When Dr. John Schmidt walked through the doors of the Adams Administration Building in early May, one thought came to his mind. He was home.
Schmidt, who retired in 2014 after 20 years of service to Troy University, returned May 6 to assume a role with which he was very familiar – Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Services and Administration. He took over the position after Dr. Royce H. “Hank” Dasinger returned to his roots with the U.S. Air Force to become Dean of the Community College of the Air Force.
“TROY is home, and it is good to be back home,” Schmidt said. “I loved the 20 years that I was here. When Dr. Hawkins asked me if I would consider coming back, a few things jumped to mind. I was honored that he would ask. We share a deep friendship and when a friend asks you to do something, you want to comply. I enjoyed my time here and the duties he asked me to undertake were duties I was familiar with. The attraction, simply said, was coming back home and being among family again.”
Schmidt originally joined Troy University in 1994 following 25 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps. During his military experience, he led Marines in two wars and was decorated for his combat duty. It was that experience that led him to TROY the first time around.
“The 25 years I was in the Marine Corps leading young, energetic and enthusiastic Marines was easily transferrable to the University,” he said. “Of course students aren’t Marines, but they are young, energetic and trying to find their own way. It was a natural affinity and transition.”
Coming back in the role of Senior Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Administration is special for Schmidt because he once served the University in that capacity.
“Of all the positions or duties or functions that I held or was assigned, the love was the love of students,” Schmidt said. “In 1994, when I first came here I was the executive assistant to the chancellor. Those two years were very helpful in understanding the dynamics of the University. I had a sign that I kept on my desk for many years that asked ‘what does it mean to students?’ Every decision we make impacts students. The position I held after serving as executive assistant was what we called then vice president for student affairs. I absolutely loved that position because it dealt so closely with students and helping them to be successful.”
During his tenure in that role, Schmidt worked to create a program to help first-year students excel and foster their academic, social and personal success. The John W. Schmidt Center for Student Success was named in his honor in 2014.
“Dr. Hawkins encouraged me to continue my education and pursue my doctoral degree,” he said. “That doctorate was all centered around how can we be more student-centered and how can we keep that first-year freshman engaged.”
Schmidt said having the center bear his name not only is an honor, but also a motivator to continue to find ways to help students realize success.
“It reminds me each day that I’ve got to continue to live up to the signage on that building,” he said. “Am I helping students be to be successful and will I continue to help students succeed? It is an honor but it is also a reminder of my obligation to students.”
Also during his initial stint at TROY, Schmidt also provided leadership for the University’s first two capital campaigns and served as Senior Vice Chancellor for Advancement and External Relations. He also led the implementation of a first-year common reader program that led to a University-wide emphasis on creating a culture of reading.
Remembering his first day back at TROY, Schmidt said it was like he had never left.
“It was almost as if those five years of retirement never happened,” he said. “It was truly great to be back among great people – family – again. I truly believe that God puts us where He wants us and He does so for a reason. I think right now in my station of life, there is a reason I’m here. There is a lot of work to do, and I hope that I can live up to those expectations.”