Alumna Named IEEE Fellow

Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering has seen many gifted and enterprising students grace its classrooms. One such student, Cheryl Bunnett Schrader ’84, was recently appointed as chancellor of the Missouri University of Science and Technology in April 2012. Cheryl is not only an accomplished electrical engineer, producing award-winning research in systems and control, but she also has dedicated her life toward mentoring students in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. During her long-standing engineering career, Cheryl has been recognized as one of “Idaho’s Women Making History,” as one of the “150 most influential people of Valparaiso University.”

Cheryl was born in Batavia, Ill. to Lutheran pastor Robert Bunnett and wife Florence Bunnett. She was the second of three children, the eldest being her brother Robert Bunnett ’83 and her younger sister Tami Bunnett. Although her family moved from the Chicago area to Los Angeles one week after her high school graduation, Cheryl decided to attend Valparaiso University in the fall. One of the reasons Cheryl was drawn to Valparaiso University was the unique blend of liberal arts and professions that the university offered her. She claims that the appeal of Valparaiso University was, “…the size, small enough for personal attention, while also offering the opportunity to participate in the Christ College program … it combined both the liberal arts and humanities with engineering.” This combination made Valparaiso University stand out because,”in a lot of institutions one specialty or the other gets lost.” Cheryl capitalized on this opportunity by graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering partnered with Christ College associate honors. While attending Valparaiso University, her husband Jeffrey Schrader ’84, and the two were married in 1986. Cheryl continued her education by earning both a master’s degree and doctorate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Cheryl’s career has taken her across the United States and to multiple countries. She began her engineering vocation by interning and consulting at both McDonnell Douglas Aeronautics and Chimera Research. She also served briefly as an instructor at Valparaiso University 1984-1985 and as an adjunct assistant professor at Rice University. She eventually earned a tenured professorship at the University of Texas at San Antonio where she also served as an associate dean for the College of Engineering and the College of Sciences. In 2003, Cheryl was appointed dean of the College of Engineering at Boise State University where undergraduate admissions increased by 60 percent under her leadership. She also served as the associate vice president of strategic research initiatives at Boise State University before accepting the position of chancellor at Missouri S&T in 2012. She is the first female chancellor in Missouri S&T’s 142-year history.

Cheryl’s career path has followed two distinct but parallel paths — engineering and academia. During high school, Schrader was interested in mathematics and teaching. After personal deliberation and subsequent conversations with her family, she decided upon a career in engineering because, “engineering combines my passion for mathematicsand science, along with my pursuits in arts, music, and creativity.” Cheryl’s commitment to academia also developed during her college experience as a result of the many mentors who devoted their time to counsel her. Cheryl considers herself, “blessed that I had so many mentors along the way and people who took an interest in me and my dreams to help foster my growth.” Throughout her career, Cheryl found mentors who both encouraged and challenged her. Her wonderful experiences with such mentors has greatly contributed to her love of academia and her passion for assisting students to pursue their own dreams.

Cheryl’s experience at Valparaiso University’s College of Engineering prepared her for a long and productive career. As a graduate, Cheryl expects nothing less than the absolute best in the years to come from Valparaiso University Engineering graduates. “I expect Valpo will continue to produce innovative engineers and leaders who are poised to make a difference in this world … Frankly, I’m counting on them to do that!”