolutely marvelous person. We are incredibly grateful for the time, talent and resources he so willingly shared with WMU, and our thoughts are with his family."

A generous benefactor of the University, Schneider established a deferred-estate gift plan valued at approximately $1.5 million in 1993. In addition, he contributed cash gifts to various areas of the University, including the creation of four permanent endowment funds. He also was a founding director emeritus of the WMU Foundation and had a Medallion Scholarship named in his honor. Schneider was a member of the WMU Foundation's McKee Society, its highest donor recognition category, which honors contributors whose lifetime support of WMU demonstrates impressive dedication, commitment and loyalty.

Schneider joined the University in 1947 to head the Department of Business Education, renamed the Business Department in 1948. When WMU gained University status in 1956, the department was elevated and renamed the School of Business and Schneider was named dean. In 1969, still under his leadership, the school became the College of Business.

During his tenure, Schneider built the business program from five faculty members and approximately 400 students to well over 100 faculty members and more than 5,000 business students at the time of his retirement. He oversaw the launch of the MBA degree program in both Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids in the 1960s, along with accreditation of the undergraduate program by the American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business in 1970.

"It was Arnold Schneider's vision and leadership that launched the Haworth College of Business on its journey to become what it is today--one of the nation's largest and most forward-looking business schools," says Dean James W. Schmotter, who now heads the Haworth College of Business, today the nation's 12th largest producer of undergraduate business majors. "Any institution stands on the shoulders of its founders, and we proudly rest on his."

In 1990, the University dedicated a portrait of Schneider, which hangs in a prominent location in the building that houses the Haworth College of Business. He was only the third WMU official to be honored with a commissioned portrait hung on the campus, placing him in the company of former University presidents James Miller and John T. Bernhard. Three years later, the building where that portrait hangs was named Schneider Hall in his honor, recognizing his accomplishments as a faculty member, distinguished professor and founding dean of the college, as well as his significant charitable gifts to the University.

In addition to his administrative roles, Schneider was a productive scholar, consultant and lecturer. He wrote four books and published more than 75 articles in the field of management education and organizational development. Before coming to WMU, Schneider had established what became the College of Business at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Iowa, a master's degree from the University of Iowa and a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan.

During World War II, Schneider was in the U.S. Navy for four years, serving part of that time in naval personnel in Washington, D.C. Schneider learned to fly in the early days of WMU's own aviation program and remained an active pilot well into his 80s.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, March 30, at Langeland Funeral Home, 622 S. Burdick St., Kalamazoo. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any contributions be made to Western Michigan University.

Media contact: Jessica English, 269 387-8400, jessica.english@wmich.edu

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