David Schneider, Ph.D.

Professor of Communications and Department Chair
Saginaw Valley State University

The 2019 NEA Higher Educator of the Year is David Schneider, Ph.D., a leader in his union at the local, state and national level, and strong advocate for students and colleagues at Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. Schneider, a professor of communications and department chair, who also has served as president and chief negotiator of his faculty union and as president and board member of the Michigan Association of Higher Education, makes clear that the success of faculty, students, and campuses are intertwined and interdependent. “His message has been that the community benefits by strong cooperation and support,” writes his Michigan colleague Colleen Pilgrim, of Schoolcraft College, who nominated Schneider this year. In the classroom, Schneider models student-centered learning. “He understands that engagement with students fosters the necessary attachment (to their institutions) that help them succeed,” writes Pilgrim. A former student shared, in a campus publication, that he is glad he didn’t listen to other students who said Schneider is “too hard” because “his fairness, positive reinforcement, and challenges to be your best more than made up for the extra work.” Outside the classroom, Schneider, a member of NEA’s National Council for Higher Education, advocates for social awareness of unions. He has inspired countless faculty and staff, says Pilgrim, to become more involved and to expand their union efforts beyond the local level.