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 President Richard W. Schneider
The Norwich Record | Winter 2020
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.
Richard W. Schneider
RADM, USCGR (RET.)