Dean of Students announces retirement

Jessie Hellmann

Dean of Students Barry Schonberger has been so busy for the past 38 years, he rarely mows his grass during the daytime.

“I hope to be able to mow my grass on a more regular basis than I can now,” Schonberger said. “I’ve got the headlights on the lawn mower, and I’m out there mowing when I get home at night.”

Schonberger announced his retirement at a Student Government Association (SGA) meeting Oct. 20.

He said he will retire June 30 and will go on a sixth month sabbatical starting July 1 with an official university retirement date of Jan. 1, 2013.

Schonberger comes from St. Paul, Minn., and earned his Bachelor of Arts in physical education and recreation from Bemidji State University in 1974. He earned his master’s in public administration from Indiana State University (ISU) in the ’80s.

Right after graduating from ISU, Schonberger was hired at USI, then called Indiana State University-Evansville, as the first ever director of student activities in the fall of 1974.

“I never left college,” Shonberger said. “I went directly from being a student to working at a college, so I’ve never left college and I’ll finally be departing college.”

Schonberger became the Dean of Students in 1989. Schonberger supervises the Cheer and Dance teams, Pep Band, The Shield and is the adviser of SGA. Schonberger also created the Student Health Center.

He said he decided to retire partly because of his wife, Angie.

“My wife retired this past May, so she’s at home having all kinds of fun and wanting to travel and do all of these things,” Schonberger said. “She’s kind of holding me a little bit to this when I said I would retire within the next two years.”

He said he and Angie plan to spend their retirement time visiting their son, Kent, in Valparaiso, Ind., and their daughter Kate in Nashville, Tenn., as well as their friends located all over the country.

Schonberger’s retirement agenda consists of indulging in one of his main hobbies, restoring his motorcycles and automobiles.

“For a good part of my life I’ve raced cars,” Schonberger said. “I hope to be able to continue to do that also.”

He has raced at tracks like the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

Schonberger owns two Sunbeam Tigers. One is a facsimile of a sunbeam tiger which he races, and the other is a 1965 original.

He has won three national championships racing autocross in the ’80s and ’90s.

Schonberger does not want just anyone to take over his position.

“I want someone who has a good sense of humor because you have to have that from time to time,” Schonberger said. “To someone that knows students will make mistakes in their decision making that may compromise them, but that doesn’t mean that there still isn’t an opportunity for them to learn from that experience and continue to get an education.”

He said he wants someone who can empathize with students as well as someone who is compassionate.

Schonberger’s administrative assistant Mary Alice Weigand said Schonberger is one of the kindest and most compassionate people she’s ever met.

“I’m really happy for him,” Weigand said. “I think the university is losing a great asset.”

She said Schonberger has always been a wonderful advocate for the students, and he has a special love for them.

“Anyone that spends 38 years in the same place has to have a special love for the place,” Weigand said.

“I’ve learned so much from him, and we work really well together,” Weigand said. “I love the students as well, so we both work in harmony to try to do what we can for the students and what their needs are.”

She said she is glad to see Schonberger retire so he can travel with his wife and see his two children.

Nick Mathis, sophomore engineering major and SGA administrative vice president of research and development, frequently works with Schonberger because he is the adviser for SGA.

“He has an answer for everything,” Mathis said. “He’s a pretty smart guy.”

“He’s been here for 38 years, so he’s been with the university for a long time and has a lot of history behind him so he knows what works and what doesn’t,” Mathis said.

Mathis said Schonberger is approachable and listens to students.

“He’s definitely one of the campus greats,” Mathis said. “He leaves some pretty big shoes to fill.”