He reads like a big-gauge Renaissance man: architect, bridge builder, award-winning story writer, essayist, educator, researcher, labor mediator, wartime administrator, art collector and even university president, serving as president of UC from 1929 to 1932. But he never brayed and was happiest and proudest in his modest role as the College of Engineering’s first dean, the man who dragged UC from the ivory tower into the world’s foundries and factories, mines and machine shops. Yet, none of this tells you who the man was, really.
One-time student John Johnson was sure he was going to have to drop out of school when his father died unexpectedly during the Depression. Johnson went to the dean’s office and informed the secretary that he would be leaving the program. Schneider’s secretary told him to return in a few hours to meet with the dean. “The dean told me that my grades made me qualified for a scholarship tuition loan,” Johnson writes. “He also said the people in Cincinnati had made funds available to him to help students who needed financial assistance for living expenses. He then handed me a $50 check.
“…I had the opportunity to see the dean as a very warm, caring person,” Johnson recalls. "He was efficient, prepared, knew my needs and had a logical plan…”
|Marguerite Whitney, today, makes a run for ice cream just as she did when working for Dean Schneider.|
Whitney further insists that this ice cream was no luxury but a necessity. “We needed it because it was always so hot in the summers in Baldwin Hall! We didn’t have air conditioning. I can’t even recall that we had a fan. We’d pull the shades down to keep the sun out, but that meant no air flow. I remember working one Saturday till 4 p.m. when we had to get some letters out. It was 104 degrees that day.”
|Painting of Dean Schneider, fully and formally attired, while vacationing at the beach in Michigan.|
Such recollections wax hot and cold on Dean Schneider. Marie Seuberling Ludeke, a business graduate from 1940, also worked as a secretary at UC from 1935-1940. She recalls that Dean Schneider always walked. He would never drive due to his weak eyesight. The young secretary and her brother would often stop to give the dean a ride to work when they spotted him at the bottom of University Avenue where the No. 35 streetcar dropped him off. And no matter how cold the winter morning, Dean Schneider would always roll down all the windows in the car.
Similarly, he always rode on the open back end of the city’s streetcars. It seems that after enduring the threat of consumption and an honest-to-God-case of malaria when he was young, Schneider was germ phobic and always glad to seek fresh air which, in his opinion, guaranteed a “germ-free” environment. Whatever his reasons, Ludeke was just grateful for one thing: “…on winter mornings, I was glad it was a short ride!”
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