Norbert O. Schedler
Childhood and Education
Norbert Schedler is the third of five children born to a Lutheran minister and his wife. Schedler was born in the United States, but spent much of his youth in Vancouver, British Columbia. His parents moved to Vancouver from Oregon one after another (father first). His mother soon became pregnant during their stay at the city. Due to wanting her son to be an American born citizen, she rode the train to Milwaukee where her parents lived and gave birth to Norb. During his nine years in Vancouver, Norb fell deeply in love with the city's beautiful architectures and diversity in cultures. The rainy and foggy weather of Vancouver in winter also became a lasting memory for Norb. At an early age, Schedler began asking his father questions about his Sunday sermons, and readily accepted the nickname "Little Skeptic." Schedler attended an immigrant German preparatory school in Fort Wayne, IN, where he mastered German, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.
Schedler received a B.A. in Classics from Concordia College in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1955. He completed his Masters of Divinity in Theology at Concordia Seminary in 1958. As part of his seminary training, Schedler served as a Vicar at Christ Church in Washington, DC. Between 1955 and 1959, he attended graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. In 1959 Schedler enrolled at Princeton University, where he received a doctorate in Philosophy in 1962.
Early Appointments and Arrival at UCA
Schedler's career included appointments at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana (Associate Professor, 1963-1967, Chair, Department of Philosophy, 1968-1969), and at Purdue University branch at Fort Wayne, Indiana (Visiting Associate Professor, 1967-1968, Chair, Department of Philosophy, 1969-1976, Full Professor, 1973-1976), and the University of Central Arkansas, Conway, Arkansas Research Associate at the University of California, Berkeley, for the 1975-1976 academic year).
Schedler recounts his decision to move to the University of Central Arkansas: "I was sitting on the side of a hill, and I could look down and see the San Francisco Bay. My eyes went over two interstates, each of which had 12 lanes and all these people. I was thinking, do I want to go back to Purdue with 20-something faculty, 30,000 students, and all the hassles of that, or do I want to go to an 'underdeveloped country,' to a small university where I can spend a lot of time with students, raise my kids, and not be under that kind of pressure." He chose to come to UCA to serve as the head of the Department of Philosophy, 1976-1985, and Director of The UCA Honors College, 1981-2005.
Origins of the UCA Honors College
The most often told UCA Honors College origin story is of a hot August day in 1981 when then UCA President Jefferson Davis Farris Jr., came to rest next to Schedler on a concrete bench under a tree outside McAlister Hall on the Conway campus.
However, Norbert Schedler began thinking about founding an Honors College on the campus of UCA almost a year earlier. The idea for such an institution first emerged in a conversation between Schedler and Michael Kelley, then a professor at UCA. Schedler and Kelley argued, first to fellow professor Phillip Anderson and then to administration officials, that the establishment of an Honors College might help UCA recruit and retain talented undergraduates, and improve the stature of the university as a whole. New UCA President Jefferson Farris, Vice President Marvin DeBoer, and Dean Robert M. McChesney all agreed that the idea had merit, and recommended that a full study be undertaken to consider Schedler's proposal.
In January 1982, Schedler accepted the university's invitation to create the UCA Honors College and was named its first Director. Schedler initiated an Honors pilot program in the fall of 1982 with an initial appropriation of six hundred dollars. Other early contributors of time and talent included UCA faculty members James Brodman, Eugene Corcoran, Robert Lowrey, and Helen Phillips. The first recruiting class of 1982 included sixty freshmen, together comprising an average ACT score of 26.8. A special Honors Center for honors class instruction was outfitted in the summer of 1983.
UCA inaugurated a full Honors College, awarding a minor degree in Interdisciplinary Studies, in the 1984-1985 academic year. Twelve students graduated with Honors in the first Class of 1987. The current Class of 2009 has approximately 150 members and an average ACT score of 31.5.
Professional Society Memberships
Schedler is a past or present member of the American Academy of Religion, the American Philosophical Association, the Arkansas Honors Association, the Arkansas Philosophical Society, the Center for Process Studies, the National Collegiate Honors Council, and the Society for Religion and Ecology. Schedler is a founding member of the Arkansas Honors Association (also known as "AHA!").
- Jennifer Boyett, "Reflections on an Honorable Career," UCA Alumni Contact, vol. 98, issue 2, 2005.
- Sara Harvey, "Schedler Retires After a Career Filled with Wisdom and Beauty," Vino: Newsmagazine of the UCA Honors College, 23.2 (Winter 2004).
- Norbert Schedler, "The Beginning," Paradigms of the Next Generation, 2 (Spring 1987).
- Norbert Schedler, "Our Destruction of Tomorrow: A Philosophical Reflection on the Ecological Crisis." In Ethical Issues, ed. by William R. Durland and William H. Bruening (Palo Alto, CA: Mayfield Publishing Co., 1975), 247-269.
- Norbert Schedler, "Paul Tillich's Theory of Symbol," M.Div. thesis, Concordia Seminary, 1958.
- Norbert Schedler, "A Philosophical Analysis of the Method of Austin Farrer and Ian Ramsey," Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1967.
- Norbert Schedler, Philosophy of Religion: Contemporary Perspectives (New York: Macmillan, 1974).