The NU Board of Trustees Chair reflects on the year’s successes, the shifting landscape of higher education, and the challenges awaiting our next president

By the time you read this, it will have been three months since we celebrated Homecoming here at Norwich. As I write this, my memories of those four incredible days have not yet begun to fade. Celebrat­ing our 200th birthday with 6,000 members of the Nor­wich family is something I will never forget. Among the many highlights for me was meeting and speaking with so many of you, including former students of mine, whom I had not seen in 25 years! To a person, everyone was wowed both by the im­provements to campus since they last visited the Hill and also all our wonderful stu­dents, whom they met and spoke with.

None of these new, state-of-the-art facilities or rele­vant academic programs would exist if not for your loyal support. At Friday night’s gala, we announced the conclusion of the Forging the Future campaign, which raised more than $118 mil­lion over five years! And at Saturday morning’s alumni parade, reunion classes end­ing in 4s and 9s presented gifts to the university total­ing over $14 million! These funds and the benefit re­ceived from them—to our students and our universi­ty—will enable Norwich’s legacy to endure deep into our third century.

Our 200-year legacy is something we can all be proud of. Vermont Gover­nor Phil Scott, speaking from the podium at the gala, expressed it in these words: “[Norwich students] don’t let the fear of failure or difficulty hold them back. They dig in to achieve their goals, and fight for what’s right.” When Scott became governor, I gave him a hard card of Nor­wich’s guiding values state­ment, which he now keeps on his desk. Referencing it in his speech, he remarked, “These are ideals we should all live up to.”

The value of Norwich to America is that we are train­ing men and women of honor and integrity, who can “do” in the finest tradition of Al­den Partridge. It is acting and execution, not just thinking and conceiving. That is what separates the Norwich per­son from the crowd.

David Bellavia, our na­tion’s most recent Medal of Honor recipient—and the only living MOH recipient of the Iraq War—reaf­firmed this while on cam­pus in September for the Norwich University Mili­tary Writers’ Symposium.

Speaking from our Med­al of Honor Gallery in Jack­man Hall, Bellavia addressed local media. “Norwich grad­uates are completely differ­ent than [those from] any other military institution,” he said. “I’ve known Norwich grads before I knew about Norwich. They’re just prin­cipled, decent, humble, ear­nest leaders.”

I have often said we are known by what our students do after they leave here—not by what we do to them while they are here. Even the Old Guard, who still have tread left on their tires, continue to exercise their value to the nation—in their communi­ties, their states, and across the country. When you con­sider the collective contribu­tions of thousands of Norwich-educated citi­zen-soldiers over the course of their individual lifetimes of selfless service, their im­pact to our nation and our world becomes inestimable.

As I contemplate my im­pending retirement, I can­not imagine a more valuable use of my time over these past 28 years than to have served as president of your alma mater. Because of you and those who came before you, I am proud to say Nor­wich is well positioned to continue producing honor­able, competent, val­ues-driven leaders for our country. I thank each and every one of you for support­ing Jaime and me and wel­coming us into the Norwich family. As I conclude my presidency, I have the ut­most faith you will do no less for our next president.

Norwich forever!

Richard W. Schneider

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