McKendree University Awards Philanthropist John F. Schmidt
‘Friend of the University’ Award Presented on Founders’ Day
Lebanon, Ill. — John F. Schmidt, of Tucson, Ariz., received the 2014 Friend of the University Award when McKendree University observed its 186th anniversary on Feb. 20. His niece, Maureen Meyers of Edwardsville, accepted the honor on his behalf at the annual Founders’ Day program at the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts.
Established in 2002, the award recognizes organizations or individuals who are not McKendree alumni but who have consistently given exemplary service to the university. Service can be expressed as volunteer support, assisting in the recruitment of students, fund-raising, and maintaining a positive influence on the image and direction of the university.
“John F. Schmidt has been a friend of McKendree University for more than 35 years,” said Dr. James Dennis, university president. “His impact on the university and as a leader in the metro-east, has been significant. His commitment to McKendree is clear; his service to the region is exceptional; and his compassion and concern for others as evidenced by his support for this university and countless other charities in our region is remarkable.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Schmidt spent most of his working life at Columbia Quarry, from which he retired as senior vice president in 1997. He remained a member of its board of directors until the quarries were sold in 2010. His work caused him to be very civically engaged, serving on numerous volunteer boards, and supporting arts and community organizations and educational institutions.
He established the William E. and Florence Schmidt Foundation in 1981 as a memorial to his parents, and honored the legacy of his sister through the Lon D. and Lucille Barton Foundation in 1984. The two foundations have provided millions of dollars of assistance to a variety of organizations, including The Salvation Army, Ronald McDonald House, the Community Unified School District in Gillespie, Ill., and the American Cancer Society.
In addition, they have given nearly a million dollars to McKendree University. The Schmidt Foundation established an endowed scholarship fund for the study of business, economics or computer science, and supported construction of the Hettenhausen Center for the Arts. The Barton Foundation endows a scholarship for students in theater and the performing arts.
Personal giving from Schmidt and his wife Peggy (Chambers) Schmidt, who graduated from McKendree in 1976 with a degree in art, has provided annual support for the university and its major fundraising campaigns.
The president closed the program with his annual “State of the University” address. He shared statistics to illustrate McKendree’s remarkable growth in the last 20 years and discussed goals and challenges for the near future. He also announced that the Lyn Huxford Center for Community Service will be named in honor of its founder, sociology professor Dr. Lyn Huxford, who will retire this spring after a 36-year teaching career at McKendree.