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Diversity Research Center's Spring 2013 Visiting Scholar

February 2013
Michael Schneider

Michael Schneider

When it comes to diversity, age isn't always a demographic figure that comes to mind. Yet one look at top university leadership often produces a list of similar characteristics year after year. Michael Schneider, president of McPherson College in Kansas, represents a new kind of university leadership. At 38, he is one of the youngest college presidents in the country at one of the most diverse colleges in the Midwest. The John Cotton Dana Library is pleased to announce his appointment as the Diversity Research Center's Spring 2013 Visiting Scholar.

The report from the American Council on Education on the demographics of college presidents clearly shows how rare Schneider is in those circles. "The typical American college or university president is a married white male who is 61 years old, holds a doctorate in education and has served in his current position for seven years-a profile that has not varied greatly over the previous 25 years."1

In addition, Schneider's experience in entrepreneurship also sets him apart from the fold. A graduate of McPherson, he was later invited by the partners of the Summit Catalog Company to help revitalize the company. Schneider developed a passion for business ventures. He earned an MBA from the University of Denver and supported start-up companies in a wide variety of industries, including information technology and green energy.

When McPherson approached him about becoming president in 2002, Schneider quickly realized that the way to build a competitive institution was to focus on the values which define the liberal arts college. Based upon his own experience and conversations with other business leaders, he realized that many employers were looking for the very skill sets that liberal arts colleges emphasize.

Thus began a major new initiative at McPherson - to expand the focus on entrepreneurship by creating a minor, forming a Liberal Arts and Entrepreneurship team, hosting a Global Entrepreneurship Week, among other ventures. Of the innovative projects that Schneider has launched, the Horizon Fund awards grants of $500 to McPherson student with entrepreneurial proposals and the Global Enterprise Challenge supports student-led, sustainable ventures that assist those in Haiti. These programs began to attract the interest of students and donors alike. An anonymous donor recently gave $1.2 million to the college, to support a new position of Director of Entrepreneurship.

Schneider's appointment as the Spring 2013 Visiting Scholar follows on the heels of White House Correspondent April Ryan's Fall 2012 Visiting Scholar appointment, which culminated in her public presentation on race and the presidential election. Michael Schneider's public presentation will take place in March and will certainly continue in the vein of our previous successful scholar presentations. His will focus on the role of presidential leadership in fostering goals related to diversity.

The Diversity Research Center, which will be hosting Schneider's visit, is a part of Dana Library on Rutgers University's Newark campus. The Visiting Scholar program was launched along with the founding of the Center in 2010 to bring top scholars, public figures, and experts on issues related to diversity to the most diverse university in the country, Rutgers-Newark. 

1Inside Higher Ed