Dr. Robert V. Schnabel was elected president of Valparaiso University in 1978 while serving as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa. Prior to his affiliation with Wartburg, he was president of Concordia College, Bronxville, New York, from 1971 to 1976. His teaching career included 14 years at Concordia Senior College, Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he was chairman of the department of philosophy, and later, academic dean.
A native of Scarsdale, New York, he earned degrees from Bowdoin College (Bachelor of Arts 1944) and Fordham University (Master of Science 1951 and Doctor of Philosophy 1955). He also studied at Concordia College, Bronxville; Concordia Seminary, St. Louis; Indiana University, and the University of Michigan.
As president, Schnabel worked to recruit academically stronger students and to provide more support to faculty, while also setting higher standards for faculty research. These things were necessary, Schnabel argued, in order for VU to realize its goal of becoming a “national Lutheran University of high academic standing.” Schnabel presided at Valpo until 1988, and the University continued to progress in all areas. In 1987 it was ranked No. 1 among Midwestern and Western comprehensive institutions by U.S. News and World Report.