William D. Schafer, a veteran student life administrator, has been named West Virginia University’s new vice president of student life, effective March 1, President Gordon Gee announced Friday (Jan. 16).
Schafer comes to WVU from the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he has been vice president for student affairs since 2004.
“Bill Schafer is a respected national leader on student issues, and I am delighted that he will be joining us at West Virginia University,” Gee said. “Throughout his career, Bill has worked alongside his academic partners to develop extraordinary educational experiences in and out of the classroom. He is the right person to guide us as we collaborate with students on building a culture of responsibility and accountability at West Virginia University.”
Schafer earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1975, followed by a master’s in guidance and counseling in 1977, and doctorate in higher education administration and curriculum in 1986, all from the University of Colorado Boulder.
“I feel like I have been preparing for this opportunity my entire career and cannot wait to get started,” Schafer said. “I look forward to learning about the special culture of WVU and bringing my experiences to create a very special educational experience for the very deserving students from West Virginia and beyond.”
During 11 years at Georgia Tech, an Association of American Universities institution, Schafer led several new initiatives within the Division of Student Affairs, including a strategic planning process, American Psychological Association certification of the Georgia Tech Counseling Center, development of a fundraising plan, assessment and outcomes program, multicultural competency plan, an enhanced parent and family program, student leadership program including a minor in leadership studies with global leadership dimensions, program review process, and professional development program.
In collaboration with academic affairs, he also led an initiative to develop a highly successful living-learning program in the residence halls that includes an academic component. This program has become a new model for future living-learning programs at Georgia Tech. For six years, Schafer chaired the University System of Georgia’s Regents Committee on Learning Disorders, providing recommendations for students with learning disorders attending the system’s 31 institutions across the state. He also chaired an effort to create a new doctoral program in Student Affairs Leadership at the University of Georgia. During his tenure, Schafer was recognized by Georgia Tech student leaders with the “Most Outstanding Staff Award” and a “Friend of the Greek Award.”
Prior to his roles at Georgia Tech, he was associate vice president and dean of students at University of Texas at El Paso, the largest Hispanic majority university in the nation, dean of student life at the University of Denver and dean of students at the Illinois Institute of Technology. He also served as director of the office of student conduct and other student offices at the University of Colorado Boulder.
During his 35-year career, he has been responsible for more than 30 different student services departments. He has also served several national organizations including the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Schafer is the immediate past co-chair of the Chief Student Affairs Officers of APLU, which represents more than 200 universities and systems across the nation. In addition, Schafer has led initiatives for funding an Atlantic Coast Conference student leadership weekend and higher education student advocacy day in Washington, D.C.
Schafer also has ties to West Virginia: his parents, Adam Clyde Schafer and Minnie Josephine Hardesty Schafer, graduated from Shinnston High School and briefly attended WVU, ultimately graduating from what was then Fairmont State Teachers College. Many other relatives also have attended WVU.
Schafer succeeds Ken Gray, who retired as vice president of student affairs in mid-2014.
“I am very proud to be following my good colleague and friend Ken Gray who provided guidance and direction for the Division of Student Life for 17 years,” Schafer said. “Ken has left a legacy of hard work, dedication and innovation to this Division and I will dedicate my full efforts to filling his shoes and continue moving the Division forward.”
Michael Ellington, associate vice president for student life, has served as interim vice president since Gray’s retirement.
“I want to thank Michael for providing a steadying hand during what was a challenging period,” Gee said.
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