Boilermaker ties run deep for Paul Schneider (PhD HHS’84) and his family. He and his wife, Debbie, have funded two endowments benefiting Purdue programs, and their sons are both proud alumni.
“We’re extremely happy with the education our sons received,” says Schneider, a clinical psychologist in Indianapolis. “More importantly, the university supported me as a graduate student, which allowed me to come out of school debt-free.”
Schneider arrived in West Lafayette in 1980 to pursue a PhD, majoring in clinical psychology. During his first year on campus, he received a National Institute of Mental Health fellowship that provided him with a tuition waiver and living stipend. “After that, I was totally funded through teaching and research assistantships,” he says. “My major professor even arranged a job for me at the Boys Club in Frankfort.”
The couple’s older son, Eric (T’11), studied electrical engineering technology and is a test engineer in Denver. Younger son Lucas (T’19) majored in mechanical engineering technology and works for a construction company in Chicago.
Looking to make a tangible difference, the Schneiders have established the Anthony J. Conger Memorial Endowment for Purdue’s College of Health and Human Sciences. Named in honor of the late psychological sciences professor, the endowment promotes out-of-classroom instruction and experiences.
“I wanted to support any kind of learning at any level that occurs outside of the classroom,” Schneider says. “When I was at Purdue, we had our graduate team meetings in my major professor’s home, and we also had excellent practicum experiences. I feel I learned better by getting out of the classroom.” Like his father, Lucas benefited from a similar experience when he participated in a leadership class that met in the home of Mitch Daniels, Purdue’s president at the time.
Additionally, the Schneider-Sulkin Family Endowment funded by the couple will support the Purdue Polytechnic Institute with funds that can be used at the dean’s discretion.
“I was joking that one of the reasons we set up two endowments is that our boys never came back home after they graduated,” Schneider says. “They were able to go out and find careers with their bachelor’s degrees, and they’re both doing well. Personally, without Purdue, I might never have had the opportunity to become a psychologist and practice in my chosen profession.”
As he prepares for retirement, Schneider felt now was the perfect time to pay it forward. “Debbie and I have been blessed,” he says. “I’ve thought about giving back, and the two organizations I decided to support were Purdue and my church.”